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Thursday Speed Read: Tenth Circuit, Utah, Colorado, Indiana, DOMA Anniversary

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

TenthcircuitTENTH CIRCUIT PANEL STRIKES UTAH BAN:

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued a 2 to 1 decision Wednesday, upholding a district court decision that Utah’s marriage ban for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The decision in Herbert v. Kitchen is the first from a federal appeals court on a state marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor. The ruling puts the Utah case closest to arriving at the U.S. Supreme Court. The majority stayed its decision pending an appeal to the high court.

COUNTY IN COLORADO RESPONDS: Boulder

Although the Tenth Circuit stayed its order finding a marriage ban for same-sex couples unconstitutional, Boulder County, Colorado, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Wednesday. The Tenth Circuit includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming.  Two lesbian couples were able to marry before the clerk’s office closed for the day, according to the Boulder Camera. But Colorado’s Republican Attorney General John Suthers issued a statement saying the marriages are invalid.

SandlerINDIANA BAN STRUCK, TOO:

For the 15th time since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in U.S. v. Windsor, a federal district court judge on Wednesday ruled that a state marriage ban for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Judge Richard Young’s ruling on Indiana’s ban involved three consolidated lawsuits – Baskin v. Bogan, Fujii v. Pence, and Lee v. Pence. Young ruled that Indiana’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees to equal protection and due process. “In time, Americans will look at the marriage of couples such as Plaintiffs and refer to it simply as a marriage—not a same-sex marriage,” wrote Young. These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such.”

ZoellerINDIANA AG SEEKS IMMEDIATE STAY:

Indiana’s Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed an emergency motion seeking an immediate stay of Judge Richard Young’s ruling, striking down the state ban on same-sex couples marrying. But Young’s order enforced his decision immediately and, according to the Indianapolis Star, “hundreds” of same-sex couples rushed to courthouses within minutes after the decision was released around noon. The first same-sex couple to be married, said the Star, appears to be Craig Bowen and Jake Miller of Indianapolis. “There was a party atmosphere inside the clerk's office on Wednesday afternoon, where hundreds of people waited in line for a marriage license as [the Marion County clerk] kept the doors open until 8 p.m. to accommodate the crush.” Marion County alone issued 219 marriage licenses and conducted more than 150 marriage ceremonies before 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Scotus_edie_windsorFIRST ANNIVERSARY OF WINDSOR:

Today is the one-year anniversary of the landmark U.S. v. Windsor decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, striking down as unconstitutional the key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It is also the tenth anniversary of the landmark Lawrence v. Texas decision, striking down laws prohibiting same-sex adults from having intimate relations. Both decisions have had enormous impact on the LGBT civil rights movement and yet both relied on just one vote.

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


Utah, Indiana, Heightened Scrutiny and Next Steps: Is Marriage Heading to the Supreme Court?

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

UtahOne year this week, the Supreme Court brought marriage equality back to California when it ended the Prop 8 case. It also declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and, thereby, ushered in a year of unbroken marriage equality victories indebted to United States v. Windsor. The Supreme Court was equally as active today, deciding, for example, that police must get a warrant before searching cell phones upon arrest and that the Aereo streaming television service is illegal under the Copyright Act.

Unless you count the impending Hobby Lobby case, a challenge to Obamacare's requirement that employers offer their employees health plans that cover contraceptives, which raises the highly relevant question of how big of a donut hole will be carved out by so-called "religious exemptions" to equality legislation, our right to marry did not have a date at the Supreme Court this week.

But much progress was made in the lower courts.

The Ninth Circuit has refused to rehear the case in which it held that antigay discrimination merits heightened scrutiny. This means that pretty much any gay rights case out of the most populous circuit in the country -- stretching from Montana to Arizona and from Nevada to Alaska and Hawaii -- will more than likely end with a pro-equality ruling. Heightened scrutiny makes it nearly impossible to justify discrimination, which brings us closer to our goal of universal equality.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed District Judge Shelby's ruling that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The 2-1 decision marks the first time a federal appellate court has ruled on a marriage ban in the post-DOMA world. The ruling, which included a stay pending Supreme Court review, sets the stage for several potential next steps, all of which may culminate at the Supreme Court.

And a district court judge in Indiana ruled that state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. And there was no stay attached to the decision, so for now, gay couples can marry -- and are marrying -- already.

Judge Richard Young of Indiana was right. He remarked how he had never seen anything like this before: In the span of one year, marriage equality went from a handful of states with a loud opposition to victory after victory after victory since the Supreme Court decided the DOMA case. 

In the coming days, I will summarize and analyze these decisions (and other legal developments affecting the LGBT community, but for now, let's discuss what happens next.

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Utah, Indiana, Heightened Scrutiny and Next Steps: Is Marriage Heading to the Supreme Court?" »


Salt Lake City Police Officer Who Didn’t Want Gay Pride Parade Assignment Resigns

Salt lake city

The Salt Lake City police officer put on administrative leave after the SLCPD said he refused his assignment at the city’s gay pride parade last weekend has now resigned, The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

The officer, whose identity has not been released, reportedly cited religious convictions in asking for reassignment rather than participating directly in the parade — an act he saw as an endorsement of last Sunday’s Utah Pride Parade.

His lawyer, Bret Rawson, said the officer did not — as initially indicated by SLCPD officials — refuse the [motorcycle] assignment, and would have ridden in the parade had he been ordered to do so.

"My client has made it clear to SLCPD that he is not returning," Rawson said Tuesday. "He feels he has been subjected to needless ridicule by the department for merely expressing a desire to work the parade without participating in the parade.

The Salt Lake City Police Department declined to provide further comment on the situation or any pending litigation.

