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Anti-Gay Bills Fail in Texas, but Could Resurface in North Carolina

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By Matt Baume

An NBC station in Tennessee is refusing to broadcast footage of a gay soldier who wants to get married. The governor of North Carolina vetoed a bill that would let state officials turn gay couples away from marriage counters — but the bill’s not dead yet. And Alabama is actually going through with a threat to stop issuing marriage licenses state-wide — but that might not have the effect they want.

Here’s the ad that a Tennessee TV station refused to air. It features a soldier talking about putting his life on the line as a military physician, and how he would like to marry his boyfriend, a state judge. So why did NBC affiliate WRCB reject the ad? Too controversial, they said. Marriage equality crosses the line.

Meanwhile, another ad just started running this week in Georgia. And even though it features various gay couples and their kids talking about marriage equality, somehow multiple TV stations deemed them appropriate to broadcast. Hopefully Georgia will survive seeing these highly controversial images.

Meanwhile in Texas, multiple anti-gay bills have gone down in flames. Many of the proposed new laws would have caused drastic harm, and several probably weren’t even constitutionally valid. The most the Senate was able to pass was a non-binding declaration in opposition to LGBT couples. That’s still not great, but it could have been a lot worse.

Speaking of worse, a proposed bill in North Carolina to stop LGBTs from marrying came very close to passing last week. The law would have allowed state officials to choose which citizens they want to serve or turn away, in effect using personal preference to ignore their oath of office. Governor Pat McCrory vetoed the bill after it passed the legislature, but there are still enough votes to override the veto if legislators really want to push for it.

Lawmakers in Alabama have been threatening for a while to do away with marriage licenses altogether, and now it looks like they may actually be making good on the threat. The Senate has passed a bill that stops the state from issuing licenses to any couple, gay or straight. The impact of that is actually pretty minimal: anyone still get married, they just don’t need to fill as much paperwork from the state. So, okay.

33 Comments

  • 1. bayareajohn  |  June 1, 2015 at 9:46 am

    RE Alabama and stopping all licensing, it may not be "okay" if there remains privilege or benefits exclusive to EXISTING licensed, married couples. To draw the line and say "now that they could be GAY, we don't allow any at all" leaves the playing field permanently skewed… well, until the licensed couples all die out.

  • 2. davepCA  |  June 1, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I do not understand the last two sentences of the article. If the state does not issue marriage licences to anyone, how exactly does a couple (any couple, same or opposite sex) become legally married? If they are not 'filling out the state paperwork' associated with the process of becoming legally married in that state, how does the legal marriage happen?

  • 3. SethInMaryland  |  June 1, 2015 at 11:06 am

    new tread update yay, the other one was too long

  • 4. scream4ever  |  June 1, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Supreme Court update:
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/

    Five opinions released today, none of them being Obergefell v Hodges or King v Burell, although we are starting to see some of the more prominent cases now (Abercrombie, Elonis).

    That leaves 20 opinions remaining with just 4 scheduled days left to do so.

  • 5. jcmeiners  |  June 1, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I'm glad that Abercombie lost that one. Couldn't happen to a nicer company.

  • 6. Raga  |  June 1, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Wow, I didn't realize H.B. died this April, after waiting for four years to hear from the Texas Supreme Court regarding the divorce case.
    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-corrih

  • 7. guitaristbl  |  June 1, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    It's remarkable how much Thomas and Scalia disagree this term really. In the Abercrombie decision we literally have Thomas blasting on Scalia for not being originalist enough.
    Thank god they have the marriage case to unite them (and that even is uncertain on Q2).

  • 8. ianbirmingham  |  June 1, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Moscow gay pride rally attacked by anti-gay thugs; both sides arrested

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/30/us-russ

    …The campaigners had requested permission to hold a gay pride parade today, but Moscow authorities blocked the request for the tenth year in a row – an annual ritual that has come to symbolize Russian authorities' hostility to public expressions of support for gay rights.

    A 2013 law against gay "propaganda" also sparked an outcry among Russian rights activists and in the West. But partly reflecting the influence of the Orthodox church, many Russians back the law or have negative feelings toward gays. Activists at Saturday's meeting on Tverskaya Square near the city center were heavily outnumbered by black-clad riot police who had lined the square in advance. …

    Reuters witnesses saw some of the anti-gay activists attack peaceful gay activists before they were separated by police. Two pro-gay activists on a quad bike, waving rainbow-colored flags and letting off orange smoke, were charged by the anti-gay activists and dismounted on Tverskaya Street, the main road leading past Tverskaya Square. Demonstrators were able to unfurl a rainbow flag for a short time – reading "Make love not war" – but they were also attacked by an anti-gay group before riot police ripped the flag away.

