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Equality news round-up: News from Alabama, Mississippi, and more

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Alabama state seal– The Alabama House of Representatives passed a resolution that calls for a Constitutional amendment to the federal Constitution banning same-sex marriage. They apparently did so with no notice.

– Mississippi’s governor has signed a “religious freedom” bill into law; the law could potentially allow anti-LGBT discrimination.

– India’s Supreme Court will reconsider its earlier decision that had kept same-sex intimacy illegal.

– The defendants in the challenge to South Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban are asking the federal district court to put the case on hold until after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals issues its ruling in Bostic v. Rainey.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings


  • 1. jpmassar  |  April 4, 2014 at 9:40 am


    The Associated Press ‏@AP 7m
    BREAKING: Federal judge says he will issue ruling that will strike down Ohio's ban on gay marriage.

  • 2. jpmassar  |  April 4, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Here's a link.

  • 3. Rose  |  April 4, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Another ruling in our favor and another likely stay pending appeal!!!

  • 4. jpmassar  |  April 4, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Ah, the ruling won't be issued until April 14th. Weird.

    Update: Federal Judge Timothy Black says he will issue a ruling April 14 striking down Ohio's gay marriage ban passed by voters in 2004. Attorney Al Gerhardstein, representing plaintiffs in a lawsuit about birth certificates, amended his request to ask Black to declare all aspects of Ohio's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. In federal court Friday morning, the judge said he would do that.

    Gerhardstein told WVXU he didn't ask for gay couples to be allowed to marry in Ohio, just that the state recognize marriages from other states.

  • 5. JimT  |  April 4, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Another win, that's wonderful!

  • 6. Michael Grabow  |  April 4, 2014 at 11:10 am

    "…The resolution also cites several court cases, including five from the 19th century. It goes on to say that the U.S. Supreme Court “officially severed its respect for marriage” last year, when it struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act…"

    Their side never ceases to amaze.

    I wonder if at least some of them privately recognize that their arguments are insane and that they are fighting a losing cause. They've got to, right?

  • 7. sfbob  |  April 4, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Because nothing says "respect for marriage" like pretending a legal marriage solemnized under the laws of a state simply doesn't exist.

  • 8. ebohlman  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Oh, they know they're not going to be able to win. They're just trying to drag things out for as long as they have people willing to send them money. Those Alabama legislators are probably getting plenty of campaign contributions out of that meaningless resolution. It's just like all those briefs that are written for donors, not judges.

  • 9. Steve  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    It's Alabama. They still haven't gotten over abolition and desegregation.

  • 10. Ragavendran  |  April 4, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Here's India's chance to turn Bowers into Lawrence. If the judges making up the special constitutional bench don't include the two that issued the original judgment, then I have some hope that they will reverse! The current chief justice who is said to head the bench has lead the progressive decisions by this Court since he took over. Based on this in-depth report about the Chief's attitudes towards this law, I think there is a fighting chance, despite statistics that show that curative petitions (last remaining judicial option) are very rarely granted:

  • 11. Rick O.  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Not knowing the particulars about curative petitions in India, I should not guess. That said, if the court had a choice whether or not to hear it, it would seem to indicate there are some judges itching to reverse. If that happens in a country as socially conservative as India, my belief that British based legal systems are superior to all others is reaffirmed. 45 years ago I asked my grandfather, who was a bit of a tycoon with foreign investments, what his criteria were. Foremost was "English law; everywhere else you are completely unprotected".

  • 12. Ragavendran  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I was pleasantly shocked to hear this news today. In general, curative petitions are, statistically speaking, very rarely granted. The Chief Justice has only agreed to consider the petition for now. If the Court eventually decides to grant the petition, that already means that the Court believes that there is a serious constitutional question that needs deeper review. If this petition is granted, then rehearing proceedings could take several more months.

    While the Chief Justice has been largely silent on this issue since the adverse ruling came down in December, a transcript has surfaced of him making comments about the Delhi High court ruling back in 2009. Speaking about transgender rights, he had categorically and unambiguously slammed Section 377: "The laws that, in today’s date, terrorise the transgender community are Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1870 and the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986." And completely contrary to his colleagues who dismissed homosexuals as a "miniscule fraction" and the abuse of Section 377 as negligible, the Chief said "From the numerous instances of abuse and violence against homosexuals and transgenders, it is evident that Section 377 has been grossly misused. It is equally obvious that a judicial move to address this concern was exigent in the face of a law enforcement framework so hostile that exploitation at the hands of the alleged protectors became a quotidian affair for sexual minorities in India."

