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Anti-Equality Forces Get 'the Posner Treatment' at Seventh Circuit Hearing

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

Posner, Richard 08-10By now you have heard that the attorneys representing Indiana and Wisconsin got a shellacking from the famous Reagan-appointee, Judge Richard Posner. Sean brought us 7 classic outtakes from Judge Posner's questioning, but even those barely scratch the surface of what it must have been like. As someone who has had the privilege (and dread) of arguing before Judge Posner, as well as admiring him from afar, quoting his work, and disagreeing with some of his scholarship, I can say that this is just Posner being Posner. A brilliant scholar with strong views who's been around a long time, he does not suffer fools, whether those fools are seeking millions of dollars in damages or challenging the constitutionality of a ban on gays marrying. Do not think Judge Posner's obvious frustration with the anti-equality attorneys is evidence of a particular love of marriage equality, something he still calls "homosexual marriage," after all. This is how he would approach anyone who comes to him with a stupid argument.

And that is the greatest take away from the Seventh Circuit marriage equality hearings: the arguments against us are just stupid, and everyone appears to get that.

Let's start with Judge Posner, who seemed to relish the opportunity to inject some sanity into Wisconsin's and Indiana's arguments. He repeatedly said things like, "So you don't have an answer to that?" or "How can you brief it if you don't know anything about it," in response to Wisconsin's inability to support its arguments that heterosexuals would stop marrying if gays could, or "You don't seem to have any reasons" for banning gays from marrying, or, as Sean noted yesterday, "You don't have any sort of empirical or even conjectural basis for your law." Judge Posner followed that one with a little snark: "Funny." Mic drop.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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9th Circuit Denies NOM Request To Halt Gay Marriages In Oregon: READ

OregonThe 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked a request from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to halt gay marriages in Oregon, The Oregonian reports:

The action comes in the wake of the May 19 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane in Eugene to strike down Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage. Voters in 2004 passed an amendment to the state constitution, Measure 36, defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Supporters of same-sex marriage applauded Wednesday's decision.

"We're thrilled by the news but not surprised at all," said Jeana Frazzini, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon. "There was never any merit to their proposal and they've been denied now at every turn."

Frazzini read the court's decision and called it "decisive."

NOM can now either appeal its case to the full 9th Circuit (a three judge panel issued today's decision) or the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court previously denied a request from NOM to get involved in the case back in June. Should NOM appeal to the Supreme Court, the justices would have another chance to intervene. 

Read the 9th Circuit's ruling for yourself, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Australian MP Books Room In Parliament To Host Anti-Gay Marriage Conference

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Australian Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has booked out the main room of the country’s parliament house so that the anti-gay Australian Families Association (AFA), an organization closely linked to the World Congress of Families (WCF), can hold a conference on “strengthening the family” that “[commemorates] the tenth anniversary of the redefining of marriage as ‘between a man and a woman’ in the 2004 amendment of the Marriage Act,” according to The Guardian:

In past years the organisation has held public events at parliament house. This year’s affair is a private event with all MPs invited to attend. The committee room must be booked by a sitting member. Andrews booked the room for the organisation, but is not attending, a spokeswoman told Guardian Australia.

The AFA conference on Wednesday will hear from a number of speakers on “relationship literacy for youth, strengthening marriages, family-based taxation and the economics of the family”.

The organisation will call for the government to “renew a culture of strong and lasting marriages by educating young people about the benefits of marriage and getting government taxation and support structures right,” the AFA’s national president Terri Kelleher said in a statement 

The affiliated WCF has been struggling to find a venue for its annual conference in Australia having been turned down by four venues in Melbourne


Florida Supreme Court Asked To Rule On Constitutionality Of Same-Sex Marriage

FloFlorida’s Second District Court of Appeals has asked the state’s Supreme Court to decide whether the ban on same-sex marriage passed by 62% of Floridian voters in 2008 is unconstitutional, the AP reports. In its decision, the Second District Court urged the higher court to take up the matter due to "great public importance”:

The ruling is connected to a Hillsborough County divorce case involving a same-sex couple who had been married in Massachusetts but since relocated to the Tampa area. Their petition to dissolve their marriage was rejected by a Florida judge who noted that state law does not recognize gay marriage.

"Resolution of the constitutional questions will no doubt impact far more individuals than the two involved here," states the unsigned opinion. "And there can be little doubt that until the constitutional questions are finally resolved by the Florida Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court, there will be a great impact on the proper administration of justice in Florida."

A panel of judges with the Lakeland based appeals court earlier this summer rejected a request to forward the case up the state Supreme Court. But that ruling was overturned in a 10-3 decision by the entire appeals court.

Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage has been overturned on five separate occasions now

Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi, unswayed by the latest ruling against the marriage ban which came only last week from U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, has stated that she hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will settle the question of gay marriage.


DOMA Lawyer Mary Bonauto Joins Fight Against Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Mary

Top civil rights lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders Mary Bonauto will be joining the legal team challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, according to BuzzFeed.

Bonauto is perhaps the preeminent civil rights attorney in the United States where same-sex marriage is concerned. In a New York Times profile last year, Roberta Kaplan remarked, “No gay person in this country would be married without Mary Bonauto.” Bonauto argued against and defeated the state of Massachussetts’ ban on same-sex marriage in 2003--the first state in which such a ban was brought down--and also served on Edie Windsor's legal team in last year’s seminal Supreme Court decision that gutted section 3 of DOMA. Said Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson of Bonauto's contributions, 

“Not only did GLAD lead in teeing up the litigation strategy that brought down DOMA, but Mary was the unsung engine of the friend-of-the-court presentations made to the Supreme Court in both marriage cases last year."

Bonauto and GLAD's expertise will be of particular use in the Utah case:

“GLAD brings the perspective, insights, and distillation that come from long experience on marriage and the related issues, and the good sense to take nothing for granted,” Bonauto said. “We’ve also won this issue in courts, and worked with others to win in state legislatures and at the ballot box. That has given us a deep feel for the concerns and hesitations out there and insights about how to make our case and find shared values that move us forward.”

Specifically as to the DOMA litigation, she added, “We hope that the strategic thinking on DOMA — about how to get to a win on DOMA that would also position us to keep moving forward to marriage — will be useful here as well.”

The case against Utah is noteworthy, and likely drew Bonauto and GLAD's attention, because both the plaintiffs and the defendant (the state) have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and take up the matter. The result of which could be a far-reaching ruling that could make marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states. 


7 Moments That Will Make You Want To Gay Marry Judge Richard Posner: PHOTOS

Posner1

Yesterday, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard two cases challenging same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin. There was a lot of speculation as to who would be on the three judge panel that would hear the case. Not long before the hearing began, we found out: Judges Ann Claire Williams, David Hamilton and Richard Posner. Williams and Hamilton were Clinton and Obama nominees respectively and were widely thought to be favorable to pro-equality arguments. Judge Posner, a Reagan nominee, was something of a wild-card. Though as our own Ari Ezra Waldman pointed out in his pre-hearing analysis, Judge Posner does not always “toe a socially conservative line,” having “been sympathetic to the pro-choice movement.” However, few could have imagined how incredible Judge Posner’s performance during the hearing would be. And while the 7th Circuit still has to deliver its decision, it is safe to say that Judge Posner has won his way into many a gay’s heart.

Check out Posner’s 7 best quips that defined yesterday’s hearing, AFTER THE JUMP…

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