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Sorry about the delay in service… [Update: A Note from Scottie]

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We’re sorry to inform everyone that Scottie is still out of service.  We’re hoping (with all fingers crossed!) that he’ll be back online next week–it’s been an ordeal getting his computer fixed and unfortunately it still hasn’t happened yet.  We know that you all love EOT for its daily, in-depth news updates, and we’re so sorry that there’s been this gap in our coverage.  Please, please stay tuned–as soon as Scottie is back up and running, he’ll be posting on the site as usual!

The EOT Team

Update: Scottie asked me to pass on the following note:

“I really do feel bad about all this. I just feel really helpless. This whole thing happened because although I had my cup of water at the other end of my computer table, my apartment manager was literally banging on my door like it was the cops and it wouldn’t stop. It’s hard enough to slide out of my bed quickly when nothing is going on but I panicked because I thought there was an emergency and my hand hit the cup and spilled water. And the [computer repair] guy usually calls back within a day or two. The whole thing is frustrating and I feel terrible about it. I’m just stuck until I get it back or can post online.”

35 Comments

  • 1. Rakihi  |  August 20, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    I think we all agree that Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis's bid to completely end the issuing of all marriage licences is going to get slapped down by the courts. The Supreme Court's decision in Palmore v. Sidoti seems controlling:

    "The effects of racial prejudice, however real, cannot justify a racial classification removing an infant child from the custody of its natural mother. The Constitution cannot control such prejudice, but neither can it tolerate it. Private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them effect."

    But I wanted to hear what others thought about laws that allow individual public employees, as opposed to entire offices, to refuse to process the paperwork of a marriage licence. Are these laws constitutional? Does it make a difference that they're clearly targeted at gay couples?

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2015/0819/As

  • 2. sfbob  |  August 20, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    My understanding is that the concept of "reasonable accommodation" may…MAY…apply where one individual public employee feels he or she cannot serve some member of the public due to his or her sincerely-held religious belief. There are limitations on reasonable accommodation, among them being that the form of the accommodation need not be the one proposed by the individual requesting it and that neither the office nor the people it serves can be inconvenienced. So a reasonable accommodation which would require someone applying for a marriage license to go somewhere else, to wait longer than other people seeking a license, or to have to come back on a different day or even at a different time when the "willing" official was available wouldn't constitute reasonable accommodation. Whatever else, anyone attempting to access a service has to have that service made available under the same conditions as anybody else.

    Based Romer vs Evans it seems quite clear that a law which specifically allows reasonable accommodation to apply only in the case of one class of potential patrons would survive judicial scrutiny. The problem with laws that allow public officials to opt out of serving individuals who are part of identifiable groups is that if they are written too narrowly they give clear evidence that the classification has been created for the specific purpose of burdening members of that class (which is not permissible) and if the laws are drafted too broadly they risk allowing application to other classes which are clearly protected which would also be illegal. I think we'd be far better off not permitting public servants any wiggle room whatsoever when it came to serving members of the public since the term "public servant" certainly seems to imply that ALL of the public is to be served. When I began my career in civil service it was made absolutely clear that I had to treat every member of the public equally no matter what my personal opinion of them might be. But I worked in federal civil service; some states seem to be willing to countenance more discrimination than the federal government does.

  • 3. JayJonson  |  August 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    In the sentence "Based Romer vs Evans it seems quite clear that a law which specifically allows reasonable accommodation to apply only in the case of one class of potential patrons would survive judicial scrutiny," I think you meant to say it "would not survive judicial scrutiny."

  • 4. Bruno71  |  August 20, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    "Reasonable accommodation" could be tough to achieve. In Stark County, North Dakota, the county commissioners delegated marriage license duties to someone other than the recorder, who asked for (and received) an exemption from those duties based on her religious beliefs. It came up in the meeting that same-sex couples may have to be turned away if the alternate license issuer were out of the office at the time they arrived. The commissioners seemed to accept that, but I don't think a gay couple seeking a license would so easily.
    http://www.twincities.com/nation/ci_28452357/nort

  • 5. sfbob  |  August 20, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    Yes, indeed that's what I meant to say Jay. Remarkable that I can proofread three times and STILL not notice the all-important missing word. :)

  • 6. sfbob  |  August 20, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Oh I agree. Well, the article does note that the person appointed to issue licenses in lieu of the recorder is the deputy recorder. That's probably an adequate remedy provided the deputy recorder isn't absent. What isn't clear is whether the county recorder is an elected or an appointed position. I would assume it's the latter since it's tough to see how the county commissioners would otherwise have the authority to provide an alternate to the recorder. One would think that elected officials don't have supervision in the same sense that ordinary employees do so providing an accommodation could–and should–be a good deal more complicated. Also interesting that apparently only one person in the office has full responsibility for issuing marriage licenses. Stark County's population is about the same as that of Rowan County in Kentucky but Davis has six deputies at her disposal.

