Lambda Legal Hub




Judge: Portion of Challenge to West Virginia Ban on Gay Marriage Can Proceed

A federal judge has ruled that a challenge to West Virginia's ban on gay marriage can proceed, but that part of the lawsuit, which sought the recognition of gay marriages from other states, cannot go forward without additional plaintiffs, the Charleston Gazette reports:

WvNone of the couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit has an out-of-state marriage license, so they don't have legal standing to challenge the fact that West Virginia won't recognize them, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers said in his order Wednesday.

Chambers gave the plaintiffs -- three same-sex couples from West Virginia -- until Feb. 12 to amend their complaint.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on Octover 1 on behalf of three gay couples seeking the right to marry. The lawyers are not sure if they will bring additional plaintiffs:

"We're probably not inclined to add additional plaintiffs, but we're evaluating it. We feel like we've got the substance of the way those families are harmed already in front of the court," Loewy said. "The important thing this case really presents is an opportunity to have the court understand how not being able to be recognized as a married couple harms West Virginia families. Our existing plaintiffs tell that story beautifully."


West Virginia Attorney General Files Motion to Defend State's Gay Marriage Ban in Court

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a motion to intervene and defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage in a lawsuit challenging it, the AP reports:

MorriseyNew York-based gay rights group Lambda Legal contends West Virginia’s Defense of Marriage Act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Huntington in October on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple...

...Morrisey’s filing notes that state agencies enforce or otherwise execute the laws in question.

...Lambda Legal argues West Virginia’s ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children. In addition to its own ban, the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages that occurred in other states. The organization says its clients are denied the legal sanction, societal respect, financial protections and other support that marriage gives to heterosexual couples.

The plaintiffs are partners Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins, and Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris, all of Huntington, and Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton, of St. Albans, and their son, Drew.


Gay California Teacher Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against School District

Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit against Hesperia Unified School District in San Bernardino County, California, on behalf of a lesbian teacher, Julia Frost, who was formerly employed at Sultana High School, alleging that she was fired for being gay. The AP reports the lawsuit, filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court on Tuesday, insists Frost was a victim of "unlawful discrimination, harassment and retaliation because of her sexual orientation":

Lambda-Frost--1The suit alleges that administrators created a hostile environment for Frost and gay students, singling them out for harassment, and investigated Frost for "teaching homosexuality." The suit said that despite the harassment, Frost still received an outstanding performance review.

The district said in a statement Frost was "legitimately and appropriately dismissed" and is taking legal action for personal gain.

Frost was a co-sponsor with another teacher who is not gay of the Gay/Straight Alliance, which has chapters in schools across the country. The lawsuit alleges that the club's activities and announcements were censored and specifically omitted from a listing of school organizations in a student handbook.

Frost, who had been an English teacher at Sultana High from August 2011 until May 2013, paints a picture of a strongly anti-gay school and staff. Administrators allegedly threatened to reveal students' sexual orientation to their parents after complaining of bullying. Frost says her teaching contract wasn't renewed after she helped a student print and fill out a complaint form against a teacher "who told a student to 'take the gay headband off' in class and commented 'that's so gay' in a disparaging manner."

(Photo via FrontiersLA)


Meet Justin and Will, Who are Challenging West Virginia's Ban on Gay Marriage: VIDEO

Westvirginia

On October 1st, we reported that Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of three gay couples challenging West Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage.

One of those couples, Justin Murdock and his partner William Glavaris, are profiled in a beautiful new video from Fairness West Virginia. Justin and Will are based in Huntington and Justin is a board member of the organization.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Fairness West Virginia writes:

Faces of Fairness is a groundbreaking project is the first of its kind in West Virginia and is comprised of a touring photography exhibit, a documentary film, and a web-based archive. The participants articulate the many issues that face LGBT West Virginians including second-parent adoption rights, medical benefits, hospital visitation rights, employment and housing discrimination, advocacy and political representation, transgender rights and protections, marriage equality, and bullying.

Currently West Virginia is the only state in the southern United States that has been able to defeat and defend against a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. However, it is still perfectly legal in West Virginia to deny employment or housing to an LGBT person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is also still legal to deny medical benefits to same-sex partners and their children.

Continue reading "Meet Justin and Will, Who are Challenging West Virginia's Ban on Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Federal Judge Hears Arguments in ACLU Class Action Suit Challenging Virginia Gay Marriage Ban

A federal judge in Harrisonburg, Virginia heard arguments yesterday on the certification of a class action suit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage, the AP reports:

Aclu_virginiaU.S. District Judge Michael Urbanski heard arguments Tuesday. According to court records and the ACLU of Virginia, which is representing the plaintiffs, he did not immediately rule.

He also took under advisement motions to dismiss Gov. Bob McDonnell and Staunton Circuit Court Clerk Thomas E. Roberts as defendants. The other defendant is Janet Rainey, the state registrar of vital records.

The lawsuit, which is one of two high-profile marriage cases in Virginia, was filed on August 1. The other case was filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which recently took the Prop. 8 case to the Supreme Court.


Chicago Cabbie Sued for Kicking Gay Couple Out of Taxi For Kissing

Cab

Back in June, we reported on a Chicago cabbie who tried to force Steven White and his boyfriend Matt McCrea from his cab on the side of the rain-drenched Kennedy Expressway after they kissed briefly in the back seat. CBS Chicago reported then:

During the ride, McCrea "leaned over to look at something on the phone and then he leaned in to kiss me," White recalls.

McCrea says it was a closed-mouth kiss that lasted all of a second. It did not go over well with their cab driver, the two men say. "He indicated that it was a public mode of transportation and we shouldn't kiss in his cab," White says. "He pulled the cab over and stopped and wanted us to get out - on the Kennedy."

Now, Lambda Legal has filed a complaint on behalf of the couple:

"A taxi-cab company, like any other business in Illinois that offers services to the public, is bound by the Illinois Human Rights Act to not discriminate based on sexual orientation, among other protected categories," said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. "What happened to Steven and Matthew was not only hurtful and unlawful, it illustrates exactly why Illinois' citizens need the state's long-standing Human Rights Act to protect them against dangerous situations like this."

At the time, the cab driver claimed the couple was "making sex," but police found no evidence to support that claim. 


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