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Lambda Legal Sues For Unconstitutional Deprivation Of Veterans Benefits To Same-Sex Spouses

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Lambda Legal has filed suit against the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on behalf of the American Military Partner Association, an advocacy organization dedicated to supporting partners and spouses of LGBT troops and veterans.

Lambda argues that the denial of benefits to same-sex spouses of veterans living in states that refuse to recognize their marriages violates the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The petition argues that the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor striking down Section 3 of DOMA specifically flagged as unconstitutional the deprivation of veterans benefits to same-sex spouses.

The petition further states:

“Having weathered the federal government’s past, longstanding discrimination against them, lesbian and gay veterans and their families find themselves once again deprived of equal rights and earned benefits by the government they served and the nation for which they sacrificed.”

Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal, said:

“Gay and lesbian veterans have served their country and risked the ultimate sacrifice to fulfill their duty to this nation. Married veterans and their spouses, wherever they live, need critical veterans benefits, earned through years of often perilous service, to take care of their families. No member of our community should be left behind just because their home state continues to discriminate against their marriage.”

Read the petition HERE.


ACLU and Lambda Legal Ask Supreme Court to Reject Motion To Delay Same-Sex Marriage In Virginia

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Late last week, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts agreed to review a request from Virginia county clerk Michèle McQuigg to stay a ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Yesterday, prompted by Chief Justice Roberts’ intervention, the ACLU and Lambda Legal asked that the Fourth Circuit’s ruling not be stayed so that same-sex marriage can begin at last in Virginia:

"We will do everything we can to ensure that same-sex couples do not have to wait a day longer than necessary to finally receive the dignity and protection that only comes with marriage," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, who argued the case for the class before the federal appeals court. "The historic Supreme Court case that affirmed the right of people of different races to marry started in in Virginia. In the 47 years since then, committed same-sex couples in the commonwealth have been patiently waiting for the freedom to marry the person they love."

The organizations also will request that, if the Court decides to grant the stay, it should accept the case for full review as quickly as possible in order to minimize the harm that would be caused by the delay of the Fourth Circuit decision.

As WVEC notes, same-sex couples will be allowed to wed in Virginia starting August 21 unless the Supreme Court grants a stay of the Fourth Circuit’s decision. 


Alaska Supreme Court Implements Survivor Benefits for Gay Couples

AlaskaGay marriage is not legal in the state of Alaska, but on Friday the state's Supreme Court made a major decision the state's fight for equality.

The court ruled the case of Harris v. Millennium Hotel, and their verdict ensures same-sex couples in Alaska are now offered the same survivor benefits as their straight counterparts. The ruling extends the scope of the state's workers’ compensation law, which requires employers to provide benefits to the spouse of a person who dies from a work-related injury.

Now everyone will have their day in court.

The case of Harris v. Millennium Hotel was filed by Lambda Legal, on behalf of Deborah Harris, who was seeking survivor benefits after her partner Kerry Fadely was killed by a disgruntled former employee at her place of employment, Anchorage’s Millennium Hotel.

(h/t Lambda Legal)


Seventh Circuit Court Of Appeals Says Indiana Must Recognize Terminally Ill Lesbian’s Marriage: READ

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511d7fd9b970c-800wiThe U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Indiana must recognize the marriage of a terminally ill lesbian, Niki Quasney, while the state appeals District Judge Richard L. Young’s earlier ruling that found Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Nicki, who is married to wife Amy Sandler, is currently battling stage IV ovarian cancer. Lambda legal filed the emergency motion that resulted in the seventh circuit lifting its earlier stay of Judge Young’s decision: 

Paul D. Castillo, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal, said:

It is time for the State of Indiana to leave Niki and Amy in peace and not subject them and their marriage to any more stress and uncertainty as this case proceeds. We’re thrilled that the court ruled in favor of this family as Niki battles stage four ovarian cancer. We will continue to fight until no family in Indiana needs to worry about their marriage being stripped away from them and all Hoosiers have the freedom to marry.

