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Texas Wants to Un-Marry Lesbian with Cancer

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A few judges are still refusing to see gay and lesbian couples in Alabama. Texas has had its first lesbian marriage, and now state officials are scrambling to find a way to undo it. And some major national anti-gay figures are preparing to release a new manifesto to stop the freedom to marry.

Almost every county in Alabama is issuing marriage licenses now, but incredibly, a handful judges are still defying the federal ruling. Depending on who you ask, as of last week, there were about fifty counties finally complying with the order to let gays and lesbians marry. That leaves around seventeen where you still can’t get a license.

A few have stopped marriages altogether, but most of the remaining counties are only turning away gays and lesbians. Judge Nick Williams in Washington County said “I’m not worried about following the U.S. Constitution,” which he probably should have mentioned before being sworn in as a judge.

Meanwhile, Judge Roy Moore, the Supreme Court Justice who started all this trouble, may be in some trouble of his own now. Moore told state judges that he wouldn’t allow them to issue licenses, but he really can’t do that. The Human Rights Campaign has gathered nearly 30,000 signatures calling for an investigation into whether Moore should be removed from office.

Moore’s been down this road before. In 2003 the Court of the Judiciary kicked him out of office for making up his own rules about a Ten Commandments statue. But even if he’s removed for a second time, we might not have heard the last of him. Ordinarily, Moore couldn’t ren for office again because he’s about to pass an age limit. But a Republican Senator has introduced a new bill to raise the limit, so Moore could run for re-election again in 2018.

There is one married lesbian couple in Texas right now. Probably. Last week a judge allowed Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant to obtain a marriage license, citing urgency after Sarah was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The ruling applies only to this one couple. And according to state officials, that’s still one couple too many.

Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton all want to take the license away from the cancer-stricken couple of 31 years who are raising two children. Paxton has declared that the is license void, and the couple is not actually married. But can he actually do that? That’s murky. He can try. Attorneys General have a lot of legal authority, but it’s kind of unheard of to step in and un-marry a couple, particularly after a judge ordered them married.

The common thread between Roy Moore’s actions and Texas’ is that they’re pretty desperate. People who oppose marriage equality are running out of options, which is why you’re seeing last-ditch attempts to do something, anything. And they might delay marriage for a bit, or force you to take a bus to the next county, or issue threats to a family facing a terminal illness. But at this point they know they’re not going to win.

And yet still they’re trying. Last week Kansas Rep Tim Huelskamp introduced a federal constitutional marriage ban in Congress. They tried this over a decade ago and it went nowhere. It’s going to go less than nowhere this time.

But according to reports, there’s a group of national anti-gay leaders working on a new proclamation to stop marriage equality. The title is “Reclaiming Marriage,” and they’ll probably release it in March. The people who have seen a copy have called it a sweeping manifesto, signed by the very people you’d expect. But even this sweeping manifesto will probably be pretty weak. The only call to action is “careful discernment” over the coming years. And even that is expecting a lot of these people.

66 Comments

  • 1. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Why do these actions NOT surprise me? I mean really?? These folks make claims that Gays and Lesbians are ONLY 1.5% of the overall population, yet they spend BILLIONS on trying to prevent us from having the same right to marry the person of OUR choosing as they all got to have and at the end of the fight….they will lose and still spend money trying to keep their animus front and center!!

    When will the American people STOP reelecting these bigoted anti-gay folks? All they do is waste taxpayer's money and DON'T do their jobs all because they are concerned with alienating their chosen religious patrons!!!

    The more they fight and try to pass UNCONSTITUTIONAL legislation……the more animus they show, the more likely they will continue to lose on ALL fronts!!!

