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Archives – November, 2013

Pennsylvania marriage equality trial to take place in June

Pennsylvania state sealA little piece of big news out of Pennsylvania: the challenge to that state’s marriage equality laws–which survived two dismissal attempts earlier this month–will be heard in a full trial in June 2014.  The AP reports:

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III told lawyers he would allow two weeks for the trial. Jones said he would set a specific date and a timetable for pretrial discovery and depositions soon. He rejected as unnecessary a defense request to delay the trial until August.

“I’m an optimist by nature,” the judge told lawyers for both sides at the conclusion of an hourlong meeting.

The federal lawsuit is the first of at least six state and federal court suits challenging aspects of the 17-year-old Pennsylvania law. Civil rights lawyers filed it in July on behalf of plaintiffs who include a widow, 11 couples and one couple’s two teenage daughters.

William Lamb, a former justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who is leading the private legal team tapped by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett to defend the state’s laws, said he would appeal Judge Jones’s decision not to dismiss the lawsuit to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals before next week.

As we wrote in our coverage of Jones’s decision earlier this month to take the case to trial, it seems likely that the eventual proceedings will take a hard look at one of the most stubborn roadblocks that has faced LGBT advocates seeking equal marriage rights:

The defendants’ motions to dismiss relied predominantly on Baker v. Nelson, a more than 40-year old U.S. Supreme Court decision dismissing a marriage equality challenge out of Minnesota “for want of a substantial federal question.”  That decision has never been formally annulled by the high court, and due to court rules at the time, it is technically considered binding precedent on lower courts unless circumstances have so changed that it would no longer make sense to rely on the rationale in Baker.

In his decision, Judge Jones argued that Baker is no longer persuasive, writing, “The jurisprudence of equal protection and substantive due process has undergone what can only be characterized as a sea change since 1972.”

9 Comments November 25, 2013

Anti-marriage equality organization preps religious liberties ballot initiative push

A redirect of anti-gay objectives: from marriage equality to conscience clauses.

Continue 85 Comments November 22, 2013

Arkansas Supreme Court rules against blanket bans on cohabitation of unmarried partners in child custody cases

The Arkansas Supreme Court yesterday reversed a lower court’s decision in a custody dispute in which a parent with a long-term same-sex partner sought visitation rights with his child.

Continue 12 Comments November 22, 2013

Equality news round-up: Updates from Texas, Missouri, and more

Progress is being made in Texas; and a Missouri state representative is calling for Governor Jay Nixon’s impeachment.

Continue 8 Comments November 21, 2013

Scottish parliament advances marriage equality legislation in overwhelming first vote

Scotland takes the first step in joining England and Wales as marriage equality jurisdictions.

Continue 7 Comments November 21, 2013

Virginia voters may get the chance to pass marriage equality in 2016

Two state legislators in Virginia have introduced a bill that would eventually repeal the state’s same-sex marriage ban, placing the issue on the ballot in 2016.

Continue 30 Comments November 20, 2013

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