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Three More States Just Won Marriage Equality

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By Matt Baume

We just picked up more states with the freedom to marry, and the number could continue increasing over the course of this week. But in several states, officials are blocking the start of marriage despite courts ruling against their bans. We’ll have the details on how couples are fighting back. Plus, more bad news for the National Organization for Marriage. This time it’s a ruling in Virginia that means they’ll lose out on over half a million dollars.

We picked up three new states with marriage equality last week: Idaho, Arizona, and Alaska. Weddings began in Idaho last Wednesday, following a Ninth Circuit ruling that the state’s ban was unconstitutional. A federal judge in Alaska overturned that state’s ban as well. State officials asked for a stay to prevent marriages from starting while they appeal the decision, but the US Supreme Court denied their request.

In Arizona, District Court Judge John Sedwick ruled on Friday that the state’s ban is unconstitutional. Just one day earlier, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne admitted that the state’s marriage ban probably couldn’t withstand a legal challenge. Marriages can start in Arizona right away.

Marriage has also begun in North Carolina. That’s thanks to AFER’s Virginia case, in which two federal courts ruled against the state’s marriage ban. The most recent Virginia victory, which the US Supreme Court allowed to stand, applies to marriage bans in several neighboring states. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, who led the campaign for North Carolina’s marriage ban, is attempting to stop the weddings. But at this point chances of success are effectively zero. Tillis is up for re-election in just a few weeks.

South Carolina is also covered by AFER’s Virginia victory. Couples there filed a new lawsuit last week against state officials who have so far refused to allow marriage to start. Similarly, state officials have refused to issue licenses in Kansas, which is covered by Circuit Court rulings that overturned marriage bans in nearby Utah and Oklahoma. Last week several couples filed suit against Kansas officials.

In Wyoming, a federal court has ruled against that state’s marriage ban. The court also imposed a stay, pending appeal, but state officials have indicated that an appeal is unlikely. Couples can’t quite get married yet but they could be able to get married soon depending on what happens with that stay.

Florida officials want to accelerate marriage litigation, and have asked to skip two cases directly to the state Supreme Court for a final decision.

There’ve been more setbacks for anti-gay lawyers. In a new filing, Monte Stewart, the attorney who tried and failed to defend Idaho’s marriage ban, has suggested that the Ninth Circuit secretly assigned pro-gay judges to the case, and that the court should give him one more chance to defend the marriage ban. The court is highly unlikely to grant his request.

And the National Organization for Marriage found out last week that they won’t be getting a big payout from the government over claims that the IRS leaked their tax returns. NOM had requested more than a half million dollars in attorney’s fees. They will instead get nothing.

62 Comments

  • 1. sfbob  |  October 20, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Matt, Tom Tillis is not running for re-election. He's challenging incumbent Kay Hagan in the Senate race..

  • 2. flyerguy77  |  October 20, 2014 at 10:55 am

    He got his facts wrong on Kansas, and South Carolina

  • 3. dorothyrothchild  |  October 20, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Great to hear that Mississippi has a case now before the courts. Are there any states left now that do not have someone challenging a SSM ban?

  • 4. RemC_Chicago  |  October 20, 2014 at 11:29 am

    No, all states have some kind of challenge to the bans. The states with the slowest movements, I believe, are Georgia, Alabama, the Dakotas, and Nebraska. Missouri recognizes SSM from other states. Mississippi just got a lawsuit filed against the bans (the previous legal action was on out-of-state marriages for the purpose of divorce). Montana's in the 9th Circuit; the Governor supports getting rid of the bans; the AG does not. Others may have more exact information than I can provide.

