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Gay Marriage News Watch: MI, KY, OH, TN - VIDEO

Baume

Matt Baume with American Foundation for Equal Rights reports on the four briefs filed with the Supreme Court by the four states who will be defending state bans on same-sex marriage - Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee. 

The briefs, as Baume explains, are filled with "weird claims and arguments that just don't make sense."

Dive in, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Kentucky Governor Offers Ridiculous Argument To SCOTUS On Gay Marriage Ban: VIDEO

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear argued in a brief filed last week before the U.S. Supreme Court that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is not discriminatory because both gay and straight people are banned from marrying people of the same gender, reports the Courier-Journal.

6a00d8341c730253ef017c3806bbd9970b-200wiThe governor’s argument mirrors that offered by the state of Virginia nearly fifty years ago when it defended laws barring interracial marriage arguing they weren't discriminatory because whites were barred from marrying blacks just as blacks were barred from marrying whites.

In 1967, the Supreme Court rejected that argument in the historic case of Loving v. Virginia, in which a white man and a black woman were charged with a crime for marrying.

According to Dan Canon, a lawyer for six gay couples challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban in a case to be argued at the Supreme Court on April 28, Beshear's argument is "especially absurd" as applied to same-sex marriage:

"Kentucky is in essence saying that our clients are precluded from marriage entirely, unless they change their sexual orientation (or simply marry someone to whom they are not attracted). It's akin to passing a law banning all Catholic churches within city limits, and then saying it's not discriminatory because you can still go to a Baptist church.”

Arguing that Beshear’s defense of marriage inequality “has really hit a new low,” Sam Marcosson, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Louisville's Brandeis School of Law, added:

"I wonder what Governor Beshear and his lawyers would say if the shoe was on the other foot, and if the only option for marriage was of the same-sex variety. Whatever his reasons, the governor has set Kentucky on a course of fighting to preserve invidious discrimination, and he has waged that fight in a deeply embarrassing way. The taint to his legacy will be difficult for history to ignore."

Although Beshear has refused to comment, Mat Staver of listed hate group Liberty Counsel said that same-sex couples are not "similarly situated" to opposite-sex couples and therefore are not entitled to equal protection under the law.

Watch American Foundation for Equal Rights lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies discuss how Loving v. Virginia sets an important precedence for marriage equality, AFTER THE JUMP...

In 2013, Beshear vetoed a bill which would allow religious individuals to claim an exemption from any law or policy that prohibits discrimination.

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Kentucky State Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Anti-trans Bathroom Bill for Students

Ky

Yesterday, the Kentucky Senate approved a bill that would require transgender students in the state to use the bathroom that matches their biological sex rather than their gender identification.

The vote was 27-9, with three Republicans joining Senate Democrats in opposing the bill. 

The Courier-Journal reports:

EmbryRepublican Sen. C.B. Embry (right), the bill's sponsor, calls it a "common sense" approach to guide school administrators and safeguard privacy in areas where students are in a state of undress. Supporters argue the rule also would help protect transgender students from bullying and harassment by providing separate accommodations.

But opponents charged Friday that lawmakers are yielding to fear and discrimination. They said the bill will strip flexibility from school districts and violate federal guidelines on civil rights for transgender students.

"We need to acknowledge that this is the civil rights issue of our current time, and today this Senate has failed the people of Kentucky," said Sen. Reginald Thomas, a Democrat who warned that the legislation would "cast a shroud of darkness" over the Senate.

Under the legislation, transgender students must either use the bathroom of their biological sex or seek special accommodations such as a faculty or unisex bathroom. 

The Lexington Herald-Leader has background on why the bill was introduced in the first place:

The bill stems from a controversy last year at Atherton, where a transgender student who was born male identified as a female and wanted to use the girls' bathrooms and locker rooms.

A controversy arose, and the school eventually adopted a policy of letting students use bathrooms based on their gender identity. The decision was backed by the school's site-based council and a Jefferson County Public Schools appeals committee. 

The bill now heads to the Democrat-controlled House, where Speaker Greg Stumbo has already indicated he isn't interested in taking up the bill and "deciding where kids can go to the bathroom."


Kentucky Senate Panel Approves Discriminatory Transgender Bathroom Bill

Kentucky Senate meeting

What is with the anti-trans crowd's obsession with bathrooms? Do they think trans kids are all Eric Cartman, sticking a bow on their head and faking it to get some nefarious need met?

This past Monday the Kentucky Senate Education Committee revisited and approved Senate Bill 76 in an 8-1 vote in an attempt to force transgender students to use the bathroom at their school that matches their biological sex rather than their gender identification. In a particularly shady move, the committee kept its agenda for Monday in perpetual "Pending" status and no mention of the bill was ever made to the public until it was brought up at the meeting.

Opponents called the bill "mean-spirited" and contended that it may violate federal law governing the equal treatment of male and female students. Proponents claim that transgender rights are being elevated above student rights and that they don't feel comfortable with trans students using the "wrong" bathroom.

The Republican-led Senate is expected to approve the bill and pass it on to the Democratic-controlled House.


Openly Gay Montana Rep. Bryce Bennett Introduces Bill To Remove Gay Marriage From State's List Of Prohibited Marriages

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 12.45.53 PMD-Rep. Bryce Bennett of Missoula, Mont. introduced House Bill 282 in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday that if passed would remove same-sex marriage from a list of prohibited marriages reports NBC MontanaIn November, District Judge Brian Morris struck down the ban on same-sex marriage in Montana with the state joining 32, now 36, other states that allow or have seen rulings allowing same-sex marriages. Morris ruled that Montana's ban on same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, thus making the ban unconstitutional. 

The U.S. Supreme Court announced in early January that it would take up the issue of gay marriage. However, members of the Montana House Judiciary Committee questioned removing the state's restriction before the high court makes its decision on the matter. The U.S. Supreme Court declared it would hear four cases that challenge states' bans on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee with the cases set for hearings on April 24. 


Marriage At the Supreme Court 2.0: The Cases

Scotus

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

This article is one in a multipart series leading up to a future Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. The Court has granted review of four marriage cases from the Sixth Circuit and a decision may be handed down at the end of June. Between now and then, Towleroad will break down the cases step by step. Today's topic: The Cases.

Last time, we spoke about the importance of framing the case through the Questions Presented. I argued that despite some concern, the two questions posed in the Supreme Court's order do not indicate that the justices are looking for a way out. They are ready to rule. Before we discuss the substance on which the justices will rule, let's review the four cases that will decide the marriage equality question.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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