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Friday Speed Read: Oklahoma Marriage, Naya Taylor, Charles Cooper, Gordon Fox

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

LAMBDA SUES FOR FAILURE TO TREAT:

TaylorLambda Legal filed a lawsuit in federal court in Urbana, Illinois, yesterday against a medical doctor who refused to treat a patient because she is transgender. The lawsuit, Taylor v. Lystila, charges that primary care physician Aja Lystila violated the federal Affordable Care Act when she refused to provide hormone therapy to Naya Taylor. “When Naya protested to the clinic that she was being denied transition-related care by the clinic, she was told that the clinic did not ‘have to treat people like you’.” Lambda’s complaint notes that a spokesperson for the clinic told Naya that “because the clinic has Middle Eastern doctors and they have religious beliefs, they do not have to treat ‘people like you’.” The Affordable Care Act prohibits health care providers from discriminating against any individual based on sex.

WHOSE BURDEN IS IT?

OklahomaA judge on the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel drilled down hard Thursday, insisting an attorney defending Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex couples marrying explain how letting same-sex couples marry harms the government’s interest in creating stable families and cared for children. The case was Bishop v. Smith, the second of two cases to be argued this month before the federal appeals court in Denver. The attorney was James Campbell with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Campbell said it’s not the government’s burden to show what harm same-sex marriages could cause.

But the judge persisted, and Campbell said that, while “no one knows the long-term effects,” there are “real world consequences,” “and it is plaintiffs’ burden to show that none of those consequences will be adverse.” Evan Wolfson, head of the national Freedom to Marry group, notes that, “even under basic review, the government has to have a sufficient reason for discriminating.” “And numerous court rulings, including the Supreme Court's decision in Windsor -- as well as all three marriage trials, first in Hawaii, then in California, and a few weeks ago in Michigan -- have made clear there is none.”

CHARLES COOPER ‘LOOKING FORWARD’:

CooperThe lead attorney defending California’s Proposition 8 acknowledges in a just-released book about the trial that he learned during the case that his daughter is gay. In the book, Forcing the Spring, author Jo Becker said Cooper and his daughter Ashley Lininger discussed the issue of same-sex marriage at length. Lininger got engaged just three months before Cooper defended Proposition 8 in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Cooper issued a statement to the Washington Post saying, “My daughter Ashley’s path in life has led her to happiness with a lovely young woman named Casey, and our family and Casey’s family are looking forward to celebrating their marriage in just a few weeks.”

STILL NO WORD ON FOX INVESTIGATION:

FoxIt’s been almost a month since Rhode Island’s openly gay Speaker of the House, Gordon Fox, suddenly resigned his leadership position following a raid by state and federal investigators on his home and State House office. Nobody’s talking, but the state Board of Elections told Associated Press that law enforcement staff have been in touch. And Fox’s executive assistant told a local news station that investigators came to her house looking for campaign documents prior to the March 21 raid. WPRI News said Wednesday that Fox, who retained his seat as a member of the House, has not attended any sessions since the raids.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Gay Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox Steps Down After FBI Raid of Office and Home

Gordon Fox, the gay Rhode Island House Speaker who helped bring marriage equality to the state in 2012, has resigned from his leadership post and will not run for re-election following a federal raid of his Statehouse office and home as part of a criminal investigation. AP reports:

Gordon fox"Because of the respect I have for all members of the House of Representatives, I am resigning as Speaker," Fox said in a written statement emailed to reporters. "The process of governing must continue and the transition of leadership must be conducted in an orderly manner."

The 52-year-old Providence Democrat, who became the nation's first openly gay House speaker in 2010, said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term through the end of the year, but that "my personal focus going forward will be on my family and dealing with the investigation."

The Friday raids were carried out by the U.S. attorney’s office, FBI, IRS and state police. Officials have yet to comment on the nature of the investigation.

Earlier this year, Fox ran into trouble with the state ethics commission for failing to disclose more than $40,000 in legal work for a Province economic development agency. He agreed to pay a $1,500 fine. 


