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NOM Leader Jennifer Roback-Morse Believes Marriage Equality Will Go Nationwide Within the Year

MorseJennifer Roback-Morse, who has long been a mouthpiece for the National Organization for Marriage and currently serves as president of NOM offshoot Ruth Institute, is putting marriage equality on the fast track - predicting that the issue will be solved within the legal system within the year.   

The Advocate reports that Morse told the National Catholic Singles' Conference earlier this month that she wanted to "go on the record" about "what is going to happen as we move along the path of redefining marriage." 

"We're here, in 2014, talking about the redefinition of marriage. I'm going to go on the record here, and forecast, that by this time next year, it'll be over, as a legal matter," Morse continues. "There will be same-sex, genderless marriage in every state in the union."

Morse went on to apologize to any Texans in the room, telling them that they "are not going to be able to hold out" on maintaining discriminatory marriage laws.

Luckily, Morse and any anti-gay bigots in the audience can find solace knowing that the majority of Utah (and Maggie Gallagher) stand with them in continuing to oppose marriage equality while still accepting its inevitability. 


Pivotal Supreme Court Order Used To Defend Gay Marriage Bans Losing Support

McConnell_(l)_and_Baker_(r)_apply_for_marriage_license_19700518

A growing number of lower-court judges tasked with reviewing the Constitutionality of states’ bans on same sex marriage are reconsidering a pivotal order issued in Baker v. Nelson, a 1972 Supreme Court case. Baker, a case challenging a state’s ability to legally limit marriage to opposite sex couples, was initially heard by the Minnesota Supreme Court before being rejected and appealed to the United States Supreme Court. The Warren E. Burger-led Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, citing a “want of a substantial federal question,” effectively giving legal merit to Baker’s ruling.

Baker has been used widely by opponents of same sex marriage as a legal precedent reflecting the then-Court’s views on gay marriage. Speaking to the lawyers defending California’s gay marriage ban, Ruth Bader Ginsberg expressed her doubts about Baker, citing the ways in which society and the court have changed,

“The Supreme Court hadn’t even decided that gender-based classifications get any kind of heightened scrutiny," she said at the time. “And the same-sex intimate conduct was considered criminal in many states in 1971, so I don’t think we can extract much in Baker v. Nelson.”

When taken in account, Baker automatically guides courts to decisions affirming bans because the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Baker’s appeal acts as an affirmation of the original Minnesotan Supreme Court’s ruling. More and more, however, the Supreme Court’s move to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act is being read as a broad consensus that Baker is a chunk of legal history that needs to be dealt with.

“These cases demonstrate that, since Baker, the Court has meaningfully altered the way it views both sex and sexual orientation through the equal protection lens,” Circuit Judge Henry Ford wrote to the Washington Post. “The Supreme Court’s willingness to decide Windsor without mentioning Baker speaks volumes regarding whether Baker remains good law.”


Virginia County Clerk Petitions SCOTUS to Stop Gay Marriages, Scheduled to Begin Thursday

Virginia

A Virginia county clerk backed by an anti-gay Christian legal group has filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block same-sex marriages expected to begin in the state next week following the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals' refusal to delay its decision late last month striking down Virginia's gay marriage ban. 

It was reported earlier that, barring SCOTUS intervention, same-sex couples in Virginia could begin getting licenses to wed as early as next Monday or Wednesday, but now it appears the Fourth Circuit's decision will go into effect at 9am Thursday.

Washington Blade reports:

Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending the ban on behalf of Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michèle McQuigg, made its case in a 26-page brief for why justices should overturn a decision from the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to refuse a stay on the same-sex marriages.

“Unless this Court issues the stay requested here and makes clear that the courts of appeals should stay their mandates in these cases, it is likely that other circuits will mistakenly follow the Fourth Circuit’s lead,” the brief states. “Yet that would invite needless chaos and uncertainty rather than facilitate the orderly and dignified resolution of a constitutional question of enormous national importance.”

The petition from ADF was delivered to Chief Justice John Roberts, who’s responsible for stay requests for the Fourth Circuit and can decide the matter on his own or refer the request to the entire court for consideration.

SCOTUSblog adds:

Twice before, the Supreme Court has blocked same-sex weddings or state recognition of existing same-sex marriages when asked to do so by state officials in Utah [Kitchen v. Herbert & Evans v. Utah].  Some judges have interpreted those orders as indicating that the Justices do not want such marriages to go ahead until after appeals have been resolved.

Despite this, National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director Shannon Minter says there's a possibility that the Court could deny a stay this time around in the Virginia case.

Court to deny a stay this time around in the Virginia case. “A lot has changed since the Court issued a stay in Kitchen, which was the first district court decision in the entire country striking down a state marriage ban after Windsor,” Minter said. “There are now many other such decisions, in every corner of the nation. The Court could decide that a stay is no longer warranted.” 

 Read McQuigg's petition below:


Plaintiffs in Utah Gay Marriage Case Ask Supreme Court to Hear State's Appeal

Attorneys for three Utah gay couples challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage have announced their plans to join the state in asking the Supreme Court to take up a 10th Circuit decision striking down the ban.

ScotusOn Tuesday, Utah became the first state to appeal a ruling striking down a state ban on gay marriage to the Supreme Court.  

The AP reports:

It is vital that justices weigh in about whether state same-sex marriage bans violate the Constitution to settle the matter for a nation that needs an answer, said Kate Kendell, executive director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The group is representing the couples alongside private attorneys in Utah.

"Because we understand the tremendous importance of this issue, and that the ultimate question can only be finally resolved at the Supreme Court, we agree with attorneys for the state of Utah that the court should take the case and provide a final resolution," Kendell said.

The New York Times adds:

Neal Katyal, a former acting United States solicitor general who also represents the Utah couples, said the importance of the issue warranted an unusual approach.

“This is the defining issue for the Supreme Court in our lifetime,” he said. “The notion that the government could deny life’s greatest partnership on the basis of orientation is capricious and strikes at everything this country is about.”

He said the couples would file a brief in the coming weeks joining Utah’s request that the Supreme Court hear the case. Such a filing would come in time for the justices to consider the case at their first private conference when they return from their summer break. Should the justices agree to hear the case, they could schedule arguments in the winter and issue a decision by June.


Oklahoma Gay Marriage Ban Appealed to Supreme Court

OK

Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage, which was overturned last month by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, has now been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. This follows on the heels of a similar appeal made by Utah officials on Tuesday concerning their own state's ban on gay marriage. 

The appeal in Oklahoma was filed by lawyers for Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal counsel representing Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith, who was sued after refusing to grand a marriage license to a gay couple.

The AP reports:

"The 10th Circuit ... negated the exercise of this fundamental right (of voting) by more than 1 million Oklahomans and millions of voters in other states," Wednesday's appeal filing stated. "Invalidating the people's voice on an issue as profound as the definition of marriage presents an important question that warrants this court's review."

ADF senior counsel Byron Babione said, "The people of every state should retain the freedom to preserve marriage if they so choose. Courts shouldn't decide the legal destiny of marriage in any state, let alone in every state."

In a joint statement released last Friday, Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop, the couple who challenged the gay marriage ban shortly after it was approved overwhelmingly by voters back in 2004, said the following:

“We are ready to see the highest court in the land affirm that marriage equality is the law of the land. We have confidence in our case and our lawyers, and should the Supreme Court agree to hear our case, we anticipate a victory there, as well.”

Read Smith's petition below:

Oklahoma Smith Petition by Equality Case Files 


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

6thcircuit

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...

Continue reading "Six Marriage Equality Cases at the Sixth Circuit Today: A Preview" »


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