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Major Marriage Equality Court Dates Over the Next Few Weeks

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By Matt Baume

Anti-gay groups are getting desperate, with one candidate for governor comparing marriage equality to murder. An Alabama scheme to slip a marriage ban into the US Constitution is moving forward but is pretty much guaranteed to fail. A judge in Ohio rules that marriage equality isn’t only for dead people anymore. Plus, a major marriage victory in Utah gets put to the test on appeal this Thursday. We’ll have all the details.

We’re just one month away from the hearing in AFER’s Virginia case, and support for marriage equality in the state is steadily on the rise. A new Quinnipiac poll shows support at 50 to 42 percent, a complete reversal from the same poll two years ago. Last week we got a glimpse into the arguments that our opponents will use in court, with a new brief from attorney David B. Oakley. He claims that marriage equality will open the door to marrying relatives.

And that’s not even the most outlandish claim that our opponents made last week. Lorraine Mae Rafferty, a candidate for governor in Oregon, says that she opposes the freedom to marry because it is “just the same as murder.”

Of course, anyone can make these kinds of crazy statements, but they’ll have a much harder time proving them where it really matters, in court. The next big legal hurdle for marriage equality is coming this Thursday, in Utah. A panel of three judges will hear arguments in the appeal of the marriage equality victory from a few months ago. And we’ll have another hearing next week, in the Oklahoma case.

Ohio got a major marriage victory last week, with a Judge announcing that he’ll order the state to recognize all benefits associated with out-of-state licenses. Previously, the state was only required to recognize marriages for the purpose of death certificates.

In Alabama, the House of Representatives has passed a resolution in support of amending the US Constitution to ban marriage equality. That has approximately zero chance of actually happening, of course. Anti-gay activists tried pushing a federal ban about a decade ago, and couldn’t make it happen even after President Bush endorsed it. Passing this resolution now is just a symbolic anti-gay gesture, and a waste of everyone’s time.

There’s two new lawsuits in Florida. Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones have been together 11 years, and are suing the state for the right to marry. Filing a separate suit are Stephen Schlairet and Ozzie Russ of Chipley, Florida. These are the third and fourth marriage lawsuits in that state.

And we may see a new lawsuit soon in Nebraska. Lesbian couple Margie and Bonnie Nichols have filed for divorce in the state, but a District Court judge ruled that the state couldn’t dissolve a marriage that it doesn’t recognize. The case is now moving to the state Supreme Court, but ultimately it could require additional litigation to overturn the state’s ban.

And finally this week, a new study shows that marriage equality would bring fifty million dollars to the economy of Colorado. The state’s currently in the midst of a public education campaign and there are two separate lawsuits working their way through the courts there. Public support is at 56 to 36 percent.

13 Comments

  • 1. Rose  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Lorraine Mae Rafferty, a candidate for governor in Oregon, says that she opposes the freedom to marry because it is “just the same as murder.” She might as well put ALL of her money in a pile and burn it because with comments like this….she has ALMOST no chance of winning an election…..just saying!!!

  • 2. Stefan  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Especially not in Oregon!

  • 3. bayareajohn  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:32 am

    I can see the counter ad campaign: "Oregon needs a Governor who can tell Marriage from Murder…"

  • 4. Rick O.  |  April 7, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    In all fairness to Oregon, Ms. Rafferty is the least of numerous candidates and represents the left-handed, snake-handling, my other brother Darryl "wing" of the party (all 300 of them).The Oregon R's already unofficially split over ME a month ago, with two dueling big weekend conferences, one pro, one anti. Don't think one camp will vote for a member of the other.

  • 5. Randolph Finder  |  April 8, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Get back to me on Ms. Rafferty when the Oregon Republican party lets her into a debate.

  • 6. Warren  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Are the Utah and Oklahoma hearings pre-hearings to the actual hearing regarding the cases?

  • 7. B Z  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:39 am

    No, this is the real deal.

  • 8. thelawworks  |  April 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    And Oregon's oral…conversation….there will be little "oral argument"……. is scheduled for April 23

  • 9. ebohlman  |  April 8, 2014 at 1:09 am

    I'm half-expecting the judge to do what the judge in Bostic (Virginia) did and request briefing as to whether oral arguments are even necessary.

  • 10. thelawworks  |  April 8, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Waiving oral argument was an option. The State wanted to ensure robust public process.

  • 11. Michael  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Alabama continues to attack gay taxpaying families and their children. You'd think their legislature would have better things to focus on.

  • 12. DaveM  |  April 10, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Indiana today in a surprise – very narrow, a TRO only applying to one couple in an exigent circumstance – but a win nonetheless. (Baskin v. Bogan)

  • 13. Major Marriage Equality C&hellip  |  April 15, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    […] Major Marriage Equality Court Dates Over the Next Few Weeks Lesbian couple Margie and Bonnie Nichols have filed for divorce in the state, but a District Court judge ruled that the state couldn't dissolve a marriage that it doesn't recognize. The case is now moving to the state Supreme Court, but ultimately it … Read more on Equality on Trial (registration) […]

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