    Elena Kakhtaryova, an anti-gay activist, was standing peacefully with a placard that read: "No to euro gay values. No to a euro gay way of development. Only Russia and only victory." "I'm against this phenomenon which is imposed on us, against homosexuality, against non-traditional values to put it mildly, or speaking (plain) Russian: against pederasty and sodomy," she said.

  • 9. TimATLGA  |  June 1, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    They don't have to release opinions on the scheduled days, do they? I thought they pretty much can release them whenever they want.

  • 10. Nyx  |  June 1, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    They can add days.

  • 11. montezuma58  |  June 1, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Instead of getting a license, the couple fills out a "contact" on their own. The contract must have some minimum things such as ages of the parties and statement of elegibility to marry. The couple signs it along with two witnesses. The "contract" is then returned to the probate judge and the couple pays a fee to file it.

    The proposal just shuffles some of the procedures on the front end. The bill says it changes nothing else regarding law dealing with marriage. The proponents are selling this as getting the state out of solemizing marriages. But in my opinion the state is no more or less involved with marriage under the current system as it is under the proposed.

  • 12. davepCA  |  June 1, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    That's all kinda silly (what the state is proposing, not your comment). The state is still just as involved in recording the fact that a couple is legally married and is still in the business of recognizing marriage for all of the huge number of other laws which have anything to do with legal marital status of a couple, and making various decisions and taking actions based upon all of that, no different from before.

  • 13. Zack12  |  June 1, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    As much as I dislike Thomas, calling him a puppet of Scalia is something that needs to stop.
    In many ways, he is even worse then Scalia.
    He is nothing more then a right wing hack that never should have been allowed on SCOTUS.

  • 14. VIRick  |  June 1, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Good News:

    The Texas Legislature has adjourned sine die. The 84th session of the Texas legislature is officially over unless Governor Greg Abbott calls a special session between now and 2017.

    Each and every blatantly discriminatory bill failed to pass.

  • 15. VIRick  |  June 1, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Orin Kerr, writing for the "Washington Post:"

    "If I understand the history correctly, in the late 1990s, the President was impeached for lying about a sexual affair by a House of Representatives led by a man who was also then hiding a sexual affair, who was supposed to be replaced by another Congressman who stepped down when forced to reveal that he too was having a sexual affair, which led to the election of a new Speaker of the House who now has been indicted for lying about payments covering up his sexual contact with a boy. Yikes."

  • 16. JayJonson  |  June 1, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I am always nervous when SCOTUS affirms "religious liberty" provisions. If companies have to accommodate a person who wants to avoid following a dress code because of religious reasons, why shouldn't a county clerk get to decide which marriages she wants to process the papers for? (Obviously, I am being facetious, but I am worried about these "slippery slopes.") I am not celebrating the outcome of this particular case–too much like Hobby Lobby for my taste.

  • 17. DrBriCA  |  June 1, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    I definitely get what you're saying, but I'm more comfortable with a ruling like this than some other religious liberty rulings (like Hobby Lobby). The headscarf is often a more polarizing symbol given concerns of certain Muslim sects and actions, so I think about how this would've gone had it been a man with a yarmulke or a person with a cross/crucifix necklace. Would it have been cool for A&F to reject someone who wore a yarmulke? No, I don't think so. And really, A&F already has had issues in the past with preferring people in good shape to represent their brand in the stores.

    Plus, the yarmulke or headscarf don't cause harm to anyone else. Refusing to provide a marriage license causes the couple embarrassment as well as hardship in having to transport to another county or state that will, which adds expense.

    I'm definitely annoyed by the wave of "religious freedom" bills attempted over the past year (plus the few that succeeded), and I definitely am leery of this particular court hearing a case too soon (thankfully they did not grant cert to New Mexico and another's case). But I do think an adornment that shows one's religion or cultural heritage should not be discriminated against because of strict dress codes.

  • 18. guitaristbl  |  June 1, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    An interesting pattern that has been emerging slowly in the past has taken a more bold form today really..The 7(ish) – 2 opinions of SCOTUS with Alito and Thomas dissenting. I dont know it may have been the cases but apart from the boring unanimous bankruptcy case every other case decided today had the same pattern : Thomas dissenting and Alito either dissenting or going for a middle ground. Scalia's departure from the conservative trio in quite a few recent cases is interesting. Of course they united again when it came to the denial of cert of this arizona case on the immigratiom law invalidated by the 9th but as I said above Scalia and Thomas can hardly find common ground this year. I wonder if it is the docket of this year or Scalia has softened this year. Of course I would like to point out that I do not see a departure of Scalia from his usual positions on Obergefell but I am just talking in general about SCOTUS.

