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Republican Attorneys General In Louisiana, Texas Vow To Continue Defending 'Institution' Of Marriage In Face Of Obvious Defeat

  Caldwell

Republican attorneys general in Louisiana and Texas say they plan to keep fighting even if the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stirkes down bans on same-sex marriage in the two states. 

As we've reported, such an outcome appears likely based on oral arguments, assuming the 5th Circuit decides to rule rather than waiting for the Supreme Court to settle the issue. 

Louisiana Attorney General James D. "Buddy" Caldwell (above left) issued a statement late Friday: 

Through the democratic process, Louisiana citizens have previously voted to establish this definition of marriage and to add it to the state’s constitution.   

Louisiana's Attorney General prevailed at the trial court level and was the first attorney general in the nation to win on this issue. Today's appearance was in support of the trial court's favorable decision. 

Attorney General Caldwell said, “I was joined at counsel table today by constitutional law experts Kyle Duncan and Mike Johnson, both of whom I retained to assist my office with this important task of defending our constitution, which is the expression of the will of our Louisiana citizens.

"As I've said previously, as Louisiana’s attorney general, I will do everything in my power to uphold the will of our citizens and the right of states to manage their own affairs.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (above right), who was sworn in this week to replace GOP Gov.-elect Greg Abbott, also posted a statement

“In 2005, Texans overwhelmingly supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman," Paxton said. "I am committed to defending the Texas Constitution, the will of our citizens and this sacred institution.”

Mississippi's attorney general and governor have been less outspoken about defending the state's marriage ban, saying only that they believe it's their duty to defend state laws, and I was unable to find statements from them about oral arguments. Their apparent silence may reflect the growing trend of resignation to marriage equality even among conservative Republicans, who recognize it's a losing cause and no longer politically advantageous. 

Screen shot 2015-01-10 at 11.10For example, neither Texas Gov. Rick Perry nor Gov.-elect Abbott, both Republicans who've vigorously defended the state's marriage ban in court and elsewhere, had anything to say about Friday's hearing. Moreoever, there didn't appear to be any organized anti-gay presence outside the courthouse in New Orleans — the site of a historic hearing on same-sex marriage in the heart of the Deep South. Instead, the opposition was represented in the media by a smattering of well-paid anti-LGBT operatives, such as Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz (right). 

But it appeared Saenz, whose wife famously left him for a woman, was determined to compensate for the poor turnout with some over-the-top rhetoric. From Talk Radio 1190 AM in Dallas: 

Advocates call it a matter of equality, but Saenz disagrees.

"Redefining marriage equals private businesses being forced to fund and participate in an issue that's not even settled by the Supreme Court," he says. 

"Redefining marriage equals men entering little girls' bathrooms, and redefining marriage equals pastors being persecuted," Saenz says referencing the battle over transgender restroom rights in Houston.

Saenz says the Sixth Circuit already upheld gay marriage bans.

"Marriage between one man and one woman has such a long tradition that it’s measured by millennia, not centuries or decades," he says.

More from Saenz in OneNewsNow:

"The tradition, until recently, had been adopted by all governments and major religions of the world," notes Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values. "That's how settled the issue of marriage has been in our country and in our world. And in Texas we dealt with this issue before and settled it at the polls the way it should, when voters voted 76 percent in 2005.

Saenz contends, "It's really a shame that all of that legitimate work could be undone by the stroke of a pen of a few federal court judges, but I think that a lot of people and a lot of legal experts believe and agree that the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will rule in favor of state marriage laws. That will be for Texas, that will be for Louisiana and Mississippi, and that will be a significant turning point in the debate and the discussion on this issue."

Saenz adds that homosexuals claim equality as the overpowering argument, but in states where same-gender "marriage" is legal, it is used as a battering ram against Christians and Christian-owned businesses. He suggests that is hardly equality.


Lambda Legal: TX Governor-elect Greg Abbott Must Stop 'Horrific Violence and Sexual Abuse' Affecting LGBT Prisoners

Passionhz

When transgender inmate Passion Star appealed to Texas prison officials to protect her from a gang member who said he owned her, they responded by moving her even closer to the inmate.

The next morning, the gang member attacked Star, calling her a “snitching faggot,” and slashed her face eight times with a razor, according to Lambda Legal. Even after the attack, prison officials refused to move Star, who identifies as female, to protect her from violence in the general population.

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Star in October, accusing the Texas Department of Criminal Justice of deliberate indifference to threats of sexual assault and violence against Ms. Star in TDCJ’s male facilities. 

AbbottNow, the LGBT civil rights group has launched a petition calling on Republican Gov.-elect Greg Abbott, who takes office in January, to comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act. 