  • 2. VIRick  |  February 23, 2015 at 11:14 am

    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/__ALABAMA:

    Gay Widower Files For Payout In Battle With Evil Former Mother-In-Law

    On the first day of same-sex marriage in Alabama, widower Paul Hard, in the pending federal case, "Hard v. Bentley," in District Court in the Middle District of Alabama (Montgomery), was granted an amended death certificate declaring him to have been the legal spouse of his late husband. As we know, Hard's evil former mother-in-law employed the Foundation For Moral Law (Roy Moore's "non-profit") in an attempt to thwart Hard's receipt of his share of the settlement in a wrongful death suit filed following his late husband's car accident.

    Per state law, as the surviving legal spouse, Hard is entitled to the first $100,000 of the settlement plus 50% of the remaining balance, or about $326,000 in total. The evil ex-mother-in-law, Pat Fancher, would receive $226,000.

  • 3. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 11:25 am

    The "C" ex mother-in-law SHOULDN'T receive a dime of that money in my opinion……she is a liar about the relationship between her and her son……..on top of that, she has caused a grieving spouse more harm by suing him to prevent him from getting any money!!!

    But that's just my personal opinion!!!

  • 4. weaverbear  |  February 23, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Indeed Rose. Animus indeed.

    I would love to have just one of these (expletive deleted) bigots in the place our community has been for generations and see how it feels. I was radicalized 17 years ago when my husband had a heart attack. Had it not been for the durable power of attorney for healthcare I had in my hot little hand, I would have been a roommate and nothing more. Certainly not a spouse.

    I would dearly love to see one of them have to deal with paying an inheritance tax on their deceased spouse's half of their marital estate after 40 odd years, the way Edie Windsor had to do, prior to winning the overturn of the 3rd section of DOMA in front of SCOTUS. To have to sell the home you've shared with your husband or wife, because you couldn't afford the inheritance tax, has been a painful reality for too many of our community for far too long.

    Abbot and his elected Texas minions want to invalidate the sole marriage for a same sex couple in the state, as one of them faces what is likely to be a terminal illness, is nothing more than a callous disregard for that couple's humanity. It is heartless beyond words.

    It shows them to be the truly vile people they are.

  • 5. DeadHead  |  February 23, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I'm wondering if Moore's Foundation legal beagles will get a good sized cut out of the evil ex-mother-in-law portion.

  • 6. Rick55845  |  February 23, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Why wouldn't the surviving legal spouse be entitled to all of the settlement? Why is any of it earmarked for the ex-mother-in-law?

  • 7. ReadLearn  |  February 23, 2015 at 11:52 am

    It's almost funny. I think these events actually help the cause.

  • 8. VIRick  |  February 23, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Rick, the husband died suddenly in an autobobile accident, after being forced off the road by a Walmart 18-wheeler on I-65 in Alabama, one county north of Montgomery, and didn't leave a will, and thus died "intestate," a grievous error in Alabama for a same-sex couple married in Massachusetts, with a christianist mother-in-law, and whose marriage was also not recognized by the state at the time. The settlement money comes from a claim previously made against Walmart in an earlier portion of this "wrongful death" suit.

    According to Alabama law, when dealing with "intestate" cases, Paul Hard is entitled to the "spousal share," the first $100,000, plus 50% of the remainder. Pat Fancher, the evil mother-in-law, is entitled to the "family share," the other 50% remainder (apparently, there is no other "family" relatives of the deceased, or they'd all have to split up her 50% remainder). Originally, with the meddling "assistance" of Roy Moore's "non-profit," she intervened (because, according to her, god personally told her to do so) and was vainly suing to get 100%.

    Without question, this case is the nastiest pending same-sex marriage case out there, complete with Roy Moore in it up to his eyeballs. Obviously, Pat Fancher is a dupe, and a goodly portion of her "share" will end up in Roy Moore's grubby hands.

  • 9. Rick55845  |  February 23, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Thank you for the case background, Rick. I didn't realize that Paul Hard died intestate, nor was I aware of how Alabama law handles that situation.

    The state where I live (Texas) has similar kinds of intestate probate considerations. If you have a partner or spouse, you should have a will, because if you don't, your estate (including settlements, such as in this case) may not end up where you'd like them too.

