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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."


West Virginia AG Wants Lawsuit Challenging State's Ban on Gay Marriage Thrown Out

West Virginia Attorney General has motioned for a judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on gay marriage, the WV Gazette reports:

MorriseyIn its motion, the state claims two reasons why the lawsuit filed by three same-sex couples should be dismissed: state law doesn't cause them any immediate harm and the couples aren't married, so the fact West Virginia doesn't recognize same-sex marriages from other states doesn't affect them, according to state attorneys.

"The statute causes no concrete and immediate injury to Plaintiffs, who allege only the desire to marry each other in West Virginia and have not alleged that they are or intend to be married in another State," the motion filed in U.S. District Court on Monday by Assistant Attorney General Julie Ann Warren says.

"Plaintiffs do not allege that they have valid marriages from other jurisdictions, that they have taken any steps to obtain valid marriages from other jurisdictions, that they intend to be married in other jurisdictions, or that they would have obtained a valid marriage from another jurisdiction if West Virginia recognized out-of-state same-sex marriage."

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit in October on behalf of three couples. Last month Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a motion to intervene and defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage.


West Virginia Attorney General Files Motion to Defend State's Gay Marriage Ban in Court

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a motion to intervene and defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage in a lawsuit challenging it, the AP reports:

MorriseyNew York-based gay rights group Lambda Legal contends West Virginia’s Defense of Marriage Act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Huntington in October on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple...

...Morrisey’s filing notes that state agencies enforce or otherwise execute the laws in question.

...Lambda Legal argues West Virginia’s ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children. In addition to its own ban, the state doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages that occurred in other states. The organization says its clients are denied the legal sanction, societal respect, financial protections and other support that marriage gives to heterosexual couples.

The plaintiffs are partners Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins, and Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris, all of Huntington, and Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton, of St. Albans, and their son, Drew.


Meet Justin and Will, Who are Challenging West Virginia's Ban on Gay Marriage: VIDEO

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On October 1st, we reported that Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of three gay couples challenging West Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage.

One of those couples, Justin Murdock and his partner William Glavaris, are profiled in a beautiful new video from Fairness West Virginia. Justin and Will are based in Huntington and Justin is a board member of the organization.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Fairness West Virginia writes:

Faces of Fairness is a groundbreaking project is the first of its kind in West Virginia and is comprised of a touring photography exhibit, a documentary film, and a web-based archive. The participants articulate the many issues that face LGBT West Virginians including second-parent adoption rights, medical benefits, hospital visitation rights, employment and housing discrimination, advocacy and political representation, transgender rights and protections, marriage equality, and bullying.

Currently West Virginia is the only state in the southern United States that has been able to defeat and defend against a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. However, it is still perfectly legal in West Virginia to deny employment or housing to an LGBT person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is also still legal to deny medical benefits to same-sex partners and their children.

Continue reading "Meet Justin and Will, Who are Challenging West Virginia's Ban on Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Lambda Legal Files Lawsuit Challenging West Virginia's Ban on Gay Marriage

As we reported yesterday afternoon, today Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one of the couples seeking the freedom to marry.

WestvirginiaThe case was filed on behalf of Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins and Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris, all of Huntington, and Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton and their son Drew, of St. Albans, according to a press release from Lambda Legal.

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel fromTinney Law Firm and Jenner & Block, argues that West Virginia's marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

Nancy Michael, 45, and Jane Fenton, 43, have been together for 16 years and their son, Drew, is 6. Of the other plaintiffs, Casie McGee, 30, and Sarah Adkins 32, have been together for more than three years, and Justin Murdock, 32, and William Glavaris, 31, have been together for more than two years.

Said Michael, a lifelong West Virginian: "West Virginia is home for us. Our family is here, our jobs are here, and our community here is a great support for us. Jane and I have been together for 16 years. We live and work together, and we are raising our son, Drew, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but we worry all the time that it isn't enough. We need the protection that marriage affords."

You can read the complaint HERE.


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