Kentucky Hub




Kentucky Judge Grants State's First Same Sex Divorce

Screenshot 2015-01-13 17.44.36Though Kentucky has yet to legalize same-sex marriage, or even deign to recognize gay unions performed out-of-state, a Jefferson County Family Court judge struck a blow for marriage equality by granting the first legal same-sex divorce in the state. Judge Joseph O'Reilly divorced Alysha Romero and Rebecca Sue Romero, a lesbian couple who were first married in Massachusetts in 2009, citing Kentucky law that requires judges to “liberally” construe the legal proceedings surrounding divorce so as to encourage “amicable settlements” between people looking to split.

"The Constitution of Kentucky prohibits the exercise of absolute and arbitrary power over [its peoples’] lives,” O'Reilly said. "Even if that exercise is approved of by the largest majority."

Aysha Romero’s lawyer, Louis Waterman, argued that despite Kentucky’s refusal to acknowledge out-of-state gay marriages, a decision to not grant the Romeros a divorce would be tantamount to the state recognizing them as being married.

O’Reilly first made his ruling in late December of last year, but held off making it public until the new year, after his retirement. O’Reilly is not seeking re-election, and because the window for appeals has since passed his ruling has become precedent in Jefferson county, though it can’t be used in other Kentucky cases.

"I am just thrilled with Judge O'Reilly's courage,” said Waterman. “I think he had a lot of chutzpah to do what he did."

 


States Defending Gay Marriage Bans Costing Taxpayers Millions In Attorney Fees

MarriageGraphic

Plaintiffs in successful same-sex marriage lawsuits have been awarded more than $800,000 in attorneys fees' from states that defended the bans, with another $2.6 million in requests pending, according to a new report from The National Law Journal: 

Federal district judges across the country have issued nearly three dozen rulings since late 2013 declaring state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Attorney fee petitions haven't been filed yet in the majority of those cases as they go before circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. The fee awards, agreements and requests to date offer an early snapshot of what these landmark civil rights cases could cost taxpayers. ... 

Plaintiffs who prevail in federal civil rights cases can collect legal fees from the losing side. Congress set up the fee-shifting rule as an incentive for lawyers to take on time-consuming and expensive civil rights litigation, said Deborah Ferguson, lead counsel for the couples who fought Idaho's gay marriage ban.

In Idaho, the plaintiffs' attorneys were awarded a whopping $410,663 — the most in any state thus far. But that hasn't stopped Republican Gov. Butch Otter from continuing his futile defense of the state's marriage ban in court. The other states where plaintiffs' attorneys fees have been awarded or agreed to in same-sex marriage cases are Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon and Virginia. Requests are pending in Alaska, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Of course, the plaintiffs' attorneys fees don't include the cost to taxpayers of states paying their lawyers or hiring outside counsel to defend the bans — or, for that matter, lost revenue from wedding-related spending where same-sex marriage is still not legal. 

All told, it seems that defending discrimination isn't cheap, and states that continue to fight same-sex marriage better be prepared to pay up. And the irony is, many of the same folks who advocate lower taxes are the same ones fighting hardest to deprive same-sex couples of the freedom to marry.  


Supreme Court To Consider On Jan 9. Whether To Hear Challenges To Same-Sex Marriage Bans

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In the wake of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision earlier this year to uphold bans on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Michigan, the United States Supreme Court has decided to consider hearing challenges to that ruling from marriage equality advocates during its closed doors conference on January 9th. At that same conference, the Court will also be considering a decision from a federal judge in Louisiana that let that state's ban on same-sex marriage stand. BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner reports: 

“The Tanco [Tennessee case] petition will be considered at the Court’s January 9 conference, along with … petitions filed by the plaintiffs in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana,” National Center for Lesbian Rights spokesperson Erik Olvera told BuzzFeed News on Monday afternoon.

The plaintiffs and marriage equality advocates alike hope the petitions will provide the Supreme Court with the chance to take a case to resolve the issue nationally with a ruling that would apply across the country.

Although the justices denied petitions filed earlier in the year from other states, all were in cases in which the lower court had struck down the bans — and before there was a “circuit split,” a disagreement among the federal appeals court on the issue. All five petitions before the court now come from decisions upholding the various states’ bans.

In November, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, reversed the four district courts to have heard the cases out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee — sending the plaintiffs in the cases from all four states to the Supreme Court seeking an appeal. 