  • 10. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I totally agree with ya……..and I seriously doubt they will have ANY success nullify or invalidating the legal marriage, but just for trying in my opinion makes them scumbags!!!

  • 11. Mike_Baltimore  |  February 23, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Why does the phrase 'ex post facto' keep ringing in my head?

    Ex post facto is most typically used to refer to a criminal law that applies retroactively, thereby criminalizing conduct that was legal when originally performed. I believe if anyone broke Texas law, it was the clerk who handed out the marriage license.

    Two clauses in the US Constitution prohibit ex post facto laws: Art 1, § 9 and Art. 1 § 10.
    ( https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/ex_post_facto )

    Some might say ex post facto applies to criminal law, only.

    Two things:

    1. Ex post facto TYPICALLY applies to criminal law, but not always; and
    2. Isn't Texas trying to make criminals out of the couple, who were married under the US Constitution? After all, according to the state of Texas, they illegally married, even though there were others involved (a county clerk, a judge, and possibly others?). Why suits against ONLY the couple who are married, and not the others involved? The others don't even have to be in the same suit as the married couple, they can be concurrent.

  • 12. A_Jayne  |  February 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    "I believe if anyone broke Texas law, it was the clerk who handed out the marriage license."

    The clerk simply complied with a restraining order issue by a state judge. The TX judicial system may have an argument with the judge who issued that TRO, but not with the clerk.

  • 13. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    By the way….does anyone have a link to SCOTUS removing the word "SAME-SEX" from in front of marriage? I would appreciate it.

  • 14. Eric  |  February 23, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    They have no issue trampling the constitution. I'm sure some anti-gay will propose a bill of attainder in an attempt to strip this couple of their fundamental right.

  • 15. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    I know, it DIDN'T work when Kenneth Starr tried to invalidate the 18,000 legal marriages in California and it won't work here!!!

  • 16. Raga  |  February 23, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Here you go: http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/01

  • 17. Raga  |  February 23, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    The motion to lift the Texas stay at the Fifth Circuit is now fully briefed. Plaintiffs have filed their reply and a decision could be made at any time: http://www.scribd.com/doc/256668472/14-50196-Repl

    This request would be most likely decided by the same three-judge panel that heard oral arguments from Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana last month.

    The panel could also simply issue the ruling on the merits if it is ready (which would moot the motion to lift the stay).

    I expect them to lift the stay at the very least to the one plaintiff couple as requested. Plaintiffs should appeal to the Supreme Court if they deny the motion altogether.

  • 18. hopalongcassidy  |  February 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    They moved it from in front of 'marriage' to after it.

  • 19. A_Jayne  |  February 23, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Exactly. They acknowledged that marriage, which past courts have repeatedly called a "basic civil right," is the question – not some new-fangled idea of "same-sex marriage." Now they only need to decide if that right, which already exists, also belongs to same-sex couples.

  • 20. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Thank you Raga:-)

  • 21. 1grod  |  February 23, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    As we have come to appreciate, Matt's perspective is the general picture. While it was reported on February 13, 51/67 probate judges were issuing licenses to same gender couples (representing counties with 86% of the state population), on February 20, 47 probate judges (representing counties with 80% of the population were doing so) https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sOMXM59jZ… . Upward momentum died when the AL Supreme Court called on judges from Chilton, Jefferson, Madison and Montgomery counties to reply to the petition of Alabama's Policy Institute, and Citizen Action Program to affirm the State's prohibition against celebration and recognition of same-gender marriages. The court's willingness to grant an extension to these groups until February 23 to reply to these counties' briefs reinforces the impression that the Court will recognize these groups as having standing to represent the interest of the State. Expect more losses of counties willing to issue licenses if this case drags on to the end of the week. As well, Matt's example of the judge from Washington State may not well represent the variety of views of judges not issuing licenses, but fits a stereotype imho. Or a stereotype of small town Alabama. Of the dozen counties with the lowest populations which includes Washington [together 4% of the state population], seven are issuing licenses to all couples, four are issuing licenses to only straight-gendered couples, and one is not issuing to any couples. Washington is among the group only issuing to straights.

