Tag: marriage equality
Jul 07 2015
Jun 30 2015
Another battle for equality for the LGBT community was won with the Supreme Court Ruling that gives them marriage equality in all 50 states. However, the war for equality has only just begun. As Scott Lemieux in The Guardian points out. “The language of the ruling means that states cannot discriminate against same-sex marriages. The same cannot be said for LGBT people as a whole – yet.” He discusses Justice Anthony Kennedy vague opinion that leaves the door open on other forms of discrimination
The problem with Kennedy’s judicial vagueness is that public officials and lower courts need to know whether classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny, like those based on race or gender, or whether such classifications require only a “rational basis”, like economic regulation. If heightened scrutiny applies, states can only use sexual orientation classifications in law if it they are closely related to a compelling state interest – a test states usually fail. If states need only a “rational basis,” courts are generally very deferential to the state. After Friday’s opinion, it seems obvious that heightened scrutiny is being applied in practice, but Kennedy inexplicably refuses to say so. The refusal to define sexual orientation as subject to heightened scrutiny will lead to unnecessary confusion, and possibly permit federal and state judges to deny LBGT rights claims that even Kennedy might think should be upheld.
By not being more specific about his rationale for forcing all states to recognize and perform same-sex marriages, Kennedy leaves open the legal possibility that marriage is the only form of discrimination against same-sex people that is covered by the 14th Amendment. But LGBT people face many other types of discrimination – in public accommodations and in employment, for example – that now may have to be fought out case by never-ending case in the lower courts.
The LGBT community will now be focusing its energy on state laws that permit discrimination in housing, employment, commerce and the Transvestite communities special issues. To discuss those topics Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman was joined by Jennicet Gutiérrez, undocumented trans activist from Mexico and a founding member of Familia: TQLM and Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry.
Transcript can be read here
Jun 27 2015
I don’t think I can actually describe the emotions I’ve felt today; they’ve run the entire gamut. I’m not LGBT, so technically, this ruling legally doesn’t affect me directly, but I have really felt strongly today. Strongly proud. Strongly jubilant. Strongly angry at a select few.
The decision came down around 9am Central, just as I got to work. My phone, with its many news notifications, went absolutely nuts. I did my first work stuff, then got online and it was so early it wasn’t even in my regular newsfeeds. But I got to Facebook. That graphic of the guy with the rainbow coming out from his computer – that was it – that captured the moment perfectly.
I was very emotional. This surprised me. I don’t even think I can adequately convey it in words. I got really choked up. I’m still really choked up, but this morning was just something else.
Apr 13 2015
I have 3 articles for your perusal this morning!
First, a piece of history:
Here is where Roosevelt’s argument gets really interesting. He does not just present this Economic Bill of Rights as a question of fairness or some dreamy utopian ideal of equality. He sees them as a fundamental to national security:
“All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being. America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”
Jun 14 2014
Alessandra Bernaroli has been battling with the Italian government for the past five years to keep her legal marriage in tact.
When I was small I liked to play with little girls, I was looking to understand their femininity. I dreamed of becoming a woman but I had no idea what trans-sexuality was.
The 43-year-old bank employee from Bologna was living as a male when she met her wife in the mid-1990s. The couple wed in 2005. It was only after the marriage that Alessandra exposed her transgender feelings to her spouse.
I hid my inner torment from my wife but I felt trapped in a prison, in a body that had become an enemy to me. I suffocated my true identity.
After Bernaroli came out to her wife, her wife agreed to stand by her throughout the process. Alessandra underwent a series of operations in Thailand in 2009.
When they returned to Italy and sought to update their national identity cards, they were informed that they would no longer be classified as married.
Feb 28 2014
A federal judge has ruled that the Texas law banning same sex marriage is unconstitutional:
Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. He said the couples are likely to win their case and the ban should be lifted, but said he would give the state time to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals before do so.
“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution,” Garcia wrote. “These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex.”
The ruling is the latest in a series of victories for gay rights activists following similar decisions in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia.
But this was the first time a court in the conservative 5th Circuit has reached such a decision. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was expected to file an expedited appeal.
That was the good news. The bad news is that the ban will remain in effect until the issue is visited by the U.S. Supreme Court. Or not? I suppose that if SCOTUS refuses to review the case the ban would be lifted. Still, this is good news for marriage equality.
Feb 01 2014
Robina Asti is 92 years old and has been recognized by the government as a woman for over 30 years. She transitioned in 1976. She is a commercial pilot and the FAA has recognized her as a woman ever since they awarded her a license. She has made a living teaching people how to fly airplanes. The government issued her a passport designating her to be a woman. Her Social Security account labels her a woman.
