Mary Bonauto Hub




Michigan and Kentucky Plaintiffs Ask Supreme Court to Review Sixth Circuit Ruling Upholding Gay Marriage Bans

Scotus

Joining plaintiffs in Ohio and Tennessee who have filed similar petitions with the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs at the center of the cases challenging Kentucky and Michigan's gay marriage bans are asking the high court to take up the Sixth Circuit's anti-equality ruling. 

The Associated Press reports:

...Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway has declined to defend the state ban and Gov. Steve Beshear has hired private attorneys to represent the state. The Ohio appeal focuses on the state’s refusal to recognize out-of-state gay marriages because of its own ban, while the Tennessee case is narrowly focused on the rights of three same-sex couples.

Detroit Free Press reports on the significance of the April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse's Michigan case:

While it remains uncertain which case -- if any -- the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take, here are some elements that make the Michigan case unique:

* There was an actual trial on the same-sex marriage issue in Michigan, whereas in other states, judges issued decisions after reading written arguments, with no cross examination of any witnesses or experts.

* Two, the Michigan plaintiffs aren't just seeking legal recognition for same-sex couples who were married in other states, but are actually fighting to make gay marriage legal in Michigan by challenging a voter-approved ban on it.

Michigan* Three, the Michigan plaintiffs also have children they are raising together — a key issue in the same-sex marriage debate. Those fighting to legalize gay marriage argue families are being harmed when same-sex parents aren't legally recognized, while traditional marriage advocates argue that children thrive best when raised by moms and dads and that it's too early to tell if same-sex parenting is a good idea or not.

* Four, the state of Michigan is actively seeking to keep same-sex marriage illegal, whereas in other states, officials have opted not to pursue appeals once a federal judge has spoken on the issue. That didn't happen at the conclusion of Michigan's same-sex marriage trial.

DOMA lawyer Mary Bonauto has also joined the Michigan legal team. 

Here are the briefs courtesy of Equality Case Files

[photo via screenshot]


DOMA Lawyer Mary Bonauto, Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Win MacArthur 'Genius Grants': VIDEOS

Bonauto

Mary Bonauto, the Civil Rights Project Director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) since 1990 and a civil rights lawyer who has been battling for equality for LGBT people for decades and scored one of the first victories against DOMA, has been awarded a $625,000 'Genius Grant' from the Macarthur Foundation, offered annually and paid in quarterly installments to a select group of artists, scholars, and professionals. See the Class of 2014 here.

According to the Foundation:

Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.

3_bonautoBonauto could not be more deserving. From Macarthur's announcement:

Bonauto and Vermont colleagues formed a critical partnership in 1997, which is widely acknowledged as a pivotal time and place to challenge a state’s exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage. The Vermont Supreme Court’s ruling in Baker v. Vermont (1999) was the first to hold that same-sex couples must be provided all of the same protections and obligations provided to married couples, and the state legislature established the first civil union law in the nation in 2000 to comply with that ruling. GLAD’s subsequent filing of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health in Massachusetts, relying again on state constitutional guarantees of equality and liberty, resulted in the 2003 landmark decision that made that state the first to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples. Bonauto’s constitutional arguments in Goodridge articulated the breadth of the practical and social harms imposed by the state’s exclusion on real families and their children. In defending the marriage ruling from attempts to substitute civil unions, she drew on painful lessons from our nation’s past, most notably the history of unjust “separate but equal” doctrines as substitutes for racial and gender equality, and the Massachusetts high court was the first to reject civil unions as a substitute for marriage. The Goodridge ruling, the transformative effect of same-sex couples marrying on the public’s views, and subsequent legal (in Connecticut), legislative (in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire), and ballot-based (in Maine) victories all provided a solid foundation and roadmap for future strategies across the nation, including at the federal level.

In 2009, Bonauto led a team from GLAD and private law firms in the first strategic challenge to section three of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and argued that the federal government’s non-recognition of the lawful and rapidly growing number of marriages unconstitutionally denied same-sex couples more than 1,000 federal protections and obligations usually available to married persons. Her case—Gill v. Office of Personnel Management—provided the first federal court wins in challenges to DOMA (in 2010 and 2012 rulings), and served as an important model for United States v. Windsor, the landmark case that ultimately resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down DOMA in 2013 and on which she served as a strategist and external coordinator of friend-of-the-court briefs. In the name of equal treatment and dignity for all people, and in concert with other litigators and advocates across the country, Bonauto is breaking down legal barriers based on sexual orientation and influencing debates about the relationship between the law and momentous social change more broadly.

Most recently Bonauto joined the fight against Utah's same-sex marriage ban.

Check out the MacArthur video on Bonauto, AFTER THE JUMP...

Also winning the grant, out cartoonist Alison Bechdel.

Bechdel

Again, from Macarthur:

Bechdel’s command of sequential narrative and her aesthetic as a visual artist was established in her long-running comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For (1983–2008), which realistically captured the lives of women in the lesbian community as they influenced and were influenced by the important cultural and political events of the day.

Garnering a devoted and diverse following, this pioneering work was a precursor to her book-length graphic memoirs. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006) is a nuanced depiction of a childhood spent in an artistic family in a small Pennsylvania town and of her relationship with her father, a high school English teacher and funeral home director. An impeccable observer and record keeper, Bechdel incorporates drawings of archival materials, such as diaries, letters, photographs, and news clippings, as well as a variety of literary references in deep reflections into her own past.