  • 22. VIRick  |  February 23, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Paul Hard is the surviving spouse. The deceased, who died "intestate," is Charles Fancher, his husband, and the son of (and apparently the only child of) Pat Fancher, the evil ex-mother-in-law.

    So indeed, if any same-sex couple can learn something from this ugly case, it's this: have ALL your legal documents, powers-of-attorney, wills, trusts, property deeds, bank accounts, etc., up-to-date, notarized, and filed, with multiple copies in strategic locations

  • 23. VIRick  |  February 23, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Correct, the clerk simply complied with the TRO.

    And the state judge ruled correctly, as well. Remember, the previous day, in that probate case in the same Travis County, a different state judge, for purposes of probate, had declared Texas' same-sex marriage prohibition unconstitutional. The judge in the marriage case was simply following precedent, already established in Travis County by the probate judge.

    These two cases are thus intertwined, and for Travis County, at a minimum, the genie has already escaped. Besides, the federal judge, in "DeLeon v. Perry" declared Texas' ban unconstitutional a year ago.

  • 24. jpmassar  |  February 23, 2015 at 2:18 pm


    OMAHA, Neb. —Attorneys representing seven same-sex couples on Monday filed the additional information requested by a federal court judge who's being asked to block Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage.

    In the affidavit submitted Monday afternoon, the attorneys provided more details for U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon regarding the health insurance and benefits status for each set of plaintiffs.

    As the ACLU challenges the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage, the plaintiffs are asking Bataillon to block the ban while the lawsuit progresses.

    The Nebraska Attorney General's Office has said it would appeal any decision blocking or overturning the ban.

    Bataillon, who found the ban unconstitutional in 2006, said he would issue a ruling in this case "expeditiously."

    http://www.ketv.com/politics/aclu-state-to-file-m

  • 25. tornado163  |  February 23, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    To play devil's advocate.

    I think the state's strongest arguments might be that A) they weren't notified about this lawsuit challenging a state law and B) this was effectively a collusive lawsuit between the county clerk and the couple and the state should have been allowed to intervene to seek an immediate stay.

    To me it still feels like an end run around justice to have a state law struck down without giving the state the chance to defend the law. As I recall, 1 of the Florida state rulings was voided because the couple hadn't notified the proper state authorities, which is why they didn't appeal in time like they did with other cases.

    If Texas will refuse to recognize this marriage for state purposes, then the couple will need to go back to the state judge to order the Texas governor/AG/etc. to recognize the marriage. And all this after they had the lawsuit dismissed. So did this couple really solve anything with their legal maneuvering? I suppose they get federal recognition, but that's only half the battle.

    Also, I wouldn't use the term "unheard of" to talk about voiding same-sex marriages. What about all the San Francisco marriages in 2004 that were voided?

  • 26. Eric  |  February 23, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    The clerk in San Francisco didn't have a court order, she and the mayor made the decision to issue the licenses.

  • 27. flyerguy77  |  February 23, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    in 2004 it was different there is no court order, thats why CASC voided these marriages..

  • 28. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    The situation in San Francisco was an ENTIRELY different situation…….Prop 22 was in place and Mayor Gavin Newsome circumvented the law in order to issue marriage licenses that WEREN'T legal in the first place……..however, by Newsome jumping the gun, he did create a situation that brought about a legal challenge to Prop 22, which the CSSC found UNCONSTITUTIONAL and 30 days later Same-Sex couples were allowed to marry!!!

  • 29. VIRick  |  February 23, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Married same-sex couples will soon be eligible for benefits under the Family & Medical Leave Act even if they live in a state that doesn’t recognize their union, the Labor Department announced today, 23 February 2015. In a statement, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said a new rule is set to be final that will ensure individuals in same-sex marriages have access to federally-protected leave from work to care for spouses with serious medical conditions. “The basic promise of the FMLA is that no one should have to choose between the job and income they need, and caring for a loved one,” Perez said. “With our action today, we extend that promise so that no matter who you love, you will receive the same rights and protections as everyone else.