Rhode Island Becomes 10th State to Pass Marriage Equality: VIDEOS

Signing_chafee

Highlights of today's final vote and signing of Rhode Island's marriage equality bill from the Providence Journal and WPRI, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Rhode Island Becomes 10th State to Pass Marriage Equality: VIDEOS" »


RI Lawmaker Wants Gay Marriage Vote Next Year

GordonFoxMere weeks after Gov. Lincoln Chafee ordered the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state, House Speaker and longtime gay ally Gordon Fox says he plans to schedule another vote on equality next year.

…Fox told WPRI-TV's "Newsmakers" Friday he will schedule a vote early in the General Assembly session. He called the legalization of same-sex marriage "unfinished business" and "one of the main reasons" he's running again.

Fierce opposition from some last year prompted the Legislature to abandon a gay marriage bill and approve civil unions instead. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed was among the opponents.

Marriage Equality Rhode Island says it "appreciates" Fox's commitment to holding a vote and that all eyes have turned to the Senate. The group says it's working with others to elect lawmakers supportive of gay marriage.

A Public Policy Polling survey conducted last year that 50% of Rhode Island citizens want to see marriage equality pass, while only 41% oppose it.


Marriage Equality Activists Rally Against Civil Unions in Rhode Island as New Bill is Introduced

Activists angry at House Speaker Gordon Fox's decision to drop marriage equality legislation and the shift the focus to civil unions rallied outside the Rhode Island state house yesterday, the Providence Journal reports:

Meri

Gay marriages supporters were nonetheless displeased with what they saw as a sign of betrayal and political cowardice.

“This legislation codifies the idea that lesbian and gay families can be treated differently,” said Martha Holt, chair of Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI), which organized the event.

“Separate is never equal, we are not second class citizens and we demand to be treated equally,” Holt declared. She concluded by making a call for continued political activism, asserting that “MERI isn’t going anywhere,” and that they plan to organize “in every district and county of this state,” until the next election cycle comes around.

In a letter to colleagues, Fox said the decision was one of pragmatism.

Despite the protests, a civil unions bill was introduced on Tuesday by Rep. Peter J. Petrarca

Calling his bill an important first step, the Lincoln Democrat said the legislation — while falling short of legalized same-sex marriage — would give same-sex couples the same rights that married couples now have under Rhode Island law.

“Some sort of progress is better than nothing,” he said just minutes before the House session got under way.

Watch a reports from ABC6, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Marriage Equality Activists Rally Against Civil Unions in Rhode Island as New Bill is Introduced" »


Rhode Island Civil Union Bill to Be Introduced Tuesday

Earlier this week I reported that lawmakers had given up on trying to pass a marriage equality bill for the session in Rhode Island and had shifted their focus to civil unions. That legislation will reportedly be introduced on Tuesday:

Ri A House spokesman said Thursday that lawmakers are reviewing civil union laws in other states to help them craft the proposal, which could be introduced Tuesday.

Groups that fought for gay marriage say they'll oppose any proposal that falls short of full marriage. Gay marriage opponents also oppose civil unions.

Rep. Frank Ferri, a Warwick Democrat who is gay, tells The Associated Press that he wants to see the bill's details before making up his mind.

Disagreement remains among lawmakers about whether or not marriage equality actually could have passed the House. While openly gay House Speaker Gordon Fox (pictured) caved, other members of his leadership team feel the bill could have passed, the Providence Journal reports:

Fox House Majority Whip J. Patrick O’Neill, D-Pawtucket, believed the votes were there to pass Rep. Arthur Handy’s gay-marriage bill, albeit by a slim margin. “It would have been an unbelievable floor battle, but we had the numbers to get it out of the House,” he said.

State Rep. Peter J. Petrarca, a Lincoln Democrat who serves as Fox’s senior deputy majority leader, concurred. “It would have been a close vote, but I think it would have passed,” he said.

Rep. Frank G. Ferri, a Warwick Democrat and deputy majority leader, said he believed that there were about “40 to 42” votes in the House in support of gay marriage, a count that he says comes from Marriage Equality Rhode Island, one of the local advocacy groups leading the drive for same-sex marriage.

All of those lawmakers, however, did not feel the bill would make it through the state Senate.


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