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South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson Asks SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts to Stay Gay Marriage Ruling: READ

6a00d8341c730253ef01901defb276970b-800wiSouth Carolina's Attorney General Alan Wilson, who has long been entrenched in his battle against attempts to end the state's discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage, is seeking a stay of U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel's ruling that struck down the Palmetto state's marriage ban as unconstitutional from none other than U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Just yesterday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a similar appeal made by Wilson. Now, as BuzzFeed reports, all eyes turn to Roberts and whether the 6th Circuit's move to uphold same-sex marriage bans and the subsequent appeals by plaintiffs in those cases will sway Roberts to intervene:

Since the justices turned down five states’ requests on Oct. 6 to take a marriage case appeal — including a decision from the 4th Circuit striking down Virginia’s marriage ban — the justices have, on three occasions, turned down requests to issue stays of lower court rulings during appeals. This includes one, in Kansas, since the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld four other states’ bans.

Now, however, with requests in from the plaintiffs in those four states’ cases asking the Supreme Court to take one or more of the appeals and resolve the question, Wilson is hoping that he can get a stay issued from the court to stop the trial court ruling from going into effect Thursday.

Specifically, South Carolina is asking the chief justice to grant a stay pending appeal because, the filing asserts, the 4th Circuit Court was wrong in its decision in the case challenging Virginia’s marriage ban, Bostic v. Schaefer, which the Supreme Court let stand on Oct. 6.

Same-sex marriage is set to begin Thursday at noon in South Carolina should a stay not be granted.

Read the appeal filed by Wilson, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson Asks SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts to Stay Gay Marriage Ruling: READ" »


Kansas Supreme Court Clears Way For Same-Sex Marriage In At Least One More County

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb07a7cca5970d-250wiEarlier today, we told you about the chaos and confusion that pervades the state of Kansas on the question of the legality of same-sex marriage. Now, a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court has this evening further complicated matters, clearing the way for same-sex marriage in Johnson County but not necessarily the rest of the state. Just exactly how far reaching the court's ruling will be depends largely on how judges throughout the state will interpret it. From the Kansas City Star:

The decision means Johnson County will join a handful of Kansas jurisdictions where marriage licenses can be issued to same-sex couples. At least two such couples are expected to seek the licenses Wednesday, supporters of same-sex marriage said.

But the ruling eventually might be expanded beyond Johnson County. The court said other Kansas judges were free to reach the same conclusion as [Judge] Moriarty [who in October authorized the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kansas] — language that might convince other judges to order the licenses in their courthouses...

The Kansas Supreme Court did not determine whether the Kansas ban on same-sex marriages is constitutional. Instead, the court said it wouldn't decide until after the U.S. Supreme Court settles the issue.

You can read the court's order HERE


Former 'Ex-Gay' Leader John Smid Marries His Same-Sex Partner In Oklahoma

Smid.John

File this under, "Signs we've almost won."

John Smid (above right), the longtime leader of one of the most prominent "ex-gay" therapy programs in the US, has married his same-sex partner — in Oklahoma, no less. 

Smid served as director of Love In Action and spent 11 years on the board of Exodus International. Three years ago, Smid publicly renounced "ex-gay" therapy and came out as gay.

Smid said he and his partner, Larry McQueen (above left), obtained their marriage license in Hugo, Oklahoma — a 35-minute drive from their home in Paris, Texas — before holding a ceremony in Tulsa on Sunday.

"I believe that due to my former notoriety, my marriage will definitely have its impact," Smid told Towleroad on Monday. "I believe it is encouraging for other former ex-gays, and maybe even those who are still trying to hold on to their ex-gay belief system. We think our relationship reveals something very normal, not strange or deceptive gay stereotypes. We have come to realize that our marriage is very much the same as your average heterosexual marriage."

Smid has apologized extensively for his role at Love In Action — penning a book and reaching out to survivors of the program individually. He has pointed out that the leaders of "ex-gay" therapy programs are often victims, too.

Asked whether there are still those in the LGBT community who don't think he deserves to be happily married, Smid said, "No actually, I think that's been worked out, but you never know, there may be some."

Smid has been married twice before — both times to women. He had two children in the 1970s before living as openly gay for several years in the 1980s.

After marrying again and spending two decades in the "ex-gay" movement, Smid said he began to drift away from it in 2005, when Zach Stark, a teenager in Love In Action’s residential treatment program, posted cries for help on MySpace.

The posts fueled protests outside Love in Action, as well as stories in the national media. One of the protesters was Morgan Fox, a filmmaker who eventually directed a documentary about the experience called, “This Is What Love In Action Looks Like.” Smid agreed to be interviewed by Fox, and they became friends.

After leaving Love in Action, Smid launched his own ministry, Grace Rivers, which now focuses on the gay community. He divorced his second wife in 2011 and moved to Texas to live with McQueen last year.

"I realized this week that my relationship with Larry is a mirror I see in every day," Smid wrote in announcing their marriage on Facebook. "For most of my life, the mirror I saw reflected my mistakes, shortcomings and failures. The reflection I see today with Larry shows me the positive things in my life, my strengths, gifts and talents. I see how I can succeed at a mutual intimate and loving relationship. For this, I am truly grateful.

"At this time our federal government recognizes our legal marriage, our home state of Texas does not," Smid wrote. "However, we hope that Texas will soon accept our marriage as legitimate and legal." 