    All eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages, regardless of where they live, can now deal with a serious medical and family situation like all families – without the threat of job loss.” According to a Q&A accompanying the announcement, the final rule changing existing policy under the Family & Medical Leave Act is set for publication on Wednesday, 25 February 2015, and will take effect on 27 March 2015.

  • 30. VIRick  |  February 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Governor Bentley and Marriage Equality in Alabama

    In what appears to be the first "official" word as to the hyper-passive position of Alabama's governor, stated in an extremely quiet, low-key way, per the "Washington Blade:"

    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley on Friday (20 February 2015) said he would not “disobey” a federal court ruling on whether his state should extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. “We are a nation under laws,” Bentley told "Politico" during an interview at a meeting of the National Governors Association in D.C. “We may not always agree with them, but we obey them.” Bentley’s comments come less than two weeks after gays and lesbians began to legally marry in Alabama.
    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/02/22/ala-tex

    Basically put, Governor Bentley knows the ball-game is over in Alabama, and wants to put this entire issue behind him as quickly as possible. Obviously, Roy Moore's politically-motivated antics have been very embarrassing to the governor.

  • 31. sfbob  |  February 23, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    The link doesn't seem to work now.

  • 32. TomPHL  |  February 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Would the fact that they were following the precedent set a day earlier cancel their obligation under Texas law to inform the state they were finding a part of the Texas legal code unconstitutional? The law had been already been declared unconstitutional so wouldn't the previous judge be the one obligated to notify the AG?

  • 33. pragmaticliberal  |  February 23, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Using their numbers figures out to be about 5 million out of 319,000,000. That's like being afraid 7 minutes of a 24 our day. Not just afraid. Consumed with dread. Beyond stupid basically.

  • 34. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    EXACTLY…….seems stupid should hurt……ugh:(

  • 35. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Why is it that the "WILL" of the voter's matter when folks vote on UNCONSTITUTIONAL ballot measures, but then turn around and call Judges ACTIVIST when the rulings DON'T go their way?

  • 36. Raga  |  February 23, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Strange – it works for me. You can go to the supreme court website and then under "Case Documents", select "Orders of the Court – 2014 Term" and then click on the Miscellaneous Order dated 01/16/15.

  • 37. VIRick  |  February 23, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    But Rose, you have to read Southern "code." Whenever they make statements, just as you've mentioned, that's how we know that they know that they've lost, as that's the closest they'll come to admitting it. They have to "victimize" themselves in the process, and find some outside force to blame for their own bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and retrograde attitudes.

    Did you see the idiots at the hate rally in Montgomery over the weekend, supporting Roy Moore, with their signs indicating that they were provided by the KKK??

  • 38. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 23, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    I couldn't reach the site either. I will try it the other way now.

  • 39. sfbob  |  February 23, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I get the following message:

    "Due to an error, page cannot be display your request." I thought it might be my browser but I get the same result whether I use Explorer, Firefox or Chrome. Ah well…I'll do it the old-fashioned way, as you suggest….

    And still no dice; same result. I tried doing a search using "deboer" and was told I don't have permission to search that way. Do you suppose the document exists on Equality Case Files?

  • 40. sfbob  |  February 23, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    I'm assuming you're referring to this document:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/252851510/Supreme-Court

  • 41. Elihu_Bystander  |  February 23, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    "If you have a partner or spouse, you should have a will, because if you don't, your estate (including settlements, such as in this case) may not end up where you'd like them too."

    Having a will is better than dying intestate. However, the best instrument today to pass on your wealth is a living trust. This is because trusts are not administrated by probate court. A trust is harder to dispute in court. Just partners, domestic partners, or spouses you need to talk to an attorney who deals with decedent affairs for the state in which you reside.

