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04/19/2007


Virginia AG Mark Herring Joins Court Challenge to State’s Ban on Gay Marriage

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has filed a brief supporting Bostic v. Rainey – the Ted Olson and David Boies-backed challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage that is currently awaiting further ruling in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The Virginian-Pilot reports:

Mark herringIn a 79-page brief filed Friday, Herring argued that the Supreme Court has consistently found marriage to be a fundamental right protected by the due process and equal protection clauses of the federal Constitution.

Herring leaned heavily on the 1967 Loving v. Virginia case, in which the Supreme Court overturned Virginia's ban on interracial marriage.

To argue that the framers of the Constitution never envisioned same-sex marriage is of no legal consequence, Herring argued. The Loving case, he said, taught that the Constitution "protects the fundamental right to marry, even if the way in which it is practiced would have surprised the Framers or made them feel uncomfortable."

Virginia's gay-marriage ban was enshrined in a state constitutional amendment in 2006.

"Many good and decent Virginians" undoubtedly voted for the amendment "because of sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong or that gay marriage conflicts with Biblical teachings," Herring argued. "But religion cannot justify state-sponsored discrimination."

 You can read the brief in full, HERE


UVA Swimmers Embrace Their Gay Teammates: PHOTO

Uva

A new Tumblr created by University of Virginia students asking for photographs illustrating "diversity" produced this wonderful photo from the UVA swim team.

Writes Outsports:

Students at the University of Virginia wanted to show that it is more than a buzzword and to make the campus more inclusive. Along those lines, three students created an awesome Tumblr, "We Are All UVa," where students took photos holding placards talking about their experiences, good or bad.

Among them was Parker Camp, a varsity swimmer who told his coming out story on Outsports last month. He got four teammates to come up with this terrific photo.

Here's another from the site:

Hesthecutest


Virginia School District to Hold Public Hearing on Parent's Request To Pull 'Two Boys Kissing' from Library

A parent's request to remove David Levithan's novel Two Boys Kissing from a high school library has prompted a public hearing in a Virginia school district, Fauquier.com reports:

Two-boys-kissingFauquier County Public Schools has received a request from a parent to withdraw from student use the book “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan which is a part of the high schools’ library collections. A school committee at Fauquier High School decided to retain the book in its library collection, and the parent is appealing the decision to the superintendent.

In accordance with Policy 6-5.7, the associate superintendent is forming a review committee. On Wednesday, April 23 in the conference room of the school board office, the committee will consider the complainant’s request. From 1:30-3 p.m. the committee will interview the complainant and possibly others related to the decision to withdraw or retain the book. From 3-4 p.m. the committee will hold a public hearing during which time interested citizens may speak to the review committee concerning the subject. The committee will discuss its findings and render a decision on the same date. All proceedings on April 23 are open to the public.

Here's part of what our book critic Garth Greenwell said about the novel, which he called "ambitious, humane, [and] extraordinarily moving":

The wonder of Two Boys Kissing is that it seems entirely adequate to the world in which young gay people live today. It’s a world in which one boy can be embraced, even celebrated by his family, while his boyfriend is terrified of being found out by his parents. It’s a world in which young people can attend a gay prom and fall headily in love, and then find themselves confronting violence on their second date. And, most painfully, both for the reader and for the chorus of lost elders who speak to us, it’s a world in which gay young people still feel driven to commit violent acts against themselves.

But Levithan’s novel doesn’t just feel adequate to our present; it also—and, in my reading of LGBT literature for young people, uniquely—feels adequate to our past. Maybe Levithan’s most poignant theme is the relationship between young gay people and the generation that preceded them, a generation given voice to by the grieving, exulting, longing ghost chorus that speaks to us on every page.


Speed Read for Wednesday: Mississippi, Darrin Gayles, D.C., Virginia

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

MISSISSIPPI PASSES BIAS BILL:

BryantThe Mississippi House and Senate Tuesday adopted a final version of a religious bias bill, sending the measure to Republican Governor Phil Bryant for his signature. The final Mississippi Religious Freedom Act will enable any “person” to violate any state or local law or regulation (such as non-discrimination laws) by asserting the law burdens his free exercise of religion. The act carves out business exceptions, saying, “Nothing in this act shall create any rights by an employee against an employer if the employer is not the government.” If signed by Bryant, the bill goes into effect July 1. Opponents say some people will use the law to refuse services gays, blacks and others. There are no laws in Mississippi to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but the Human Rights Campaign says some universities have non-discrimination policies and the new law could allow pharmacists to refuse to provide HIV and hormone replacement drugs. Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi, said her group remains “hopeful that courts throughout the state will reject any attempts to use religion to justify discrimination.”

