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Lambda Legal to Appeal 'Aberrant' Federal Court Ruling Dismissing Puerto Rico Marriage Lawsuit

Lambda Legal says it will appeal yesterday's ruling from the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico dismissing a lawsuit challenging the territory's ban on same-sex marriage.

PuertoricoVia press release:

“The court’s ruling directly conflicts with the wave of recent decisions finding these marriage bans unconstitutional and perpetuates the discrimination and harm done to same-sex Puerto Rican couples and their families,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal. “It defies the unmistakable import of the Windsor decision and flies in the face of the blizzard of rulings of the last year, the reasoned rulings of the Courts of Appeals for the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th Circuits, and the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to let stand the rulings striking down five bans similar to Puerto Rico’s. One struggles to understand how this judge came to a different conclusion.”

“We will, of course, appeal this ruling to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals,” Gonzalez-Pagan said. “All families in Puerto Rico need the protections of marriage.”

On March 25th, 2014, Ada Mercedes Conde Vidal and Ivonne Álvarez Vélez filed a lawsuit to compel Puerto Rico to recognize their marriage, which they entered into in Massachusetts. In June, Lambda Legal joined and amended that lawsuit to include four more plaintiff couples, two seeking recognition of marriages entered into in other jurisdictions and two who seek to marry in Puerto Rico, as well as an organizational plaintiff, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s.

"It is outrageous that loving committed LGBT couples and their families have been deprived of their civil rights and dignity,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, founder and president of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s. “We are hopeful that justice will prevail and that the equality promised by the Constitution will be upheld."

Other states in the 1st Circuit include Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, all of which have marriage equality.


Judge Upholds Puerto Rico's Ban On Same-Sex Marriage: READ


Juan_Manuel_Perez_GimenezU.S. District Judge Perez Gimenez has issued a ruling upholding Puerto Rico's ban on same-sex marriage. Equality on Trial reports:

Citing Baker v. Nelson and the First Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a judge in Puerto Rico has dismissed a challenge to its same-sex marriage ban.

In that DOMA case, Massachusetts v. HHS, the First Circuit had said that Baker v. Nelson is binding precedent on the issue of whether there’s a right to same-sex marriage; they then found that Baker didn’t prevent them from ruling on DOMA, which didn’t involve the states’ regulation of marriage.

The Puerto Rico case can be appealed to the First Circuit, which hasn’t had an opportunity to review challenges to same-sex marriage bans since all the states in that circuit allow same-sex marriage.

The suit challenging Puerto Rico's marriage ban was brought by a lesbian couple, Ada Conde Vidal and Ivonne Álvarez Velez, who sued to have their marriage performed in Massachussetts recognized by the commonwealth. As we previously reported, Conde decided to file the suit after realizing that she would be barred from making medical decisions on behalf of her ailing daughter. Puerto Rico's ban on same-sex marriage was enshrined into law in 1999 after lawmakers amended the U.S. commonwealth’s civil code to ban recognition of same-sex marriages.

Chris Johnson of The Washington Blade also points out that Judge Gimenez was appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

Read the decision, AFTER THE JUMP...

[h/t Chris Johnson]

Continue reading "Judge Upholds Puerto Rico's Ban On Same-Sex Marriage: READ" »


Lambda Legal Asks Court for Swift Ruling to End Discriminatory Marriage Ban in Puerto Rico: READ

Screenshot 2014-09-16 17.05.48

Lambda Legal is officially seeking a summary judgment from the District Court of Puerto Rico that would effectively put an end to the district’s same sex marriage ban. In June, Lambda Legal joined Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, an LGBT non-profit organization, in supporting the Conde v. Rius Armendariz class action lawsuit

Following a ceremony performed in Massachusetts Ivonne Álvarez Velez and Ada Conde Vidal became Puerto Rico’s first married lesbian couple. Since 1999, a Puerto Rican amendment to the commonwealth’s civil code has made it so that Puerto Rico does not recognize same sex marriages--even those performed in other jurisdictions. Conde, a lawyer by training, filed the suit after realizing that she would be barred from making medical decisions on behalf of her ailing daughter.

“If she dies, I want my marriage legally recognized,” Conde explained to the Washington Blade this past March. “If I am not recognized, I will not have any rights to request her estate.”