  • 5. RemC_Chicago  |  October 20, 2014 at 11:30 am

    joemygod is reporting the following good news from Wyoming:
    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/10/wyoming-ag-t

  • 6. brooklyn11217  |  October 20, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Yes, Chris Geidner just tweeted the statement from the Wyoming AG, I think it was…

  • 7. jpmassar  |  October 20, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael says the state will notify a federal court at 10 a.m. Tuesday that it won't appeal last Friday's ruling that struck down the state's ban on gay marriage.
    http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regiona

  • 8. Waxr  |  October 20, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Update to the story:

    "Today, the State of Wyoming announced that it will file a notice stating that it will not appeal a U.S. District Court ruling that found the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. As a result, same-sex couples can begin marrying at 10 am MT tomorrow."

  • 9. SethInMaryland  |  October 20, 2014 at 11:52 am

    marriage equality polling is getting a lot better in Kanas PPP POLL :Voters in the state are pretty evenly divided in their views about gay marriage with 44% supporting it to 49% who are opposed. 70% of voters though think that when it becomes legal it will either have a positive impact on their life or none at all, to only 29% who claim it will have a negative effect on them. http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2014/10/k

    and the state is starting to turn blue so really won't effect the election there

  • 10. Mike_Baltimore  |  October 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Be prepared for an avalanche of charges of 'skewed polls' coming from the bigots, ala the avalanche prior to the 2012 Presidential election.

  • 11. Mike_Baltimore  |  October 20, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Off topic (and I haven't seen this reported yet; my apologies if it has):

    The 'Washington Blade' is reporting "Hearing set in anti-gay bias lawsuit against Exxon Mobil"
    ( http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/10/20/hearing… )

  • 12. MichaelGrabow  |  October 20, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    It may be coming very very soon whether they like it or not.
    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/10/kansas-court

  • 13. sfbob  |  October 20, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Interesting that the report is from the Billings Gazette (a paper I'm familiar with). Billings is of course in Montana, part of the Ninth District, which is dragging things out interminably even though the result is inevitable and should be immediate.

  • 14. Corey_from_MD  |  October 20, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Montana hearing for summary judgment will be November 20 and the Kansas hearing will be Friday (October 24).

  • 15. Zack12  |  October 20, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Like with SC, it is absurd MT is taking that long.

  • 16. Fortguy  |  October 20, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Also Kansas Supreme Court hearing November 7.

  • 17. guitaristbl  |  October 20, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    What's going on in Montana and South Carolina is ridiculous. And the November hearing in Montana is not even for a preliminary injunction but a summary judgement which may take even longer to be issued !
    I hoped we could have the 35 states issuing licenses before the 6th handed down a ruling but it seems extremely unlikely..At best we will have Kansas. Although I have a feeling that tomorrow which is the only day this week I won't be able to track the events and the rulings from the 6th will be the day 😛

  • 18. wes228  |  October 20, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    The implementation of the Circuit Courts' decisions has, on the whole, been incredibly smooth and swift. Once Wyoming is finalized tomorrow at 10:00AM MDT, there only remains one state for each of the 4th, 9th, and 10th Circuits (and it's fully implemented in the 7th). We're ready for whatever the 6th Circuit brings!

  • 19. netoschultz  |  October 20, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    In Kansas, ACLU are asking for a temporary injuction because they said Kansas Supreme Court will hear the full case. Isn't more dangerous it than asking for definitive ruling in the District Court because the KSC is very conservative and may not rule in our favor?

  • 20. Zack12  |  October 20, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    I agree on that. Plus, a federal court can trump a state court. The precedent in the 10th circuit is clear, marriage bans are to be struck down.
    There is no need to get the Kansas Supreme Court invovled in this.

  • 21. Dr. Z  |  October 20, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    If you were wondering why the sudden surge of news articles today on that Idaho wedding chapel that's suing Coeur D'Alene ID seeking to invalidate their nondiscrimination ordinance, wonder no more. This lawsuit was a carefully planned setup by the ADF that intends to mount a full-scale assault against LGBT using the recent Hobby Lobby decision.
    http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/10/20/3581733/

    Notice the credit on the press photo. Apparently Idaho eliminated the Justice of the Peace office and instead encourages wedding officients to apply to be ministers – a $20 online fee.