From Lambda Legal: 

Texas is one of only seven states that has refused to comply with PREA. Texas is also home to five of the 10 prisons with the highest rates of reported rapes in the country, as documented in a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. It is widely understood that sexual violence in custody disproportionately affects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inmates.

“Gov. (Rick) Perry has refused to comply with PREA, and Texas is among the states leading the nation in rates of reported rapes in its prisons. Governor-elect Abbott needs to fix this mistake and implement PREA,” Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Jael Humphrey said. “While Texas fiddles, LGBT inmates like Passion Star endure horrific violence and sexual abuse.”

According to Just Detention International, which works to eliminate sexual abuse in detention facilities, LGBT inmates are 15 times more likely to be victims of prison rape than non-LGBT inmates. JDI says Texas is home to more facilities with high levels of inmate-on-inmate sexual abuse than any other state. The group also says it receives more letters from survivors of sexual abuse in Texas prisons than from any other state.

In filing its lawsuit on behalf of Star, Lambda Legal alleges she has been raped, forced to submit to undesired sexual acts to escape violence, and threatened with sexual assault. Star has filed dozens of grievances, complaints and requests to be placed in safekeeping, but instead of taking measures to protect her, TDCJ officials have told her to “suck dick,” “fight” or to stop “acting gay” if she doesn't want to be assaulted: 

“Somebody, somehow, needs to shed light on what is taking place here in Texas prisons,” Star said in a written statement. “TDCJ officials get away with so much and disregard so many legitimate threats to people’s safety. It needs to stop somewhere. I fight for my life every day in here. Safety from rape and assault is not a privilege; it’s a right. I hope that this lawsuit will help make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

To sign Lambda Legal's petition, which will be delivered to Abbott once he takes office, go here.  


Federal Judge Declines To Allow Gay Marriages In Texas Pending Appeal

Phariss

A federal district judge on Friday declined to lift his stay of a ruling striking down Texas' same-sex marriage bans

The decision from Judge Orlando L. Garcia means same-sex marriages won't be allowed pending an appeal of the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court. 

Last month, plaintiff same-sex couples asked Garcia to lift the stay since the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals of decisions overturning marriage bans from other federal appeals courts. Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is defending the marriage bans, responded that lifting the stay would be "deeply offensive." 

In rejecting the motion to lift the stay, Garcia noted that the Supreme Court has never declined to impose a stay on same-sex marriages in a state where a circuit court hasn't resolved the issue. He also noted that the 5th Circuit recently granted a stay of a ruling striking down Missisippi's same-sex marriage ban: 

"Lifting the stay would not bring finality to this Fourtenth Amendment claim. To the contrary, such action would only be temporary, with confusion and doubto folow. The day for finality and legal certainty in the long and dificult journey for equality is closer than ever before. Ultimately, as mentioned in the February 12, 2014 hearing, this Court believes the isue wil ultimately be resolved by the United States Supreme Court and 'a group of five people will decide this case.' Acordingly, Plaintiffs' motion is DENIED."

The 5th Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the Texas and Mississippi cases — as well as one from Louisiana — on Jan. 9. 

Read Garcia's full order denying the motion to lift the stay, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Federal Judge Declines To Allow Gay Marriages In Texas Pending Appeal " »


Texas AG Greg Abbott Says Gay Marriages During Appeal Would Be 'Deeply Offensive'

Abbott.GregTexas Attorney General Greg Abbott says it would be "deeply offensive" for same-sex marriages to be allowed during his appeal of a federal district judge's ruling striking down the state's marriage bans. 

Abbott made the comments during a press conference Monday where he unveiled his agenda and staff as governor, the Associated Press reports: 

The governor-elect didn’t mention gay marriage until he was asked about the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which next month will hear a case in which a judge in February struck down Texas’ ban.

Some advocates have asked other Texas judges to begin performing gay marriages pending the appeal, but Abbott said that would be “deeply offensive” since it “would be a clear rebuke of the 5th Circuit’s jurisdiction.”

U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia stayed his decision striking down the marriage bans pending Abbott's appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court, which has set the case for oral arguments Jan. 9.

However, last month same-sex plaintiff couples asked Garcia to lift the stay pending the appeal, and last week, some county clerks in Texas said they are prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

Meanwhile, the 5th Circuit stayed a decision striking down Mississippi's marriage ban, which prompted another court filing from Abbott arguing that Garcia should leave his stay in place. 

Nevertheless, WOIA reported Tuesday that Garcia is under "increasing pressure" to lift the stay. 