    In my case in CA when my partner passed in 2010 he had the living trust, gave me his durable power or attorney, and (very important) a medical power of attorney. The durable power of attorney allowed me to manage his affairs while he was incapacitated in hospital, the medical power of attorney allowed me to direct his medical care and conferred visitation rights. When he passed, I the successor trustee became the trustee of the living trust, and (importantly) even after death, the medical power of attorney allowed me to make all funeral arrangements.

    Taken in total, these important documents allowed me to grieve without having to deal with any outside distractions.

  • 42. VIRick  |  February 23, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    That's a difficult question for which I do not know the precise answer. However, Texas' legal code and constitutional amendment were declared unconstitutional by a federal district court almost precisely one year ago. Here's what I wrote about it then, on a different web-site:

    A U.S. District Court judge declared Texas' ban on marriage between same-sex couples unconstitutional Wednesday, 26 February 2014, in "DeLeon v. Perry," but left it in place until an appeals court can rule on the case.

    Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction, citing Supreme Court precedent, after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a long-standing law. He said the couples are likely to win their case and the ban should be lifted, but before doing so, stayed his order so as to give the state time to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. We're still awaiting their decision on this appeal, a decision which should render the rest of this mess moot.

    "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."

    As far as state court is concerned, two same-sex divorce cases were heard by the Texas Supreme Court on 5 November 2013, 15 1/2 months ago. Both cases had rulings declaring the bans unconstitutional at lower court levels, but both were appealed by the state. To date, the TSC has yet to issue a ruling on either. One of the two cases, the current "grand-daddy" of all same-sex cases, was originally filed on 1 October 2009, 5 1/2 years ago.

    On 17 February 2015, State Judge Guy Herman ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Texas, striking down the state’s ban on marriage between same-sex couples in its entirety. This ruling was in a probate case, "In re Estate of Stella Marie Powell." Texas' AG Paxton had previously declined to be a party to this case (therefore, I suspect he may be out-of-luck on winning any sort of appeal, given that he was aware of the case's existence, and chose not to be a party to it).

    Then, TWO days later, on 19 February 2015, we have the ruling by Judge Wahlberg in "Goodfriend v. DeBeauvoir:"

    The temporary restraining order issued in this case says that “the unconstitutional denial of a marriage license to Plaintiffs will cause immediate and irreparable damages to Plaintiffs, based solely on their status as a same-sex couple.”

    "IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Defendant Dana DeBeauvoir, County Clerk of Travis County, is hereby commanded forthwith to cease and desist relying on the unconstitutional Texas prohibitions against same-sex marriage as a basis for not issuing a marriage license to Plaintiffs Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant."

  • 43. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Boy, you hit that nail smack on the head……..and all they can do now is whine!!!

  • 44. Raga  |  February 23, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Yes, that's the one.

  • 45. F_Young  |  February 23, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Swiss legislative committee backs same-sex marriage
    https://www.washingtonblade.com/2015/02/23/swiss-

  • 46. Mike_Baltimore  |  February 23, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    "Now they only need to decide if that right, which already exists, also belongs to same-sex couples."

    Actually, all they have to decide, is if that right already exists. If it does, then it already belongs to same-sex couples. If it doesn't exist, then it is not a right.

    Since past courts have repeatedly called marriage a "basic civil right", the ONLY question SCOTUS needs to answer is when that right extends to same-sex couples. Immediately or some other time? And if some other time, why?

  • 47. A_Jayne  |  February 23, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    An interesting angle: When.

    I remember during the DOMA and PropH8 hearings, one of the justices asked one of the attorneys that question. When. I knew the hearing was long over as I listened to the audio, but I still screamed at the monitor, "Since equal rights was codified!" – and wondered why the attorney did not say that…

    I had forgotten about that until your comment.

    And indeed, I agree with you, but the questions still remain as phrased:

    1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

    2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

    The phrasing suggests the decision will involve "if."

