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Archives – December, 2012

Equality news round-up: Potential SecDef nominee has anti-gay history, and more

By Scottie Thomaston

– The Wisconsin Court of Appeals upheld the state’s domestic partner registry, via Lambda Legal.

– Anti-gay legislators will introduce an anti-gay marriage amendment in Pennsylvania.

– In case you missed it: Sao Paulo will allow marriage equality.

– Potential nominee for Secretary of Defense has record of anti-gay comments and actions.

32 Comments December 21, 2012

Illinois LGBT groups form coalition for marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

We’ve been following positive signs for marriage equality in Illinois, where just last week state legislators said that they will push an equal marriage bill during the lame-duck session in January and where two lawsuits filed by Lambda Legal and the ACLU have been merged into one federal challenge to declare Illinois’s marriage laws unconstitutional.

Yesterday, Lambda Legal, Equality Illinois and the ACLU of Illinois announced that they were partnering with a broad range of business, labor and faith organizations in the state to form a new coalition called Illinois Unites for Marriage, which will focus exclusively on the passage of marriage equality legislation in early 2013.  From the new organization’s inaugural press release:

“Illinois Unites brings together a diverse group of individuals and organizations from across Illinois, including business groups, labor, faith organizations, Republicans, Democrats and grassroots supporters. The coalition is being organized by Equality Illinois, Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois.

“‘We are uniting to urge members of the Illinois General Assembly to let all Illinoisans express their love and life-long commitment through civil marriage,’ said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest LGBT advocacy organization.

“‘The momentum is undeniable – allowing same-sex couples to marry is the right thing for Illinois,’ said Jim Bennett, Regional Director of Lambda Legal. ‘It’s best for our state that our government treat all families with equity and respect. Nine other states now have full marriage equality. It’s time for Illinois to act.’

“The legislation, currently called HB 5170, would give gay and lesbian couples in Illinois the freedom to marry and thereby enter a life-long commitment of responsibility and respect.  Recent polling indicates that a majority in Illinois supports giving same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Meanwhile, national polls as well as the November elections confirm that the American people have turned a corner on the issue.”

Illinois Unites says that it will work along with Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans, the marriage bill’s lead sponsors, to build support and momentum for the measure in the new year.

Other organizations that have joined on for the Illinois Unites effort include the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the Anti Defamation League, Freedom to Marry, HRC, SEIU and the Chicago Bar Association.

2 Comments December 21, 2012

São Paulo to allow marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

The Brazilian state of São Paulo announced today that it would allow same-sex couples to wed, the website Brazilian Law Blog reports (and Joe My God passes on):

“São Paulo State (where São Paulo city is located) has updated its registration rules in order to allow the automatic registration of same sex marriages, without the need of a previous court order.

“This change has followed, with some delay, a decision from the Brazilian Supreme Court regarding same sex marriage.

“Therefore, foreigners who wish to marry same sex partners in Brazil will now be allowed a marriage visa, which is much easier to obtain than the civil union visa for same sex unions, which already existed.”

São Paulo State, with a population of 41 million (including the residents of Brazil’s largest city of the same name), joins three other Brazilian states, Alagoas, Piauí and Bahia, in allowing its citizens full marriage equality.  In the country’s other states, same-sex couples can enter into what’s called a “stable union” and then ask a judge to convert that union into a marriage.

Updated at 4:45 pm Eastern to correct the number of Brazilian states that have marriage equality.  There are now four states, not three.  Thanks for the comment, Stefan!

9 Comments December 20, 2012

Equality news round-up: Newt Gingrich accepts a legal right to marriage equality, and more

By Scottie Thomaston

– Chris Geidner talked to Senator Merkley and Rep. Polis about ENDA and the contractor executive order.

– In one of Rep. Barney Frank’s last interviews as a Congressman he discusses the Prop 8 and DOMA cases.

– The defense budget bill contains a watered-down “conscience provision” protecting anti-LGBT “beliefs”.

– Newt Gingrich says he supports the “reality” of marriage equality.

– Professor Ilya Somin (who usually contributes to The Volokh Conspiracy, a libertarian legal blog) writes about Prop 8 and DOMA at the Supreme Court.

10 Comments December 20, 2012

Minnesota legislature may vote on marriage equality in early 2013

By Jacob Combs

Marriage equality advocates in Minnesota plan to introduce legislation in 2013 that would bring marriage equality to the state, the Elk River, Minnesota-based Star News reported yesterday.  “This kind of closes the loop of the election,” said Rep. Alice Hausman, the measure’s main sponsor in the House, who hopes to present Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat and a supporter of equal marriage rights, with a bill before the budget forecast that will be released in February.

Hausman’s counterpart in the state Senate, John Marty, told the Star News that “the time has come” for marriage equality in the state, pointing to the failure of an anti-equal marriage constitutional amendment in November as a sign of an emerging consensus in the state.  Both Hausman and Marty believe the legislation can make its way quickly through the state legislature, the Star News notes:

“Hausman and Marty argue passage of same-sex marriage legislation needn’t be time consuming nor distract from the mission of setting the state budget.

“Marty speaks of a two-hour debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee and an up or down vote.

“Hausman is a bit more cautious, saying the number of committees a same-sex marriage bill might need to clear in the House depends on its legal implications and the desire of House leadership.

“But she also looks to passing a bill before the final state budget numbers come out in the forecast.”

But even though Democrats control both houses of the Minnesota legislature and the governorship, Republicans in the state (and even some Democratic party leaders) are skeptical that this is the time for equal marriage legislation.  House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt argued that a move by Democrats to pass marriage equality would be hypocritical, given their position in the election that Minnesota “shouldn’t be focused on divisive social issues.”

Bringing marriage equality to Minnesota just months after the defeat of the state’s constitutional amendment would be a remarkable achievement, and it may indeed be too soon for such a victory to be feasible.  Nevertheless, it’s important to see legislators expressing a desire to show leadership and continue a conversation on the issue rather than simply let it continue to percolate in the background.

2 Comments December 20, 2012

Federal judge stays Cardona v. Shinseki, challenging Section 3 of DOMA, pending Supreme Court review of Windsor

By Scottie Thomaston

The judge hearing Cardona v. Shinseki, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as it applies to military benefits, postponed arguments in the case in late November when the Supreme Court was expected to decide whether it would take up one of the challenges to the law. And we we wrote:

The judge suggested that the case may be stayed once the Supreme Court decides on whether to review Section 3 of DOMA and releases orders from its November 30 conference: “if the Supreme Court grants a petition for writ of certiorari, this case may also be stayed pending the issuance of its decision considering the constitutionality of DOMA.”

Now the Court has granted a DOMA case, and the court has issued an order staying the case pending the outcome of Windsor. The judge writes:

As noted in previous orders, the constitutionality of DOMA, as well as 38 U.S.C. § 101(31) [defining ‘spouse’ for purposes of military benefits], are the central issues in the instant appeal. Because the resolution of Windsor is likely to impact the instant appeal, it is [ordered that the case is stayed.]

As other judges and filings have noted, the definitions in the two provisions are substantially the same. And since the issue of which level of scrutiny should apply to laws classifying gays and lesbians will also play a role and affect how these types of statutes are reviewed, the outcome of the Supreme Court case will have an impact on this case and others.

h/t Kathleen for this filing

11-3083 #179

9 Comments December 19, 2012

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