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Federal Judge Rejects Anti-Gay Junk Science

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By Matt Baume

Michigan’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. Oklahoma couples fight back in court against an anti-gay group making misleading claims about children. A pro-equality ruling is delayed, pending appeal. But another is put in place as of now. We have some important hearings coming up very soon. And pro-equality Republicans hang on to their seats in a tight election.

Michigan’s marriage ban violates the equal protection clause of the US Constitution. It’s the latest in a string of legla victories, following Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma and more. Judge Bernard Friedman also had strong words for anti-gay researcher Mark Regnerus, who claimed to have data showing that marriage equality harms kids. Regnerus was “entirely unbelievable,” Friedman wrote, “and not worthy of serious consideration.” It’s unclear whether marriages can start during the appeals process.

The past few months have seen numerous high-profile victories from Utah to Oklahoma to Virginia and many others. In all of those states, litigation and growing public support are chipping away at marriage bans. Now our adversaries are trying to delay our inevitable final win, but they’re having limited success.

Earlier this year, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled that the state’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. In response, the anti-gay ADF filed a brief claiming that marriage equality harms children. Our opponents tried to make this argument back in the Prop 8 trial, but they couldn’t cite any evidence. And now in Oklahoma, the plaintiff couples have filed a new brief that completely refutes the ADF’s claims.

And that’s just the start of the brand new filings in the last few days. In Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear asked a district court to delay implementation of a ruling that the state must recognize out-of-state licenses. The court granted his request, which means couples will have to wait for the appeals process to run its course before they can be recognized.

Tennessee made a similar request, but last week that one was denied. As a result, the state must now recognize out-of-state marriages, but only for the three plaintiff couples in the case.

In Arkansas, both sides have requested summary judgement in a suit filed in state court. They’ll have a hearing to settle that issue on April 17. And in Wisconsin, state lawyers have asked the court to dismiss a federal suit over the state’s marriage ban. They claim that the law doesn’t nullify out-of-state licenses, it just ignores that they exist, and that somehow that’s different.

We have a date for oral argument in AFER’s Virginia case. It’s Tuesday, May 13, at 9:30am, at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

And two states are launching new marriage campaigns. Last week saw the unveiling of Utah Unites for Equality and Wyoming Unites for Equality.

And finally this week, three pro-equality Republicans were up for re-election in Illinois. There were concerns that their support for marriage equality could hurt them, but two won by a wide margin and a third is in a narrow lead.

9 Comments

  • 1. Chris M.  |  March 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Just heard on Rachel Maddow that a Michigan couple did not only managed to get married in the few hours before the stay, but also filed their state income tax return jointly! Can you imagine – filing your tax return on your wedding day? Now if the state doesn't accept that, they're in the perfect position to sue.

  • 2. Shannon  |  March 24, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Should a couple married in March of one year file as married for their previous year's taxes? I am guessing not.

  • 3. Rick O.  |  March 24, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    IRS rule: were you married on last day of the calendar/filing year? If so, you file as married (jointly or separately).

  • 4. Ragavendran  |  March 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Which is why the "legal limbo" is a more serious problem for the couples in Utah who got married in late December. Any day now, Judge Kimball could issue a ruling on that marriage-recognition case, Evans v. Utah. Hopefully, there is a final resolution in that case by April 15 (and if Kimball rules in favor, it is not stayed).

  • 5. Lynn E  |  March 25, 2014 at 12:09 am

    The Utah State Tax Commission is accepting State Tax Returns from couple's that were married before Dec. 31, 2013. Because the stay did not go into effect until Jan. 6, they were "considered married" on the legal deadline. All other State agencies are refusing to acknowledge the marriages, which has led to Family Services intervening in 2nd parent adoptions.

  • 6. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 8:33 am

    You're right! I hadn't registered this when it happened. What's more, they're also allowing couples residing in Utah who were legally married in a different state to file jointly: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/57406343-90

  • 7. Dr. Z  |  March 24, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Depends on whether they'd been married previously in another state.

  • 8. Zack12  |  March 25, 2014 at 5:50 am

    Updates from Wisconsin, the judge has basically told the state no go on their requests to have the case dismissed. http://www.towleroad.com/2014/03/federal-judge-de

  • 9. Inis_Magrath  |  March 26, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I'm so glad I just discovered this website. What a great resource for keeping up to date on all the law suits.

    The opponents are running out of straight-faced arguments. My favorite form the above article is Wisconsin claims, "that the law doesn’t nullify out-of-state licenses, it just ignores that they exist, and that somehow that’s different."

    Could a judge possibly read that and not burst out laughing?

    Thanks for the reporting.

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