  • 7. Bruno71  |  August 20, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    I'm not sure how it's done in Kentucky, but I get the feeling that Davis comes from a family that throws its weight around in Rowan County and she probably is good at getting lots of people hired, including her own son.

  • 8. VIRick  |  August 20, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    Finally,– some action from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals:

    Of the numerous Alabama marriage cases on appeal at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, two of the pending Alabama appeals have now been resolved, as of today, 20 August 2015:

    – In "Searcy v. Attorney General, State of Alabama" (11th Circuit appeal in Alabama marriage case, couple seeking recognition of out-of-state marriage), the Court summarily affirmed the judgment and referred the case back to the district court for attorney's fees.

    – In "Strawser v. Attorney General, State of Alabama" (11th Circuit appeal of the Alabama case seeking in-state marriage performance, PRIOR to it becoming a class action), the court dismissed the appeal and referred the case back to the district court to resolve any questions of mootness and attorney’s fees.

    There are still two additional Alabama appeals pending, both arising from "Strawser" after the case became a class action. Nothing else yet from the 11th Circuit Court in any other states' cases. http://files.eqcf.org/cases/15-10295-order/

  • 9. VIRick  |  August 20, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    Social Security Benefits to be Retroactive

    Per Equality Case Files:

    "Today, 20 August 2015, in a status conference with Lambda Legal in federal court in Chicago, in "Murphy v. Colvin," the Department of Justice announced that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will apply the US Supreme Court's recent landmark marriage ruling in "Obergefell" retroactively, and process pending spousal benefits claims for same-sex couples who lived in states that did not previously recognize their marriages.

    "According to the Department of Justice, the new policy will apply to previously-filed claims still pending in the administrative process or litigation. The expected policy change follows the Supreme Court’s June decision striking down marriage bans across the country.

    "SSA has not announced when this policy change will be posted and implemented, but we look forward to reviewing the details and working with the agency to ensure that those who had been wrongly denied in the past will not have to wait longer to have their relationships treated with dignity by the federal government."

    Last year, Lambda Legal had filed federal lawsuits on behalf of Dave Williams, a widower, formerly of Arkansas, now a Chicagoan, who was denied spousal benefits after the death of his husband; and Kathy Murphy, a Texas widow denied spousal benefits after the death of her wife; as well as the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. http://www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20150820_ssa-appl

  • 10. VIRick  |  August 20, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Illinois: Governor Signs Bill Banning Ex-Gay Torture

    Today, 20 August 2015, via press release from the Human Rights Campaign: Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 217 into law, making Illinois the fifth jurisdiction, behind California, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Oregon, to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy. House Bill 217 protects LGBTQ youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identification. http://www.joemygod.com/

  • 11. VIRick  |  August 20, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    And directly from the WTF! Department, we have:

    Antigay Texas AG Hires Gay Attorney for Fraud Defense

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opposes gay rights, but has hired prominent gay lawyer Pete Schulte to help him fight securities fraud charges.

    Texas Attorney-General Ken Paxton, who dedicated a significant amount of his seven-month tenure to denying gay people the right to marry, apparently doesn’t mind turning to a gay person for help. He’s hired a gay attorney to defend him on the securities fraud charges he's currently facing.

    On 18 August 2015, Paxton expanded his legal team to include Pete Schulte, a Dallas-based criminal defense attorney and former Democratic political candidate, Dallas–Fort Worth TV station WFAA reports. Schulte, who joins Joe Kendall in representing Paxton, came out in an interview with the Dallas Voice in 2010, during an unsuccessful campaign for state representative. http://www.advocate.com/politics/politicians/2015

  • 12. VIRick  |  August 20, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Northern Ireland ‘Violates Religious Freedom’ by Not Recognizing Equal Marriage, Lawsuit Claims

    A same-sex couple in Northern Ireland have launched legal action over the country’s ban on same-sex marriage, but in a surprising move, they are arguing it violates their religious freedom. Though same-sex marriage is legal in England, Wales, and Scotland, it continues to be blocked in Northern Ireland by the governing Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP have repeatedly filed petitions of concern in the Stormont Assembly preventing equal marriage legislation from progressing, which means same-sex marriage remains banned, and those from elsewhere in the UK are treated as civil partnerships.

    However, amid a flurry of legal challenges in the country, one gay couple is taking the unorthodox step of arguing the current law actually violates their religious freedom. The couple, who cannot be named, married in England in 2014, but under Northern Irish law they are treated as civil partners instead.

