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Gay Chicago Lawmaker Discusses Trip to Washington State to Marry Partner: VIDEO

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Chicago City Alderman James Cappelman and his partner Richard have been together for more than two decades.  But after waiting anxiously for Illinois to legalize marriage equality, and in light of the disappointing stop-and-start progress of an equal marriage bill over the last year, the couple is heading to Washington state to tie the knot.  The Chicago Tribune has the story:

"We are going to go elsewhere," said Ald. James Cappleman, 46th. "It's kind of sad that a Chicago alderman, an elected official, has to leave his own state. But we'll keep fighting. There's a lot of people who want to get married."

Cappleman and Richard Thale, who met in church, have been together for 22 years. The plan to get married Nov. 22, surrounded by relatives who live out West. The couple already have a civil union in Illinois.

Cappleman is a social worker and longtime community activist in his first term. Thale is the courts advocate for the Town Hall Police District, a Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy beat facilitator and president of the Uptown Chicago Commission.

Cappleman said he first spilled the beans Tuesday night on CLTV's "Politics Tonight" show when asked what it was like to be an alderman and gay. He later posted his plans on Facebook.

The alderman told the Tribune his decision was based in large part on the Supreme Court's June decision invalidating Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.  "Should something happen to either one of us," he wrote in a Facebook post, "we didn't want to take the risk of losing those federal protections that other married couples already have."

Cappleman isn't the other city politician forced to travel outside Illinois to get married: his colleague Deb Mell wed her partner in Iowa.

LGBT advocates in Illinois are pursuing two parallel tracks in their quest for equal marriage rights in the state.  Legislators will seek to pass a marriage equality bill in the veto session this fall, and former state Republican party chair Pat Brady--who resigned after criticism from his own party for his support of same-sex couples' right to marry--is helping the ACLU of Illinois convince GOP lawmakers to back the legislation.

The other track towards marriage equality in Illinois is taking place in the courts.  Late last month, a state judge rejected motions to dismiss two court cases challenging the state's policy of providing only civil unions and not marriage to same-sex couples.  Lambda Legal and the ACLU, who are sponsoring the two cases, are now pressing forward to win a positive ruling from Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall that brings marriage equality to the Land of Lincoln.

You can watch Cappleman discuss his wedding in an appearance on Chicago's WGN9 News (warning: autoplay), AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Chicago Lawmaker Discusses Trip to Washington State to Marry Partner: VIDEO" »


New Jersey Supreme Court To Consider 'Emergency' Gay Marriage Appeal

SipIn response to Governor Chris Christie's "emergency" filing, appealing a lower court's decision to uphold Judge Mary Jacobson's ruling that same-sex marriage must be made legal in the Garden State following the destruction of section 3 of DOMA in United States v. Windsor earlier this year, the New Jersey state Supreme Court decided to consider the merits of the case in question and the request for a stay. If granted, the stay would prevent same-sex couples from marrying while the court decided whether to uphold or reverse Judge Jacobson's decision.

As the AP reports, in Christie's filing he argued that New Jersey's Supreme Court should consider the marriage equality case because no one judge should be allowed to make so momentous a decision:

"To overhaul such an ancient social institution prematurely, precipitously, or in a manner ultimately deemed unnecessary would injure not only the public interest, but the State that represents this interest," the state attorney general's office said in its brief."

The decision on whether to stay Judge Jacobson's ruling is expected to happen "within days" so as determine whether same-sex couples can begin to marry starting October 21 as Jacobson had ordered. However, the court will not consider the merits of the marriage case itself until January.

Lambda Legal spoke out on the court's intervention:

"Time is of the essence and it's great the court is moving so quickly," said Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director of Lambda Legal. "We are looking forward to making our case at the New Jersey Supreme Court for the families in New Jersey who need marriage to better protect their families."

UPDATE: You can find all the official court documents associated with the case HERE.


Lambda Legal To Fight Stay Of Judge's Ruling Legalizing Gay Marriage In NJ

As previously reported, last week New Jersey judge Mary Jacobson ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to wed in the Garden State, declaring, "now that the federal government recognizes gay marriages, not doing so in New Jersey would violate the state constitution." Governor Chris Christie, a stalwart opponent of gay marriage, who in the past vetoed marriage equality legislation sent to him by the state legislature, today officially made good on his earlier promise to appeal Judge Jacobson's ruling. Acting State Attorney General John Hoffman in his appeal to the State's Supreme Court also requested a stay which would in effect prevent same-sex couples from marrying "until the matter can be settled." In response, Lambda Legal promptly announced they will fight Hoffman and Christie's attempts to stay Jacobson's decision. Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director at Lambda Legal (pictured below), spoke on behalf of the organization:

Lambdalady"We're going to do everything we can to make sure same-sex couples can begin making plans to marry starting on the date set by the court - Oct 21st. We will file our opposition on Friday and we'll be making the case that  we are likely to win and any delay in allowing same-sex couples to marry is too great a hardship to allow a stay."

