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New Lawsuit Filed Challenging Ohio's Gay Marriage Ban

A new lawsuit challenging Ohio's gay marriage ban has been filed in Cincinnati, the AP reports:

BranchThe lawsuit was filed in federal court in Cincinnati on behalf of six gay Ohio couples who say they are in love and want to get married.

"They have an urgent need to affirm their commitment to one another before their children, their family, their friends and their community," the lawsuit said. "For plaintiffs, marriage is a deeply held value. They want to be married in Ohio, their home state."

...Wednesday's lawsuit was filed by the same law firm that filed a February suit that led a federal judge to order Ohio to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages. In his April 14 order, Judge Timothy Black said Ohio's refusal to recognize gay marriage is a violation of constitutional rights and "unenforceable in all circumstances.

The law firm representing the plaintiffs writes in a press release:

This lawsuit seeks to end Ohio’s unconstitutional discrimination against same-sex couples. 

Lead counsel, Jennifer Branch (pictured), said:

“The couples in this case are in love and deeply committed.  They want to get married.  Some have been engaged for years but cannot marry here, at home, surrounded by family and friends, because Ohio forbids it.  Ohio’s unequal treatment of these couples is unconstitutional and cannot continue.  Nobody’s constitutional rights can be voted away.”

Plaintiffs include six same-sex couples who wish to marry.  The six couples standing up to bring this case have been in committed relationships for between two and nineteen years.  Traveling elsewhere to get married is not an option for most of the plaintiffs.  Michelle Gibson, the lead plaintiff, has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.  Other plaintiffs have elderly parents and grandparents who cannot travel.  One couple has two young developmentally disabled sons.  Another couple has already made a guest list with over 300 people, but only a handful of them could afford to travel to another state for the wedding.  More importantly, no Ohioans should be forced to leave Ohio to get married.

Here is the complaint if you'd like to read it.

On April 16, Black stayed his ruling except in the case of the four couples who sued. He said Ohio must recognize their marriages immediately.

A ballot measure drive is also underway in Ohio. This week an LGBT group earned approval to begin collecting signatures to put a measure before voters to repeal the state's ban.


Cincinnati Catholic School Members Protest Against Anti-Gay Contract, 'Morality Clause': VIDEO

Contract

Cincinnati teachers and parents are protesting the local archidocese requirement that all Catholic school teachers sign a contractual “morality clause” forbidding any public or private support or practice of homosexuality, artificial insemination, pre- and extra-marital sex, or abortion.

WLWT reports:

At least a hundred Catholic teachers, parents and students protested at Fountain Square on Tuesday. Their message to the archdiocese: is fix the contract.

Protestors have signed a local petition with more than a thousand signatures. The national one has 23,000.They will walk to the archdiocese offices to deliver the petitions.

One of the teachers is refusing because of her gay son:

“The main reason I will not sign this contract is my son is gay, and the day he came out to me, the world was lifted off of his shoulder as well as mine, and it was at that moment that I said to myself I will never hide who he is, be embarrassed of who he is and at that point I said I’m going to use this opportunity to make a difference,” Molly Shumate said.

Protestors hope to increase dialogue with the archdiocese and to revert to last year's teacher contract that did not contain the so-called “morality clause."

As we said earlier, presumably the archdiocese revised the contract to avoid high-profile firings like that of Mike Moroskin, the Ohio administrator who was fired for publishing a pro-marriage equality blog post last year, and Carla Hale, the Ohio teacher who was also fired last year after her mother’s obituary listed the name of Carla’s female partner.

You can watch video of the protest, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Cincinnati Catholic School Members Protest Against Anti-Gay Contract, 'Morality Clause': VIDEO" »


Thursday Speed Read: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Ohio, Oregon, Michael McShane, NOM, Crystal Moore

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE?

NixonThe Republican-led committee of the Missouri legislature discussed a proposal Wednesday to impeach Democratic Governor Jay Nixon because he issued an executive order allowing same-sex couples who have obtained marriage licenses in other states to file joint state tax returns in Missouri. Rep. Nick Marshall, who introduced the resolution, said he did so because Nixon “usurped the people and their authority to determine their constitution.” Voters in 2004 amended the constitution to ban same-sex marriages. The St. Louis Dispatch noted that the resolution has little time to advance, given the legislature adjourns in four weeks. Earlier this month, a Missouri judge denied a petition for a temporary restraining order to block Nixon’s directive. The judge will hold a hearing on the challenge May 2.

LET THE SIGNING BEGIN:

An LGBT group in Ohio earned a go-ahead to begin collecting signatures to put a ballot measure before voters to repeal the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The Ohio Ballot Board announced Tuesday that FreedomOhio can begin collecting signatures the more than 385,000 signatures it needs. A spokesman for the group told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that FreedomOhio is working with other gay groups to determine what ballot to shoot for.

