Law - Gay, LGBT Hub




Indiana and Wisconsin Ask Supreme Court To Review Challenges to Gay Marriage Bans, Plaintiffs Agree

6a00d8341c730253ef01a73e0b48f0970d-250wiAttorneys General from Indiana and Wisconsin filed petitions with the Supreme Court Tuesday, asking the Court to hear each state’s defense of their respective gay marriage bans that were both struck down by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Notably, the 3 panel judge on the 7th Circuit ruled unanimously in favor of equality and against the bans—the first time such a decision was unanimous. The decision was written by Judge Richard Posner, whose pithy quips garnered media attention after he gutted the anti-equality arguments put forth by Indiana and Wisconsin. Now, the Supreme Court will have a chance to review Posner’s ruling. Chris Geidner from BuzzFeed reports:

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fcd57649970b-250wiThe petitions are the sixth and seventh petitions seeking a writ of certiorari, which is the technical way the Supreme Court announces that it is taking a case.

Indiana presents a somewhat different case in practical terms — although it has not, thus far, made a difference in the legal analysis — in that the state has no constitutional ban on such marriages. It only has a state law banning them.

Quickly after the states filed their petitions, and as expected, the plaintiffs responded to the two states’ petitions, similarly urging the Supreme Court to grant the writs of certiorari:

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511ee26c6970c-200wiLambda Legal and the ACLU, representing the couples in the Indiana case, responded to Indiana’s certiorari petition, stating that the same-sex couples they represent “agree that the Court should grant review in this case because the issue is of fundamental importance to [the couples] and the country as a whole.”

The ACLU, representing the couples in the Wisconsin case, responded to Wisconsin’s petition on Tuesday as well.

Among the arguments put forth by both Indiana and Wisconsin, the most absurd assertion may have been that put forth by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoller who, as Joe.My.God points out, argues,

"The court does not, and cannot, justify the assertion that Indiana’s definition of marriage targets homosexuals. The statue itself makes no mention of sexual orientation, and as the case record in this case amply demonstrates, homosexuals often do marry members of the opposite sex in Indiana.”


Ninth Circuit Panel Eviscerates What's Left of Anti-Equality Arguments: A Summary and Analysis

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

BerzonA soft-spoken attorney representing Idaho started his state's anti-marriage equality argument by suggesting that allowing gays to marry violates the "bonding right" of children that they will be raised by their biological mothers and fathers. It took Judge Marsha Berzon just 15 seconds to ask her first question: "What is that word you're using before 'right'"? Judge Berzon can hear just fine; it's just that she had never heard anyone make such a ridiculous claim before today. The rest of the hearing followed similarly.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter-appointee and liberal leader of the appellate courts, was joined by Judge Berzon, a sharp-minded progressive appointed by President Clinton, and Judge Robert Gould, another Clinton appointee, in a nearly two-hour long interrogation of attorneys from Idaho and Nevada that may not have been as bombastic as Judge Posner's treatment of attorneys from Wisconsin and Indiana in the Seventh Circuit, a hearing which resulted in a marvelous unanimous victory ("Go figure!"), but was every bit as damaging to the forces opposed to marriage equality.

It also brought marriage equality full circle. Judge Reinhardt was the judge that wrote the first decision from a federal appellate court on marriage equality, affirming District Judge Vaughn Walker's pioneering rejection of California's Prop 8. We all know how that case turned out.

And we know what's happened since: a Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and a long streak of pro-marriage equality decisions from the lower federal courts, including several appellate courts.

Yesterday's hearing reminded us how far we have really come. Some of the arguments and much of the tone were different this time around. The judges' questioning was direct and they expressed a similar, though less visible, frustration with the misdirection and misleading statements from the anti-equality attorneys as Judge Posner. The tone of the hearing suggested that marriage equality supporters are finally out of the closet, following a tidal wave of an emerging consensus of the legitimacy and morality of marriage freedom for all.

A summary and analysis follows AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Ninth Circuit Panel Eviscerates What's Left of Anti-Equality Arguments: A Summary and Analysis" »


Protests Follow Delay In Greece Civil Partnership Battle

Protests in Greece

Protesters gathered outside parliament buildings in Greece last Friday following the government’s decision to delay legislating civil unions for same-sex couples, reports The Huffington Post.