  • 22. RQO  |  October 20, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    One hopes that everyone in Idaho that reads this website applies to be a minister.

  • 23. Zack12  |  October 20, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Gee.. that "narrow" Hobby Lobby ruling is turning out not to be so narrow after all.

  • 24. Brad_1  |  October 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Alliance Defending Bigotry.

  • 25. Zack12  |  October 20, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I truly despite the ADF. I remember them here in NY encouraging clerks to break the law and refuse to sign licenses for gay couples and I know they are looking for business owners to sue in NY to try and gut our anti-discrimination law now that they have the Hobby Lobby ruling under their belt.
    Thank goodness Cuomo is going to be able to replace two of the bigoted judges who ruled against us in 2006 before a case reaches our top state court.

  • 26. A_Jayne  |  October 20, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    We'll see. Depends on how successful this newest lawsuit is…

  • 27. Pat_V  |  October 20, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Wow, when I read "Three more states just won marriage equality", I almost spilled my coffee. I thought suddenly Kansas, South Carolina and Montana all folded together… Only then did I notice it was just a post by Matt, which means it's "old" dated news…

  • 28. Dr. Z  |  October 20, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Well, lets hope SCOTUS isn't rash enough to permit anyone to discriminate on the basis of a "sincerely held belief" just by paying a $20 fee to be ordained by the Church of I Hate 'Mos.

  • 29. wes228  |  October 20, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Hobby Lobby was decided purely on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which does not apply to state laws. A federal lawsuit cannot use the RFRA to adjudicate this case.

  • 30. wes228  |  October 20, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    LOL me too!!

  • 31. wkrick  |  October 20, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I'm curious how this would play out if business owners were allowed to discriminate, but only under the condition that they post a large "NO GAYS" sign on their front door. Then let the market decide. These business owners would be turning away a larger and larger portion of their potential business as same-sex marriage becomes more accepted in the general population.

    In North Carolina, it is legal to open carry handguns (and concealed carry once you take a class and pay for the permit). However, private businesses are allowed to refuse entry of persons with guns by simply posting a "NO GUNS" sign on their front door. Gun owners and those sympathetic to their cause have responded by refusing to do business at these locations. There's even a smartphone app that can tell you what businesses are gun friendly.

  • 32. Eric  |  October 20, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    It would play out the same way as putting up a No Blacks, Jews, or Irish sign.

  • 33. Dr. Z  |  October 20, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    "No Coloreds" worked just fine for well over 58 years.

  • 34. DeadHead  |  October 20, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    This is a good way to counter attack, it has raised the ire of the bigots in MS they don't like this at all https://www.facebook.com/ifyourebuying

    Directory at http://ifyourebuying.com/directory

  • 35. ebohlman  |  October 20, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Yes, this is very important. A lot of people who should know better seem to think that Hobby Lobby was a Free Exercise clause case; it wasn't, it was a statutory interpretation case and as you point out the statute involved applies only to Federal laws.

  • 36. A_Jayne  |  October 20, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    They're trying the same tactic in NC, according to the Charlotte Observer:
    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/10/20/52553

    The so-called "North Carolina Values Coalition" apparently sent email to all clerks' offices informing them they can refuse to issue or record marriage licenses for same-sex couples and claim it violates their religious freedom. The article says the emails quote an email sent to the coalition by ADF.

    This could get interesting…

  • 37. RobW303  |  October 20, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Especially if the ADF is found guilt of inciting criminal action.

  • 38. Zack12  |  October 20, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I would say my fear is that ADF might actually succeed in one of these lawsuits in New York due to the fact clerk Rose Marie Belforti has been allowed to discriminate against same sex couples in her role as town clerk of Ledyard and no one has stopped her.
    They will rightfully state that since Belforti has been allowed to get a freebie on the law due to her religious beliefs, why shouldn't other clerks or businesses get the same right?
    I am going into my local ACLU later on this week to address this issue.
    Because I will be damned if we let these bigoted jerks roll back the clock on rights we've gained.

