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Six Marriage Equality Cases at the Sixth Circuit Today: A Preview

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BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

The Cincinnati-based Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in a series of marriage equality cases today from the jurisdiction's four constituent states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. It is an unprecedented coming together of marriage equality litigation that has the potential to change the destiny of marriage in the federal courts for several reasons:

6thcircuitFirst, these cases cover the entire Sixth Circuit and any decision could affect all of them directly, even if a decision is stayed pending appeal to the Supreme Court. We have seen this happen in the Fourth Circuit, where the appellate court overturns a ban on marriage equality and other states in the circuit, North Carolina and West Virginia, either stop defending their own bans or take other pro-equality actions because they see the writing on the wall even though the decision is stayed pending appeal.

Second, the three-judge panel reflects the right-of-center tilt of the circuit, consisting of a Clinton appointee and two George W. Bush appointees, one of whom has made his fiercely conservative views public.

And, third, as the third federal appeals court to hear a post-Windsor marriage case -- after the Tenth (the Utah case) and the Fourth (the Virginia case), but before the Seventh (on August 26), the Ninth (on September 8), and at some point, the Fifth -- the Sixth Circuit is being watched to determine if a pattern is emerging among the circuits or if there will be a split among the panels.

AFTER THE JUMP, I summarize the cases and briefly profile the judges on the panel. I will also discuss a few things to watch for during the marthon oral argument, scheduled to being at 1 PM.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Ohio Hospital Denies Woman Her Deceased Wife's Medical Records: VIDEO

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Marcia Gallas, a woman from Blue Ash, Ohio, has been denied access to her recently deceased spouse's medical records. While Gallas and her attorney have a federal injunction that is based on a similar case from Cincinnati, Bethesda North Hospital says they cannot release the information due to "state and federal privacy laws."

Watch a WCPO report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 10.02.08 AMTo Gallas, it seems the hospital's rationale for this denial is that they are waiting for Ohio's marriage equality fight to make its way through the courts. Said Gallas:

I'm grieving...It's going to take a long time to get over Barbara and I really don't understand why they won't recognize... what am I to think except that they have a problem with same sex marriage?

Gallas is trying to obtain the records of former spouse Barbara Graham because Graham participated in an 18-year study that requires the records.

While Bethesda North is stubborn in their position, Gallas did not have the same problems getting records from Cincinatti's Jewish Hospital. Said Gallas:

They [Bethesda North] just aren't budging... All they need to do is release her medical records, that's all I'm asking for...I don't think that's too much to ask for.

Gallas can get permission from Graham's sons to access the records, but this could take weeks to process.

[h/t WCPO]

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Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to Hear Six Marriage Equality Cases in One Day on August 6

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is lining up the cases for a pretty impressive combo score on August 6th and will be hearing six discrete marriage equality cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

6thcircuitFrom the National Center for Lesbian Rights:

On August 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will hear oral argument in six marriage equality cases--the most marriage cases that any federal circuit court has ever heard in a single day, and the fourth argument to be heard by a federal circuit court since the United States Supreme Court's decision last summer striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Federal Judges Martha Craig Daughtrey, Jeffrey S. Sutton, and Deborah L. Cook will hear the challenges to laws banning marriage equality in Kentucky (two cases), Michigan, Ohio (two cases), and Tennessee. The National Center for Lesbian Rights is representing plaintiffs in Tennessee, American Civil Liberties Union is representing plaintiffs in Ohio, and Lambda Legal is representing plaintiffs in Ohio.

Oral arguments will begin at 1pm ET at the Potter Stewart Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Henry And George, Together Over 50 Years, Featured In New Ohio Marriage Equality Ad: VIDEO

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Henry Hawley and George Vassos were married in New York City last October, on their 50th anniversary. Their commitment to each other is not recognized in their home state of Ohio, though, and they are looking to create change. The adorable couple is featured in a new advertisement from Why Marriage Matters Ohio, and if their easy chemistry and clear adoration of one another does not convince you of love's universality, perhaps nothing will.

Check out Henry and George's testimony, AFTER THE JUMP...

And head over to the Why Marriage Matters Ohio website to make a contribution to the cause.

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Ohio Posters Advertising 'Straight White Guy Festival' Annoy Locals

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Misspelled posters advertising a "straight white guy festival" recently appeared near a gay-friendly neighborhood of Clintonville in Columbus, Ohio. The festival, ostensibly scheduled for September 20, will "celabrate [sic] our enjoyment of being straight, white and male" at Goodale Park.

The posters could be a hoax since city officials have reportedly received zero event permit requests for the park. 

The UK Mirror states:

The event has been taken by some as a homophobic backlash against the gay pride festival held at the park last month... Many have reacted with outrage, claiming every day is a straight white guy festival. Others have defended the unknown organisers, arguing that they have the same right to celebrate their sexuality and heritage as the LGBT community and other minorities.

In 2007, "straight pride" supporters marched in a Pride parade in Telluride, Colorado. Meanwhile, in 2011 the local government of Sao Paulo, Brazil approved a "straight pride day... protest against the privileges the gay community enjoys." 

But proponents of "straight pride" responses to gay pride events may want to consider CNN contributor LZ Granderson's thoughts on the matter:

Gay Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution... So instead of wondering why there isn’t a straight pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one.


Gay Family Denied Entry to Public Pool in Ohio: VIDEO

Melody Mohn

The Heise Park Pool in Galion, Ohio is a popular destination for residents during the summertime and offers a discounted pass for families. Melody Mohn and her wife applied for a Family Pass so that they could take their three children swimming, but were denied and told that the city ordinance defines a family as a mother, a father, and up to three children.

Normally this is where the story would bring up a lawsuit being filed, possible involvement by the ACLU, and a divided community. Instead, Mohn started an online petition, wrote to the mayor, and brought up the issue at a city council meeting to discuss a change in the wording of the ordinance. Mohn's pleas did not fall on deaf ears, and while it doesn't seem likely that change will happen in time for this summer, City Council Member Sarah Capretta said:

They want to make sure that they word [the ordinance] properly so that it can include more people in the city of Galion. We have a lot of grandparents taking care of grandchildren, aunts and uncles taking care of nephews and nieces and we want to make sure that we include all of those people to make everybody eligible to be able to use the facility because that is what it is there for.

You can watch the WBNS-10TV report AFTER THE JUMP...

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