    They filed a case with the High Court this week, contending that by treating their religious marriage as a civil union, Northern Ireland is infringing on their religious liberty. The pair’s solicitor, Ciaran Moynagh, told the "Belfast Telegraph:" “They are saying the downgrading of their marriage isn’t lawful and one of the aspects is that they are arguing that their religious liberty is being infringed upon."
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2015/08/20/northern-ire

  • 13. Fortguy  |  August 20, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    This only goes to show what a hypocritical sleazebag he is. After Obergefell he advised county clerks that they may turn away gay couples while warning them they may be subject to lawsuits. He told them that many legal groups, who time after time lost one judgement after another in ME cases, would be willing to represent them while never suggesting that his office would ever do the same.

    Now that he personally faces the real threat of prison time, he wants a competent lawyer, even if gay, to represent him rather than the losers who have so willingly appeared in court, with their reputations at stake, to toss up so much incomprehensible legal word salad in ME cases so many times before.

  • 14. scream4ever  |  August 21, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Another Republican too!!! I think Maryland will see a similar scenerio as their Republican Governor is socially moderate and likely would sign such a bill.

  • 15. VIRick  |  August 21, 2015 at 12:55 am

    In anticipation of some "extra" fun and excitement, and as a major side-line distraction, particularly if we suffer a power loss and "disappear" from the world for an interval, here's why:

    Hurricane Danny Now Headed Toward Virgin Islands

    Danny grew Thursday, 20 August 2015, from a tropical storm into Hurricane Danny, and, as things stand now, is headed toward the Virgin Islands as a tropical storm.

    “It should pass less than 10 miles south of St. Croix,” said Odalys Martinez, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in San Juan. At 5 PM, Thursday, 20 August 2015, Martinez put the timeframe for the storm’s center to near St. Croix as late as Monday night into early Tuesday, 24-25 August 2015, but she said people should have their preparations complete by noon Monday because weather conditions will then start to deteriorate. Martinez said Hurricane Danny’s center is expected to pass about 48 miles south of St. Thomas and 53 miles south of St. John.

  • 16. Tony MinasTirith  |  August 21, 2015 at 12:59 am

    Exactly. This is the slipperiest of slopes. If a clerk can refuse to do her duty because doing so would violate their religious beleifs, then why can't a military commander use the same opt out and refuse to work with gay or trans coupled soldiers below him? Why can't a police officer opt out of a police escort for a gay governor or president? Why can't a potential juror (not an elected official, but…) opt out of a murder trial with a gay defendant? Why can't an elected senator opt out of taking phone calls and letters from gay married couples?
    If you want to have religious beleifs that promote discrimination, join a commune or a self contained community like the Amish.

  • 17. dlejrmex  |  August 21, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Stay safe Rick. Be sure to stock up on supplies. It's been many years since a major one passed close to me in Mazatlán but you can still see the path it took. Take care.

  • 18. JayJonson  |  August 21, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Be safe, Rick. We will all be wishing you well as the storm approaches.

  • 19. RemC  |  August 21, 2015 at 8:01 am

    I've been on a self-imposed vacation from commenting for the past few weeks. A few things inspired me to jump back on board.

    First, Hurricane Danny and my wishes for Rick that all they get is a lot of rain. Not having to deal hurricanes (August 24 is the anniversary of Hurricane Andrew) is a luxury I'm happy to take over Chicago's winters.

    Secondly, I was THRILLED to hear about the Governor signing the ex-gay therapy bill and applaud Rep Kelly Cassidy for her leadership.

    Third, the brutal attack on a 58-year old Hispanic homeless man in Boston by a couple of brothers who were inspired by Trump, according to the Boston Globe:

    "Police said Scott Leader, 38, told them it was OK to assault the man because he was Hispanic and homeless. “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” he allegedly told the police."

    After beating him severely, they urinated on him and walked away laughing.

    And here was the Presidential candidate's response:

    "I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

    These are the actions that will make our country "great again"? (Our country's much greater now than it was during the previous administration).

    No expression of dismay or horror or apology? It would be a "shame" if the story were true, he said.

    What the bleeping hell is going on with the lack of compassion and empathy for others in this country? Why is there such a rabid insistence on denying the humanity of others different from ourselves? Acknowledging our shared humanity is the absolute essence of civilization.

    And Rose, I hope your recovery isn't too painful. I watched my father-in-law endure his knee ordeal.

  • 20. RemC  |  August 21, 2015 at 8:08 am

    Oh, yeah—and the earth-shaking hypocrisy of that Duggar man. I wish I had the time and energy to compile a report of all the sanctimonious opponents who either turned out to be closeted gays or be cheating on their spouses.

