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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.


Man Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison After Trying to Beat the Gay Out of His Disabled Brother

A judge sentenced 38-year-old Lawrence Featheroff to 30 months in prison after Featheroff pleaded guilty to attempted complicity to commit felonious assault and abduction on charges related to his disabled brother, the Columbus Dispatch reports:

FeatheroffDetective Brian Lowe testified at the sentencing hearing that Featheroff told investigators he was upset that his brother had told him he had sexual thoughts about men and boys.

Featheroff said he “wanted to toughen him up to push the gay out of him and make him a normal person,” Lowe testified.

He bloodied his brother’s nose on one occasion. Another time, he held a butcher knife under his genitals and threatened to cut them off, Lowe testified.

Meyers and Featheroff are among eight siblings who all were taken from their mother as children and sent to live with different foster families, some of whom adopted them. They reunited as adults and have become a family again, said some of the siblings who attended the sentencing to support Featheroff.

Lancaster police found Meyers with a concussion, a sprained ankle and bruises on his face and around his eye when they checked on him on Jan. 15. That came after one of the men’s siblings called police, concerned that abuse might be occurring at the house.

Featheroff was put in charge of his brother even after serving time for domestic violence.


Tuesday Speed Read: Taxes, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Violence Against Women Act

TAX DAY PROTEST:

SouthcarolinaEquality South Carolina is staging a tax day protest in Columbia, the state capital, today to show support for same-sex couples in South Carolina who have married in other states but must lie on their state tax returns and claim to be single. South Carolina is one of a number of states which are requiring legitimately married same-sex couples to file as single, even though the federal government requires such couples to file as married on their federal returns. The Human Rights Campaign has created a guide to the basics of what each state requires concerning same-sex married couples. Some states, like Texas, don’t have a state income tax. Others, like South Carolina and Michigan, require that, if couples file married for federal income tax purposes, they have to then recalculate their incomes as two single people on a federal return and fill out their state income tax return with that information.

OHIO JUDGE STRIKES BAN, STAYS ORDER:

T_blackU.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black issued a ruling yesterday, striking as unconstitutional Ohio’s ban on recognition of marriages for same-sex couples. In a footnote on the last page of the ruling, he stayed enforcement of the ruling in order for parties to the Henry v. Himes lawsuit to file briefs by 3 p.m. Tuesday, saying why they support or oppose a stay to remain in place “until completion of appeal” to the Sixth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He added, however, that he is “inclined” to allow the ruling to go into effect for the four plaintiff couples “because they have demonstrated that a stay will harm them individually due to the imminent births of their children and other time-sensitive concerns.” The case involves four couples –three who are due to give birth in June and one who is seeking to adopt— all of whom sought the right to include both parents’ names on the birth certificates of their children-to-be. Black announced in open court on April 4 that he intended to find the ban unconstitutional. His order Monday indicated he would rule “expeditiously” on the motion to stay.

ACLU SUES FOR THOSE WED IN MICHIGAN:

SnyderThe ACLU of Michigan filed suit in a federal district court in Detroit Monday on behalf of more than 300 same-sex couples who obtained marriage licenses in the state before a federal appeals court granted a stay of a decision striking the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The lawsuit, Caspar v. Snyder, names eight same-sex couples married on March 22 and says they are being denied the benefits that “all legally married couples and their families deserve and are entitled to under the law.”

DOJ CLARIFIES COVERAGE:

The U.S. Department of Justice issued guidelines April 9 to clarify the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) covers victims of domestic violence, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Among the specific guidelines is one saying that any entity receiving VAWA funds, including faith-based organizations receiving, cannot discriminate based on various factors, including gender identity and sexual orientation. “Gender identity is a person’s internal view of the individual’s gender. Transgender can be used to describe a person whose gender identity is different from the individual’s assigned sex at birth,” notes DOJ. “… best practices dictate that the [grant] recipient should ask a transgender beneficiary which group or service the beneficiary wishes to join.” 

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


Ohio AG Mike DeWine Approves Gay Marriage Ballot Initiative Language

Mike dewineThe language for a proposed ballot initiative aimed at overturning Ohio’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage has been approved by the state’s Attorney General Mike DeWine (R-pictured).

The AP reports:

The amendment language approved by DeWine Monday would also keep clergy from being forced to perform a same-sex marriage. The language goes next to the state ballot board for review.

The group FreedomOhio is seeking to repeal and replace Ohio's 2004 prohibition on gay marriage.

DeWine's decision is not related to a federal judge's decision Monday ordering Ohio authorities to recognize the marriages of gay couples performed in other states.