    And in case his audience didn't get the point, he went on to underline it further. "Section 377 has been extensively used by the law enforcers to harass and exploit homosexuals and transgender persons." Not just content with that, he even read out cases where that had happened lamenting the police arrested a transgender named Narayana for theft "without informing him of the grounds of arrest or extending any opportunity to him to defend himself." Even worse, Narayana's diary was seized to identify other transgenders in the network. Then the Chief went on to extol the same Delhi High Court judgement that has been turned upside down:

    "With the advent of the contemporary epoch, the movement against the repressive and oppressive nature of Section 377 grew exponentially and it was finally on 2 July, 2009 that for the first time any court in India pronounced that the oppression meted out to the transgender community and the homosexuals in the country is violative of Right to Equality under Article 14, Right against Discrimination under Article 15, and Right to Privacy and Personal Dignity under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. These rights are not only constitutionally guaranteed but are also implicit in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and should therefore; enjoy a superior position to other rights. The judgment of the Delhi High Court reflects a sense of conscience and empathy towards the sexual minorities, emotions that were hitherto unknown. Section 377, in its criminalization of homosexual activity, was a repressive measure on the fundamental rights of the transgender community."

  • 13. Dr. Z  |  April 6, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Well, given that one of the two judges retired the day the judgement was issued, you can figure it won't include him.

    This "curative petition" sounds like India's equivalent to an en banc request. It seems incredible that two judges should be permitted to issue a decision of such constitutional import (with the potential to completely shred the India SC's reputation.) The full court should reconsider this if they want to salvage their reputation.

  • 14. Ragavendran  |  April 6, 2014 at 7:25 am

    India's SC has 30 judges plus the Chief Justice now so en banc is usually just a 5-judge panel. In the case of a constitutional bench for a curative petition, like this case, the bench will have the three senior-most judges of the Court (which will include the Chief Justice) plus the two that delivered the original judgment. (Here, one retired on the day the judgment was delivered, so the replacement that considered and denied the review petition will probably fill the spot.) Given that the Chief feels strongly that this law is unconstitutional, I sincerely hope he is able to convince his two senior-most colleagues to grant the curative petition. And subsequently, when the case is reheard by this bench, again the hopes lie on him to gather a majority in his support.

  • 15. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 6, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Hasn't the Indian SC also commented on the treatment of rape victims in a manner totally opposite of the lower courts (where victims are generally being pushed to the side)?

  • 16. Ragavendran  |  April 6, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Well, yes, but not much changed until the brutal 2012 Delhi gang rape which prompted the Parliament to enact tougher anti-rape laws. And now the Court has stayed the execution until tomorrow to review their complaint that they didn't get a fair trial.

  • 17. Retired lawyer  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Let us all hope that the curative petition in India does succeed. It is appalling that gay people in India should be subjected to oppression from colonial era legislation that has long since been repudiated in Great Britain itself.

  • 18. Rick O.  |  April 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    10th Circuit/Denver – One Colorado, the state's biggest GLBT group, will hold a rally on the fed. courthouse at 6:30 the Wed. evening BEFORE the Utah hearing on the 10th.

  • 19. Ragavendran  |  April 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm

  • 20. Pat  |  April 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Regarding Circuit Court rallies, I ave been wondering: has anybody ever held demonstrations in front of circuit courts to send a message or signal? Couldn't that be a possibility to make some noise at the 9th circuit to remind them that they STILL haven't bothered setting a date for the Sevcik v. Sandoval case which has been dragging for months and months…

  • 21. grod  |  April 4, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Pat on your excel spreadsheet – didn't SmithKline Beecham and Abbott have until today to submit briefs that would enable all the judges of the 9th circuit appeals court to vote on whether the [gay] juror case should be reheard en banc? Did both companies decline or submit a joint brief? More likely they each dutifully submitted one.

  • 22. Keith  |  April 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    They have 21 days to submit briefs, ordered on March 27, 2014

  • 23. Pat  |  April 5, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Grod, it's true that case wasn't included in my spreadsheet: I tried to limit it to marriage equality cases (either targeting the marriage bans, or seeking out-of-state recognition or other side issues related to marriage rights). I also hadn't listed the Elaine Photography case for example. I guess it could be done, but I worry the spreadsheet would get even messier than it already is 🙂

  • 24. JimT  |  April 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Your spreadsheet is well organized, looks fine and on my end is easy to read. I use a desk top one of my housemates uses a laptop and said the page was laid out well. I'm no legal expert but the SmithKline vs Abbott gay juror case en banc re-hearing might be an important element to ME?

  • 25. Dr. Z  |  April 6, 2014 at 3:55 am

    Possibly, within the Ninth circuit. But the way things are progressing, we're likely to get ME regardless of what happens in the SmithKline case. And the Ninth, despite getting involved very early in ME, has been overtaken and passed by several other circuits because they're so glacially slooooooooow.

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