Conde and her partner are joined by four other gay and lesbian couples, two of whom are looking to actually be married within Puerto Rico, while the others seek to have their pre-existing marriages recognized.

“All families deserve to have their love and commitment recognized in Puerto Rico,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan Lambda Legal’s staff attorney working with Puerto Rico Para Tod@s. “They need the protections only marriage can provide as soon as possible, without discrimination.”

Read Conde v. Rius Armendariz's full legal brief, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lambda Legal Asks Court for Swift Ruling to End Discriminatory Marriage Ban in Puerto Rico: READ" »


Wednesday Speed Read: Heather Mizeur, Executive Order, Joe Biden, NOM, 9th Circuit, Hochberg

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

MizeurMIZEUR COMES IN THIRD IN MARYLAND:

Six of 10 openly LGBT candidates won their primary races Tuesday; three lost; one race is still undetermined. Lesbian State Delegate Heather Mizeur was not one of the winners, but she made a strong showing in third place, just one point behind the state’s attorney general. Mizeur garnered 19 percent of the vote, putting her in third behind Attorney General Doug Gansler with 20 percent, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections. Some political observers think Mizeur “outshined her male opponents” during the campaign, said MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on the Daily Rundown Tuesday morning. But the primary winner, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown with 58 percent of the vote, had at least two advantages over Mizeur: He was running to become the state’s first African American governor in a state with a 30 percent African American population, and he won the endorsement of the statewide LGBT group Equality Maryland. For full election results, see related story.

EarnestNO DETAILS ON EXECUTIVE ORDER:

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during his daily press briefing Tuesday that he does not know whether the executive order that President Obama will sign prohibiting discrimination based by federal contractors will include an exemption for religious entities. And just as he was asked about the timing of the announcement last week that the President would sign such an order, a White House intern standing in the briefing room fainted and Earnest ended the press conference.

BidenBIDEN BRUSHES OFF THE TRIGLODYTES:

Speaking at a reception he hosted for participants and supporters of the White House Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights, Vice President Joe Biden said LGBT people coming out to family and friends is driving enormous progress in attitudes of ordinary Americans. “They are the majority, and those other folks, they are the troglodytes," said Biden, according to a White House pool report.

JUDGE AWARDS NOM $50,000:

NomlogoA federal district court judge in Virginia Tuesday ordered the U.S. to pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000 for over an accidental public release of tax documents with confidential information that should have been redacted. Judge James Cacheris had ruled June 3 that an Internal Revenue Service clerk had mistakenly released the information to a member of the public who then shared it with the Human Rights Campaign and others. While Cacheris said he did not see evidence the release was deliberate and politically motivated, he said the IRS bears some responsibility for the legal expenses NOM incurred as a result of that error. NOM can still sue to recoup attorneys fees.

NINTH CIRCUIT REJECTS EN BANC:

The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals announced Tuesday it would not grant a request from one of its own judges for a full court review of a panel decision requiring heightened scrutiny of laws that disadvantage people based on sexual orientation. Ninth Circuit states now bound by that panel decision in SmithKline v. Abbott include Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

RodriguezPUERTO RICO NOMINEE CONFIRMED:

The Puerto Rico Senate on Monday confirmed the nomination of lesbian attorney Maite Oronoz Rodríguez to serve on the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. Rodríguez is director of legal affairs for the city of San Juan. The vote was 16 to 10.
 
HOCHBERG IN THE HOT SEAT:

The openly gay chairman of the Export-Import Bank will be in front of a House committee this morning. The bank, which provides billions of dollars in loans to companies producing exports, needs reauthorization by Congress on September 30, but newly elected House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is against it.

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


Friday Speed Read: ENDA, Utah, NOM, IRS, Puerto Rico, Patricia Todd, Uganda, Immigration

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

Finalvote_endaTWO MORE GROUPS DISS ENDA:

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality Illinois issued separate statements Thursday, joining the chorus of those who say the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) “falls short.” Equality Illinois says that, while it supports ENDA, its members “strongly oppose including any exemptions that would give LGBT people less protection than other protected groups already enjoy under federal civil rights law.” NCLR said it is “confident the current discriminatory religious exemption in ENDA will not be part of the final legislation,” but added it would “not continue to support ENDA if it is not changed to be consistent with Title VII’s religious exemption."

