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Equality news round-up: Updates from Tennessee, Kansas, Ohio, and more

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Seal of the State of Arizona– An anti-LGBT bill in Tennessee that would have allowed certain businesses to refuse service to LGBT people has been scrapped for this legislative session.

– Similar bills were introduced and then withdrawn in Idaho and Kansas, but a similar Arizona bill has passed the state senate.

– A gay couple has filed a lawsuit in Ohio “charging they were unable to obtain family coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law because the state of Ohio does not recognize their same-sex marriage.” The complaint is here, via Kathleen Perrin and Equality Case Files.

– The Washington Post notes that another federal judge is contemplating a decision in a second case challenging Virginia’s marriage equality ban. The case was filed by Lambda Legal and the ACLU. Via Kathleen Perrin and Equality Case Files, there was a status conference in the case recently, where all parties discussed their positions on the issues, and the plaintiffs called for a decision.

– The trial in DeBoer v. Snyder, the challenge to Michigan’s anti-gay marriage law, begins next Tuesday, February 25.

– Tobias Barrington Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, has written an essay about Justice Scalia’s Supreme Court dissents in gay rights cases.


  • 1. JimT  |  February 20, 2014 at 11:04 am

    NBC News is reporting Orgeon's AG will enforce BUT won't defend same sex marriage ban

  • 2. davep  |  February 20, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Excellent! From the article:
    The state “will not defend the Oregon ban on same-sex marriage in this litigation,” Rosenblum wrote in a court filing in response to the litigation. Rather, the position the state will take is “that the ban cannot withstand a federal constitutional challenge under any standard of review.”

  • 3. Eric  |  February 20, 2014 at 11:37 am

    In other words, they know it is unconstitutional, but they will enforce it anyway. What kind of a rationalization is that for unconstitutional behavior?

  • 4. sfbob  |  February 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    This is not a rationalization; it is a requirement. Even if the executive branch of the government believes a particular law to be unconstitutional and refuses to defend it in court, in the absence of an injunction, the executive branch MUST continue to enforce that law until a court has ruled that law unconstitutional.

  • 5. ebohlman  |  February 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Yes, refusal to defend is an act of authorized discretion; refusal to enforce is an act of civil disobedience which, though it may be admirable when a private citizen does it, is rather frightening when a governmental office does it (think an anti-gay AG directing departments not to provide legally-mandated benefits to gay couples, for example).

  • 6. KarlS  |  February 20, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    However, there's a lot of discretion allowed over how vehemently they are required to conduct such defense….much like how District Attorneys have a lot of latitude in how robustly to pursue and particular litigation in their venues.

  • 7. Retired lawyer  |  February 21, 2014 at 5:20 am

    With respect to a decision by the Oregon AG to enforce but not defend a ban on marriage equality: that course of action assures that the case will not be dismissed for a lack of "case or controversy." That parallels the strategy followed by AG Holder in US v. Windsor, and is referenced in Justice Kennedy's opinion. The action of the Oregon AG is more helpful than would be a refusal to enforce.

  • 8. Dr. Z  |  February 20, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    At last!

  • 9. Seth From Maryland  |  February 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Finland Parliment is taking up marriage equality today. i don't think they will take a vote today

  • 10. jpmassar  |  February 20, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Finland’s parliament will begin debating a bill to allow same-sex marriage today (20 February).

    … the proposed petition will be discussed in parliament at its initial stage today where it will be sent to Finland’s legal committee.

    Polling conducted last year shows support for same-sex marriage at 58% with 34% opposed. Around 42,000 people have signed a petition opposing changes to the marriage law…

    Finland is the only Scandinavian country without same-sex marriage laws.

  • 11. George  |  February 20, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Nitpicky but Finland is a Nordic nation, not a Scandinavian nation.

  • 12. Vin  |  February 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    I was about to point it out as well, but I expected Mike would soon do it for me and give a grand lecture chastising the author for the unforgivable mistake 😉

  • 13. Mike in Baltimore  |  February 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm


    Mind telling us how your comment is not a violation of Rule 7 of the EoT guidelines on commenting?

  • 14. SPQRobin  |  February 20, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Today they just formally referred the bill to the Legal Affairs Committee, where it failed last year on a 8-9 vote.

  • 15. Seth From Maryland  |  February 21, 2014 at 8:51 am

    yea but last time there wasn't a citizians intitive , over 100,000 ppl signed a petition on the first day of signature gathing forcing finnish parliement to take it up, mps who voted against will have to keep that mind , i think theres really good chance we will win this time

  • 16. davep  |  February 21, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I'm wondering why the climate in the government there is so different from the governments in all of the surrounding countries, which have been among the first to gain civil marriage rights for same sex couples. It's surprising to me that they voted against it as recently as last year, but then I don't know much about Finland or what might be making things different there. Anybody have any insight?