[…]

Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio officials agreed that the Supreme Court should take a case and resolve the issue nationally; only Tennessee officials opposed Supreme Court review.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Jeffrey Fisher, from Stanford Law School, joined the Kentucky lawyers, led by Daniel Canon, in Monday’s reply brief, arguing, “For petitioners here – and for lesbian and gay couples and families across both the Sixth Circuit and the country – the harm and confusion that the circuit split has caused calls out for immediate review.”

You can read the Kentucky plaintiffs' reply below:

14-575 Plaintiffs' Reply by Equality Case Files


Alliance Defending Freedom Wants to Make a Martyr Out of Anti-Gay Kentucky Printing Company - VIDEO

Hands on Originals

Anti-gay "Chistian" litigation group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is once again playing the victim in a new video covering the Kentucky t-shirt company found guilty of violating Lexington's fairness ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, reports Good As You.

Best known for defending anti-gay retailers in trouble for defying laws banning discrimination, ADF also lobbies for homophobic laws abroad.

AdfBack in 2012, Hands On Originals refused to print the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization's Pride t-shirts. The company was found to have violated the non-discrimination code and was ordered to provide diversity training for staff.

Good As You’s interpretation of ADF’s latest moan?

“There is not one shred of difference between the protections that apply to gay customers and their perfectly fair consumer requests and the protections that apply to Black, Chinese-American, Jewish, straight, disabled, or Christian customers. The only difference is the sense of entitlement that far too many anti-LGBT Christians believe they deserve. And why wouldn't they believe this? There are scores of false witness bearers and false witness-bearing organizations desperate to keep that lie alive.”

Watch long-suffering pro-discrimination advocates talk about the Hands On Originals case, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Alliance Defending Freedom Wants to Make a Martyr Out of Anti-Gay Kentucky Printing Company - VIDEO" »


Bryan Fischer: Gay History Begins With Sodom And Gomorrah - VIDEO

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Bryan Fischer, the head of rabidly anti-gay listed hate group the American Family Association, has said that schools teaching gay history will need to start with Sodom and Gomorrah, reports Right Wing Watch.

Fischer was holding forth on his wingnut radio show yesterday on the “right” of a creationist theme park in Kentucky to refuse to hire gay people despite an application for federal funding.

He then confused history with fiction, bringing up a requirement in California that school districts include the contributions of LGBT people in their history curricula and demanding that any such lessons begin with Sodom and Gomorrah.

"Every public school in the state of California has got to indoctrinate, brainwash students in homosexuality.

"I will support you teaching homosexuality in California's public schools on the condition that you start with Sodom and Gomorrah. If you want to teach gay history in your public schools, then you've got to teach gay history. Gay history starts with Sodom and Gomorrah, so if you start there, you can teach all the gay history that you want.”

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Bryan Fischer: Gay History Begins With Sodom And Gomorrah - VIDEO" »


Michigan and Kentucky Plaintiffs Ask Supreme Court to Review Sixth Circuit Ruling Upholding Gay Marriage Bans

Scotus

Joining plaintiffs in Ohio and Tennessee who have filed similar petitions with the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs at the center of the cases challenging Kentucky and Michigan's gay marriage bans are asking the high court to take up the Sixth Circuit's anti-equality ruling. 

The Associated Press reports:

...Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has declined to defend the state ban and Gov. Steve Beshear has hired private attorneys to represent the state. The Ohio appeal focuses on the state’s refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriages because of its own ban, while the Tennessee case is narrowly focused on the rights of three same-sex couples.

Detroit Free Press reports on the significance of the April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse's Michigan case:

While it remains uncertain which case -- if any -- the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take, here are some elements that make the Michigan case unique:

* There was an actual trial on the same-sex marriage issue in Michigan, whereas in other states, judges issued decisions after reading written arguments, with no cross examination of any witnesses or experts.

* Two, the Michigan plaintiffs aren't just seeking legal recognition for same-sex couples who were married in other states, but are actually fighting to make gay marriage legal in Michigan by challenging a voter-approved ban on it.

Michigan* Three, the Michigan plaintiffs also have children they are raising together — a key issue in the same-sex marriage debate. Those fighting to legalize gay marriage argue families are being harmed when same-sex parents aren't legally recognized, while traditional marriage advocates argue that children thrive best when raised by moms and dads and that it's too early to tell if same-sex parenting is a good idea or not.

* Four, the state of Michigan is actively seeking to keep same-sex marriage illegal, whereas in other states, officials have opted not to pursue appeals once a federal judge has spoken on the issue. That didn't happen at the conclusion of Michigan's same-sex marriage trial.

DOMA lawyer Mary Bonauto has also joined the Michigan legal team. 

Here are the briefs courtesy of Equality Case Files

[photo via screenshot]


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