    Once I start, I can't shut up.

    Don't get me started on the bagel-in-the-ear thing.

  • 21. davepCA  |  August 21, 2015 at 9:48 am

    hee hee. Well, out of everything this guy has done and gone through in the past couple of years, at least he has learned which lawyers know how to win a case : )

  • 22. davepCA  |  August 21, 2015 at 9:49 am

    A very interesting development.

  • 23. davepCA  |  August 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Yikes! Stay safe, Rick!

  • 24. davepCA  |  August 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

    what's the bagel-in-the-ear thing? Sorry, couldn't resist! ; )

  • 25. Leo  |  August 21, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Unlike the other examples, I think a juror who is prejudiced against the defendant, can and should "opt out." As far as I understand, that's exactly why jury selection exists, and the judge will dismiss such a juror "for cause."

  • 26. davepCA  |  August 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Exactly. Or anyone else using 'religious belief' as an excuse to indulge in ANY kind of prejudice-based denial of service. Even if someone doesn't truly have any such religious belief, it would be just as easy for someone to claim 'religious belief' as a post-hoc defense when they get caught discriminating against other races, immigrants, women, people from some other religion, veterans, NON-veterans, rich people. poor people, whoever.

    This whole subject of issuing and processing marriage application forms and marriage certificates needs to be handled exactly the same as every other task in these offices – there are certain positions which are responsible for these tasks, and they need to do their job. And ONLY in cases when they are legitimately unable to do so, like when they are out sick, there is an established procedure to allow others to handle these tasks for them, but using this substitution process as a loophole to allow people to shirk their duties just to indulge in a desire to discriminate is grounds for being fired, as well as sued by the affected members of the public.

  • 27. tx64jm  |  August 21, 2015 at 11:27 am

    "The Rev. John Riccardo, a priest at a Plymouth parish, made the bagel analogy, which he said is useful in talking to young people. He said junior high students sometimes ask him why God hates gays, and he responds that God doesn’t hate gays but that gay sex is unnatural.

    "He said he tells students, what if “I just rip open a bagel, I take it, and I cram it in my ear. What would you say?” When they respond, “That doesn’t go there,” he says, “Exactly,” and that doing so “will ruin your ear canal.”
    http://www.advocate.com/religion/2015/08/13/catho

  • 28. VIRick  |  August 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Oh, the dreadful anticipation of it all, as right now, we're in that blisteringly hot lull before the storm. I just spent the entire day running around like a fool,– bank, post office, shopping, gas,– the whole deal, spending well over $1000.00 in the process, all on credit cards, as they're useable now, but won't be if we lose power and/or telephone (or if Puerto Rico loses its communications, as they're the next target in the chain).

    In the interval, Hurricane Danny has intensified, and the center of its eye is now presently forecast to pass within about 20 miles of us. We live high up on the mountainside, so the winds will be worse. The next job is to be certain all the drains are clear so that the excess run-off can just rip on by and not flood us out.

  • 29. JayJonson  |  August 21, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    It is perhaps the single worst analogy I have ever heard. Makes one wonder what kind of impoverished imagination he has.

  • 30. davepCA  |  August 21, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    So he's yet another idiot who doesn't understand the meaning of the word "natural" and can't figure out the distinction between 'unnatural' and 'non-procreative' sex, and ignores the fact that opposite sex couples routinely engage in all sorts of non-procreative sex, which somehow doesn't count…. Got it.

  • 31. VIRick  |  August 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    "…. ignores the fact that opposite sex couples routinely engage in all sorts of non-procreative sex, which somehow doesn't count …."

    …. but which does prove that the typical hetero couple displays quite bit more intelligence (and creativity) than the Duggars.

    “I just rip open a bagel, I take it, and I cram it in my ear."

    OK, so when I read it the first time, why did I think that you (or whoever) said, "I take it, and I cram it in my rear???"

  • 32. F_Young  |  August 21, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    "OK, so when I read it the first time…"

    Rick, I'll definitely miss you and your sense of humor if you are prevented from posting due to the hurricane. This blog would not be the same without you.

  • 33. RnL2008  |  August 21, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Hi Scottie, hope you get your system fixed and are back up and running soon. We miss you!!!

  • 34. Zack12  |  August 21, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    HOpe things are fixed soon Scottie.
    Also, stay safe Rick and get better Rose!

  • 35. guitaristbl  |  August 23, 2015 at 8:04 am

    This has to be a joke right ?
    But the fault is not with Paxton, it is mainly with the lawyer if he agreed to represent him imo.

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