  • 17. FYoung  |  February 21, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Well, speaking of surrounding countries, don't forget that Finland's closest neighbours also include Estonia and Russia, with whom Finland has its longest border. Helsinki is geographically closer to Saint Petersburg and Tallinn than to Oslo and Stockholm.

  • 18. Seth From Maryland  |  February 21, 2014 at 10:35 am

    at least in Estonia things are starting to get a little bit better, support for civil partnership has grown up into high 50tys low 60tys and marriage equality support has grown up to the mid 40tys

  • 19. Fr. Bill  |  February 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    The press reports today all state that "an Idaho Federal Judge" has been asked to rule Idaho's ban on ME is unconstitutional. However, none of the articles state the Judge's name. Does anyone know to whom this case has been assigned?

  • 20. Ragavendran  |  February 20, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    There are only two federal district judges for Idaho – Winmill and Lodge (the former is Chief). So it has to be one of them. However, you are right – I cannot find a news article that specifies the official name of the case (who v. who) or the judge that is handling the case.

  • 21. 5:10  |  February 20, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    The official name of the case is Latta v. Otter 1:13-cv-482
    Full name Susan Latta, et al. v. C.L. "Butch" Otter, et a

  • 22. Ragavendran  |  February 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks for the info! For the general public, available details of the case can be found by going to… and selecting "Specific Case Schedule" and enter the case number you provided, namely "1:13-cv-482".

    A hearing has been scheduled on May 5, 2014.

  • 23. 5:10  |  February 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale , GW Bush Appointee

  • 24. Ragavendran  |  February 20, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Hmm… interesting. What is the difference between a magistrate judge and a district judge?

  • 25. John  |  February 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Federal district judges are appointed by the president and get confirmed by the Senate, and they serve for life (unless they get removed by the Senate, which basically never happens). Magistrate judges are sort of like "extra" judges at the federal district level. They handle some of the duties of the regular judges (called "Article III judges") aren't able to handle because of their workloads. They're appointed by a vote of the active judges in that district, and they serve for a set term. Usually they deal with lower-level matters.

    Technically, that means she was not nominated to her current position by President Bush (or any other president).

  • 26. Fr. Bill  |  February 20, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    From what I have read, I gather Magistrate judges would not issue summary judgments especially on weighty Federal Constitutional questions. Senior Judge Winmill is a Clinton appointee and Judge Lodge was appointed the elder Pres. Bush. Both seem to be highly regarded. Judge Lodge has been a judge for over 50 years , has had a distinguished career and is 81 years old but still active.

  • 27. Ragavendran  |  February 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    So it'll be interesting to see if this magistrate judge will grant summary judgment here, even with Smithkline as binding precedent.

  • 28. JustMe  |  February 21, 2014 at 2:38 am

    The authority that a magistrate judge exercises is the jurisdiction of the district court itself, delegated to the magistrate judge by the district judges of the court under governing statutory authority and local rules of court. In criminal proceedings, magistrate judges preside over misdemeanor and petty offense cases, and as to all criminal cases (felony and misdemeanor) may issue search warrants, arrest warrants, and summonses, accept criminal complaints, conduct initial appearance proceedings and detention hearings, set bail or other conditions of release or detention, hold preliminary hearings and examinations, administer oaths, conduct extradition proceedings, and conduct evidentiary hearings on motions to suppress evidence in felony cases for issuance of reports and recommendations to the district judge.
    The Supreme Court has held that federal magistrate judges may accept guilty pleas and has held in Peretz v. United States that magistrate judges may supervise the jury selection in a felony trial unless one party objects.[2]
    In civil proceedings, magistrate judges typically manage discovery and other pretrial matters. They are authorized to issue orders in pretrial matters as long as the order is not dispositive of the case as a whole (such as an order granting summary judgment). They may also be assigned to write reports and recommendations to the district judge as to dispositive matters. With the consent of the parties, they may adjudicate civil cases in the same manner as a district judge, including presiding over jury or non-jury trials.

  • 29. Ragavendran  |  February 21, 2014 at 9:08 am

    "They are authorized to issue orders in pretrial matters as long as the order is not dispositive of the case as a whole (such as an order granting summary judgment)."

    That means Dale is not authorized to grant the motion for summary judgment by the plaintiffs herself. Does it mean she has to "recommend" such an order to one of the two district judges who will then issue the final order?

