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Lambda Legal Concerned Chris Christie May Retaliate Against Pro-Equality Supreme Court Justice: VIDEO

Christie

Lambda Legal has launched a campaign with citizens groups and unions over concern Chris Christie will play politics with the New Jersey Supreme Court and refuse to reappoint Chief Justice Rabner.

Writes Lambda in a press release: Rabner

In 2010, Gov. Christie became the first New Jersey governor since the ratification of the New Jersey constitution in 1947 to not reappoint a sitting Supreme Court justice. Many reacted with shock when he chose to end the service of Justice John Wallace, a respected jurist and the New Jersey Supreme Court's only African-American justice. In 2012, the governor declined to reappoint another sitting Supreme Court member, Justice Helen Hoens. There are currently two vacancies on the seven-member Court; if Justice Rabner is not reappointed, the state's highest court will have three vacancies and only four justices.

Lambda Legal and other advocates for fair courts are concerned that Gov. Christie will once again play politics with the Court, this time regarding the reappointment of Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, author of an October 2013 decision in Garden State Equality v. Dow that was instrumental in providing the freedom for same-sex couples to marry in the state. Gov. Christie roundly criticized the ruling.

The campaign to protect the courts includes a video, online petition and other activities to engage residents of New Jersey to speak out about protecting the courts from improper political influence. Organizations joining Lambda Legal in the petition effort include: CWA New Jersey, New Jersey Citizen Action, Latino Action Network, and Blue Jersey.

Watch the group's video on the campaign, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lambda Legal Concerned Chris Christie May Retaliate Against Pro-Equality Supreme Court Justice: VIDEO" »


Federal Lawsuit Filed Challenging Gay Marriage Ban in Georgia

Georgia

Lambda Legal has filed a federal lawsuit today challenging Georgia's ban on gay marriage on behalf of three same-sex couples and a widow, it announced at a press conference today:

The case was filed on behalf of Christopher Inniss and Shelton Stroman of Snellville (top left), Rayshawn Chandler and Avery Chandler of Jonesboro (top right), Michael Bishop and Shane Thomas of Atlanta (bottom right), and Jennifer Sisson of Decatur.

Joining Inniss and Stroman as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: Rayshawn Chandler, 29, and Avery Chandler, 30, Atlanta Police Department police officers who have been together for almost three years; Michael Bishop, 50, and Shane Thomas, 44, together for seven years and the parents of two children; and Jennifer Sisson, 34, whose wife, Pamela Drenner, died on March 1 at age 49. Jennifer and Pam were married in New York in 2013. Despite being legally married, the State of Georgia has refused to list Jennifer as Pam's wife on Pam's death certificate.

Said Inniss, a veterinarian and pet resort owner:

"Georgia is our home. Our family is here, our business is here, and our community here is a great support for us. Shelton and I have been together for 13 years. We own a home together, we own a business together, and we are raising our son, Jonathan, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but marriage is the only way to ensure that we are treated as the family that we are. We need the protection that marriage affords."

Said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta:

"Every day that same-sex couples in Georgia are denied the freedom to marry, the government sends a message that their families are not worthy of dignity and respect. Georgians believe in the Southern values of love, honor and family, but as long as the State of Georgia continues to bar same-sex couples from marriage, it devalues these families and reinforces unfairness and discrimination."

Read the full complaint HERE.

The Georgia Voice also has a few more interviews with all the plaintiffs.


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.


Three New Lawsuits Seek the Freedom to Marry in Arizona and Indiana

Macpherson_stolen
Rob MacPherson and Steven Stolen, plaintiffs in the ACLU Indiana suit.

Yesterday we reported that the ACLU filed a lawsuit in Florida demanding recognition of gay marriages from out-of-state.

Also filed yesterday were two others, in Arizona and Indiana.

ArizonaflagFreedom To Marry has details, on Arizona:

Lambda Legal filed this federal lawsuit - Majors v. Roche - in Arizona on behalf of seven same-sex couples - and the surviving spouses of two other same-sex couples - seeking the freedom to marry or respect for legal marriage licenses received in other states.

"Every day that same-sex couples in Arizona are denied marriage, the government sends a message that their families are not worthy of equal dignity and respect," Lambda Legal Senior Council Jennifer Pizer explained.

The plaintiffs include married same-sex couples, couples who want to marry in Arizona, and individuals whose same-sex spouses have passed away without Arizona ever respecting their status as a married couple. The lead plaintiffs are Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey (pictured), who are both in their 70s and have been together for more than 55 years.

IndianaAnd Indiana:

Lambda Legal filed this federal lawsuit - Baskin v. Bogan -on behalf of three same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in Indiana.

The plaintiffs include: Rae Baskin and Esther Fuller, who have been together for 24 years; Bonne Everly and Linda Judkins, together for over 13 years; and Dawn Lynn Carver and Pamela Eanes, together for 17 years. All of the couples are unmarried.