In response to the emergency motion filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of Niki and Amy, the 7th Circuit also set an expedited briefing schedule in Baskin v. Bogan, with all briefs in the case due by August 5. Arguments in the case could come as early as the end of the summer. 

Read the court order, AFTER THE JUMP…

Continue reading "Seventh Circuit Court Of Appeals Says Indiana Must Recognize Terminally Ill Lesbian’s Marriage: READ " »


Lambda Legal Files Emergency Motion In Indiana To Immediately Recognize Gay Couple’s Marriage

CoupleLambda Legal has filed an emergency motion with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals asking the court to recognize the marriage of Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler while it considers District Judge Richard L. Young’s ruling striking down Indiana’s ban on gay marriage because Niki is currently battling Stage IV ovarian cancer.

Judge Young’s ruling was stayed by the 7th Circuit just days ago which brought an end to same-sex marriages that were just getting underway in the hoosier state. The stay also removed the emergency relief that was previously granted to Quasney and Sandler back in April that required the State to respect Niki and Amy’s marriage while the case, Baskin v. Bogan, proceeded through the courts. From Lambda Legal:

The emergency relief granted by the trial court is no longer in effect; the stay issued by the Appeals Court last week applies even to couples facing terminal illness, who may not live to see the conclusion of the State’s appeal.

“There is no justification whatsoever for depriving this family of the dignity, comfort, and protections of a legally recognized marriage during this already agonizingly difficult time,” said Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. “We ask Attorney General Zoeller not to oppose this motion. This is one family in all of Indiana that is undergoing tremendous stress while they courageously fight Ms. Quasney’s stage four ovarian cancer. Their marriage doesn’t harm anyone in Indiana, it simply protects them and their children.”

Baskin v. Bogan was filed on March 10, 2014 in the United States District Court in the Southern District of Indiana. Lambda Legal later filed a motion seeking immediate relief for Ms. Quasney, Ms. Sandler and their two children ages 3 and 1. Almost five years ago, Ms. Quasney was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, having more than 100 tumors removed surgically in 2009, and has since gone through years of chemotherapy. They have a civil union in Illinois and were married in Massachusetts in 2013 but need their marriage legally recognized in Indiana to receive the full protections that every other married family in Indiana receives.

Previously, a gay Ohio couple’s marriage was recognized by a federal judge as one of the partners was battling terminal illness.


Lambda Legal Files Discrimination Complaint Against Restaurant for 'Gay Bitches' Receipt

Lambda Legal has filed a discrimination complaint against a Washington, DC hookah bar for leaving a transgender woman a bar receipt reading "gay bitches".

GaybitchesAmira Gray, whom Lambda is representing, says she went to Bistro 18 in August of 2013 with some friends and, after receiving terrible service from the wait staff, says she was "extremely hurt, embarrassed and upset" at then having received the receipt with the message. 

Said Gray to Lambda:

When my friends and I saw the receipt, we were humiliated and embarrassed. We went in planning to enjoy Bistro 18 just like everyone else in the hookah bar that evening, but it turned into a disturbing experience. I am standing up for my friends and me because I don't think anyone should have to go through that.

Gray added that a friend of hers brought the receipt to the manager who "snatched" it and brought back a new one with no anti-gay slur. 

In the complaint, Gray said, "I believe I was denied the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of Bistro 18 based on my gender identity (transgender woman), gender expression, perceived sexual orientation, and personal appearance, as well as my association with friends of mine who are gay or may have been perceived as lesbian or gay, in violation of D.C. code 2–1401.31."

Dru Levasseur, Lambda Legal Transgender Rights Project Director, said:

Discrimination against LGBT customers is a widespread problem that often goes unaddressed in businesses across the country. That this happened in Washington, D.C., where LGBT people have strong protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and personal appearance, points out the importance of ensuring existing laws are enforced. By standing up for herself and her friends, Amira is taking a stand for all LGBT people who are targeted by businesses for unequal treatment because of who they are.


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