‘VOTING ON PEOPLE’S RIGHTS’:

McshaneOpenly gay U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane held a two-hour-long hearing Wednesday on two lawsuits seeking to strike the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The Oregonian newspaper said McShane asked attorneys whether voters should get another vote at the ballot box "before the court steps in." Sheila Potter, representing the attorney general, who says the ban is unconstitutional, replied, "We are asking you to make a statement that we don't get to vote on peoples' constitutional rights." Basic Rights Oregon has a proposed initiative in the works to put a repeal measure on the ballot in November. The group has said it will drop that plan if the court strikes the ban as unconstitutional before May 23, an important ballot measure deadline.

ABOUT THOSE MARRIAGE PLANS:

NomlogoMcShane said he would hold a hearing May 14 on whether the National Organization for Marriage qualifies to intervene in the lawsuits to defend the ban since the attorney general has declined to do so. NOM has complained publicly that there are “serious ethical questions” about whether McShane should be presiding over the two marriage lawsuits because he is gay. “Judge McShane is in the same position as the two gay men challenging the marriage amendment, raising troubling questions about his impartiality," said John Eastman, an attorney for NOM. In court Wednesday, Judge McShane addressed that suggestion. According to the Oregonian, McShane said he and his partner “have no plans to get married.”

TINY TOWN FIGHTS BACK:

MooreLatta, South Carolina, population 1,410, is fighting to keep its openly lesbian 20-year veteran police chief. Many people in town believe Mayor Ed Bullard fired Crystal Moore because she is gay. On Tuesday, the town council voted unanimously to block Bullard from replacing Moore during the next two months. That followed a vote last week to hold a referendum June 24 on a new structure for government that would enable the town council to hire Moore back. WPDE News reported that a standing room only crowd turned out for a council meeting to show their support for Moore.

‘THE NAACP FOR GAY PEOPLE’:

In an interview with Jo Becker, author of the controversial book Forcing the Spring, NPR’s Terri Gross mentioned that Chad Griffin is now head of the Human Rights Campaign, which is, “you know, a big gay rights group.” “Exactly,” said Becker. “It’s the NAACP for gay people.”

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


Thursday Speed Read: North Carolina, Nate Silver, Rosemary Lehmberg, Brunei, Ohio, Oklahoma

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

TENTH CIRCUIT HEARS SECOND CASE:

OklahomaThe same three-judge panel that heard the lawsuit challenging Utah’s ban on recognition of same-sex marriages today hears a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma’s. Jim Campbell, legal counsel from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that has been opposing same-sex marriage, will argue for Oklahoma. Don Holladay, counsel with Holladay & Chilton in Oklahoma City, will argue for the plaintiffs.  Argument begins at 1:30 MDT at the Denver federal courthouse. Each side will get 15 minutes. Audio recordings of the proceedings will be available on the court’s website within 24 hours of adjournment.

U.N. ADMONISHES BRUNEI STONING LAW:

BruneiThe United Nations’ Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement April 11 admonishing the southeast Asian nation of Brunei for revising its penal code to require stoning to death any person convicted of sodomy and other sexually related offenses. The revised code goes into effect April 22. U.N. spokesman Rupert Colville said the revised code “may encourage further violence and discrimination against women and also against people on the basis of sexual orientation.”

OHIO JUDGE SPLITS THE STAY:

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black did as he said he might: He ordered the state of Ohio Wednesday to include the names of both same-sex parents on the birth certificates of children born and adopted to four same-sex couples in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. But he stayed his ruling that the state ban on recognizing marriages of same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The stay will remain pending review by the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The case, Henry v. Wymyslo, was led by civil rights attorney-activist Al Gerhardstein in Cincinnati.

DON’T MESS WITH ANYBODY IN TEXAS:

LehmbergTexas Republican Governor Rick Perry is into a big-time scrap with lesbian Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat. Lehmberg, who’s gay, is the top prosecutorial officer for Travis County –the same county that runs the state’s Public Integrity Unit which is charged with investigating wrongdoing by state officials. She’s credited with convicting U.S. House Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay in 2010 for money laundering (a case now on appeal to the state’s high court for criminal appeals). But Lehmberg ran into trouble last April when police found her drunk and behind the wheel of a car in a church parking lot. Lehmberg acknowledged guilt, apologized, spent three weeks in jail, and entered a treatment program. But she refused calls from Perry and other Republican leaders to resign. Perry then claimed Lehmberg had “lost the public’s confidence” and vetoed funding for her Public Integrity budget. Texans for Public Justice, a political watchdog group, charged that Perry is breaking the law by trying to coerce Lehmberg’s resignation. And this week, a Texas judge seated a grand jury to look into those allegations. Perry has reported hired a defense attorney.