The named plaintiff, Rae Baskin, explained, "We just want what everyone else has in Indiana – a real, honest and legal marriage. We are a family. Esther loves me unconditionally and I can’t imagine life without her.”

And today comes news that the ACLU has filed ANOTHER, separate lawsuit in Indiana:

The American Civil Liberties Union, The ACLU of Indiana, along with attorney Sean Lemieux of the Lemieux Law Office in Indianapolis, have filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of 15 plaintiffs seeking the freedom marry in Indiana.

The suit seeks to stop the state from enforcing the current discriminatory law, to require the state to recognize marriages that have taken place outside of Indiana and to allow same-sex couples to wed in Indiana.

These lawsuits around the country are proliferating so quickly it is becoming increasingly challenging to keep track of them all. But we'll do our best!


Lambda Legal and ACLU Seek to Intervene in Boies/Olson Virginia Marriage Case

Virginia

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a motion earlier this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to intervene on behalf of all Virginia's same-sex couples and their families in Bostic v. Rainey.

BosticAs you may know, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and the ACLU and Lambda Legal have been leading separate cases challenging Virginia's gay marriage ban. AFER's case has already had a hearing and in mid-February, Judge Arenda Wright Allen struck down Virginia's gay marriage ban based on their arguments.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals now has the case.

Lambda and the ACLU want in on this now, and issued a press release announcing the motion:

"We represent a class of all same sex couples in Virginia for whom the denial of marriage inflicts a variety of harms, and they deserve to be heard," said Greg Nevins, Counsel in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. "The Bostic appeal could decide the fate of not only both couples involved, but also the entire class of over 14,000 same-sex couples in Virginia who we represent."

The Harris case is awaiting decision from the court. Once that decision is issued, it will be appealed to the Fourth Circuit. In the meantime, allowing the Harris class action to intervene in the Bostic case now will allow the two cases to be consolidated on appeal without delaying or disrupting either case.

"From the beginning, both of these cases have proceeded on parallel tracks, and for the good of all couples in the state, we hope it will remain that way," said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "This motion just ensures that all affected couples have their day in court."

The Bostic v. Rainey case is very well positioned to be the next marriage case heard before the Supreme Court and any groups who are there will get the benefit of a national spotlight and credit for its ultimate victory.

The Washington Blade notes that plaintiffs in Bostic aren't happy about the motion:

Matthew D. McGill, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the Bostic case, questioned why the two groups petitioned the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to join the Bostic case.

“The addition of new parties to the case at this late stage risks delaying the proceedings, and there is not a moment to lose when gay and lesbian couples and families across Virginia – and other states in the Fourth Circuit – are experiencing real harm,” said McGill. “We hope the Harris plaintiffs and their lawyers will continue to support our shared goal of marriage equality by filing an amicus brief alongside us.”

A source involved in the legal process who asked to remain anonymous told the Blade there are “grave and serious consequences for an unwarranted ACLU intervention.” These could include the possibility that other groups from West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina that fall under the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction could seek to join the case if allowed.

“If intervention were granted, it could adversely slow down the current appeals process – and time is critical when it comes to attaining marriage equality for all Virginians,” said the source. “There is not a day to lose. Groups like the ACLU can be supportive by simply filing amicus briefs.”

Stay tuned.


Court Grants Expedited Hearing, Allows Withdrawal of State's Defense in Challenge to Nevada Gay Marriage Ban

A federal appeals court has granted the Nevada Governor and Attorney General's request to withdraw a brief defending the state's ban on gay marriage and granted an expedited hearing in the case, Lambda Legal reports:

SandovalThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today granted Lambda Legal's request to expedite the hearing of Sevcik v. Sandoval, its lawsuit challenging Nevada's discriminatory marriage ban. The decision comes just two days after Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval sought leave to withdraw his brief defending the ban. The Ninth Circuit also granted Gov. Sandoval's request to withdraw his brief.

Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Tara Borelli said:

The fact that the government defendants no longer are defending Nevada's exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage makes any delay in these loving and committed couples securing the relief they seek particularly intolerable. The wheels of justice are now on a much faster track.

Gov. Sandoval's request and the earlier decision by Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover to withdraw his brief were motivated by the Ninth Circuit's recent ruling in SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Laboratories that discriminatory classifications based upon sexual orientation must receive heightened scrutiny and should be presumed unconstitutional. The heightened scrutiny standard is much tougher to meet and rendered the state of Nevada's arguments in its original brief defending the marriage ban "no longer tenable in the Ninth Circuit," as Nevada's Attorney General conceded in a statement released last week. The withdrawal of the two government defendants leaves only the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, which the U.S. District Court had allowed to intervene, defending the marriage ban.


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