  • 39. Mike_Baltimore  |  October 20, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    In what manner are the 'facts' incorrect?

    That SC is in the 4CA? It is.

    That Kansas is in the 10CA? It is.

    In some other manner?

    You make the statement that the facts are wrong, but give no explanation, not even a partial explanation. You may be correct, but if you don't explain your position, you have no basis to challenge anyone who says the moon is made of green cheese.

  • 40. Johan  |  October 20, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Yes, the roving reporter that always comes in last.

  • 41. SeattleRobin  |  October 20, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    For those who need a little comic relief due to teeth grinding over the bigots at ADF, you might find this amusing. Even if you don't like John Oliver it's worth watching. He has a new spin for news coverage of SCOTUS.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9prhPV2PI

    If the link doesn't work, do a search on YouTube for "john oliver supreme court".

  • 42. flyerguy77  |  October 20, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Both states can still allow to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a Federal District Court Judge make an order for them to allow same-sex marriages.. South Carolina is in 4th Circuit and Kansas is in 4th Circuit where they already ruled that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.. For now we need go by Circuit Appeals decision, not SCOTUS

  • 43. davepCA  |  October 20, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    As of about four months ago, a ME case has been filed in every state (or the state already has ME, either through the courts or the legislature). I believe that final state to get a case was – Montana? Somebody want to confirm?

  • 44. davepCA  |  October 20, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Oh my goodness.
    That was frikking brilliant.
    Thank you, Robin. You have made my day! : )

  • 45. Mike_Baltimore  |  October 20, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Maybe you should learn the difference between Circuit Court precedent, and a SCOTUS decision?

    (BTW – Kansas is in the 10CA, not the 4CA. The 4CA covers MD, VA, WV, NC and SC. 4CA does NOT cover Kansas.)

  • 46. flyerguy77  |  October 21, 2014 at 12:12 am

    I made a mistake…………. 10th for Kansas…… if SCOTUS made the ruling all 50 needed to allow same sex marriages…. So for now we have to go by Circuit appeal decisions….

  • 47. RnL2008  |  October 21, 2014 at 12:23 am

    If my memory serves me, there is a provision in the Hobby Lobby ruling that speaks DIRECTLY about this very issue and it was why the ruling was applied on a more narrow bases.

    I also know that SCOTUS denied cert to Elane's Photography from New Mexico, who by the way was represented by the ADF and they lost in ALL of her Court appearances…….I DON'T see SCOTUS allowing this sort of DISCRIMINATION because of some religious belief that obviously DOESN'T use this same belief to discriminate against Atheists, Divorcees and other sins.

  • 48. Dr. Z  |  October 21, 2014 at 1:26 am

    Yes, that was the portion that said the ruling shouldn't be construed to support discrimination, for example based on race. But they were silent about sexual orientation, and given that Ginsburg specifically mentioned the Elane Photography case that omission could be significant. We'll just have to wait and see.

  • 49. DrBriCA  |  October 21, 2014 at 1:36 am

    North Dakota was the final state to have any sort of legal challenge (state or federal). Mississippi at that time already had a divorce case slowly working its way up the state appeals system (divorce was denied at district level). Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska were other examples of state court cases that counted toward the final tally of all states either having ME or a legal challenge.

    The recent events this month led to Wyoming and Kansas quickly getting federal cases in play to force the state to follow the 10th Circuit ruling. I believe by now the only non-ME state without a current federal case is Nebraska, which was the state involved in the 8th's infamous Bruning decision in 2006. (Plus its own divorce case was in the state Supreme Court until being sent back down to the district level a couple months ago.)

    Speaking of divorce cases, does anyone know if there's ever a time limit on how long a state Supreme Court can delay issuing a ruling? The Texas SC heard a divorce case November of last year, and they've been dragging out that ruling ever since!

