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States Defending Gay Marriage Bans Costing Taxpayers Millions In Attorney Fees

MarriageGraphic

Plaintiffs in successful same-sex marriage lawsuits have been awarded more than $800,000 in attorneys fees' from states that defended the bans, with another $2.6 million in requests pending, according to a new report from The National Law Journal: 

Federal district judges across the country have issued nearly three dozen rulings since late 2013 declaring state same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Attorney fee petitions haven't been filed yet in the majority of those cases as they go before circuit courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. The fee awards, agreements and requests to date offer an early snapshot of what these landmark civil rights cases could cost taxpayers. ... 

Plaintiffs who prevail in federal civil rights cases can collect legal fees from the losing side. Congress set up the fee-shifting rule as an incentive for lawyers to take on time-consuming and expensive civil rights litigation, said Deborah Ferguson, lead counsel for the couples who fought Idaho's gay marriage ban.

In Idaho, the plaintiffs' attorneys were awarded a whopping $410,663 — the most in any state thus far. But that hasn't stopped Republican Gov. Butch Otter from continuing his futile defense of the state's marriage ban in court. The other states where plaintiffs' attorneys fees have been awarded or agreed to in same-sex marriage cases are Kentucky, Missouri, Oregon and Virginia. Requests are pending in Alaska, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Of course, the plaintiffs' attorneys fees don't include the cost to taxpayers of states paying their lawyers or hiring outside counsel to defend the bans — or, for that matter, lost revenue from wedding-related spending where same-sex marriage is still not legal. 

All told, it seems that defending discrimination isn't cheap, and states that continue to fight same-sex marriage better be prepared to pay up. And the irony is, many of the same folks who advocate lower taxes are the same ones fighting hardest to deprive same-sex couples of the freedom to marry.  


Gossip's Beth Ditto Reveals She Legally Married Fiancé In Oregon On New Year's Eve

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 1.53.49 PM

Gossip lead singer Beth Ditto revealed on Facebook earlier this week that she legally married her fiancé Kristin Ogata in Oregon on New Year's Eve reports Winnipeg Free PressThe singer originally had a non-legally binding ceremony in Maui with Ogata in July 2013, but with the Oregon ceremony the couple are officially married according to state law. Ditto took time to thank those who fought for gay marriage throughout the U.S. in the last year with a post on Facebook.

Said Ditto:

"Legally married finally, a year later!

"Thanks everyone who fought to make gay marriage legal in Oregon! In 2015, the whole U.S.!"

Full details of the Oregon ceremony are still under wraps however, in Ditto's 2013 Maui ceremony she wore a Jean Paul Gaultier gown with a low-cut bodice, tulle skirt and a veil to walk down the aisle. Ditto chose not to wear shoes during the ceremony, walking down the aisle barefoot. Ogata wore a three-piece suit jacket, shirt and shorts for the occasion. Ogata worked as Ditto's assistant during the production of the group's album "Standing in the Way of Control." At the time Ditto developed strong feelings for Ogata, but she was still in a nine-year relationship with Freddie Fagula; Ditto ended the relationship in January 2010 and explained the breakup and her relationship with Ogata.

Said Ditto:

"It was something that I kept hidden deep inside of me. But everyone knew. Even people at parties and clubs would be like, 'When are they going to get together?' There was always a little guilt inside of me because I felt I was cheating, but I never cheated. We never did anything ... I dated Freddie for nine years, and I was always worried it was going to end. With Kristen I never worry about it ending, I just feel completely full and whole."

Ditto has yet to post any photos from the Oregon ceremony except one of the couple together with a caption announcing their marriage on Facebook. 


Gay Evangelical Raises 'Olive Branch' Funding For Anti-Gay Sweet Cakes Bakery

Matt Stolhandske

You may remember Sweet Cakes Bakery in Oregon, one of the first bakeries to make a stink about making cakes for gay weddings. The anti-gay attitudes of owners Melissa and Aaron Klein resulted in quick condemnation from activists, and the protests and investigations by the state's Bureau of Labor soon caused the bakery to close up shop and move "in-home."

A year and a $150,000 fine from the state of Oregon later and the owners of Sweet Cakes are finding an unlikely new supporter in the form of gay evangelical conservative Matt Stolhandske, who wrote a fundraising column in the Washington Post. Interestingly, Stolhandske doesn't appear to be a self-hating homosexual, an ex-gay, or even spouting the tired "religious freedom trumps all" falsehood. In fact, he even calls out the Klein's flimsy argument of endorsement of a "sinful" lifestyle:

This [lesbian] couple didn’t ask the Kleins for their blessing. They simply asked to pay for a cake. Last I checked, a pastry is not moral approval of a religious ceremony.