  • 30. Zack12  |  February 20, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    If an AG believes a law is unconstiutional,they do have the option in many states of not defending it.
    Enforcing it is another matter. For her to not do that would open a door that should remain shut and sealed.
    Oregon is getting marriage equality this year, the only question is how.

  • 31. StraightDave  |  February 20, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    "Oregon is getting marriage equality this year, the only question is how. "

    Remember when this degree of confidence would have been scoffed at, even by most of us – like, around about this time last year. Now it seems not the least bit out of line. What a diff a year makes

  • 32. Stefan  |  February 20, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Indeed. Things are moving this fast now.

    In addition to Oregon, it's likely the entire 9th Circuit will have it by year's end.

  • 33. Trey  |  February 20, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    "it's likely the entire 9th Circuit will have it (ME) by years end"
    But does anyone have an idea when they are likely to hand down a decision on Nevada?

    I know so many say it's tacky but I've fantasized about a Vegas wedding for years and years never thinking it would be possible. Now I have the man and he lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I live in Edinburgh, Scotland. Sick of being so far apart we were going to meet up in March in NYC and get hitched but I've put everything on hold and booked my flights over for August gambling Nevada will have marriage equality by then.

  • 34. Stefan  |  February 20, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    They've agreed to expedite the trial date. I anticipate they'll hear it either in April or May, and hand down a ruling 2-3 months after that.

  • 35. davep  |  February 21, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I think planning your flights for August might be cutting the timing a little too close, but I think the worst that may happen at this point would be that you would have to pay a rescheduling fee to delay the flight another month or two if you really want to wait for Nevada. And of course you can get married in several other states at any time if you change your mind about waiting for Nevada. For that matter, you guys can marry in Scotland now, too! Either way, congrats to both of you!

  • 36. Zack12  |  February 21, 2014 at 2:20 am

    And if we had thought this was possible six years ago, we'd all would have been told we were crazy.
    It's amazing how fast this is moving.

  • 37. Sagesse  |  February 20, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Does anyone understand, after reading this article and watching the video (or from some other source), just what NOM proposes to put on the ballot in Indiana in 2014? Can't wait to read the legal arguments… the amended wording of HJR-3 is not significantly different from the original wording… so people should get to vote on… which version again?

    Group may force HJR-3 on 2014 ballot

  • 38. Stefan  |  February 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Exactly. It's a go-nowhere plan.

  • 39. Jon  |  February 20, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    NOM knows exactly what it's doing. This costs them $500 in travel expenses, and might make them several times that in donations.

  • 40. GregG  |  February 21, 2014 at 9:43 am

    NOM's position is that the first sentence of HJR-3 has been approved in two legislative sessions (separated by an election) and thus the first sentence should go to voters this year. Nobody else seems to be agreeing with them.

  • 41. Jon  |  February 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    And NOM gives up on a 2014 vote

    But they're launching a campaign to unseat the, uh, dozens of Republican senators and reps that voted for removing the second sentence… which um, might exceed their budget…

  • 42. Rick O.  |  February 22, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Speaking of their budget, do we know yet who their (allegedly two) big funders are? How's their campaign finance law violation suit in Maine going?

  • 43. wkrick  |  February 20, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    What's going in in Maine?

  • 44. Zack12  |  February 21, 2014 at 2:20 am

    A failed attempt to pass a "religious freedoms" bill ,the same kind that passed in AZ.

  • 45. FYoung  |  February 21, 2014 at 7:11 am

    This is a working URL to the post:

    This is the URL of the Maine bill:

    The bill seems to have been carefully drafted in apple-pie constitutional jargon, but it would create a broad exception to any human rights legislation that currently prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and religion. The bill would not apply to gay couples only; it does not even mention gays.

    For example, the bill would allow an hotel, baker, photographer or bus company to deny service related to the wedding or honeymoon of an inter-racial or inter-denominational couple, a Christian, Hindu, Jewish or Muslim couple, or the remarriage of a divorcee, provided it was based on a sincere religious objection.

    It's very important that we point this out, and ally ourselves with the other minorities who would be made vulnerable.

  • 46. sfbob  |  February 21, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Agreed that we need to always point out who ELSE bills like these could affect.

    Of course laws that would purport to allow services to be denied to any of these: "an inter-racial or inter-denominational couple, a Christian, Hindu, Jewish or Muslim couple, or the remarriage of a divorcee" would probably violate existing federal laws. And laws that would allow services to be denied to ONLY these: gay couples; lesbian couples; LGBT individuals…would almost certainly be found unconstitutional because they create a class of people in order to discriminate against those people, which Romer prohibited. But the clowns at FRC and other such groups will keep trying anyway.

