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States Defending Gay Marriage Bans Costing Taxpayers Millions In Attorney Fees

MarriageGraphic

Plaintiffs in successful same-sex marriage lawsuits have been awarded more than $800,000 in attorneys fees' from states that defended the bans, with another $2.6 million in requests pending, according to a new report from The National Law Journal: 

Federal district judges across the country have issued nearly three dozen rulings since late 2013 declaring state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Attorney fee petitions haven't been filed yet in the majority of those cases as they go before circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. The fee awards, agreements and requests to date offer an early snapshot of what these landmark civil rights cases could cost taxpayers. ... 

Plaintiffs who prevail in federal civil rights cases can collect legal fees from the losing side. Congress set up the fee-shifting rule as an incentive for lawyers to take on time-consuming and expensive civil rights litigation, said Deborah Ferguson, lead counsel for the couples who fought Idaho's gay marriage ban.

In Idaho, the plaintiffs' attorneys were awarded a whopping $410,663 — the most in any state thus far. But that hasn't stopped Republican Gov. Butch Otter from continuing his futile defense of the state's marriage ban in court. The other states where plaintiffs' attorneys fees have been awarded or agreed to in same-sex marriage cases are Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon and Virginia. Requests are pending in Alaska, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Of course, the plaintiffs' attorneys fees don't include the cost to taxpayers of states paying their lawyers or hiring outside counsel to defend the bans — or, for that matter, lost revenue from wedding-related spending where same-sex marriage is still not legal. 

All told, it seems that defending discrimination isn't cheap, and states that continue to fight same-sex marriage better be prepared to pay up. And the irony is, many of the same folks who advocate lower taxes are the same ones fighting hardest to deprive same-sex couples of the freedom to marry.  


St. Louis Musician Files Lawsuit Claiming He Was Discriminated Against Because His Partner is a Black Man

CgmedMusician and teacher James Mounsey has sued the St. Louis Irish Arts Center (SLIA), citing discrimination. Specifically, the suit says “defendants began to discriminate against [Mounsey]...because his partner is a black man.”

The SLIA is an official member of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, the international organization that promotes traditional Irish arts and culture. Mounsey's lawsuit points to the rules of the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, which he claims were violated by other SLIA employees, who undermined and discriminated against him on the basis of his same-sex relationship.

Specifically implicated in the lawsuit is SLIA director Helen Gannon. Mounsey says Gannon once told him: “you [Mounsey] have made some grave decisions very, very quickly which will affect every aspect of your life flaunting them and forcing us to accept them which will have consequences out of your control.”

Gannon denies having made these statements, saying “teachers were discouraged from bringing dates to work,“ but that otherwise, Mounsey's claims are false.

With his lawsuit, Mounsey has provided a letter he sent to Gannon, resigning due to a "discriminatory atmosphere" in the workplace. In December 2013, while on a trip to his native Ireland, Mounsey was told via letter that he was "no longer affiliated with SLIA."

[h/t Irish Central]


Missouri Appeals Ruling Striking Down Gay Marriage Ban to 8th Circuit

KosterAs expected, the state of Missouri is appealing last month's federal judge ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a supporter of marriage equality, had previously stated his plan to appeal the ruling to the 8th Circuit.

Same-sex couples in the state can marry in St. Louis as a result of a separate ruling overturning the state's gay marriage ban. 

Read the notice of appeal below via Equality Case Files:


Black Gay Man Shot and Murdered In Missouri, Police Not Investigating As A Hate Crime

Greene

A young black man from Missouri, 22-year-old Dionte Greene, was found shot to death in his car on Halloween morning, possibly by an individual he was planning to meet for sex, someone who reports indicate identified as straight but nonetheless was pursuing sex with Greene. Zach Stafford's in-depth piece in The Guardian paints a vivid portrait of what happened the night Greene was murdered: 

On 30 October, Dionte Greene finished work before midnight to attend a “turn-about” party, where people show up dressed as a different gender. But before the party, Greene had plans with some “trade” he had been talking to online, several of his friends told me. “Trade” is a version of “on the down-low” – terms used within black LGBT communities to describe a man who doesn’t “appear gay” but who engages in sex with men unbeknownst to his family and most of his friends. Trade is a man you don’t necessarily trust – more of a risk than many are willing to take.