Chaos and Confusion in Kansas as Counties Make Their Own Decisions on Marrying Gay Couples

Confusion clouds the issue of marriage equality in Kansas, where a constitutional ban barring it was struck down by a federal court on November 4. The state sought a stay pending appeal from the 10th Circuit which denied it. The state then went to the U.S. Supreme Court with the same request. The request was temporarily granted, then denied by the full Court.

SchmidtNow, of the state's 105 counties, at least six are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, others are refusing applications, and some (Ottawa and Saline) are taking applications but refusing to issue licenses, the Washington Post reports:

Jennifer Rapp, a spokesperson for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (pictured), said his office has asked the Kansas Supreme Court “to provide further guidance to the district courts in light of the federal preliminary injunction.”

“We are awaiting a decision on this case,” Rapp said in an email.

Schmidt suggested earlier this month in a statement that a decision in the case applied to Douglas and Sedgwick counties, where two lesbian couples were denied marriage licenses.

“I think the Kansas attorney general has abdicated his responsibilities,” Witt said. “If anybody is causing chaos and confusion … it’s the Kansas attorney general.”

The Kansas Supreme Court is mulling Schmidt's request:

The Kansas court was reviewing a petition from state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, hoping to block marriage licenses for same-sex couples until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether the state’s ban on gay marriage is constitutional. The court discussed the case in a closed meeting, and spokeswoman Lisa Taylor couldn’t say when it would issue a ruling.

...Court spokeswoman Lisa Taylor said Monday that retired Douglas County District Judge Michael Malone and retiring Linn County District Judge Richard Smith are sitting with the court.

Meanwhile, gay couples are marrying in Topeka and 15 couples married on the steps of the Sedgwick County Courthouse in Wichita.

And a judge today ordered that couples be allowed to get married in Cherokee, Crawford and Labette counties.

Butler, Elk and Greenwood are among those not issuing licenses.

We'll keep you informed of this developing situation...


Is Pope Francis Sending Ambiguous Messages About Marriage And Family?

PopePope Francis kicked off the Vatican's "traditional marriage" summit this week with a discussion on the state of marriage and the family in today's world - with some potentially mixed messages. In Francis' address, “The Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage,” he reinforces the idea of marriage and family, but it seems he might also be ambiguously referring to gay couples in several passages throughout the commentary, or at least one could deduce that he is from particular words used.

The basis of the address is based on the term "Complementarity," which means "situations where one of two things adds to, completes, or fulfills a lack in the other.” However, Francis puts the word in a Christian context.

He says:

"Christians find its deepest meaning in the first Letter to the Corinthians where Saint Paul tells us that the Spirit has endowed each of us with different gifts so that-just as the human body's members work together for the good of the whole-everyone's gifts can work together for the benefit of each (cf. 1 Cor. 12)."

Francis explains that the complementarity between women and men is the root of marriage and family, but the only other explicit mention of specific pairings between men and women doesn't occur until the very end of the address. Francis also seems to challenge traditional gender roles and recognize the suffering of women.

He continues:

"When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern.

"Evidence is mounting that the decline of the marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of other social ills, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. It is always they who suffer the most in this crisis."

It's unclear what social ills Francis is referring to but with his support for civil unions and taking responsibility for sexual abuse scandals within the church, Francis' views on LGBT people and the church makes him the most progressive, socially responsible pope to take office thus far. The most telling passage of Francis' commentary is the discussion of future generations and the trappings of ideological concepts.

He says:

"It is important that they do not give themselves over to the poisonous mentality of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern: this must be done. With regard to this I want to say one thing: Let us not fall into the trap of being qualified by ideological concepts.

"Family is an anthropological fact - a socially and culturally related fact. We cannot qualify it with concepts of an ideological nature, that are relevant only in a single moment of history, and then pass by. We can't speak today of a conservative notion of family or a progressive notion of family: Family is family! It can't be qualified by ideological notions. Family has a strength of its own (per se)."

However, Francis ends his address with a reinforcement about marriage between men and women as a natural, unique and fundamental good, and it's unclear whether the statement about ideological trappings means Francis is willing to think beyond religious dogma, is just a simple contradiction on his behalf or an attempt to find a delicate balance between traditional ideological teachings and empathy toward the plights of LGBT people. Additionally, the fact that he invited hate leader Tony Perkins to the summit seems damaging to both his and the summit's credibility. 


Gay Couples in South Carolina Prepare to Marry on Thursday; State's Request for Stay Still Pending

Gay couples in South Carolina are prepared to begin marrying on Thursday at noon, which is when the stay in U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban expires.

SouthcarolinaLast week after Gergel struck down the ban, Attorney General Alan Wilson filed an emergency stay request asking for the court's order to be halted pending an appeal to the full Fourth Circuit, or, if denied, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Attorneys for plaintiffs Colleen Condon and her fiancee Nichols Bleckley filed their response to Wilson's request late Sunday, The Post and Courier reports:

"Currently 34 states permit same-sex couples to marry, or recognize marriages legally celebrated by same-sex couples in other states. If history is any indicator, the State's claim of potential harm here is overstated, if not completely contrived," the new filings says.

Malissa Burnette, lead attorney in Condon's case, has said she feels very optimistic the Fourth Circuit will uphold Gergel's ruling. It is the same court that struck down Virginia's constitutional gay marriage ban and was among those that triggered the recent cascade of legalized same-sex marriage across the nation.

The Fourth Circuit could rule on Wilson's request for an emergency stay at any time.

SCOTUS has also already turned down an appeal request from Virginia in its marriage case, and all the other states in the Fourth Circuit have marriage equality, so it would be a strange and troubling move for the Court to grant Wilson's request.


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