    Lets see what happens in Zivotofsky, King and Obergefell though, the big 3 of the term. I think we should expect more traditional 5-4 line ups.

  • 19. FredDorner  |  June 1, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    What Alabama is proposing eliminates the licensing and solemnization steps, which is perfectly fine since both are archaic. The state's only interests are that both parties can give legal consent and attest to being currently unmarried. And you're right that the state is just as involved in marriage as it always was.

    However this proposal allows for custom marriage contracts, which could be problematic for family law courts. If those contracts are treated as a prenup added to a boilerplate marriage contract then it might be a non-issue, but I think Alabama is opening up a can of worms here. Plus the motive is suspect….there's no reason to change a civil procedure merely because some clerks or probate judges are Southern Baptists who hate gays. They need to check their cult at the door when they go to their civil service job.

  • 20. FredDorner  |  June 1, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    That is a shame that the one spouse died before the divorce was granted, about 6 years after they initially filed for divorce. Unreal, and I hope the courts rectify that by backdating the divorce if they deem it in the interests of justice as other courts have done in regard to backdating marriages.

    Also, that article makes a good point about the problems inherent with an elected judiciary. I'm not sure any one system is ideal but Iowa's works fairly well with appointments made by the governor from a qualified list compiled by an "independent" panel. Of course the panel can be gamed too.

  • 21. Raga  |  June 1, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    Odds are growing that Kennedy has some of the big ones under his sleeve. He is most behind this term in terms of authoring majority opinions. That could also perhaps foreshadow more 5-4 (or similar, more divided) rulings on upcoming cases.

  • 22. Tony MinasTirith  |  June 2, 2015 at 12:38 am

    Perhaps Scalia and Thomas are "on a break" in their relationship?

  • 23. DACiowan  |  June 2, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Speaking of Texas, the Fifth Circuit is now at 143 days since arguments — two months longer than any other circuit. Surely they wouldn't just sit on the case until Obergefell comes out?

  • 24. seannynj  |  June 2, 2015 at 6:01 am

    We got trouble, folks. The NC Senate overrode the governors veto of SB2 last night. Now we have to stop the NC House from following and they already have the votes.

  • 25. JayJonson  |  June 2, 2015 at 6:13 am

    The Senate's override was no surprise. The House will be more difficult. They will need 72 votes for the 3/5 override floor. The original vote was 65-44. with 10 abstentions. So it is possible that the House will override, but it will be more difficult than it was in the Senate.

  • 26. wes228  |  June 2, 2015 at 7:32 am

    It's looking more like they're holding off until Obergefell is announced. The only other reason is that they know they would be reversed en banc, and want to release their ruling before Obergefell but until after it is too late for the full 5th Circuit to vote on en banc.

  • 27. montezuma58  |  June 2, 2015 at 9:15 am

    The state is supposed to provide a standard form. But the bill also does not constrain it to the minimum. I agree this is a big problem. If the contract contains illegal provisions are just those provision void or is the enire marriage void?

    It would be much easier to have the same from for everyone. Else you have marriages with different legal status which is a huge headache.

  • 28. scream4ever  |  June 2, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Or for the Texas Supreme Court to pull similar shit as to what happened in Alabama.

  • 29. FredDorner  |  June 2, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Exactly. This isn't the kind of headache family law courts need, and there's no provision in the bill to qualify the terms of any custom contract. Apart from that aspect I think the bill is actually a good thing.

  • 30. FredDorner  |  June 2, 2015 at 10:24 am

    The bill states that it otherwise doesn't impact marital law, all it impacts is how people get married.

  • 31. GregInTN  |  June 2, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Here's some local coverage of the Chattanooga NBC affiliate's refusal to air the Freedom to Marry ad:
    http://timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/j

    Note that the other three network affiliate stations in Chattanooga (ABC, CBS, & Fox) are carrying the ad. The article also mentions that WRCB did carry ads for both sides of an abortion related constitutional amendment last year. What I haven't seen reported is whether WRCB carried ads for the marriage ban constitutional amendment when it was before the voters.

    Also, Clay Bennett's editorial cartoon in the Chattanooga Times Free Press today is on the topic:
    http://timesfreepress.com/cartoons/2015/jun/02/ch

  • 32. wes228  |  June 3, 2015 at 9:23 am

    In the Texas case they are able to sue the governor, so presumably we would not have the confusion of certain probate judges being under an order or not. The Governor and everyone acting in concert with him would be under a court order to cease enforcement of that law.

  • 33. Eric  |  June 4, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Pressure needs to be put on NBC for anti-gay affiliates. Same with the FCC when the affiliate's license is up for renewal.

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