Gay rights groups in the state are hoping to put the gay marriage question back in the hands of voters as early as this November.

A poll in February indicated that support for marriage equality in Ohio has hit the 50% mark.  


Federal Judge Orders Ohio to Recognize Gay Marriages from Other States

As promised on April 4, Judge Timothy Black has issued a 45-page ruling ordering the state of Ohio to recognize same-sex marriage performed elsewhere. Black announced his ruling ahead of time to give the state to prepare an instant appeal.

T_blackThe case was brought by four gay Ohio couples suing to have their marriages recognized on birth certificates:

The couples, all of whom were legally married in other states but have ties to Ohio through their children, or soon-to-be-born children, filed a lawsuit against the state to have their marriages recognized on birth certificates. They stated that being forced to list only one parent is a violation of their rights according to the U.S. Constitution.

Black previously issued a ruling applying only to death certificates.

The Washington Blade adds:

Now that Black has handed down the decision, state officials in Ohio — Gov. John Kasich and Attorney General Mike DeWine — are expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The officials may also independently seek a stay of the order requiring the state to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.

That would be consistent with actions from other state officials in Kentucky and Tennessee when faced with orders requiring those states to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. The Sixth Circuit already had the distinction of being the only federal appeals court where each of the four states within the circuit — Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky — has a marriage equality case on appeal.

Read the full ruling below:

1:14-cv-00129 #28 by Equality Case Files


Monday Speed Read: Ohio Marriage, Nevada GOP, Tammy Baldwin, Mark Takano, Kyrsten Sinema

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

OhioOHIO DECISION EXPECTED TODAY:

Today is the self-imposed deadline a federal judge in Cincinnati set for issuing a formal ruling that Ohio’s ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. State Attorney General Mike DeWine has already indicated he will appeal the decision and is expected to seek an emergency stay to block its enforcement.

NEVADA GOP STAKES BIGGER TENT:

The Republican Party of Nevada, at its annual convention Saturday, overwhelmingly voted for a platform that removes previous language defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman. Ed Williams, president of Log Cabin Republicans of Nevada and a delegate at the convention, said the state party “has made it clear that they want a 'bigger tent' and has welcomed us into it." National Log Cabin Executive Director Gregory Angelo praised the Nevada Log Cabin chapter for making a “critical difference pushing the GOP toward the right side of history.”

BaldwinLET US EAT BOLOGNA!

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is taking a lead in defending the right of U.S. meat, cheese, and beer producers to call their products what they want. Baldwin, joined by more than 40 of her Senate colleagues, sent a letter April 4 to the USDA and the U.S. Trade Representatives, saying the European Union is attempting to impair U.S. competition with these products by prohibiting the U.S. versions from being identified by such common names as bratwurst, bologna, Octoberfest, feta, and parmesan. The EU says the names are indicative of a geographically specific product. But Baldwin is pushing back. “If the United States were to be subjected to a ban of these traditional names for various products,” she wrote, “consumers may be confused and Wisconsin dairy farmers, meat producers and beer brewers could suffer.”

TakanoTAKANO STAGES ‘INTERVENTION’:

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) staged a mock intervention on the U.S. House floor April 2. He said he wanted to help House Republicans overcome their obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act. “To my Republican friends, I want to say, this is a safe place. We are here to help. Your addiction to repealing Obamacare and peddling conspiracy theories about the law are not doing any good – for yourselves or for the American people. Stop standing on the wrong side of history….Let’s move on!”

SinemaSINEMA’S ON THE RUN IN BOSTON:

Bisexual U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who in November became the first active member of Congress ever to complete an Ironman competition, is registered to run next Monday in the Boston Marathon. Sinema posted a message on Twitter Sunday indicating she was running to honor survivors of last year’s bombing at the finish line.

FACING THE NATION:

CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer sounded somewhat fatigued by the subject matter Sunday when asked Evan Wolfson, head of the national Freedom to Marry group, “So, now it’s gay rights. Is that the next chapter of the civil rights…uh…struggle that’s been going on for so long?” “I wouldn’t call it the next chapter,” said Wolfson, “I think it’s part of the same struggle. I think that what the struggle ... that the civil rights movement did so much to lay the foundation for… was to create an America that’s a more perfect union for everybody. And gay people are part of that everybody. But as we’ve just all heard and said, we’re not done with any of these fights on any of these fronts that overlap anyway. My blood boils when I see voter suppression and the assault on women’s access to contraception…. Civil rights is about the America we want for everybody.”

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


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