  • 48. Mike_Baltimore  |  February 23, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Worked for me approx. 1/2 hour after your post, and works for me now. (I'm using Chrome, Version 40)

    Since the problem doesn't seem to be at SCOTUS's end, and you say you've tried several browsers, it just might be at your ISP's end, or the hardware you are using doesn't like the site.

  • 49. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 23, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    SWEET!!

  • 50. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I've always stated that in my opinion the question that should be in front of SCOTUS is about marriage being a Fundamental right and if it's a Fundamental right, how can the State place specific restrictions on it?

    I don't have a problem with these two questions, but my concern is that when SCOTUS answers these questions in our favor, will States start not recognizing marriages from other States for all couples and if so, will a married couple now have to have a marriage license issued from every state in order for their marriage to be legal in another State? Seems like a lot of unnecessary steps if ya ask me!

  • 51. RobW303  |  February 23, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    You overlook that, although gays and lesbians (according to them) constitute only 1.5%, we wield enormous political power, and the number of men and women just waiting to marry dogs and toasters constitutes about 34.8% of the population!

  • 52. RnL2008  |  February 23, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Okay, I hope you're being sarcastic……….and yes, there are SOoooooo many folks out there who are into marrying siblings, parents, animals and so many other pathetic things……..sometimes I wonder what people really fear!

  • 53. sfbob  |  February 23, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I've tended to go back and forth on these questions but overall I think the phrasing actually indicates that the Supreme Court is already disposed to answer "yes" to both. It does not ask if there is a fundamental right to "same-sex marriage." Assuming that marriage is a fundamental right (as the Supreme Court has stated repeatedly) and that the right to choose one's spouse is inherent to the individual. We have to people who wish to choose a marriage partner, person A and person B. Person A has the right to chose their partner. Person B has the right to choose their partner. How then can a law possibly infringe on each person's choice based on the gender of the other person? I think that is approximately how the decision will come down. Okay, I HOPE that's how the decision will come down but the wording of the questions is about as neutral as it possibly can be while still addressing the issue in question.

  • 54. sfbob  |  February 23, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks Raga. I figured that was the one. Still can't figure out what the problem was.

  • 55. sfbob  |  February 23, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    One of the signs at that demonstration read "Support Christian Marriage." You'd never know the issue concerns civil marriage and doesn't impinge on religion at all.

  • 56. scream4ever  |  February 23, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    No, since the second question would answer the issue of marriage recognition.

  • 57. Sagesse  |  February 24, 2015 at 6:21 am

    The folks who brought you the Manhattan Declaration have a new and improved manifesto… complete with advance publicity campaign. It's like the endless pre-release TV ads for 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. There have been articles announcing this 'event' for months. Next they'll be taking pre-orders.

    Top Catholics, evangelicals say gay marriage is worse than divorce or cohabitation [Christianity Today]
    http://www.christiantoday.com/article/top.catholi

    "t is signed by nearly 50 members of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together, founded by evangelical Protestant Charles Colson and Catholic priest Rev Fr John Neuhaus. The statement will be published in conservative journal First Things in the March edition."

  • 58. Sagesse  |  February 24, 2015 at 6:27 am

    On the other hand, brought to you by those strange bedfellows David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rauch…

    Moderates Want More Marriage—of Any Kind [Daily Beast]

    "A group of centrist scholars and politicians hopes so, today launching the Marriage Opportunity Council to move past the issue of same-sex marriage in order to promote marriage, period.

    "The initiative is co-directed by David Blankenhorn, one of the leaders of the ‘traditional marriage’ movement until his about-face in 2012, and Jonathan Rauch, a fellow at the Brookings Institute who recently published a memoir of growing up gay. Its purpose is, implicitly, to get past the divisive issue of same-sex marriage (soon to be a fait accompli) and work toward policies that promote marriage in general, which is increasingly becoming a class-based phenomenon, imperiling working class families."
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/24/

  • 59. Sagesse  |  February 24, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Second in a series from Lisa Keen. How to select the two advocates who will argue ME before SCOTUS.

