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Marriage equality cases, bills to move forward in the coming weeks

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

It's time for marriage equality. Attribution: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
It’s time for marriage equality. Attribution: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
The remaining weeks in October are going to be crucial for LGBT rights and for marriage equality specifically. Advocates have a busy month ahead in courts and state legislatures to attempt to add more states to the list of those that allow same-sex marriage. This post is simply a list of the month’s important events.

First, as EqualityOnTrial reported yesterday, a federal district court judge in Michigan hears oral arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder today. The case challenges Michigan’s same-sex marriage and adoption bans, and the arguments will be on the merits of the constitutionality of the ban. Multiple reports have hinted a decision could potentially come soon after the arguments, though there is no confirmation that one would be released quickly.

Yesterday, as previously reported, the plaintiffs in Garden State Equality v. Dow, the challenge to New Jersey’s refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry, filed their opposition to a stay of the lower court’s decision that ordered the state to allow same-sex couples to marry by October 21. The new filing was received by the state supreme court, which now has jurisdiction over the stay and the appeal. Oral arguments in the appeal will take place January 6-7.

At the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, opening briefs are due October 18 in Sevcik v. Sandoval, Lambda Legal’s challenge to Nevada’s same-sex marriage ban. The same-sex couples lost in the district court and subsequently appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The case had been put on a parallel track with Jackson v. Abercrombie, the Ninth Circuit appeal of the challenge to Hawaii’s ban on same-sex marriage, but that case has been stayed pending the state legislature’s special session to take up a bill to enact marriage equality in the state, which if passed would moot the appeal.

And in Hawaii, the special legislative session will begin on October 28. The state legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic, though the bill does face some opposition. If passed, same-sex couples in the state could marry on November 1. A recent legal opinion from the state’s attorney general confirms the meaning of the constitutional amendment related to same-sex marriage: the Hawaii constitutional marriage amendment doesn’t ban marriage equality outright; rather, the amendment leaves the decision whether to allow same-sex couples to marry up to the legislature. The legal opinion holds that the legislature itself can pass a bill to legalize same-sex marriage even with that amendment in place.

In Illinois, the fall veto session of the General Assembly begins October 22. Advocates hope to pass marriage equality legislation during the session. The bill has already passed the state senate, but was put on hold until more votes in the state house could be gathered. Recently a judge allowed a challenge to the state’s same-sex marriage ban to move forward in court, rejecting a motion to dismiss the case.

New Mexico’s state supreme court hears argument in a same-sex marriage case on October 23. New Mexico is unique, in that the state has no law directly addressing same-sex marriage. The state’s attorney general has said that he believes New Mexico’s statutes allow only opposite-sex marriage, though he has refused to defend those statutes in court, believing they’re unconstitutional under equal protection principles in the state constitution. Because of the ambiguity of the statutes, several county clerks have gone ahead and issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples and some judges have ordered county clerks to issue the licenses. One of those clerks, from Dona Ana County, has been granted party status to oppose the ban in court.

In Pennsylvania, same-sex couples who filed suit in Whitewood v. Corbett, the federal challenge to the state’s same-sex marriage ban, will file opposition briefs to motions to dismiss the case, on October 21. Replies are due November 1, and the court will hold another status conference on November 22. (There are several cases from Pennsylvania in different stages at this point.)

In Utah, motions for summary judgment were filed by the plaintiffs and the state, though arguments won’t be heard on those until December 4.

In Virginia, on October 29, a hearing will be held on a motion to dismiss Lambda Legal’s marriage equality case.

EqualityOnTrial will report more on these developments in the coming weeks.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin and Equality Case Files for these filings, as usual

1 Comment

  • 1. Queer Talk: Chris Christi&hellip  |  October 18, 2013 at 9:21 am

    […] Equality on Trial has a summary of multiple marriage equality cases, including the following. […]

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