UtahTENTH CIRCUIT STAYS RECOGNITION ORDER:

The Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed Thursday to a temporary stay of a federal district court judge’s ruling that Utah must recognize, for the purpose of state benefits, the 1,300 marriages performed for same-sex couples in the state prior to a U.S. Supreme Court stay of a decision striking the state ban. The appeals court is expected to decide by June 12 whether to grant a more permanent stay, in Evans v. Utah, until the Tenth Circuit can rule on the state’s ban, in Kitchen v. Herbert.

NOM-logoJUDGE DISMISSES MOST OF NOM-IRS LAWSUIT:

A federal district court judge in Virginia on June 3 dismissed most of a lawsuit by the National Organization for Marriage that claimed an employee of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service deliberately leaked a confidential tax document from NOM to the Human Rights Campaign. Judge James Cacheris said NOM failed to provide any evidence that the disclosure was deliberate and politically motivated; but, he said the IRS may bear some responsibility for the legal expenses NOM incurred as a result of that error and scheduled that issue for trial June 30. Story to follow later today.

RodriguezLESBIAN NOMINATED TO P.R. SUPREME COURT:

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla on Wednesday nominated lesbian attorney Maite Oronoz Rodríguez to serve on the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. Rodríguez is director of legal affairs for the city of San Juan, served as deputy solicitor general for PR and briefly as its acting solicitor general. Lambda Legal issued a statement applauding the nomination of the “first openly lesbian judge” to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. The nomination now goes to the PR senate for confirmation.

ToddMORE ELECTION WINNERS:

Openly gay Alabama state Representative Patricia Todd beat out two Democratic challengers in a primary race Tuesday, seeking her third term to represent Birmingham. Todd, the state’s first and only openly gay elected official, took 64 percent of the vote. And Richard Garcia was elected mayor of Long Beach, California, becoming the city’s first openly gay mayor.

Chad_griffinHRC URGES OBAMA ACTION AGAINST UGANDA:

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin sent President Obama a letter June 2, urging him to take “immediate, concrete” action to “illustrate the United States’ commitment to protecting human rights in Uganda.” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act in February. President Obama said at the time that the law would “complicate” U.S. relations with Uganda and the administration began an “internal review” of those relations.  “Delay is putting lives at risk,” wrote Griffin. “…The world is waiting for action….”

GROUPS URGE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION:

The Human Rights Campaign and 14 other groups signed onto a letter to President Obama June 3, urging him to take “swift executive action to suspend mass immigration detention and deportations.” The letter says Immigration and Custom Enforcement “has failed to take adequate steps to protect LGBT people from abuse and inhumane isolation in detention centers….”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Lesbian Couple Files Lawsuit Demanding Recognition of Marriage in Puerto Rico

Ada_ivonne

A lesbian couple has filed suit in Puerto Rico demanding recognition of their Massachusetts marriage, the Washington Blade reports:

“We wish to enjoy the same social privileges and contractual rights that are conferred by the commonwealth on individuals in opposite-sex marriages and not to be treated as we are being treated as second class citizens differentiated, alienated and discriminated in comparison to other U.S. citizens,” say Ada Conde Vidal and Ivonne Álvarez Velez in their lawsuit they filed in U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico in San Juan. “Puerto Rico law precluding recognition of lawful same-sex marriages denies us those rights in violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

Conde and Álvarez, who have been together for nearly 14 years, exchanged vows in Massachusetts in 2004 shortly after the state’s same-sex marriage law took effect.

Puerto Rican lawmakers in 1999 amended the U.S. commonwealth’s civil code to ban recognition of same-sex marriages – even those legally performed in other jurisdictions. Unions in which one person is transgender are also not recognized.

More at the Blade...

Wrote activist Pedro Julio Serrano on Facebook of the above photo:

They made history by being the first Puerto Rican couple of the same sex to marry in Massachusetts - the first State to legalize this right - a decade ago. They made history today by filing the first federal lawsuit so in Puerto Rico recognizes marriage between same-sex acts in other jurisdictions. They will make history when it declares legal the right to equal marriage in Puerto Rico. Thank you, yesterday, today and always... ADA and Ivonne!


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