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Equality news round up: Florida, Pennsylvania news, and more

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

– In Pareto v. Ruvin, the state court challenge to Florida’s same-sex marriage ban, the judge overseeing the case has denied a motion to intervene by anti-LGBT groups seeking to defend the ban.

– Bayer is being sued after refusing to pay survivor benefits to a gay widower.

– An update on the employment discrimination lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

– This week, federal Judge John E. Jones talked about his decision overturning Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings


  • 1. DrPatrick1  |  June 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

    The Bayer case seems like a slam dunk. I can't imagine why they are fighting it.

  • 2. Guest  |  June 4, 2014 at 10:50 am

    The U.S. Department of Labor issued post-DOMA ERISA guidance in 2013. However, it did not state what was to be done in regard to PAST cases of pension discrimination. How far back do companies need to go? Courts will apparently have to make that determination.

  • 3. SeattleRobin  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I think the "how far back do they have to go" question is legit. But in this particular case at least, the couple were in a valid marriage at the time of death, which was only four years ago, and the surviving spouse put in a request at the time for his benefits. The wrongful denial of his benefits prompted him to go to court against DOMA, so he took action. It's not as if he waited four years and then tried to put in a first request due to a later change in law.

    Also, the vast majority of companies would not have to go back very far, because the number of states that had marriage equality for more than a year or two before DOMA was repealed was small.

  • 4. TxLawyer  |  June 5, 2014 at 5:46 am

    The problem is that they were married in 2008. So the spouse only has 5 years of a 20+ year career for which the benefits are community property.

    Thus, he may not be entitled to what it is he is seeking, which is why they are denying him…

  • 5. SeattleRobin  |  June 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    The couple had been together for 17(?) of those 20 years. They just couldn't get married until recently. But that's all beside the point isn't it? Since when has the length of a marriage determined whether the surviving spouse is eligible for benefits?

  • 6. Michael Grabow  |  June 4, 2014 at 10:16 am

    "I am now considered a homophobe if I don't embrace gay marriage," said an animated Pastor David Reinwald of Kissinger's Lutheran Church in Wyomissing.

    "We are not here today to condemn anyone, but when the family and our culture is impacted by activist judges who seek to overturn God's laws and civil laws, we can't sit still and do nothing."

    So much dumb in one statement my brain is having difficulty trying to compute it all.

    1. You are a homophobe.
    2. It's just marriage.
    3. You are most definitely there to condemn people.
    4."God's law" doesn't matter…actual laws are what count.
    5. Family and culture are not impacted by this in any way, shape or form other than positively.

  • 7. Walter  |  June 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Right wing religious might have some credence if they argued they hold no animosity toward those who disagree with them. But they don’t stop there. Instead they insist upon changing our civil laws to conform to their religious dogmas and thus discriminating against those who disagree with them. That is where they display animus toward those who disagree with them. Such discrimination invariably works a hardship upon those who do not follow their religious dogmas. They know it and they don’t care.

  • 8. Steve  |  June 4, 2014 at 11:02 am

    And nobody is asking him to "embrace" it. That would be like asking him to get gay married. He just needs to shut the fuck up and let other people live their lives free from his religious rules and BS.

  • 9. JayJonson  |  June 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Yes, reading some of these wingnuts, you would think that we are asking for same-sex marriage to be compulsory rather than merely optional.

  • 10. Mike in Baltimore  |  June 4, 2014 at 11:24 am

    So, Pastor David Reinwald, is a 'proper' baptism:

    1. Full immersion once, backwards;
    2. Full immersion three times, forwards;
    3. Sprinkling, dabbing, etc. of water, smoke, or other substance in the general direction of the person being 'baptized'; or
    4. Other?

    Various denominations of Xianity disagree on which is proper. I believe Lutherans believe the first method is proper, and don't believe the other two are proper.

    What actions are you going to take against those who don't believe like Lutherans?

  • 11. Eric  |  June 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    He's heterodox, so his answer doesn't really matter.

  • 12. JakeAZ  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    The Lutheran church I was "raised" in (ALC, merged with LCA to become ELCA, I know it's confusing) did the sprinkling on the forehead thing (no holy water in Lutheranism, btw.) I think it may be some other Lutherans that do the immersion thing.

  • 13. Mike in Baltimore  |  June 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod
    Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Synod

    MOST Protestant churches do the full immersion, once, backwards.

  • 14. bayareajohn  |  June 4, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    I was raised Lutheran Missouri Synod (in Detroit MI), baptism was always three splashes of of water at a small basin, never immersion. Water not claimed as holy, just embued as is the wine and wafers for communion. That is, they don't claim the wine and wafer and baptismal water are anything but what they are physically, but the ceremony and god's presence make them more that that spiritually. Jesus's blood and body are "within and under" the wine and wafer, if I recall the dogma correctly.

  • 15. SeattleRobin  |  June 4, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Most protestant denominations don't do immersion. I suspect ultimately for practical reasons, since a small baptismal font on a pedestal is much easier (and cheaper) to deal with than a small pool or taking a trip to a river or lake.

  • 16. ebohlman  |  June 5, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Note that LCWS is Michele Bachmann's church.

  • 17. DaveM  |  June 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    For the sake of pedanticism: It's WELS, not LCWS.

