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Eric Holder Announces Federal Government Will Recognize Gay Marriages in Six More States

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will recognize same-sex married couples in six additional states: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Last week, Holder made a similar announcement regarding federal recognition of same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado. 

Via press release:

The Attorney General’s announcement means couples married in these states will now qualify for a range of federal benefits, including those administered by the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs.

“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” the Attorney General said. “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.”

In addition, the Attorney General also announced that the Department of Justice has determined it can legally recognize marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin this past June. These marriages were performed immediately after federal district courts ruled that those states’ bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but subsequent developments created confusion about the status of those marriages. Based on the Attorney General’s announcement, however, those couples married during that period will now have their unions recognized by the federal government.


PHOTOS: Marriage Equality Comes to West Virginia and Nevada

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(photo via twitter)

With West Virginia Attorney General announcing he would no longer be defending the state's gay marriage ban in court and Justice Anthony Kennedy clearing the mix-up that inadvertently put a hold on marriages in Nevada, two more states were added to the marriage equality column yesterday. 

In Nevada, State Senator Kelvin Atkinson [top right] and Sherwood Howard [top left]  became one of the first same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license in Clark County. You can also check out the pair's wedding proposal we featured on the site yesterday HERE

In West Virginia, meanwhile, Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins [pictured below] became the first gay couple to be married in Cabell County.

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More photos (and video) from marriages in other counties across these two states, AFTER THE JUMP...

[bottom photo via Facebook]

Continue reading "PHOTOS: Marriage Equality Comes to West Virginia and Nevada" »


Trans Women Face Hideous and Dehumanizing DMV Discrimination In West Virginia

West Virginia isn't known for being hospitable to anyone who is LGB or T, and as is so unfortunately often the case trans people tend to get it the worst.

Kristen Skinner and Trudy KitzmillerOn May 10, 52-year-old Mount Storm resident Trudy Kitzmiller went in to the DMV to have her license updated with her legal name and new photo. Even though she brought all of the proper court documents, Kitzmiller was told to remove her wig and all makeup before they would take the picture, and was called "it" during the process by a hostile DMV employee.

Similarly, 45-year-old Ranson resident Kristen Skinner went to the Charles Town DMV on January 7 for the same reasons, received similar treatment. Just like Kitzmiller, Skinner was called "it" and was told to remove her wig, makeup, and false eyelashes...even though the "wig" was her own hair and the eyelashes were natural. Skinner relented and removed her makeup in order to have her photograph taken.

On June 30th, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund contacted the West Virginia DMV requesting that the two women be allowed to have their photographs taken of them as they normally are.

Other women are permitted to wear makeup and items that facilitate female gender expression in their driver’s license photos as a matter of course, yet Trudy and Kristen were targeted for suppression simply because they are transgender women. Forcing them to remove their makeup and other items that facilitate a female gender expression before allowing them to take their driver’s license photos restricts their free speech rights in violation of state and federal constitutional protections.


Teacher Suspended For Comparing Gay-Straight Alliance To Drug-Users Club

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David Foggin, a teacher at Parkersburg South High School in West Virginia, has been suspended for four days by the Wood County School District for posting an image on Facebook comparing his school’s gay-straight alliance with a club for drugs, drunks and deer poaching.

FogginHis post had an image advertising the GSA’s next meeting and the following text written by him:

“Club meeting at PSHS!! Rally around them and show ur support. We are also considering a drunks-t totaller club, drugged/sober club, smokeless tobacco vs smokes club, street racing, and deer poaching clubs. Please donate and support us. Thank u!!! I think I hear the drag already zinging.”

The county school board is investigating the matter and considering whether or not Mr. Foggin’s will be paid during his suspension.


Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO

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At a press conference on Monday, Freedom to Marry is expected to announce a new $1 million television ad campaign in Southern states in the hopes of swaying public opinion and the judges who will decide the fate of state bans on gay unions. As it stands, there are about two dozen lawsuits challenging bans on gay marriage that are pending before state and federal courts in Southern states. The Washington Post reports:

“Freedom to Marry’s national strategy has always been to build a critical mass of states and support to create the climate for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution. We don’t have to win within every state, but we have to win enough states,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.13.09 AMAtlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will join the group at its Monday press conference. The group will also try to tie same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement, by featuring Rep. John Lewis [right], the longtime Georgia Democrat who ran the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in a testimonial.

“I see the right to marriage as a civil rights issue. You cannot have rights for one segment of the population and one group of people and not for everybody,” Lewis says in the video.

Watch Lewis' video for the new campaign, AFTER THE JUMP...

Co-chairs of the new initiative will include Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), as well as Mark McKinnon, a former senior adviser to George W. Bush and Lance Bass, the ‘N Sync singer.

Continue reading "Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Judge: Portion of Challenge to West Virginia Ban on Gay Marriage Can Proceed

A federal judge has ruled that a challenge to West Virginia's ban on gay marriage can proceed, but that part of the lawsuit, which sought the recognition of gay marriages from other states, cannot go forward without additional plaintiffs, the Charleston Gazette reports:

WvNone of the couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit has an out-of-state marriage license, so they don't have legal standing to challenge the fact that West Virginia won't recognize them, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers said in his order Wednesday.

Chambers gave the plaintiffs -- three same-sex couples from West Virginia -- until Feb. 12 to amend their complaint.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on Octover 1 on behalf of three gay couples seeking the right to marry. The lawyers are not sure if they will bring additional plaintiffs:

"We're probably not inclined to add additional plaintiffs, but we're evaluating it. We feel like we've got the substance of the way those families are harmed already in front of the court," Loewy said. "The important thing this case really presents is an opportunity to have the court understand how not being able to be recognized as a married couple harms West Virginia families. Our existing plaintiffs tell that story beautifully."


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