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Georgia Governor Vows To Abide by Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

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Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has vowed that his state will comply with the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling regarding four states’ bans on same-sex marriage. Like Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, Georgia currently bars gay couples from applying for marriage licenses and refuses to recognize same sex marriages officiated in other states. Echoing similar statements made by Georgia State Attorney General Sam Olens, Deal, is prepared to fall in lockstep with the Court.

“Federal constitutional issues trump state constitutional issues, " Deal said in an interview with A Closer Look. "So we will abide by whatever the Supreme Court rules as an interpretation of the United States Constitution.”

For a deeper dive into next week's court hearings check out our two part, in-depth analysis here and here.

(h/t WABE)

Marriage at the Supreme Court 2.0: Windsor, Perry, and Context — Part 2



This post is a continuation - to read the first part, click HERE.

In Part I of this post, we took Kenji Yoshino's invitation, sparked by his book, Speak Now, on Hollingsworth v. Perry, to take a look at the context for the upcoming Supreme Court marriage argument. We traced the key legal history back from 1972 and Baker v. Nelson to the passage of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I have been arguing that a multi-pronged strategy was necessary to win marriage rights, but the step-by-step litigation strategy was the central mode of success. Let's pick up where we left off.

MarriageThe preemptive nature of DOMA was its most striking element. In 1996, there were no legally married gay couples in the states, and yet Congress still felt the need to discriminate against them and give states the right to ignore legal marriages just because the individuals are gay. It wasn't until 2004 when Massachusetts legalized marriage for gays that the effects of DOMA could actually be felt by a real live person. Between 1996 and 2004, advocates went to work in progressive states, mostly in the Northeast, to set the groundwork for marriage rights. After Massachusetts took the jump, 13 states passed constitutional bans on marriage equality. Others followed. But Massachusetts was joined by a handful of other states on the pro-equality side, including Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, and New Hampshire. 

California was a unique case. In re Marriage Cases brought marriage equality to that state in 2008, but that freedom was famously taken away in Proposition 8. The denial of marriage rights in a state like California -- the progressive home of the Castro and West Hollywood (and countless other cities and towns gay Californians called home -- felt particularly harsh. A group of activists, led by 4 pioneering plaintiffs and represented by an "odd couple" of Ted Olson and David Boies, decided to challenge Prop 8 in federal court. 



Continue reading "Marriage at the Supreme Court 2.0: Windsor, Perry, and Context — Part 2" »

Marriage at the Supreme Court 2.0: Windsor, Perry, and Context — Part I


Speak NowKenji Yoshino, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law, has written an outstanding book: Speak Now: The Story of Hollingsworth v. PerryPerry was not the first marriage equality case. Nor, Professor Yoshino noted recently, did it create the most important legal precedent (that's Windsor). But Perry accomplished two essential functions, without which we would not be on the precipice of a nationwide marriage equality right: it launched marriage equality into the public conscience and used the unique environment of an adversarial trial to put our opponents' anti-gay arguments in stark relief. From there, the dominoes fell rapidly in our favor.

Less than one week away from oral argument at the Supreme Court in the most recent (and likely last) round of marriage equality cases, it is fitting to take Professor Yoshino's invitation to look back and understand the historical context that brought us here. For this retelling (and there are many possible retellings of the history of the marriage equality fight), I will connect the dots between some of the major legal precedents. Professor Yoshino's text is the seminal work on one of them -- Hollingsworth v. Perry. Let's see the bigger picture.

I will argue that although a multi-pronged strategy of growing public support, legislative action, and on-the-ground activism was important for marriage equality's success, without legal boldness and a courtroom strategy, much of the political work would not have mattered.

When, in the 1972 one-line order in Baker v. Nelson, the Supreme Court decided that the freedom to marry a person of the same sex did not raise any questions of federal law and, thus, could not be addressed in a federal court, the gay rights movement faced several options: give up on marriage, work state by state to amend marriage laws, or build the legal framework for a future federal fight on marriage equality. A non-monolithic movement, gay rights activists dabbled in each, but the latter was the most important.