GAYLES’ GETS SMOOTH HEARING:

GaylesOpenly gay U.S. District Court nominee Darrin Gayles had smooth sailing Tuesday in his confirmation hearing. Senator Bill Nelson, in introducing Gayles and other nominees, noted that there was an emergency need for a judge in the Southern District of Florida, where Gayles is nominated. Senator Marco Rubio said Gayles has “dedicated himself to public service,” including two years at the Immigration Naturalization Service. Gayles noted that his life partner Raymond Zayas and other family members had accompanied him to the hearing. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Gayles what model he would use when interpreting the constitutional. Gayles replied that he’s always “followed the law and never interjected my own personal beliefs.”

GAY D.C. COUNCILMAN LOSES:

Four-term D.C. Councilman Jim Graham lost his Democratic primary Tuesday night to newcomer Brianne Nadeau. Graham, an openly gay councilmember who once led the LGBT community’s Whitman-Walker Clinic, was apparently hurt by a reprimand he was given by the D.C. Council last year for improperly involving himself in a lottery contract dispute.

JUDGE CANCELS VA. TRIAL:

VirginiaA federal judge hearing a class action suit against Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage announced Monday he was scratching the June 2 trial date and putting the matter on hold, pending a ruling from the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in another case. The plaintiffs in Harris v. Rainey, represented by the ACLU and Lambda, are now considered intervenors in the Fourth Circuit case, Schaefer v. Bostic, a case led by Ted Olson and David Boies and several Virginia attorneys. The Bostic case comes before the Fourth Circuit on May 13.

VIRGINIA IS FOR MARRIAGE:

A poll of Virginia voters March 19-24 found 50 percent support allowing same-sex couples to marry in Virginia, 42 percent oppose, and seven percent are undecided. The poll was conducted by Quinnipiac University with 1,288 voters and a margin of error at plus or minus 2.7 percent. Similar to other polling, the survey found that people under 30 and Democrats were much more supportive (69 percent each) and people over 65 and Republicans were more opposed (56 percent and 70 percent, respectively).


Judge Issues Split Ruling In Anti-Gay Group's Unauthorized Use Of Gay Couple's Photo

Kissing

In September 2012, husbands Brian Edwards and Thomas Privitere (pictured above) sued the Public Advocate of the United States — a Virginia-based conservative political group — for using their personal engagement photo in an anti-gay mailer targeting two 2012 Colorado “Republican state legislative candidates who lost their primary races.”

WeddingU.S. District Court Judge Wiley Daniel ruled against Edwards’ claim that the postcard was an “unlawful appropriation of [‘his] name and likeness,” and said that the political group had the legal right to non-commercially use the couple’s photo in addressing a matter of legitimate public concern (same-sex marriage) under the First Amendment.

However, the Judge Daniel also ruled that “the gay New Jersey couple and their photographer — have a plausible copyright infringement claim’… [since] Neither they nor their photographer, Kristina Hill, gave permission for their engagement photograph to be used.”

The mailer's creators deleted the photo's original background of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge and added the Colorado landscape to give the mailer local appeal. The Southern Poverty Law Center (who filed the suit on the gay couple’s behalf) lists the Public Advocate of the United States as an active anti-LGBT hate group.


Virginia Lawyer Argues That Same-Sex Marriage Will Lead To Marriage Between Two Brothers

On Friday, the lawyer defending Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage filed the first in what is expected to be a series of briefs arguing against District Judge Arenda Wright Allen's recent ruling declaring the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The attorney, David B. Oakley, also claims that implementing marriage equality in Virginia will lead to unions "between persons of close kinship."

An article from The Virginian-Pilot includes an excerpt of the brief:

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"For example, if the definition of marriage is no longer based on procreation or the ability to procreate naturally, then what is the purpose in prohibiting marriage between persons of close kinship? Would it then be unconstitutional for two brothers who are confirmed bachelors and live together to marry so that they could reown property as tenants by the entireties, file joint tax returns, qualify for health benefits, and obtain better insurance rates?"

According to the AP, Oakley's brief also criticizes Allen's reference in her ruling to a previous landmark case:

He also said Allen missed the mark in citing Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that struck down the state's interracial marriage ban, as a basis for invalidating Virginia's statutes and constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.

"Unlike infringing on the right to marry based on invidious racial laws, the decision to restrict marriage to couples of the opposite sex is not based on any suspect or irrational classifications," Oakley wrote. Allen put her decision on hold while it is appealed, which means gay couples in Virginia remain unable to marry until the case is ultimately resolved.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court will hear oral arguments in May.


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