  • 47. ragefirewolf  |  February 21, 2014 at 10:22 am

    And…it's gone. Done. Failed. Over. Whew!

  • 48. Rob  |  February 21, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Under these sort of "laws" it would be interesting to see a devout Muslim bus driver denying any woman to ride the bus because it is against his sincerely held religious beliefs to let unrelated men and women congregate or to deny her because she is not accompanied by her husband or brother. It's not just a Christian protection thing.

  • 49. Zack12  |  February 21, 2014 at 9:27 am

    You should have seen the bigots flip out in Louisana when the school vouchers for religion were used by Jewish and Muslim schools as well and not just Christians.

  • 50. Keith  |  February 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Arizona legislators have passed their anti gay discrimination bill. Now it is waiting for Jan Brewer to sign or veto it or ignore it in which case the bill becomes law.

  • 51. JimT  |  February 22, 2014 at 5:01 am

    The Washington Blade is reporting that “Two anti-gay advocates on Friday announced a new organization designed to combat the global LGBT rights movement. Scott Lively of Defend the Family International and Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality unveiled the Coalition for Family Values at the National Press Club in downtown Washington. Matt Barber of Liberty Council Action, Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern and Brian Camenker of MassResistance are among the more than 70 anti-gay activists and religious leaders from the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K. and Brazil who have thus far joined the coalition.” Read the full story at

  • 52. JimT  |  February 22, 2014 at 5:34 am

    I can't help but wonder WHO is really funding these groups, it takes a lot of money to do this crap.

  • 53. Rick O.  |  February 22, 2014 at 5:56 am

    While NOM still hasn't (?) had to reveal their (2?) major funders as a result of having broken Maine's campaign finance laws, I think there is evidence that funding for these groups must be plentiful (they keep multiplying), and that it's not just a lot of $10 emails from Nazi grandmas. Suspect a few uber-rich like Cathy (Chic-Fil-A), Friese (mutual funds, Santorum backer), the founder of Dominos and a score of others, and take boycotts seriously. It just points out that anonymous contributions combined with the Citizens United ruling have sold the country to the highest bidders. There will be political ads 24/7, totaling well over 1 billion dollars this year – 90+% of it from the 1%.

  • 54. Sagesse  |  February 22, 2014 at 6:42 am

    The article refers to Canadian participation in the new group. If anyone sees a report that identifies the Canadians, I would be interested in knowing.

  • 55. JimT  |  February 22, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Somewhat surprised myself to read that Canadians were part of this coalition as well.

  • 56. Steve  |  February 22, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Religious nuts exist in all country. In the US they are just way more powerful and visible than elsewhere.

  • 57. JimT  |  February 22, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Yes I'm aware of that. What I meant was that I have never heard of any major Canadian based organizations spewing as much hate as the ones in the US do.

    My communication skills aren't as good as they were, I'm on chemo.

  • 58. Steve  |  February 22, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Probably one or two idiots with a computer. Like most of them. They're rarely huge organizations like Focus on the Family. Most just give themselves grandiose names but are tiny.

  • 59. Rick O.  |  February 22, 2014 at 6:06 am

    Read Blade article and saw it's a new group to export homophobia overseas. I.E. an excuse to keep asking for money, but also rather an admission the battle is OVER here in the U.S. One is hopeful these people will actually move – permanently – to the countries they find amenable to their views, especially since they claim they all have laws in place which adequately protect everyone from violence and persecution.

  • 60. Sagesse  |  February 22, 2014 at 6:40 am

    It may also be designed to ensure Scott Lively's work continues, even if he loses the court case challenging his involvement in Uganda.

  • 61. JimT  |  February 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    “In a federal court in Detroit starting Tuesday, in the first trial of its kind in years, the social science research on family structure and child progress will be openly debated, with expert testimony and cross-examination, offering an unusual public dissection of the methods of sociology and the intersection of science and politics.”

  • 62. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 22, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I'm actually really glad Regnerus will be there. Time to very publicly demonstrate that 1) his study didn't show what it claimed to show, 2) there was a conflict of interest, and 3) in no other case do we decide marriage licenses based on the perceived parenting skills of the minority group the couple happens to belong to. This could be a disaster of epic proportions for the anti-gay side. Let's go.

  • 63. JimT  |  February 22, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    They keep using that same study which has been shot down by all the other experts. Bernard A. Friedman is the Judge, he was appointed by Reagan.

  • 64. JimT  |  February 22, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    All the case documents are at

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