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Gov. Butch Otter Asks SCOTUS to Delay Marriage Consideration Until It Hears from Idaho

Idaho Governor Butch Otter filed an amicus brief today asking the U.S. Supreme Court to delay consideration of same-sex marriage until it hears from Idaho as he believes the case would be the "best vehicle" by which the Court could resolve “the marriage-litigation wave in all respects," the Spokesman-Review reports:

OtterOtter lists several reasons why he thinks Idaho’s case is the “best vehicle” for the whole same-sex marriage issue to be decided. Among them: Idaho’s includes both the question of in-state marriages and recognition of out-of-state marriages; it would test the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ application of a heightened standard of scrutiny for discrimination based on sexual orientation; it brings up religious liberty issues; and Idaho officials, unlike those in many states, have mounted a vigorous defense of their ban on gay marriage.

Otter’s legal brief cites “the enormous societal risks accompanying a genderless-marriage regime,” and says, “Common sense and a wealth of social-science data teach that children do best emotionally, socially, intellectually and economically when reared in an intact home by both biological parents.”

Attorneys Gene Schaerr and Tom Perry, lawyers for Otter, filed the brief in five marriage cases before the Supreme Court challenging rulings by the U.S. Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit (Idaho is in the Ninth Circuit).

SupremesSCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston explains:

It was in that form because Idaho has not formally appealed to the Justices, while it awaits the rehearing plea it has pending at the Ninth Circuit.

Adding:

As of now, the Court has five pending cases on the same-sex marriage issue.  Four are petitions challenging a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, upholding marriage bans in four states (Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky).  The fifth case is from Louisiana, seeking review of a federal judge’s ruling upholding a ban in that state.

The Louisiana case is now scheduled for the Justices’ first look at the next Conference, on January 9, according to a scheduling note Wednesday on the Court’s electronic docket.  That docket also indicated that the four petitions from the Sixth Circuit are being handled as a group, although they have not yet been distributed to the Justices.  There is one more date on which the cases could be sent to the Justices for consideration on January 9: next Tuesday.

Otter wants the Court to wait for Idaho's appeal before deciding which cases to hear, and then add Idaho's case to the review process.

Read the amicus brief below:

Gov. Otter Supreme Court Amicus Brief by Equality Case Files


Russell Tovey Shares His Thoughts on Sex with Jonathan Groff, Rim Jobs, and His 'Well-Received' Ass

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Looking actor Russell Tovey spoke with Chris Azzzopardi at PrideSource, who quizzed him on some of the juicier aspects of the gay-themed HBO series which is set to return next month, specifically the outcome of the Patrick/Kevin/Richie love triangle, and his sex scenes with Jonathan Groff.

Tovey says that because he and Groff are both gay, they've achieved a certain comfort level:

You can do anything; your hands go everywhere, and it's fine. Neither of us at any point feels uncomfortable, and that's why it's so good. We just completely trust each other, and we go for it. Neither of us hold back or feel any pang of responsibility for the other one when it comes to that. We just trust each other on a completely open level. Either of us could go to the other, "Hey, you should put your dick in there."

One of the highlights of that relationship last season for many was the appearance of Tovey's bare ass, which he realizes won't always be the case:

In the future, I imagine myself looking back and going, "God, I had a nice ass. Glad I got that out." If it's there now, I'm getting it out because it's not always gonna look like that. I don't want to hide it. And it's nice that people like it. I've been very lucky. I've grown it myself, and I also have my parents to thank for it being well-received.

Tovey also says that a "rim job" birthday cake he shared on social media may play a part in one of the future episodes: "Ahh, as the season goes on you'll see where that [phrase] comes from."

For more on his coming out, auditions, and his life in San Francisco, head over to PrideSource.

(images via Instagram)

Birthday


Trans-Rights Activists Expect Swift Change on Military Service

RobinsonThough significant inroads have been made with lesbian, gay, and bisexual members of the U.S. military, there are still no technical protections on the books for service members who identify as transgender. Advocates like Allyson Robinson, however, are confident that the organizations like the Air Force are primed to set off a new trend in light of comments made by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. Earlier this month Secretary James encouraged a review of the Air Force’s current policies that prohibit transgender members from serving:

“I would be shocked if Secretary Hagel doesn’t take just a moment in the weeks that he has left in office to make good on a promise that he made to the troops. He needs to order the review,” said Robinson. “We have their commitment to do that — we have the commitment of Secretary Hagel himself to review these policies. And, I should add, I am aware, from my conversations with leaders at the Pentagon, that the secretary views this, views those words, as a promise, as a commitment to the service members.”