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c6dc84a9970b-320wiThe delay comes despite a European court ruling that Greece has been discriminating against LGBT people.

Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou said civil partnerships had been left out of anti-racism legislation because further study was needed on how the partnerships would affect tax, social insurance and family law.

Last year, the Council of Europe's Court of Human Rights ordered Greece to pay damages to four gay couples who had taken a discrimination case against the country.

Another 162 gay couples from Greece filed a similar complaint in the international court earlier this year to pressure the government to change the law.

However, same-sex marriage remains a divisive issue in Greece, where several prominent members of the Greek Orthodox Church and members of the ruling conservative party have argued that civil partnerships for same-sex couples would undermine the institution of family.

Tom Koukoulis, one of the plaintiffs who attended the demonstration said that the legal battle is “about the right to ... visit a relative in hospital, to file a joint tax declaration, and all the rest. We do think it is going to happen because we are on the right side of history."


Studies Show Domestic Abuse More Prevalent In Same-Sex Relationships

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 10.36.53

Two recent studies demonstrate the extent of domestic abuse in same-sex relationships and refute the myths that only heterosexual women are victims of domestic abuse, that men are never victims and that women are never the perpetrators, reports The Advocate.

The National Violence Against Women survey found that 21.5 percent of men and 35.4 percent of women living with a same-sex partner experienced physical violence in their lifetimes. This is compared with 7.1 percent and 20.4 percent respectively for men and women in opposite-sex relationships.

The Centers For Disease Control's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, updated in 2013, reports that the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner was 43.8 percent for lesbians, 61.1 percent for bisexual women, and 35 percent for heterosexual women, while it was 26 percent for gay men, 37.3 percent for bisexual men, and 29 percent for heterosexual men.

According to Beth Leventhal, executive director of The Network/La Red in Boston, thanks to the combination of reports like these and the Obama administration being active on LGBT issues, there has been increased funding for services to address domestic abuse in same-sex relationships.

Last year, Congress passed an LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act.


Alleged Killer In 2012 Murder of Halifax Gay Activist Fires Lawyer, Delays Trial

Andre Noel Denny

In 2012 Ryan Raymond Taavel, a gay activist in Halifax, Nova Scotia was allegedly beaten to death by Andre Noel Denny, a psychiatric patient "suffering from paranoid schizophrenia" who was on unescorted leave from a psychiatric hospital. Denny fired his lawyer Don Murray this past Tuesday, the day his trial was set to begin, a decision supported by Murray who said that he felt the solicitor-client relationship was "irretrievably broken." Judge Peter Rosinski allowed the firing, saying: 

While this may not be in his best interests, neither the court nor his family are entitled to interfere with his decision in the circumstances as I see them before me.

The case has been adjourned until September 25th, and the delay may set the trial back by a year, pending on Denny's ability to secure a lawyer willing and able to take his case.


Posner-ed at the 7th Circuit: Appellate Court Issues First Unanimous Marriage Equality Decision

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

PosnerIt took 9 days for Judge Richard Posner to write his unanimous opinion striking down the marriage equality bans in Indiana and Wisconsin. And you can see the tone of the decision in one of its more pointed sentences:

Our pair of cases is rich in detail but ultimately straight-forward to decide. The challenged laws discriminate against a minority defined by an immutable characteristic, and the only rationale that the states put forth with any conviction—that same-sex couples and their children don’t need marriage because same-sex couples can’t produce children, intended or unintended—is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously.

It wasn't long ago that marriage equality cases were achingly long affairs. Judges would have to pay homage to the deeply held opinions on both sides and recognize that many people vehemently disagree. But to Judge Posner, the cases are straight-forward.

It also wasn't long ago that we were debating whether being gay is an immutable characteristic. Even our progressive allies were not staking out ground on this subject, instead deciding cases without entering the minefield of heightened scrutiny. To Judge Posner, it's a throwaway line.

And it wasn't long ago that conservatives were making the "promiscuous heterosexual" argument to any judge who would listen. To Judge Posner, it doesn't pass the laugh test.

We expected a win at the Seventh Circuit. My colleague and distinguished law professor Dale Carpenter had a similar perspective. But few could have imagined the grand slam Judge Posner penned over the last few days.

A brief summary and analysis follows AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Posner-ed at the 7th Circuit: Appellate Court Issues First Unanimous Marriage Equality Decision" »


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