Continue reading "Marriage at the Supreme Court 2.0: Windsor, Perry, and Context — Part I" »

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Fights Against State Recognition Of Terminally Ill Gay Man’s Marriage: VIDEO

Bruce Morgan Brian Merucci

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (right) has submitted a brief arguing that the state should not have to recognize the marriage of a gay man suffering from a terminal illness, reports the Washington Blade.

Rick Snyder_smThe five-page brief presented to the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Michigan on April 16 East Grand Rapids couple Brian Merucci and Bruce Morgan. Morgan is suffering from brain cancer.

Although the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 2014 decision striking down Michigan’s gay marriage ban, Snyder has acceded to the decision in Caspar v. Snyder requiring the state to recognize the marriages of couples who wed during a window period after the initial court ruling.

However, Snyder has argued Caspar v. Snyder does not provide for the recognition of  Merucci and Morgan’s marriage.

“The only circumstance cited by Plaintiffs not previously considered by this Court is the decision in Caspar. But Caspar is non-precedential and factually distinguishable.

"Consequently, the legal and factual landscapes relevant to staying this case remain the same as they did when this Court issued the stay, and Plaintiffs’ motion should be denied.”

Morgan v. Snyder was filed in June 2014, but the case was stayed in as marriage litigation was pending before the Sixth Circuit. Earlier this month, Merucci and Snyder sought a relief from the stay in the aftermath of the decision in the Caspar case.

Watch a report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Fights Against State Recognition Of Terminally Ill Gay Man’s Marriage: VIDEO" »

SCOTUS Rejects Final NOM Attempt to Undo Oregon Marriage Equality Ruling

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On Monday the Supreme Court shot down the National Organization of Marriage’s latest appeal meant to challenge U.S. District Judge Michael McShane’s ruling that allows Oregon’s same sex couples to wed. Previously McShane took action to declare Oregon’s ban on same sex marriage, which was passed via referendum, unconstitutional.

"It's a good day," said Lake Perriguey, the Portland-based attorney responsible for handling one of the lawsuits that resulted in McShane’s decision, told the Oregonian. "It's a distraction we don't have to worry about anymore."

Because Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has similarly come out in support of same sex marriage in the state meaning that there’s little to no chance that that McShane’s ruling can currently be appealed. As NOM chairman John Eastman explained, however, the organization still has the potential to fight marriage equality in Oregon thanks to four upcoming Supreme Court cases challenging the bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

According to Eastman, should the Justices ultimately rule that any of the four states are within their right to oppose gay marriage, NOM or another organization will be in a prime position to compel Rosenblum to challenge McShane’s decision. The Supreme Court is set to hear the four upcoming casts on the 28th of April.

Shocking 1975 Government Document States Marriage Cannot Exist ‘Between Two Faggots’: VIDEO


A 1975 letter from a district director of the Justice Department’s Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) told a gay couple that their marriage could not be recognized because they “failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots," reports Buzzfeed.


The letter was in response to Richard Adams and Anthony Sullivan, one of the first same-sex couples in the U.S. to try to get their marriage recognized by the federal government. A clerk in Colorado married the couple and they tried to use the marriage so Australian native Sullivan could remain in the U.S.

Although the couple fought the INS decision, they were rejected by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court declined to hear their case. Sullivan’s challenge against deportation was rejected by the 9th Circuit in a decision by Judge Anthony Kennedy, now a Supreme Court justice.

Although Adams died in 2012, Sullivan has continued to keep their case and the issues behind it in the spotlight.

The government has since issued an apology written by León Rodriguez, director of INS successor the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which reads:

“This agency should never treat any individual with the disrespect shown toward you and Mr. ­Adams. You have my sincerest apology for the years of hurt caused by the deeply offensive and hateful language used in the November 24, 1975, decision and my deepest condolences on your loss.”

Watch a trailer for the documentary Limited Partnership which examines the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Shocking 1975 Government Document States Marriage Cannot Exist ‘Between Two Faggots’: VIDEO" »


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