Furthermore, he explains that his motivation is that he doesn't want the family - who may potentially be bankrupted by the fines - to suffer. In his own words, "[T]his is what an olive branch looks like." This olive branch doesn't come with a dismissal of the Klein's behaviors, however:

I don’t want them to suffer. But I am also pleading with them and other Christians to stop using the name of Jesus to explain to the LGBT community why we don’t deserve access to the civil rights afforded to heterosexuals through the legal institution of marriage.

Turning the other cheek, forgiving trespasses, reaching out with an offer of reconciliation to prevent further suffering and unhappiness and engender peace...it's like Stolhandske actually read the teachings of Jesus and appears to be making an effort to live by those moral decrees. Right-wingers, take note.


Anti-Gay Groups Launch 'Unprecedented' Campaign Against Pro-LGBT Republican Candidates: READ

Pro-lgbt gop

Anti-gay activist groups The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Family Research Council Action and CitizenLink are launching “an unprecedented campaign” against three Republican candidates because of their support for marriage equality and abortion, reports Buzzfeed.

Family Research Council Action is the legislative arm of rabidly homophobic listed hate group Family Research Council.

Last month, NOM cofounder Robert George said that he couldn't think of any "logical stopping place" between gay-affirming Christians and pedophile-affirming or serial killer-affirming Christians.

The three ultra-conservative groups “will mount a concerted effort to urge voters to refuse to cast ballots” for Republican House candidates Carl DeMaio [top left] in California, Richard Tisei [middle] in Massachusetts and Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby [right] in Oregon. DeMaio and Tisei are the only out LGBT Republican federal candidates from the to appear on the ballot this fall.

A letter  - claiming to speak on behalf of all Americans and possibly suggesting a gay recruitment drive - sent to Republican congressional and campaign leaders yesterday reads in part:

“We cannot in good conscience urge our members and fellow citizens to support candidates like DeMaio, Tisei or Wehby. They are wrong on critical, foundational issues of importance to the American people.

Worse, as occupants of high office they will secure a platform in the media to advance their flawed ideology and serve as terrible role models for young people who will inevitably be encouraged to emulate them.”

The letter goes on to warn Republican leaders that it is a “grave error” for the party to support “candidates who do not hold core Republican beliefs and, in fact, are working to actively alienate the Republican base.”

In a statement, NOM President Brian S. Brown said:

Brown“The Republican Party platform is a ‘statement of who we are and what we believe.’ Thus, the platform supports the truth of marriage as the union of husband and wife, and recognizes the sanctity and dignity of human life.

“We cannot sit by when people calling themselves Republicans seek high office while espousing positions that are antithetical to the overwhelming majority of Republicans.”

Read the letter, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Groups Launch 'Unprecedented' Campaign Against Pro-LGBT Republican Candidates: READ" »


National Organization for Marriage Continues Its Fight Against Oregon's Pro-Gay Marriage Ruling

OregonFollowing U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane's ruling back in May striking down Oregon's ban on gay marriage, the National Organization for Marriage asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the decision. Two weeks ago, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit denied NOM its request, leading to the anti-gay organization to now ask the full Ninth Circuit Court to reconsider the decision.

The Oregonian reports:

NOM unsuccessfully sought to gain standing to appeal McShane's decision. But McShane denied the group's attempt to intervene in the case and NOM has so far failed to find any success on appeal. 

In its latest petition, NOM said the lack of an opposing party in the Oregon litigation is part of a dangerous trend  "threatening the very adversarial nature of our system of justice."

In February, Oregon's Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced she would no longer defend the state's gay marriage ban in court. 


GOP Senate Candidate From Oregon To Run Pro-Marriage Equality Ad: VIDEO

MonicaWehby

Monica Wehby (above left) is proving to be a rare bird in the GOP senate race. The Oregon candidate, battling against incumbent Jeff Merkley (D), is set to air a television ad touting her pro-gay marriage stance. Not only is her position surprising, but the ad also stars one of the plaintiffs from the case which struck down Oregon's ban, Ben West (above right).

Mediaite reports:

“Marrying my husband was the happiest day of my life,” West says in the ad. “I was proud of Oregon and our country. But there’s a lot of work left to do. Whether it’s standing up for equality or for the unemployed or for the next generation, we need leaders who have the courage to do what’s right. That’s why I support Monica Wehby. I know she’ll fight for every Oregon family, including mine.”

Kudos to Wehby! The probability of her winning the race is slim as she currently trails Merkley in the polls by 13 points, but the blatantly supportive message is admirable to say the least.

Check out the campaign ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "GOP Senate Candidate From Oregon To Run Pro-Marriage Equality Ad: VIDEO" »


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