An appeals court is set to consider the legality of the state law that bans gay marriage one month from today, but a Federal Judge in San Antonio is under increasing pressure to take steps to allow gay marriages to take place in Texas immediately, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

I'm not sure what they mean by "increasing pressure," but experts say the 5th Circuit's decision to stay the Mississippi ruling means it would almost certainly grant a new stay in Texas if Garcia were to lift his. The only question is whether there would be a window for marriages to occur, but given that Abbott likely already has his motion for a new stay drafted, that seems unlikely. 

Still, by going around saying it would be "deeply offensive" for marriages to occur and proclaiming who has jurisdiction to perform them, Abbott may only be tempting Garcia to lift the stay.  

After all, the most "deeply offensive" things about this case are Abbott's arguments against marriage equality.  


Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Fights To Keep Stay on Pro-Marriage Equality Ruling In Place

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d09a4e63970c-800wiTexas Attorney General Greg Abbott (right) implored a federal judge Tuesday not to lift his stay of a February ruling striking down the state's marriage bans. 

However, experts said they believe it's likely U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia will lift the stay. It's unclear, though, whether such a decision would allow marriages to begin immediately in the Lone Star State. 

On Monday, attorneys for two same-sex couples filed a motion asking Garcia to lift the stay, which he put in place pending the state's appeal of his decision in DeLeon v. Perry

Abbott filed his response to the motion Tuesday. 

"The judge could decide something very soon," said Neel Lane of Akin Gump in San Antonio, which is representing the same-sex couples. "I think there's a good chance he'll lift the stay." 

Ken Upton, Dallas-based senior counsel for Lambda Legal, agreed. 

"Garcia will probably grant it," said Upton, who's not involved in the case. "It's a good motion." 

Abbott's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Both Lane and Upton said if Garcia lifts the stay, it's possible he would allow time for Abbott to appeal the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court before it takes effect. But if Garcia decides to make the decision effective immediately, same-sex couples could begin applying for marriage licenses. 

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d09a4e37970c-800wiTexas has a 72-hour waiting period before marriages can occur, but the waiting period can be waived by any judge. 

In asking Garcia to lift the stay, attorneys for the couples argued that the basis for it is no longer valid, since the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review rulings striking down marriages bans from four federal appeals courts. 

But in his response, Abbott argued that the plaintiffs "misread the Supreme Court tea leaves" — arguing that the high court has never stopped a state from enforcing a marriage ban before the issue was considered by an appeals court. 

In their motion, the plaintiffs' attorneys said the stay should be lifted because, for example, one of them is pregnant and if something were to happen to her before their marriage is recognized, it could affect her partner's legal rights to care for the child. But Abbott callously rejected that argument. 

"These alleged harms are speculative; they are contingent on death or incapacity of one of the parties, but the plaintiffs do not allege any threat or expectation that these potential tragedies will befall them," Abbott wrote.

If Garcia lifts the stay, Abbott could appeal the decision to the 5th Circuit, where a three-judge panel would have to decide whether to allow same-sex marriages in Texas pending oral arguments in the case on Jan. 9. 

"You don't get a stay unless the court concludes there's a likelihood you'll prevail," Lane said. 

If the 5th Circuit were to impose a stay, Lane said he would consider appealing that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

"That's several steps down the road," he said. 

Texas is one of 15 states where same-sex couples cannot marry. The Lone Star State is home to 46,401 same-sex couples, according to the Williams Institute, more than any state except California or New York. 

Also Tuesday, a federal judge struck down Mississippi's marriage ban, but stayed the decision for 14 days to allow the state to appeal to the 5th Circuit.  

Read the state of Texas' motion asking Garcia not to lift the stay, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Fights To Keep Stay on Pro-Marriage Equality Ruling In Place" »


Texas AG Greg Abbott Doesn't Know If He Would've Defended Bans on Interracial Marriage 50 Years Ago

AbbottIn an interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott failed to give a concrete answer when asked whether he would have defended a prohibition on interracial marriage had he been in office 50 years ago. 

Abbott, who is running for governor this year, filed a brief with the Fifth Circuit earlier this month asserting that his state's ban on same-sex marriage should remain in place because it reduces out-of-wedlock births

Lone Star Q reports:

“Right now, if there was a ban on interracial marriage, that’s already been ruled unconstitutional,” Abbott told the San Antonio Express-News editorial board.  “And all I can do is deal with the issues that are before me … The job of an attorney general is to represent and defend in court the laws of their client, which is the state Legislature, unless and until a court strikes it down.”

When Express-News’ Peggy Fikac told Abbott his answer was unclear, Abbott replied:

“Actually, the reason why you’re uncertain about it is because I didn’t answer the question. And I can’t go back and answer some hypothetical question like that.”

Back in February, Abbott's Democratic opponent, state senator Wendy Davis, told the paper she supported marriage equality and called on Abbott to stop defending the unconstitutional ban on gay marriage.  


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