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Six Marriage Equality Cases at the Sixth Circuit Today: A Preview

6thcircuit

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

The Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in a series of marriage equality cases today from the jurisdiction's four constituent states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. It is an unprecedented coming together of marriage equality litigation that has the potential to change the destiny of marriage in the federal courts for several reasons:

6thcircuitFirst, these cases cover the entire Sixth Circuit and any decision could affect all of them directly, even if a decision is stayed pending appeal to the Supreme Court. We have seen this happen in the Fourth Circuit, where the appellate court overturns a ban on marriage equality and other states in the circuit, North Carolina and West Virginia, either stop defending their own bans or take other pro-equality actions because they see the writing on the wall even though the decision is stayed pending appeal.

Second, the three-judge panel reflects the right-of-center tilt of the circuit, consisting of a Clinton appointee and two George W. Bush appointees, one of whom has made his fiercely conservative views public.

And, third, as the third federal appeals court to hear a post-Windsor marriage case -- after the Tenth (the Utah case) and the Fourth (the Virginia case), but before the Seventh (on August 26), the Ninth (on September 8), and at some point, the Fifth -- the Sixth Circuit is being watched to determine if a pattern is emerging among the circuits or if there will be a split among the panels.

AFTER THE JUMP, I summarize the cases and briefly profile the judges on the panel. I will also discuss a few things to watch for during the marthon oral argument, scheduled to being at 1 PM.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Six Marriage Equality Cases at the Sixth Circuit Today: A Preview" »


Nepal To Consider Re-Criminalizing Homosexuality

AcharyaNepal Justice Minister Narahari Acharya [pictured right] is seeking to enact new anti-gay laws re-criminalizing homosexuality, reports the Nepal Times.

In 2007, Nepal decriminalized homosexuality and ruled in favor of protections for the equal rights of LGBTI people. However, the law ministry is currently preparing to push anti-gay laws that will punish gay sex with three years imprisonment.  The law would also prohibit same-sex unions.

Writing in Nepal Times, Sunil Bapu Pant [pictured below], the country’s first openly gay politician, highlights the difficulties faced by LGBTI people in Nepal:

When taxing citizens the government does not discriminate, but when assuring citizens of their rights, the government wants to know your gender. And if you are third gender, you cannot go to school, you cannot get a passport, you cannot get married, you cannot apply for job, you cannot join the police/army/bureaucracy, you cannot access a loan or development programs, you cannot open your business or register your property.

Addressing the proposed new anti-gay laws, Pant continues:

Pant“This new draft provision of civil and criminal codes prepared by the Law Ministry not only defines homosexuality, but also oral and anal sex among heterosexuals, as ‘unnatural’ acts. The definition of rape is narrowed only to women.

"Many third genders are forced into heterosexual marriage, ruining both lives. Codifying such forced and heterosexualised relationships to third genders serves only to create needless suffering to our families and relatives. The notion that third gender and same-sex relationships are unnatural is absurd and wrong, as proven by our historical and religious texts. The more we exclude and isolate LGBT people, the more we hurt everyone. Because if a person has no right to go to school, no right to get jobs, cannot contribute to the economy of the country, cannot contribute to the culture, they become burden to society.

"All Nepalis who believe in equality and tolerance must raise their voices. The right to justice of all marginalised peoples is under threat from a regressive state. They are going to be excluded, marginalized, discriminated against, criminalised and demonised."


Republicans Mike Enzi And Mike Kelly Introduce Anti-Gay Adoption Bill

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 10.23.11 AM

New legislation introduced last week aims to allow adoption and foster care providers to refuse service on the basis of the organization’s religious objections, reports Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Introduced by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), bill S. 2706/H.R. 5285 would allow adoption or foster care providers to deny service to heterosexual couples of a different faith, single parents and LGBTI couples.

In a statement, Ellen Kahn, Director of the HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth, and Families Program, said:

“If this bill passes, an Evangelical straight couple, a single father, or a committed and loving gay and lesbian couple could find their path to adoption blocked for no reasonable reason other than naked discrimination.

"Taxpayer funds should not be used to discriminate, and too many children need loving families right now for our elected officials to be playing these kinds dangerous political games. This bill has nothing to do with faith, and it must be condemned.”

President Obama recently signed an executive order banning federally-funded organizations from discriminating against LGBTI people.

Last week, it was announced that Democratic House Representative Jared Polis is preparing to initiate a discharge petition for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a means of bringing a bill directly to the floor without consideration from committee or direct input from the House leadership.


Zambia VP: Decriminalization Of Homosexuality 'An Unreasonable Expectation'

Guy scott

Zambia Vice President Dr. Guy Scott has said that it is “not right” for the UK to expect his country to decriminalize homosexuality, reports STV.

Speaking at the Glasgow 2015 Commonwealth Games, Scott, who was born in Zambia to Scottish parents, said:

“Scotland introduced gay marriage last week so therefore Zambia must suddenly - you weren’t complaining about it two weeks ago – it’s not right. It’s an unreasonable expectation.”

Scott went on to say that Zambia is more interested in eradicating poverty and disease and improving the country’s education system.

Sexual relations between men in Zambia are punishable with up to 14 years in prison

Last September, Zambian activist Paul Kasonkomonawho was arrested after speaking out against the criminalization of homosexuality, was been ordered to face trial under the nation's penal code.

New research revealed last week shows that of the 80 countries worldwide that still criminalize homosexuality, more than half belong to the Commonwealth and that 42 of 53 Commonwealth countries continue to criminalise homosexuality, posing a serious threat to the LGBTI community.  


Houston Activists Publish Names Of Anti-Gay Petition Signers

No Unequal Rights petition

After mayor Annise Parker signed Houston's HERO bill into law, it was just a matter of moments before anti-gay bigots started raising a stink and even got a petition started to reverse the measure. Some Houston activists decided to post the signatures that were applied to the petition online in an easy-to-browse database. Given that petition signatures are part of the public record, the activists are engaging in completely legal activity despite the fact that haters are not going to be pleased with the disclosure.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Houston GLBT Political Caucus treasurer Noel Freeman - who was the one who made the request for the public records - had this to say about the actions being public shaming:

If somebody feels that they’re being publicly shamed by these petitions being online, I think that says more about them than it does about the people who are putting the petitions online. If you’re embarrassed that your political views are on public display, then maybe you should rethink your political views.


Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to Hear Six Marriage Equality Cases in One Day on August 6

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is lining up the cases for a pretty impressive combo score on August 6th and will be hearing six discrete marriage equality cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

6thcircuitFrom the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

On August 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will hear oral argument in six marriage equality cases--the most marriage cases that any federal circuit court has ever heard in a single day, and the fourth argument to be heard by a federal circuit court since the United States Supreme Court's decision last summer striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Federal Judges Martha Craig Daughtrey, Jeffrey S. Sutton, and Deborah L. Cook will hear the challenges to laws banning marriage equality in Kentucky (two cases), Michigan, Ohio (two cases), and Tennessee. The National Center for Lesbian Rights is representing plaintiffs in Tennessee, American Civil Liberties Union is representing plaintiffs in Ohio, and Lambda Legal is representing plaintiffs in Ohio.

Oral arguments will begin at 1pm ET at the Potter Stewart Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio.


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