  • 50. RLsfba  |  October 21, 2014 at 3:15 am

    Since they have lost the ME cases ADF has to pursue some other avenue to publicize their anti-gay ways. I hope to see religion on trial somewhere. I want to hear the oral arguments when someone has to testify and prove that what they believe is not made up. This is going to be an issue in the conservative red states for sure. What will it take to have the ADF go away?

  • 51. JayJonson  |  October 21, 2014 at 6:55 am

    Except many states also have Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. We have certainly seen how a federal case about a federal law (DOMA) has been very useful in dismantling state versions of the same. So I would think the reasoning in Hobby Lobby can be used to challenge state limits on "religious freedom." It is true that the Hobby Lobby decision contained reassuring rhetoric about how limited it was, but I trust Justice Ginsburg's scathing dissent more than the majority opinion, and she said the ruling was by no means limited.

  • 52. Corey_from_MD  |  October 21, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Update: Both Montana and Arkansas hearings for summary judgment will be November 20 and the Kansas hearing will be Friday (October 24).

  • 53. Dr. Z  |  October 21, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Several updates to the story this morning. One is the recent airbrushing of their website:
    http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2014/10/caug

    Another is that the city never threatened them with prosecution, fines, or jail time. That is a lie being perpetrated by the right wing media. Several months ago, when Coeur d'Alene was adopting its nondiscrimination ordinance, Don Knapp, proprietor of the Hitching Post, inquired what would happen if he refused to marry same sex couples. He was told that there was an exemption for not-for-profit religious organizations. But for-profit orgs weren't exempt, and violation would be a misdemeanor.

    In early October the Hitching Post reincorporated and filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin enforcement of the ordinance. However, no same sex couples have sought out Knapps services and the city said that if they were truly a not for profit religious org then no action would be taken.

    Knapp says he doesn't know the ADF attorney, and that he's not running a not for profit org.

  • 54. guitaristbl  |  October 21, 2014 at 7:54 am

    While I understand all the worry about this ID chapel case challenging the ordinance and while I despise the Hobby Lobby ruling as much as everyone here, I would point out to ADF and everyone reading Kennedy's concurrence. He wrote a small concurrence to tell as what essentially ? Nothing that has been not said in the main opinion by Alito. He just wanted to make it very very clear that this ruling's narrow scope is not meant to get the hopes up to such kinds of lawsuits.
    In the current composition of SCOTUS I do not think they have the 5th vote to strike the law down.
    But what are we discussing even ? These people did not suffer any injury, no one came in and threatened them to hold their wedding or else they are going to jail or something ! Thus they have no case for now at least. The bigots in ADF rushed on this one.

    On another note one has to laugh (or cry if they live in Texas and know he is going to be a governor) with Abbott's remarks on the interracial marriage ban. He practically said he would defend it if it was the law even now..

  • 55. wes228  |  October 21, 2014 at 7:58 am

    It would have to be adjudicated on Free Exercise Clause grounds anyway, which are much less stringent than the ramped-up Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which does not apply to state laws).

    Really, they ought to have challenged this in state court, arguing that Idaho's state law version of the RFRA would strike down the law. No way they win on federal constitutional law grounds.

  • 56. jpmassar  |  October 21, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Amusing if true: http://www.gayapolis.com/cms/display.php?articlei

    A Procedural Rule Could Keep Any Future Marriage Equality Case From the US Supreme Court

    One of the great benefits of the marriage equality debate is that it has forced Americans to learn way more about constitutional law than they probably ever wanted to. In just a few years, terms like "heightened scrutiny" and "liberty interest" have wriggled their way into the demotic parlance, to my unceasing delight. But the schooling, it seems, will not end at the 14th Amendment, because Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne just cited a rule of civil procedure in refusing to defend his state's ban on same-sex marriage. And if his theory is correct, opponents of marriage equality may be procedurally barred from ever getting a gay marriage case to the Supreme Court again.