THE SILVER FORECAST:

SilverOpenly gay political data cruncher Nate Silver yesterday echoed predictions that are being heard more and more frequently these days: Republicans appear poised to take over the Senate in the mid-term elections this November. Silver’s latest model “puts Democratic losses in the Senate at 6.8 seats….”

NORTH CAROLINA SOFTENS:

A poll this month in North Carolina indicates opposition to same-sex couples marrying has softened by eight points in the past two years. In May 2012, 61 percent of voters said yes to a ban on same-sex couples marrying. But a Public Policy Polling survey taken April 3-6 of 740 registered voters found only 53 percent still oppose same-sex marriage.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Judge Stays Ohio Gay Marriage Ruling, Except for the Couples Who Sued

Judge Timothy Black has stayed his ruling ordering Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, except in the case of the four couples who sued. He says Ohio must recognize their marriages immediately, the AP reports.

T_blackBlack said the stay does not apply to the four couples who filed the February lawsuit that led to the court case and ordered Ohio to immediately list both spouses in each relationship as parents on their children's birth certificates.

In explaining the stay, Black said that although he doesn't think the state's appeal will succeed, there is still a chance the 6th Circuit could overturn his decision.

"The court recognizes that recognition of same-sex marriages is a hotly contested issue in the contemporary legal landscape, and, if (the) appeal is ultimately successful, the absence of a stay ... is likely to lead to confusion, potential inequity and high costs," Black said. "Premature celebration and confusion do not serve anyone's best interests."

The case will be appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.


Wednesday Speed Read: Ohio, India, Cleveland Gay Games, Scott Hines, Louisiana

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

T_blackOHIO STAY NEWS TODAY:

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black is expected to announce today whether he will grant a stay of his April 14 ruling that Ohio’s ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. Briefs from both sides of the Henry v. Wymyslo lawsuit were due Tuesday afternoon.

OHIO BALLOT MEASURE CLEARS HURDLE:

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Monday that he has certified as “fair and truthful” a summary of a proposed ballot measure seeking to treat same-sex marriages the same as heterosexual marriages in the state. The certification is just one of several hurdles FreedomOhio, a pro-gay group, must clear to  put a question on the ballot in November. The proposed language states that marriage “shall be a union of two consenting adults not nearer in kin than second cousins…and no religious house of worship or the religious house of worship’s clergy shall be required to perform a marriage. All legally valid marriages shall be treated equally under the law.”

INDIA RECOGNIZES ‘THIRD GENDER’:

IndiaThe Supreme Court of India ruled Tuesday, “It is the right of every human being to choose their gender” and that people of a “third gender” should be given the rights of citizens. The decision in National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India was written and approved by two different justices than the ones who, in December, upheld the country’s laws against same-sex sexual relations. But this latest opinion concluded, “We, therefore, conclude that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity includes any discrimination, exclusion, restriction or preference, which has the effect of nullifying or transposing equality by the law or the equal protection of laws guaranteed under our Constitution, and hence we are inclined to give various directions to safeguard the constitutional rights of the members of the [transgender] community.”

MUSLIM CABBIES BALK AT ADS:

GaygamesSome taxi drivers in Cleveland are asking that they not be assigned to drive airport cabs that are displaying roof-top advertisements for this summer’s Gay Games. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Tuesday that “some” drivers that work with taxi fleets at the airport object to the ads, saying they violate their Muslim religious beliefs. The cab companies are working with the airport and cab stand operator to replace the drivers in that fleet.

INCUMBENT LOSS IN CALIFORNIA:

MailerRancho Mirage City Council incumbent Scott Hines lost his bid for re-election April 8. Hines won only 17 percent of the nearly 12,000 votes cast. An openly gay candidate serving his first term on the council, Hines was the target of a hostile mailer during the campaign. Someone distributed to voters a postcard with a photo of Hines, the word “Fags,” and a message to “Send Hines Packing Back to Palm Springs, where he belongs.” But the Desert Sun newspaper suggested other factors in Hines’ loss may have been his youth (“in a city where retirees predominate”) and “questions about conflicts of interest.”

LOUISIANA CLINGS TO PAST:

The Louisiana House rejected a bill Tuesday that sought to remove from the state code a law prohibiting sexual relations between people of the same sex. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state sodomy laws in 2003, with its ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. Louisiana can’t enforce its sodomy ban against consensual adults in private, but the House voted 27 to 67 to keep the on the “books.” According to the Times-Picayune, a group called the Louisiana Family Forum sent a letter to legislators saying the “anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy and immoral."

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


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