BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service
The 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’:
Openly 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:
McShane 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:
Latta, 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.
BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service
TENTH CIRCUIT HEARS SECOND CASE:
The 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:
The 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:
Texas 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:
Openly 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 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.
Black 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.
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’:
The 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:
Some 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:
Rancho 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.
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:
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.
TAX DAY PROTEST:
Equality 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:
U.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:
The 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.