Check out the Macarthur videos on these wonderful women, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "DOMA Lawyer Mary Bonauto, Cartoonist Alison Bechdel Win MacArthur 'Genius Grants': VIDEOS" »


DOMA Lawyer Mary Bonauto Joins Fight Against Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Mary

Top civil rights lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders Mary Bonauto will be joining the legal team challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, according to BuzzFeed.

Bonauto is perhaps the preeminent civil rights attorney in the United States where same-sex marriage is concerned. In a New York Times profile last year, Roberta Kaplan remarked, “No gay person in this country would be married without Mary Bonauto.” Bonauto argued against and defeated the state of Massachussetts’ ban on same-sex marriage in 2003--the first state in which such a ban was brought down--and also served on Edie Windsor's legal team in last year’s seminal Supreme Court decision that gutted section 3 of DOMA. Said Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson of Bonauto's contributions, 

“Not only did GLAD lead in teeing up the litigation strategy that brought down DOMA, but Mary was the unsung engine of the friend-of-the-court presentations made to the Supreme Court in both marriage cases last year."

Bonauto and GLAD's expertise will be of particular use in the Utah case:

“GLAD brings the perspective, insights, and distillation that come from long experience on marriage and the related issues, and the good sense to take nothing for granted,” Bonauto said. “We’ve also won this issue in courts, and worked with others to win in state legislatures and at the ballot box. That has given us a deep feel for the concerns and hesitations out there and insights about how to make our case and find shared values that move us forward.”

Specifically as to the DOMA litigation, she added, “We hope that the strategic thinking on DOMA — about how to get to a win on DOMA that would also position us to keep moving forward to marriage — will be useful here as well.”

The case against Utah is noteworthy, and likely drew Bonauto and GLAD's attention, because both the plaintiffs and the defendant (the state) have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and take up the matter. The result of which could be a far-reaching ruling that could make marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states. 


Tuesday Speed Read: Mississippi, Idaho, GOProud, Bayer, Mary Bonauto, Carl DeMaio

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

McdanielHOW LOW CAN THEY GO? 

Incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign for his record on LGBT related issues. But in today’s primary, the Family Research Council announced its endorsement over the weekend for Cochran’s challenger, Mississippi State Tea Party Senator Chris McDaniel, citing McDaniel’s strong stance against same-sex couples marrying. Seems zero wasn’t good enough.

ANOTHER REQUEST TO LEAP FROG:

NinthcircuitIdaho filed a petition with the Ninth Circuit May 30, asking to skip over the three-judge panel phase of appeal in defense of its state ban on same-sex couples marrying. Less than two months ago, the Sixth Circuit refused Michigan’s request to do the same. But Idaho says the intra-circuit conflict over the proper level of judicial scrutiny to apply when evaluating laws that affect LGBT people adversely is a question of “exceptional importance.” Even more important, it argues, is the conflict over laws banning same-sex couples from marrying. Americans “understandably want the Marriage Issue resolved now,” states the brief. The Ninth Circuit is one of five circuits with active cases before them concerning statewide bans; only two –the Fourth and Tenth— have heard arguments before a three-judge panel.

GoproudGOPROUD CONSIDERS REORGANIZATION:

The gay conservative group GOProud reacted to rumors Monday that it was “shutting down.” Not so, said Matthew Bechstein, the group’s new executive director, in a press release. Bechstein said the group, which recently saw its founding members abandon ship, is considering reorganization to a “different legal type of organization.” “But if it were to actually happen,” said Bechstein, “it would only be momentary and certainly not the end of our organization.”

BayerGLAD SUES BAYER:

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders announced Monday that it filed suit in federal court last month in Connecticut against the company that produces Bayer aspirin. The lawsuit, Passaro v. Bayer, was brought on behalf of Gerald Passaro, whose husband was a chemist at Bayer until his death in 2009. Bayer initially refused to pay Passaro the survivor benefit, saying that, under the Defense of Marriage Act, it had no obligation to. But after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA last June, the company continued to refuse to pay the benefit, governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

BonautoNOTABLE QUOTE:

GLAD civil rights director Mary Bonauto in USA Today article about the string of federal court victories striking down bans on same-sex couples marrying: “We're at a point where it would be shocking if the Supreme Court said it was permissible to deny marriage licenses to gay couples."

GILL FUNDING PARK SERVICE STUDY:

The Gill Foundation is providing $250,000 to fund the LGBT historic places study announced by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell last Friday. The National Park Service will host a meeting in Washington, D.C., June 10 “to develop a framework and focus for the LGBT theme study with a group of more than a dozen of the nation’s most respected researchers and preservationists who have expertise on LGBT history and culture.”

DemaioDEMAIO’S OFFICE VANDALIZED:

Campaign staff for gay Republican Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio found their San Diego office vandalized last week. A campaign spokesperson told Associated Press that staff believe it is related to DeMaio’s efforts to curb pension costs.

AIDS LISTENING:

The White House Office of National AIDS Policy last Thursday hosted the first of three public “listening sessions” in southern states. The Office’s new director, Douglas Brooks, is leading the sessions, which started in Jackson, Mississippi. The next sessions are slated for Columbia, S.C., today and Atlanta, June 5. RSVP.

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