    The looming dilemma: A long short list [Keen News]
    http://www.keennewsservice.com/2015/02/24/the-loo

    "When the Sixth Circuit marriage equality cases were before the federal appeals panel last August, one attorney from each of the four plaintiff groups argued before the court. But the Supreme Court has instructed the attorneys to send only two attorneys total to the lectern in April. That means the 36 attorneys currently working on the four cases in four states must decide which two.

    "And it doesn’t have to be one of them…."

  • 60. Zack12  |  February 24, 2015 at 6:56 am

    My money is either on Evan Wolfson or Mary Bonauto.
    We need someone with experience arguing before the court in April.
    I will also say I hope everyone puts their egos aside (tough order) to do the right thing here.
    Our rights are at stake here.

  • 61. JayJonson  |  February 24, 2015 at 7:05 am

    Yes, it is sweet. But the article is misleading in that it implies that the legislature will decide the question of marriage equality. To achieve marriage equality, the Swiss constitution must be changed, and that can only be done by a national referendum. I assume that the debate in the legislature is over whether to submit the question to voters. Polls indicate that about 54% of the Swiss favor marriage equality, so it is likely to pass. (By the way, in 2005 Swiss voters approved by a 58% majority the Swiss Registered Partnership law, which gives same-sex couples most of the benefits extended to married couples. The law was subsequently upheld by the Constitutional Court that held that people in registered partnerships were also entitled to pension rights and death benefits on the same basis as heterosexual spouses.)

  • 62. JayJonson  |  February 24, 2015 at 7:35 am

    We have a very strong bench. I don't think we could go wrong with any of those profiled here. For sentimental reasons, I'd be very happy with Bonauto or Wolfson, who have been such pioneers in the movement for marriage equality; but also thrilled with Olson or Smith or Kaplan or the others mentioned. It will be a great opportunity for whatever attorneys chosen.

  • 63. Zack12  |  February 24, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I wouldn't mind Kaplan either.
    She has come a long way since she lost her first case back in 06 and she is as ready as anyone to take on SCOTUS and the bans.

  • 64. Elihu_Bystander  |  February 24, 2015 at 9:10 am

    "Support Christian Marriage."

    A contemporary Catholic theologian, Michael Lawler in his book: The Sacraments–A New Understanding states (paraphrase): The institution of marriage is first and foremost a civil institution to which the church has attached a sacred meaning.

    Also we all know there are several main line and not so mail line Christian and Jewish communities that support ME and do perform celebrations of marriage of same-sex couples.

  • 65. MichaelGrabow  |  February 24, 2015 at 10:21 am

    I meant to say that I love this headline. Not the fact that it is actually happening of course, but how honest and blunt it is. For all of the times our opponents make outrageous headlines about things that are barely, if at all accurate, it's about time we come out swinging.

  • 66. Pat_V  |  February 24, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    As a local, I thought I could say a few things about the situation in Switzerland.
    Unlike what is said in the Washington Blade article, the vote in the committee was actually 12 to 9, with 1 lawmaker abstaining. (not sure why all news sources in English give the 12-2 vote)
    This was a commitee from the National Council, the lower house of parliament. It will now have to be voted on in a another committee of the upper house, the Council of States (basically, the Senate). Then a bill will be written in more detail and submitted to both houses of parliament, to be voted on until both version are the same.
    Then indeed, like Jay said, since this would be a change of the constitution, the matter automatically has to be submitted to voters.
    And while the poll cited (54% in favor) seems pretty low, another poll was published this weekend, which saw 71% in favor (with 77% of women in favor and 64% of men). This, on the other hand, does seem surprisingly high. The reality is probably in between and the law should pass, hopefully with a polite and low-key debate (everybody still remembers the insanity that consumed neighboring France for months when their own law passed was debated in parliament).
    (in French) http://www.24heures.ch/suisse/suisses-faveur-mari
    (in German) http://www.nzz.ch/schweiz/parlamentskommission-fo

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