    Here's the thrust of Horne's unexpected argument: Under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, attorneys must certify that any motions they file are "nonfrivolous" and aren't designed to "cause unnecessary delay." If you violate that rule, you might face sanctions–a pretty embarrassing and sometimes expensive penalty. For months, the conventional wisdom dictated that states could appeal gay marriage rulings without stumbling on Rule 11; the Supreme Court, after all, has yet to issue a definitive ruling on the matter.

    But all that changed over the last few weeks, as the justices have swatted away every single request to rule on gay marriage bans. So extreme is the court's laissez-faire attitude that it refuses to stay lower courts' pro-gay rulings, allowing couples to wed immediately. After a district court struck down Arizona's gay marriage ban last Friday, Horne seems to have surveyed this trend and decided that, by not speaking, the court had spoken–and any appeal would be utterly useless. The judicial expansion of marriage equality, Horne suggested, is so emphatic and irreversible that an appeal of the district court's judgment might be seen as a frivolous delaying tactic, in direct violation of Rule 11.

  • 57. Fledge01  |  October 21, 2014 at 8:16 am

    It has to be extremely frivolous to be frivolous. So far all the cases supporting the bans so far have not been frivolous under this rule. They may be weak, but they are still entitled to try to re-word their tired arguments to try to find a successful defense. All of the legal nuances have not yet been ruled upon quite yet because every case has slightly different fact patterns and its still too new to have ruled out any hope at all for those defending the bans. Just because they are very likely to lose does not mean they still don't have a slim chance of winning. I think our description that they are just delaying is clouded by our passion on the topic. I believe that they actually believe that they have a chance and are not only delaying, yet delay is still a viable legal option for them seeing as all the circuits have not yet ruled. And if a future circuit rules the other way, they may be preserving their fleeting hope of a SCOTUS ruling in their favor.

  • 58. guitaristbl  |  October 21, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I know it's tiring to bring the same issue everyday but will there be any opinions from the 6th today ? They were late yesterday but today they are like an hour late from the usual time they issue opinions..

  • 59. MichaelGrabow  |  October 21, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Retired Lawyer responded with this to someone else who posted this being brought up:

    Mark Joseph Stern at Slate ought to know better. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, including Rule 11, control litigation in the U.S. DISTRICT COURTS, and only them. Rule 11 of its own force does not apply to writs of certiorari, nor does it apply to the U.S. Courts of Appeals.

  • 60. guitaristbl  |  October 21, 2014 at 8:55 am

    That's true for AGs in states in the 5th or 8th circuit but can't for example this rule apply to the officials in Alaska or South Carolina where there are binding circuit decisions ?

  • 61. davepCA  |  October 21, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Doh! Of course. North Dakota. Obviously not Montana. Thanks!

  • 62. Fledge01  |  October 21, 2014 at 9:46 am

    A court's rulings are only binding on situations that have the same relevant fact patterns as the case that was before that court when it made its ruling. What all lawyers do is they refer to those cases and they argue that the facts in the present case are either similar or different from the facts in the previous case. No two cases have the same facts. So each lawyer argues why various differences or similarities between two situations should be given more or less weight when deciding which law (from a previous case) should determine the outcome. The lawyers in Alaska or South Carolina argue that there is something different in their case that, if it would have been present in previous cases before the court, the court would have applied a different set of laws and reached a different conclusion. This how courts can slowly carve away exceptions to a previous landmark decision. If its a party brings up some tiny irrelevant difference, the court will just rule on the motions rather than hearing the case. The civil procedures rule you are talking about is primarily used to go after attorneys that have already been warned to shut-up and aren't even trying to argue the law, but are rather just trying to cost the other party money by defending a baseless claim. The right to bring a case is important and should not be easy to restrict. Otherwise, a judge could have said that marriage equality cases were frivolous not too long ago.

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