According to friends who saw his private messages, Greene had been in correspondence online with this “trade” for some time prior to their meeting, as the man apparently tried to decide whether or not they should meet up. The “trade” was very much on the fence about having sex with men, according to accounts of these messages, and he very much did not want his sexual secret to be found out. But something changed, and the “trade” agreed to meet up that night, Greene’s friends said.

When Greene arrived at the pre-arranged meeting spot in a quiet residential area just miles north of his home, he was on the phone with a friend who could sense that Greene was a little nervous about the meeting. As they spoke, according to other friends with knowledge of this conversation, the man started walking towards Greene’s car. “He looks just like his Facebook picture,” Greene allegedly said.

Moments later, Dionte Greene’s friend heard yelling. The phone line went dead. And Dionte Greene ended up with a gunshot to the face in the driver’s seat of his car.

Stafford reports that because Greene's possible murderer was meeting Greene for the purpose of having sex, the crime cannot be classified as a hate crime. Kansas City's first LGBT liasion, Rebecca Caster, an out-lesbian, drove home this point: “If someone is actually engaged in ‘the act’, then these are not hate crimes." Caster went further, defining hate-crimes in stark terms: “The thing is, hate crimes need to be, ‘I can’t stand the fact that you are gay so I am going to drag you behind a truck. I don’t know you, I don’t care.’” Under this burden of proof, it's easy to understand how much understanding is missing in the conversaion on hate related crime. As Stafford points out, "homophobia [is] not just something that makes someone drag you behind a truck, but [is] a sickness that can make someone kiss and then kill – simply because someone didn’t want their secret to get out."

(Photo via Twitter)


Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Resigns: VIDEO

Wilson

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown August 9, has resigned from the Ferguson Police Department.

In a telephone interview Saturday evening, Wilson said he resigned after the police department told him it had received threats that violence would ensue if he remained an employee.

“I’m resigning of my own free will,” he said. “I’m not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me.”

He said resigning was “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

On Monday, a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson in Brown's death.

Read Wilson's resignation letter:

I, Darren Wilson, hereby resign my commission as a police officer with the City of Ferguson effective immediately. I have been told that my continues employment may put the residents and police officers of the City of Ferguson at risk, which is a circumstance that I cannot allow. For obvious reasons, I wanted to wait until the grand jury made their decision before I officially made my decision to resign. It was my hope to continue in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community are of the paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will allow the community to heal. I would like to thank all of my supporters and fellow officers throughout this process.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch adds:

Anthony Gray, an attorney representing the Brown family, said he believes Wilson was acting merely for his own benefit.

“It’s probably in his best interest to sever his ties with the Ferguson community, as well as the Ferguson police department,” Gray said. “I think this incident has severely compromised his ability to police in the way he was paid to do by the city.”

Watch a news report on Wilson's resignation AFTER THE JUMP...(autoplay)

And if you missed our coverage of LGBT organizations reacting to the grand jury decision, click here

Continue reading "Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Resigns: VIDEO" »


Rev. Al Sharpton Blasts Ferguson Decision; Officer Darren Wilson Gives First Interview: VIDEOS

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Reverend Al Sharpton spoke out at a press conference this morning with the family of slain Ferguson teenager Michael Brown, blasting the decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson and criticizing St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch for going out of his way to discredit Brown and conducting a "flawed" investigation.

Meanwhile, ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos previewed an interview with officer Darren Wilson. According to Stephanopoulos, Wilson says he is sorry for the loss of Michael Brown's life, but he has a "clean conscience" about what happened and would not do anything differently today.

Watch both, AFTER THE JUMP...

 

Wilson

Continue reading "Rev. Al Sharpton Blasts Ferguson Decision; Officer Darren Wilson Gives First Interview: VIDEOS" »


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