Robina is a WWII veteran, having served as a Navy pilot. She is currently locked in a battle with the Social Security Administration…which she is losing.
In 2004 Robina married Norwood Patton in Hanger A of Orange County Airport in New York. Norwood new she was a transsexual woman, but he didn’t care. Oh, he was upset at first, but he got over it in a week. He asked her to get married every month for a lot of years.
Norwood died in 2012 at the age of 97. So Robina asked the Social Security Administration for survivors benefits. After almost a year of review, she was denied.
[H]er marriage does not meet the requirements under Federal law for payment of Social Security widow’s benefits.
At the time of your marriage, you were not legally a woman.
Dec 28 2013
I am sure you have seen the stories about the recent legal rulings about same-sex marriage in New Mexico, Utah and Ohio.
But there has been one case that has so far snuck beneath the radar. I was planning on covering it last Tuesday, but came down sick with the flu. I’m still sick, but a bit better.
This case comes out of southern Indiana. David Paul Summers and Angela Summers married in Brown County, IN on October 30, 1999. During the marriage Mr. Summers was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Mr. Summers then decided to transition and legally changed his name to Melanie Davis in 2005. A Marion County judge ordered the gender on Davis’ birth certificate changed from “male” to “female” in 2008 to conform with her gender identity, legal name and appearance.
Jun 26 2013
On DOMA, which was signed into law by Pres. Bill Clinton in 1996, the court ruled (pdf) that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits. Justice Kennedy delivered the court’s opinion, and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito all filed dissenting opinions. While the ruling is a victory on the federal level, the 5- 4 ruling does not effect a state’s right to ban same sex marriage.
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
The plaintiff who brought the case, Edie Windsor, 84, will now get her refund for the $363,000 in federal estate taxes she paid after her spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009.
In the Prop 8 case, that was argued before the court by attorneys, Theodore Olson and David Boies, the court decided, again by a 5 – 4 decision, that the opponents of same sex marriage have no standing to sue. The ruling allows gay couples in California to marry.
“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “We decline to do so for the first time here.”
Roberts was joined in his majority opinion by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan. Justice Anthony Kennedy filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.
The judgement of the Ninth Circuit was vacated and the case remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
California voters added Proposition 8 to the state’s constitution in 2008 through a ballot initiative that reversed the state Supreme Court’s recognition of same-sex marriage earlier that year. Two same-sex couples challenged the ban in federal court, and by the time their suit reached the justices, two lower courts had declared it unconstitutional.
After the disappointing ruling yesterday striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, this is truly a great day for equal rights in the US.
Feb 05 2013
The Senate apparently will carry on as usual with threats of holds and filibuster from the minority to obstruct anything that appears to interfere with their extremist code of values and quest for something scandalous to hang on Pres. Obama or someone in his administration. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) refusal to curb filibuster abuse is already starting to have its consequences , lead by none other than one of filibuster’s chief abusers, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC).
Graham said in an interview with Fox News’s “On the Record” Monday night that he would “absolutely” block Hagel unless Panetta testifies – making him the first Republican threatening to filibuster or hold Hagel’s nomination as Defense secretary.
“The one thing I’m not going to do is vote on a new secretary of Defense until the old secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, who I like very much, testifies about what happened in Benghazi,” Graham said.
“Hillary Clinton got away with murder, in my view,” he said, referring to the secretary of State’s testimony before Congress last week. “She said they had a clear-eyed view of the threats. How could you have a clear-eyed view of the threats in Benghazi when you didn’t know about the ambassador’s cable coming back from Libya?”
Graham made a similar threat against President Obama’s nominee for CIA Director, John Brennan, when Brennan was nominated earlier this month, but this was the first time he’d suggested he’d also block Hagel over the Sept. 11 attack. While Brennan was part of the Obama administration during last year’s attack, which left four Americans dead, Hagel was not.
That was just a warm up for Lindsay.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters on Tuesday that it’s a mistake for the president to push for same-sex couples to be included in immigration reform, if he wants Republicans to support the bill. [..]
White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed the news, first reported by Buzzfeed, that the president would mention his support for such a provision. [..]
There is support for such a concept from many Democrats, some of whom have signed on to bills such as the Uniting American Families Act that would specifically address the issue of same-sex couples. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the sole Republican co-sponsor of that bill in the Senate, and told HuffPost in December that she would support its inclusion in broader immigration reform.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), another member of the “gang of eight,” is a co-sponsor of that legislation, but aides say it’s too soon to say whether it could be included in a bipartisan immigration bill.