Officially the White House has yet to release a position on whether or not trans-identified individuals are welcomed in the armed forces. When asked however, spokespeople for the White House pointed Buzzfeed to the Department of Defense.

“I can confirm that for you that no review of the department’s policy has been ordered,” asserted Pentagon spokesman Nate Christensen. He later guided the press to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s comments to The Washington Post this past May on Private Chelsea Manning in reference to his current thinking on the trans-service issue.

“I think that this period of Secretary Hagel — sort of, lame-duck period — represents that best opportunity that we’ve had so far to get [significant change] done,” Robinson explained, pointing to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s action on same-sex benefits at the end of his military career.

“He did that, I think primarily, because he felt it was his responsibility to take care of his troops. He also did it out of a sense of collegiality to the person who was going to follow him. He took, what were seen by some as difficult or contentious issues, and took them off the table so that his successor would be able to start with a clean slate.”


Judge Grants Florida's First Gay Divorce

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c71b6664970b-800wiBroward County Judge Dale Cohen, who in August ruled that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state and recently re-affirmed that decision, has granted the state's first gay divorce. The decision comes on the heels of the announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court that Justice Clarence Thomas will consider to stay another Florida Judge's ruling striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban. The AP reports:

Circuit Judge Dale Cohen on Wednesday dissolved the marriage of Heather Brassner and Megan Lade. They were united in a 2002 civil union in Vermont. Cohen had ruled in August that Florida's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional and that out-of-state gay marriages should be recognized.

Brassner attorney Nancy Brodzki said it was Florida's first gay divorce.

Brodzki says she expects Attorney General Pam Bondi to appeal the decision, just as she has several other rulings against the gay marriage ban. There was no immediate reaction from Bondi's office.

Voters approved the ban in 2008.


Clarence Thomas To Consider Staying Same-Sex Marriage in Florida

ThomasSupreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has accepted a request from Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi to hear arguments on a federal judge's ruling that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling in question comes from Judge Robert Hinkle. Hinkle found that Florida's voter-approved marriage ban violated the U.S. Constitution and declared that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in the Sunshine State starting January 6. Bondi for her part has appealed that ruling to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and wants Justice Thomas to stay Judge Hinkle's ruling so that it will not go into effect until the 11th Circuit has a chance to consider the question. Bondi is hanging her hopes on the incongruency that now exists in the wake of the 6th Circuit upholding a state's ban on same-sex marriage, becoming the only circuit court to uphold such a ban. The Sun-Sentinel reports:

[Pam Bondi] pointed out there is a conflict among federal appellate rulings -- the sixth district upheld a state marriage ban while all other federal appeals courts that have heard such cases have overturned these bans.

Bondi also claimed the likelihood was the Supreme Court would have to hear this case, and that it would, upon review, "likely reaffirm the States' nearly exclusive authority to define marriage and hold that the Fourteenth Amendment allows states to define marriage as Florida has." [...]

Attorneys seeking same-sex marriage have until 5 p.m Thursday to present their case for why the hold should be lifted.

Thomas is the justice who accepts requests from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama. On December 3, that appellate court refused to delay Hinkle's ruling.

After receiving arguments from all parties involved in the suit, Thomas can either act alone to continue the hold, allow it to be lifted on January 5, or else bring the matter to his colleagues on the Court.

This is not the first time the Supreme Court has been asked to continue such a stay, but it has previously turned down such requests.

However Thomas "has indicated in previous, similar cases that he would have granted a stay," said Elizabeth Schwartz, an attorney involved in same-sex marriage lawsuits in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties that are going through state appellate court.

Thomas has no deadline by which to decide what to do in this case, but in previous instances, the court and individual justices have ruled quickly. 

"I don't think anyone was surprised that [Thomas] asked for more information, and I think it's also likely he'll want to continue this with the full court," Schwartz said. "I do think they'll rule on it possibly on Friday."


Thousands Run For Same-Sex Marriage And Gay Rights In Taiwan

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An estimated 3,500 people took part in a rainbow run in Taiwan last Saturday in support of same-sex marriage and gay rights, reports GayNZ.com

The 15 kilometer run aimed “to bring attention to social issues related to gender diversity, anti-discrimination and changing the family system to better understand and in support of gay marriage and equal rights.”

The event was organized by the founders of skincare company Abrazo K, who said in a statement:

“We now can feel how much meaning this event had.

“In the face of love, everyone is the same. Everyone longs to love and to be loved, so why should that differentiate between genders?

“I, myself, am a heterosexual, but I really have experienced the feeling of longing to be loved. It is also for this reason that we stand out and embrace love with everyone today.”

In October, an estimated 70,000 people took part in Taiwan Pride, the biggest pride event in Asia.


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