  • 18. Zack12  |  June 4, 2014 at 11:45 am

    Uh no David Reinwald, you can be just like the Bapist minster who lives near me who objects to gay marriage and preaches against it in his church weekly.
    You just don't have the right to enforce your viewpoints on the rest of us through civil law anymore.

  • 19. Bruno71  |  June 4, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Except in 31 states, unfortunately.

  • 20. Michael Grabow  |  June 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I know some others here along with me have used Wikipedia to track the current percentage of the US where marriage equality is the law (43.5%), but it looks like it may be even better than we thought.

    Using US Census Bureau data from 2012

  • 21. Michael Grabow  |  June 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm


  • 22. Pat  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    It seems to be 2 different things. Wikipedia considers the percentage of the overall US population living in ME states. This other sources used estimates of the number of same-sex couples for each state and concluded that 51% of same-sex couples live in ME states.
    Note that it's not even the proportion of LGBT people who can marry, but the proportion of existing COUPLES (married or unmarried).

  • 23. Michael Grabow  |  June 5, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Ahh, thanks for the clarification.

  • 24. MIDave  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Just got word from an attorney friend who is very very connected with the Deboer case. Oral arguments confirmed for 8/6/14 in the 6th Circuit

  • 25. Ragavendran  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Nice. Kathleen had posted on her Facebook on May 22 that the Court was only considering August 6 as the date for three of the five appeals (Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee) according to her inside source. Glad to hear that it is now confirmed for Michigan. Still, I'm gonna be anal and wait for a formal order to issue or a PACER entry. But I'm concerned that there aren't rumors about Ohio. The two consolidated Ohio appeals will be done briefing by July 15, giving plenty of time for an August 6 oral argument as well. Ohio was the first appeal to reach the Sixth Circuit and it wouldn't be fair to push it to their next session in October.

  • 26. DaveM  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    We'll know for sure on the 21st of July – and that's when we'll know the panel too: posts the calendar 2 weeks' ahead of time.

  • 27. BenG  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Actually, I've seen rumors about the other cases, too. For example, see this lawyer's blog entry.

    "In addition to the Michigan case, the Court of Appeals will hear arguments for similar cases from three other states within the circuit starting on August 5, 2014."

  • 28. Zack12  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:41 pm
    NOM has been told to jump off a cliff. Wahoooo!!!

  • 29. DaveM  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Ok, so whoever picked Wednesday, I think I said would pay off at 10:1…

  • 30. davep  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    aha – just noticed in the second article linked by DaveM that the order was "a one-sentence order without explanation". Never mind!

  • 31. davep  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:47 pm


    But – DOH! They have no link in their article to the court's ruling : /

    Anybody got one?

  • 32. DaveM  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Lyle says it's a one sentence order. It's not up on SCOTUS' site yet, but it will read:
    "The application for stay of judgment presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is denied."

  • 33. Ragavendran  |  June 4, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    As official as it can get – here's the link from the Supreme Court's website:

  • 34. davep  |  June 4, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    New article about the ruling against NOM's request for stay is up.

  • 35. SPQRobin  |  June 5, 2014 at 4:29 am

    International news (I hope it's still visible enough here): Slovakia amends its constitution to ban same-sex marriage. It passed 102-18.

    The ruling Smer-SD party, a social-democratic party (!), agreed to do so in return for support by the Christian Democratic Movement for a constitutional amendment on the judicial system.

  • 36. ebohlman  |  June 5, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Why do I get this nagging impression that the old Cold War boundaries are starting to redraw themselves with GLBT rights as the basis? Does the Iron Curtain still exist for us?

  • 37. Randolph Finder  |  June 5, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Yes and No. While Hungary and Slovakia are moving away from Marriage Equality, I expect that the Czech Republic will end up with Marriage Equality not long after Austria and/or Germany. Slovakia is also on the correct side of the line. And as far as I can tell in Germany, the heavier opposition to ME is in the Catholic South.

  • 38. Drew  |  June 5, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Germany would almost certainly have it, if it weren't for the conservative ruling coalition blocking any votes in the German parliament.

  • 39. SeattleRobin  |  June 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    That's depressing. To take that huge step to amend their constitution when the rest of Europe is holding steady or moving in the other direction is extreme.

  • 40. Steve  |  June 5, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Western Europe (minus Italy and Germany) maybe. But this is standard for eastern Europe.

  • 41. DaveM  |  June 5, 2014 at 10:05 am

    This seems to be the closest thing to an open thread, so here goes:
    TX GOP votes to add support for "ex-gay conversion therapy" to its official platform. The Onion headline writes itself:
    "Lambda Legal and Human Rights Campaign team up to offer 'Ex-Texan' conversion therapy"…

  • 42. brandall  |  June 5, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Old statement: We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God.

    Replaced with: We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.

    I actually can't think of anything or anyway to say this is better since I so strongly disagree with the message it sends to a teenager reading it.

  • 43. StraightDave  |  June 5, 2014 at 11:47 am

    => Legalized child abuse. Why am I not surprised.
    In a state that's supposed to be drifting towards purple, the GOP sure is working hard to marginalize themselves.

  • 44. F_Young  |  June 6, 2014 at 7:54 am

    Anticipation builds for ruling on Wisconsin gay marriage ban

    Are we expecting a decision in Wisconsin soon?

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