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Virginia House of Delegates Approves Resolution Hiring Lawyers to Defend State's Gay Marriage Ban

Virginia

Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution Thursday that would authorize the chamber to hire legal counsel to defend the sate's gay marriage ban. 

In January, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced he would not be defending the state's discriminatory ban in court. 

GayRVA reports:

HerringHR 566 started as a move to allow the branch to hire a lawyer to “represent the House of Delegates to halt any attempt by the Governor to expand the Medicaid program without the explicit approval of the General Assembly.”

But in language added in a reprinting of the bill today, a clause was added which would allow the republican dominated house to hire private council to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Specifically, it would allow the Speaker of the House, William J. Howell R-53 to hire counsel to represent the legislative body in state courts and gain the power to remove the AG for his “improper role in challenging Virginia’s marriage laws.”

The employed counsel would then be able to “represent the position of the Commonwealth in pending litigation involving the challenge to the constitutionality of Virginia’s marriage laws”

Responded Herring's Director of Communication Michael Kelly:

“Every court that has reviewed Virginia’s marriage ban has agreed with Attorney General Herring’s analysis and the author of Virginia’s modern constitution has said the Attorney General acted within his authority and duty. This is just an anti-equality measure wrapped up in the guise of the law."


Virginia Attorney General Appeals Gay Marriage Case to the U.S. Supreme Court

Virginia

As anticipated, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments in Bostic v. Rainey, the case challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage led by Prop 8 attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies.

HerringBuzzfeed's Chris Geidner reports:

What distinguishes Herring’s filing, representing Virginia State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey, is that his is the first request to the Supreme Court by a party that backs the position of same-sex couples that the ban is unconstitutional.

He adds:

As to why the Supreme Court should hear the case challenging the Virginia ban, specifically, the brief states, “Virginia’s same-sex-marriage ban is one of the most stringent in the country. It goes further than [California’s] Proposition 8 by barring and refusing to recognize civil unions and by preventing same-sex couples from adopting children. It also goes further than Utah’s ban, which at least preserves contractual rights exercised independently of the same-sex-marriage restriction. Virginia law voids ‘any contractual rights created by’ same- sex marriages entered into in another State.”

Said Herring in a statement earlier this week:

"Throughout this case, I have fought for the fundamental rights of Virginians and the quickest possible resolution. I believe the district and appeals courts ruled correctly in striking down Virginia's discriminatory marriage ban, but it has long been clear that the Supreme Court will likely have the final word. I want that decision to come as soon as possible and I want the voices of Virginians to be heard. This case has moved forward at an incredibly swift pace, and I look forward to a final resolution that affirms the fundamental right of all Virginians to marry."

Read the petition below:

Virginia Marriage Case SCOTUS Appeal by Equality Case Files


Friday Speed Read: LGBT History, GetEQUAL, Wisconsin, Mark Herring, Hawaii, HIV, Trans Soldiers

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

StonewallPRESERVING HISTORY:

Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is scheduled to announce this morning a new National Park Service study to identify places and events associated with the LGBT civil rights struggle movement “and ensure that the agency is telling a complete story of America’s heritage and history.” Currently, only New York City’s Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots against police harassment, has the designation as a national historic landmark by the National Park Service. Jewell will make the announcement at the Stonewall Inn, accompanied by gay philanthropist Tim Gill and New York City Councilman Corey Johnson.

DEMANDING MORE:

The LGBT activist group GetEQUAL said it will stage a demonstration outside today’s event at the Stonewall “to demand more from the White House than simply a study of our history.”

HATE VIOLENCE STEADY:

An annual report on LGBT-related hate violence, released Thursday, indicates the number of incidents reported in 2013 “stayed relatively consistent” with the number reported in 2012. Only 45 percent of survivors reported the attacks to police, notes the report, published by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

WisconsinDEMANDING SHORTCUT FAILS:

A lesbian couple who took their challenge to Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex couples marrying directly to the state supreme court, without first going through lower courts, got an answer last week: The court won’t take the case.

IMPEACH HERRING EFFORT OFF:

A resolution seeking to impeach Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring because he refused to defend the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying was killed within minutes of its introduction, according to an NBC affiliate in Richmond. According to the station, a spokesperson for House Speaker Bill Howell said late last week that Howell “does not believe impeachment is an appropriate or practical recourse at the moment.”

AbercrombieHAWAII FIGHT HANGS ON:

The Hawaii Family Forum filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday seeking to keep alive a case, Jackson v. Abercrombie, testing the constitutionality of that state’s former ban on same-sex couples marrying. Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie and same-sex couple plaintiffs have argued the Ninth Circuit should dismiss the appeal because the Hawaiian legislature passed a law last year allowing same-sex couples to marry. The Forum, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, says new lawsuits challenging the new marriage equality law could succeed. If they do, says the Forum, then the plaintiffs in Jackson would almost certainly want to re-litigate the issue.