Sen John McCain (R-Ariz.), another member of the group, made the same point.
Never mind that the Immigration Reform Bill is still in the “wish list” stage. Lindsay has his knickers in a knot because President Barack Obama said he would support immigration for the spouses of same sex couples. Just wait until the Senate gets to the Violence Against Women Act next week, Lindsay’s gonna blow a gasket over that.
So, Harry, how’s that gentleman’s agreement with Mitch going?
Oct 19 2012
In a 2 to 1 decision, a three judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan has ruled that Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.
The majority opinion written by Judge Dennis Jacobs rejected a section of the law that says “marriage” only means a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife and that the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. A federal appeals court in Boston earlier this year also found it unconstitutional.
The issue is expected to be decided by the Supreme Court. The decision came less than a month after the court heard arguments on Sept. 27. [..]
In striking down the law, the Jacobs wrote that the law’s “classification of same-sex spouses was not substantially related to an important government interest” and thus violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
He said the law was written so broadly that it touches more than a thousand federal laws. He said “homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public.”
He rejected arguments that the definition of marriage was traditional.
“Even if preserving tradition were in itself an important goal, DOMA is not a means to achieve it,” he said.
Judge Chester Straub dissented, saying that if the government was to change its understanding of marriage, “I believe it is for the American people to do so.”
As noted in another New York Times article, acceptance of same sex marriage has grown even among Latinos:
Just six years ago, 56 percent of Latinos were against same-sex marriage. Today, their rate of approval stands at 52 percent over all and slightly higher – 54 percent – among Latino Catholics, the survey by the Pew Research Center found.
Latino evangelicals, on the other hand, remain strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, affirming their conservative credentials in a demographic group whose politics and positions, liberal and conservative, have become more in line with Americans over all.
The Republican House took up defending DOMA after the Obama Justice Department stopped defending it in February 2011. House leaders committed $1.5 million of tax payer funds to hire lawyer, Paul Clement, to represent them in DOMA cases. So far they have argued in 14 cases and have spent nearly all of the allocation. As of today they have lost six.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) criticized Boehner for ignoring “critical issues like comprehensive jobs legislation” while wasting “time and taxpayer money defending the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”
“Despite losing multiple court cases, Speaker Boehner continues to insist on racking up even more taxpayer-funded legal bills, even as Republicans claim to be concerned about the deficit,” Hoyer said in a statement.
It remains unclear if House Republican leaders plan to extend their contract with Clement — and spend more taxpayer dollars — to continue defending DOMA. They maintain they are obligated to defend current law, regardless of what it is. A Boehner spokesman deferred all DOMA-related questions to Clement. A request for comment from Clement was not immediately returned.
So much for those deficits concerns.
May 11 2012
Vice President Joe Biden started a storm over marriage equality when he announced on Meet the Press that same sex marriage was OK with him. The press immediately wanted to know if President Obama’s position had “evolved.” The Biden interview was taped on Friday, so the White House was fully aware of what he had said. Finally, after three days of media over kill, the passage of Amendment 1 in North Carolina and the drying up of donations from the LGBT community, Pres. Obama announced that he “personally” supported same sex marriage. But hold your horses, people, this was just his personal opinion, not his political policy. Obama is still refusing to issue an executive order that would ban discrimination of gays, lesbians and transgender workers by federal contractors. From Sam Stein at Huffington Post:
The senior administration officials declined to say whether the president would now push for gay marriage to be part of the Democratic Party’s platform at the convention. They also said they were not changing positions on an Executive Order that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against federal contractors. The president has said he would not sign that order. [..]
There were, however, reasons why even party officials were insisting, not all that long ago, that the president needed to put this off until after the election. There is concern that support for gay marriage will drive away voters in some conservative-leaning swing states. There is even more concern that Republican operatives can and will use the issue to go after the president.
Letting each state decide on the equality of individuals is not the best idea either. How would individuals have voted in states like Mississippi if they had been given the choice about civil rights? Marriage equality is a federal matter since states are required under the Constitution to recognize marriage contracts from other states. Therefore, they should not be permitted to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.
Does anyone at this point seriously believe that any of the people who voted for NC’S Amendment 1 will ever vote for Obama, no matter what his stand is on marriage equality? Only time will tell if the campaign donation faucet suddenly opens since it had dried up because of the work place discrimination issue. While it is certainly admirable and, in the case of Obama being a sitting president, momentous, for him to have made an official statement, the President still needs to “walk the walk”, back up his words and sign the anti-discrimnation executive order.