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Florida Legalizes Driving While Gay

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By Matt Baume

Florida has finally legalized driving while gay. Bills to discriminate against gay couples are rapidly multiplying in Texas. And multiple states are still wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to reverse marriage equality.

Last fall, Scott and Daniel Wall-DeSousa got new driver’s licenses after they married in New York and hyphenated their name. But the state of Florida said that it wouldn’t recognize their new names — even though it was a legal name change — and canceled the licenses, which effectively meant that they couldn’t drive. But now that couples can marry in Florida, the Wall-DeSousas finally have their new licenses. So, there you go, Florida, you wasted everyone’s time and accomplished nothing, congratulations.

Last week I reported on a proposed bill in Texas that would force state officials to disobey federal courts that uphold marriage equality. Now Texas has two more proposed anti-gay laws. One would give businesses permission to deny service to LGBTs. The other would prevent towns from passing nondiscrimination laws, and overturn any laws that already exist. Anti-gay activists know that they’re about to lose on marriage, and so this is going to be their response: passing laws that let them take away our jobs, or our homes, our access to education and basic services. A proposed bill in Virginia would even let hospitals turn away gay patients. We’re going to see a lot more of these in the next year, as a form of dangerous, petty backlash against marriage equality.

Of course, there’s still one big wild card when it comes to national marriage equality: the Supreme Court. Late last week they announced that they’ll take up four marriage cases. We’ll probably see oral argument in late April, and a decision around the end of June. There’s no way to know how they’ll rule. If it’s in our favor, great — we’ll have national marriage equality this year. If they rule against us, then that means several more years of work to overturn the last few marriage bans.

But in the mean time, we keep racking up victories at lower courts. A South Dakota judge has ruled against that state’s marriage ban. A judge in Michigan ruled last week that the state must honor the 300 licenses that it issued during a one-day window last year. A judge in Kentucky has granted the state’s first divorce for a gay couples, which is a little depressing but that’s just how it goes sometimes. And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reconsider marriage cases in Idaho and Nevada, despite the continuing attempts by state officials to halt marriages.

Those Idaho and Nevada cases should have been over long ago. And by dragging them out this long, the states are running up huge legal bills. The current tally in Idaho is now close to a half million dollars — that means they’ve blown about a quarter of the state’s entire budget for Constitutional defense cases. And they’re not the only state wasting hundreds of thousands on marriage litigation. The legal bill in Wisconsin could top $1.2 million. In West Virginia, parties have run up $350,000 in fees. Oregon and Alaska are both $260,000 apiece.

And just like in Florida, these states are accomplishing nothing, other than making work for lawyers. At this point, anti-gay legislators seem to be mostly focused on just making life inconvenient for gay couples, whether it’s by delaying the start of marriage, removing other legal protections, or creating areas where we can’t do business. That’s their reaction to marriage equality — if they can’t stop us from getting married, they’re just going to annoy us instead. Well, it’s working. They’re annoying. Good job.

18 Comments

  • 1. A_Jayne  |  January 20, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Just an FYI, Matt –

    "And the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reconsider marriage cases in Idaho and Nevada, despite the continuing attempts by state officials to halt marriages."

    The NV state government did not try to stop marriage equality after the 9th ruled in our favor. CPM, the so-called "Coalition for the Protection of Marriage," continued to fight to stop it long after marriages were occurring all across the state of NV. In fact, once the 9th Circuit ruled (in Smithklein) that heightened scrutiny applied to cases of anti-gay discrimination, NV stopped defending its marriage equality ban altogether.

  • 2. brandall  |  January 20, 2015 at 10:23 am

    What does today's article headline mean? "Florida Legalizes Driving While Gay"

    Is it illegal to drive while straight?

  • 3. hopalongcassidy  |  January 20, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Maybe getting a hummer in your Hummer while humming down the road is okay now?

  • 4. Pat_V  |  January 20, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Another silly and misleading headline…

  • 5. davepCA  |  January 20, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Aw come on, it's just a reference to phrases such as 'driving while black', which were used to sarcastically describe racial profiling tactics. Florida's idiotic and pointlessly punitive actions of revoking drivers licenses because of a hyphenated name, clearly done out of petty vindictive motives, deserves an appropriately sarcastic reference.

  • 6. JayJonson  |  January 20, 2015 at 11:46 am

    The state responded to the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Wall-DeSousas by saying the issue is now moot. But the humiliation and inconvenience suffered by the couple (and others mistreated by the state) are not moot. I hope the lawsuit is allowed to continue and the state is forced to compensate them for the pain and suffering its action caused them.

  • 7. VIRick  |  January 20, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Dave, precisely. In fact, when I first saw the title, I breathed a sign of relief, and said to myself, "Finally, Matt's found himself a sense of humor."

    By the way, too, just for the record, I've been driving while gay in Florida for years, so I'm quite elated to learn that it's now finally legal to do so.

    Oh, and I see one error in Matt's report. State officials in Nevada are not the guilty party dragging out that case. The state gave up on its defense even before the 9th Circuit Court overturned the upholding of the ban. It's the private-party ass-hats who originally sponsored the statewide referendum (and who do not have standing) who refuse to give up (along with their hopeless "sticks and balls" lawyer).

  • 8. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  January 20, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Indeed it is. Good spot off FL Turnpike is Yeehaw Junction. Although I've never owned a Hummer, just rented one driving from Miami Beach to the Keys once.

  • 9. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  January 20, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Ditto on the driving while gay, since October 2000 when I moved to the state.

  • 10. VIRick  |  January 20, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    "Good spot off FL Turnpike is Yeehaw Junction."

    Hey Ryan, I've heard about that, which thus makes it internationally famous.

    So, is that how it got its name? "YEE-haw!!"

  • 11. hopalongcassidy  |  January 20, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Been through (not stop) there many times on the way to Miami from Tampa. It's a half day trip that takes about a week. (That's a riff on W.C. Fields.."Philadelphia?…yess, I spent a week there one night")

    He wasn't shitting. hahahahahaha

  • 12. brandall  |  January 20, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Well, it went over my head. Yes, I just googled 'driving while black'….OK, now I get it. If you had written it, I would have paid attention to figure out what I was missing. But, Matt misses the mark frequently, so I just figured it was another error or unfinished headline.

  • 13. VIRick  |  January 20, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I understand Yeehaw Junction is the pit-stop to end all pit-stops, although close rivals would include "Ruth Anne's," first rest-stop northbound on I-65 out of Mobile (for the 'Bama boys), as well as the first interchange stop southbound on I-95, right behind the "Welcome to South Carolina" sign (for the Carolina cuties).

  • 14. VIRick  |  January 20, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    "…. Matt misses the mark frequently …."

    True enough, but he also must be reading some of our commentaries here about the potential of tapping into one's "double-humor" gene, and for once, and at long last, I thought he managed to do just that. And of course, the corollary to this is that when writing or presenting to a gay audience, one ought to be expressly gay.

    Now, if we could only get Matt to put his lip-gloss on straight and then do SOMETHING with his hair!!

  • 15. brandall  |  January 20, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    And, in gratitude to Matt, as much as many EoT'ers complain about the lag between his updates and our real-time EoT site, I have observed many of the 20's somethings no longer seem to read anything. They get all of their information from video. Period. If it's not a video, they are not going to know about it. So, Matt is helping the cause.

  • 16. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  January 20, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    It may or may not have been spoken a few times in that location.

  • 17. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  January 20, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    I pass by once or twice a week with my work commute between Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. But I'm usually alone on those trips, so no stopping then!

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