15,500 TRANS SOLDIERS:

The Williams Institute, an LGBT-oriented think tank, issued a report this month estimating there are 15,500 transgender or non-gender conforming people serving in active duty and another 134,300 retired from the U.S. military.  Current military medical policy prohibits transgender people from serving in the military. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told ABC’s This Week program Sunday that he is open to having DOD review its policy banning transgender people from the military, but that it’s a “bit more complicated” than gays because of special medical needs.

TalkingGETTING BEYOND ‘AWKWARD’:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a new website last week to give gay men some tips on how and when to talk with their sexual partners about their HIV status. Among other things, the campaign suggests it’s better to talk “early” –early in the relationship and early in the evening. The talk about HIV status doesn’t have to be face to face; it can also take place through texting or email. The bottom line is to talk about HIV status so both parties can take precautions to avoid the spread of the virus.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Virginia Lawmaker Seeks to Impeach AG Mark Herring For Refusing to Defend Gay Marriage Ban

Bob marshallRabidly anti-gay Virginia Del. Bob Marshall (right) is calling for the impeachment of Attorney General Mark Herring (below) over his refusal to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in court.

In an email to supporters, Marshall accused Herring of “removing all standards against same sex or sodomy ‘marriage’ in America, to the detriment of children and the well-being of society.”

The Washington Post reports:

Marshall (R-Prince William) took the rare step [towards impeachment inquiry] Thursday, two days after spotting Herring at a federal appeals court hearing over the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Herring’s support for overturning that ban and his decision last month to grant in-state college tuition to some Virginians who came to the country illegally as children are among the actions that pushed Marshall to action.

Mark herringOutside the courthouse in Richmond, which was besieged by protesters, Marshall and his wife bumped into a woman pushing a baby stroller and wearing an “Impeach Herring” button.

“It was my guardian angel saying, ‘Go ahead and do it,’ ” Marshall said in a telephone interview Thursday evening.

Marshall insisted the gesture is sincere and not meant merely as political theater. But opposition from the Republican speaker of the House of Delegates, where the state constitution calls for impeachment proceedings to begin, makes Marshall’s chances slim.

Marshall also threatened to impeach any judge who might overturn bans on same-sex marriage.

Marshall is well-known in Virginia for his past anti-gay campaigns, including his attempts blocking gays from serving in the Virginia National Guard, blocking the Gay Pride flag from being flown at the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank, and blocking a judicial nominee on the grounds that he was “an aggressive activist for the pro-homosexual agenda.” He has also spoken at length about his belief that “sodomy is not a civil right.”


4th Circuit Court of Appeals to Hear Challenge to Virginia’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage this Tuesday

Bostic_london

Bostic v. Rainey – the Ted Olson and David Boies-backed challenge to Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is set to be heard before a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this Tuesday.  

The AP looks at what might happen in the case before the court:

HerringA three-judge panel randomly selected from the 16-member appeals court will hear arguments from lawyers for both sides. The Richmond-based 4th Circuit, once widely considered the most conservative appeals court in the country, has become more moderate with the addition of five appointees by President Barack Obama. Lawyers typically face what they call a "hot bench," which means the judges ask a lot of questions. The court usually issues its rulings several weeks, or even months, after hearing arguments.

Last month, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring [pictured right] filed a brief supporting the plaintiffs in the case, a move that has drawn criticism from conservatives in the state. The job of defending the law during verbal arguments is now with the legal team of Norfolk’s Circuit Court clerk George E. Schaefer III – the clerk who originally denied Timothy Bostic and Tony London their marriage license.  


Virginia AG Mark Herring Joins Court Challenge to State’s Ban on Gay Marriage

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has filed a brief supporting Bostic v. Rainey – the Ted Olson and David Boies-backed challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage that is currently awaiting further ruling in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The Virginian-Pilot reports:

Mark herringIn a 79-page brief filed Friday, Herring argued that the Supreme Court has consistently found marriage to be a fundamental right protected by the due process and equal protection clauses of the federal Constitution.

Herring leaned heavily on the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case, in which the Supreme Court overturned Virginia's ban on interracial marriage.

To argue that the framers of the Constitution never envisioned same-sex marriage is of no legal consequence, Herring argued. The Loving case, he said, taught that the Constitution "protects the fundamental right to marry, even if the way in which it is practiced would have surprised the Framers or made them feel uncomfortable."

Virginia's gay-marriage ban was enshrined in a state constitutional amendment in 2006.

"Many good and decent Virginians" undoubtedly voted for the amendment "because of sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong or that gay marriage conflicts with Biblical teachings," Herring argued. "But religion cannot justify state-sponsored discrimination."

 You can read the brief in full, HERE


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