GallagherWhen the initial story broke about the SLCPD indicating that a police officer had flat-out refused to work at Gay Pride, Maggie Gallagher blasted the cop, writing: "Religious liberty should not extend to a cop refusing to protect Gay Pride parade-goers — that is just wrong."

With these new developments that the cop may have only been asking for a less conspicuous assignment at Pride, however, Gallagher clarified her views:

I do not think cops have a right to refuse to serve and protect gay people or gay institutions, but if government can punish you for merely asking for an accommodation, we are in serious trouble. 

I trusted the police department as a reliable source (my biases showing!), but if the cop’s story is true, he has a number of serious legal claims, from the First Amendment to defamation of character.

What are your own thoughts on the case? Do you think, like Rawson, that the SLCPD gave a "knee-jerk reaction" to the officer's concerns by immediately putting him on administrative leave?


Utah Cop Claims He Never Refused Gay Pride Assignment, Says Dept. ‘Defamed’ Him

Salt lake city

A Salt Lake City police officer who made headlines last week when his department announced he had been put on leave for refusing to work an assignment at the city's gay pride parade is claiming he did not refuse his assignment and that the department 'defamed' him and violated his constitutional rights.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

"He feels that the same protections that afford individuals to participate in a parade like we had yesterday, are the very constitutional protections that were not afforded to him," Bret Rawson, the officer’s attorney, said Monday. […]

Rawson said the officer did not refuse his assignment — to join other motorcycle officers in choreographed maneuvers at the beginning of the parade — but instead asked his commanders for a "less conspicuous" role at the parade, such as traffic enforcement or security.

"The officer simply felt that the level of participation required in the event could be perceived as endorsing or advocating in favor of the LGBTQ community, a position which made him uncomfortable, given his personal and religious beliefs," Rawson wrote.

"He never refused to do his job," Rawson added in an interview Monday. "He specified that if he was required to do [the motorcycle assignment], he would do that. So he was very surprised that he was put on administrative leave."

Rawson said that the “media circus” surrounding the officer's leave amounts to “constructive termination,” adding: “No reasonable, rational person could stay at work under these circumstances.”

Citing pending litigation, a Salt Lake City spokesman said they were unable to comment on the validity of the officer’s claims.

And in related news, Maggie Gallagher has also weighed in on the controversy, but not in the way you might expect.

Maggie gallagherShe writes:

"Religious liberty should not extend to a cop refusing to protect Gay Pride parade-goers — that is just wrong.

UPDATE: Charles Cooke and I agree. Cops need to protect everybody, including Gay Pride parade-goers."

In a second post, she adds:

He says he was willing to serve at the Gay Pride parade but didn’t want to ride in front of the parade as he feared it might be interpreted as being a participant.

They could have cut the guy a break, instead of throwing the book, but the main point still stands: There’s no right not to serve at parades or political gatherings you disagree with.

Hell has just frozen over folks...


Plaintiffs in Gay Marriage Case Celebrated in Utah Pride Parade: VIDEO

Utah

The plaintiffs for Utah's gay marriage case, which is currently being appealed to the Tenth Circuit, served as grand marshals in the 2014 Utah Pride Parade, which made its way through Salt Lake City on Sunday.

This weekend’s celebration is the first since some 1,300 same-sex couples — many of whom were part of the parade — were able to marry during a 17-day window that opened Dec. 20 when U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled the state’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional, and closed when the state won a stay while appealing that ruling.

The parade’s grand marshals were the three couples who brought the suit involved in Shelby’s ruling — Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge, Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen, and Kate Call and Karen Archer.

Watch a cool clips of Utah's Pride parade with the Kitchen v. Herbert float, AFTER THE JUMP...

UtahIn related news, Utah's Attorney General said that if the Tenth Circuit denies the state's request to stop married same-sex couples from applying for spousal benefits until the court has a chance to rule on the case, the state will go to the U.S. Supreme Court:

As of Monday, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals had not yet ruled whether it would stay a federal judge’s decision that ordered the state to begin imbuing the marriages of gay and lesbian Utahans with all the benefits and rights of their opposite-sex counterparts...

"The balance of the harms tips decidedly in favor of [Utah] because if the stay is not granted, the right to appeal the district court’s ruling is effectively lost," the attorney general’s office wrote. "Plaintiffs will incur additional delay in having their marriages recognized if it is ultimately determined that Utah’s laws are unconstitutional. But [...] the harm is offset by the certainty that results in a final, complete review of the legal issues, which benefits all parties and all people of Utah."

Continue reading "Plaintiffs in Gay Marriage Case Celebrated in Utah Pride Parade: VIDEO" »


Salt Lake City Police Officer Placed on Leave After Refusing to Work At Gay Pride Parade: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2014-06-07 at 9.29.15 PM

An officer with the Salt Lake City Police Department has been put on paid administrative leave after reportedly refusing an assignment at this weekend’s gay pride parade, KSL News reports:

"We don't tolerate bias and bigotry in the department, and assignments are assignments," said department spokeswoman Lara Jones.

The officer is on paid administrative leave as the internal affairs unit reviews the situation, Jones said. He had been given a traffic control and public safety assignment.

The department has provided services at the Utah Pride Festival since its inception, as well as a host of other community events.

"We serve a variety of community events with similar functions, and to allow personal opinion to enter into whether an officer will take a post is not something that can be tolerated in a police department," Jones said.

Added executive director of the Utah Pride Center Steven Ha:

“Clearly the officer’s act was more than just smelling of bigotry, but I think the act was bigotry, choosing to not do a duty that is sworn by police officers to do,”

Check out a FOX 13 news report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Salt Lake City Police Officer Placed on Leave After Refusing to Work At Gay Pride Parade: VIDEO" »


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