Lambda Legal first brought the case in question to the court in 2011. Following the United States v. Windsor ruling that gutted section 3 of DOMA, Lambda Legal asked for summary judgment from the New Jersey Superior Court. Lambda Legal also filed the 2002 Lewis v. Harris case in New Jersey. In that case the state Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be afforded the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts, though the Court stopped short of saying that full marriage equality was required under the state's constitution. A civil union law was passed by the state legislature as a result of that ruling.

Lambda Legal is far from the only party displeased with Governor Christie's efforts to fight Judge Jacobson's decision. Among others, Christie has drawn the ire of comedy mogul Judd Apatow, who last week tweeted his displeasure with the Governor's anti-equality positions.


Lambda Legal Files Lawsuit Challenging West Virginia's Ban on Gay Marriage

As we reported yesterday afternoon, today Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one of the couples seeking the freedom to marry.

WestvirginiaThe case was filed on behalf of Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins and Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris, all of Huntington, and Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton and their son Drew, of St. Albans, according to a press release from Lambda Legal.

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel fromTinney Law Firm and Jenner & Block, argues that West Virginia's marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

Nancy Michael, 45, and Jane Fenton, 43, have been together for 16 years and their son, Drew, is 6. Of the other plaintiffs, Casie McGee, 30, and Sarah Adkins 32, have been together for more than three years, and Justin Murdock, 32, and William Glavaris, 31, have been together for more than two years.

Said Michael, a lifelong West Virginian: "West Virginia is home for us. Our family is here, our jobs are here, and our community here is a great support for us. Jane and I have been together for 16 years. We live and work together, and we are raising our son, Drew, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but we worry all the time that it isn't enough. We need the protection that marriage affords."

You can read the complaint HERE.


Lambda Legal to Challenge Gay Marriage Ban in West Virginia

Now, West Virginia's same-sex marriage ban is going to have its day in court in a lawsuit to be announced tomorrow, the Charleston Gazette reports:

FairnessLambda Legal will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. in Huntington to announce the lawsuit, according to a release from the firm. The group was among those who filed a lawsuit in Virginia in August challenging that state's ban on gay and lesbian marriage.

A spokesman for Lambda Legal wouldn't release details of the West Virginia lawsuit on Monday. According to the group's website, it has been working with Fairness West Virginia, a gay rights group, "to find a way for all same-sex couples and their families in the Mountain State to get equal legal treatment and protections."

Casey Willits, executive director of Fairness West Virginia, would only confirm Monday that Fairness has been working with Lambda.


Lambda Legal and ACLU Ask Court for Swift Ruling in Challenge to Virginia Gay Marriage Ban

This morning we reported that a case challenging Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is going very high profile with the addition of American Foundation for Equal Rights attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, the lawyers who took the Prop. 8 case to the Supreme Court.

Aclu_virginiaThere is a separate case in Virginia also challenging the same-sex marriage ban that was filed on August 1 by the ACLU and Lambda Legal on behalf of two gay couples, Joanne Harris and Jessica Duff of Staunton and Christy Berghoff and Victoria Kidd of Winchester.

The cases both have ambitions to get to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This morning, perhaps spurred by the AFER announcement, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court for a swift resolution to their case.

2_acluviriginiaSaid Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta, in a press release: “The papers we filed today ask the court to get to the heart of the matter. Barring same-sex couples from marriage is clearly unconstitutional. We do not want a country divided by unfairness and discrimination. Same-sex couples are in loving, committed relationships in every region of our nation and should be treated the same way, whether they live in Maine or Virginia."

Added Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia: “Virginians denied the freedom to marry have no meaningful legislative path to gain the same protections for their families as other loving and committed couples. That’s why we’ve had to ask the federal court to overturn Virginia’s sweeping bans on recognizing same-sex relationships. We shouldn’t have to go to federal court to get Virginia to do what’s right.”

More about the plaintiffs in this case from the ACLU:

The plaintiffs in the case: Joanne Harris, 38, and Jessica Duff, 33, together since 2006, are from Staunton and have a four-year-old son, Jabari. Christy Berghoff, 34, and Victoria Kidd, 35, are from Winchester and have been together almost ten years. They have a ten-month-old daughter, Lydia. “Over the past few years, an increasing number of Americans, and a majority of Virginians, have recognized that it is wrong to deny the freedom to marry to same-sex couples who are their friends, family and neighbors,” said Joshua Block, Staff Attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It is unfortunate that, once again, it will take a federal court to ensure that all Virginians have the freedom to marry the person they love and that their families are treated equally under the law.”

Earlier...
Ted Olson and David Boies Join Virginia Gay Marriage Case, Eyeing SCOTUS Once Again [tlrd]


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