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Sixth Circuit sets oral arguments in same-sex marriage cases from four states

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has formally scheduled arguments in all of its pending same-sex marriage cases, for August 6. That date had been suggested previously in several media reports, but the appeals court has only yesterday formally announced the arguments via orders in the cases.

The court is hearing cases from Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, and two from Ohio. The arguments are set to begin at 1PM on that day, and last for over three hours.

The Sixth Circuit has divided up the time:

Michigan: Arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder will be one hour, with 30 minutes per side.

Ohio: Arguments in Henry v. Himes and Obergefell v. Himes will be one hour, with 30 minutes per side.

Kentucky: Arguments in Bourke v. Beshear will be 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side.

Tennessee: Arguments in Tanco v. Haslam will be 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side.

Only one of the cases, DeBoer, involves a challenge to a state’s ban on performing same-sex marriages. The rest are related to the various states’ refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside of the state. The Tanco case reached the Sixth Circuit on an appeal from a preliminary injunction requiring Tennessee to recognize the legal same-sex marriages of three couples.

The names of the judges on the panel will be announced two weeks before argument, likely on July 23. SCOTUSBlog adds: “The Sixth Circuit clerk’s office confirmed Tuesday that the same three-judge panel will hear all four, presumably one after the other.”

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings


  • 1. Lymis  |  June 17, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Wow. Like speed dating for equality.

  • 2. annajoy1  |  June 17, 2014 at 8:51 am

    It's about time. These appeal court proceedings are going on forever. Those that have already heard the appeals need to rule.

  • 3. Fledge01  |  June 17, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I don't want the appeals court rulings yet. Lets let the lower court wins stack up first and find even more solid opinions being written like that of Crabb in Wisconsin. Also, I don't want SCOTUS to have an opportunity to take a case this year. It is more favorable for there to be more time showing how those states whose bans that were overturned have not experienced any harm. My guess is that SCOTUS wont stay any appeals court decisions like they did with the lower court decisions (even if they plan to take a case). I see the path forward as one in which every state has their bans over turned either at the state level and confirmed at the appeals level or just overturned at the appeals level. If this drags out into another SCOTUS term, beyond October, I don't think SCOTUS will ever take any case (as long as their is no circuit splits). I can just imagine how upset the equality haters will be when SCOTUS refuses to take a case.

  • 4. SWB1987  |  June 17, 2014 at 10:21 am

    I don't know, I would honestly be shocked if SCOTUS didn't take up a case next term. If marriage equality wins in the appeals courts which I think it will for the 4th, 10th and 9th circuits of course we won't want them to stay it. But I don't think it will hold up in the 6th circuit, and definitely not the 5th, and of course I would want SCOTUS to overturn those rulings. Plus I'm worried about Ginsburg. What if she dies and we can't get another judge appointed. Then the court will be tied and that will leave the district court decision in place but not set a precedent

  • 5. flyerguy77  |  June 17, 2014 at 10:37 am

    When a justice dies or leave the bench suddenly there will be 8 justices for a while, but not for a long time.. maybe a few months when the president appoints a new justice and go through the Senate.. Steven

  • 6. JayJonson  |  June 17, 2014 at 11:24 am

    It will not be that simple. The new rules for confirmation allows filibusters of Supreme Court Justice nominations. You can be certain that the Republicans will filibuster any liberal justice appointment. We have a 5-4 majority now. We know that the two justices who are most likely to retire are Justices Ginsburg and Kennedy, our two most ardent supporters. It is crucial that we get a Supreme Court ruling asap that recognizes the right to marry.

  • 7. Mike_Baltimore  |  June 17, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Another reason it will not be that simple:

    Any justice who has not participated in the oral arguments does not participate in the making of a decision for those cases which they did not participate in oral arguments.

    And SCOTUS, because it is a separate branch of government, does NOT take into consideration what the Senate schedule may or may not be when scheduling oral arguments before SCOTUS.

  • 8. lengriff  |  June 17, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    It would be my guess if the SCOTUS declares the state bans of marriage equality unconstitutional the vote would be 5 to 4. However, I would suggest the Chief Justice would change his vote making the vote 6 to 3. By doing this he would write and shape the opinion. Also, he would have another positive place in history along his health care opinion.

  • 9. Bruno71  |  June 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I don't see it. Roberts is too egotistical to change his mind on this issue and look like a "flip-flopper." He'll dig his heels in and vote against equality. Perhaps he'll try to revive civil unions.

  • 10. JayJonson  |  June 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Roberts has NEVER cast a vote for equal rights for gays and lesbians. Period. He went out of his way to say that DOMA was constitutional when he did not need to do so since he also thought that there was a standing issue with DOMA–i.e., he could have simply voted against the majority in Windsor on the basis of standing. But he obviously really, really, really believes that it is perfectly constitutional for Congress to deny equal rights to gay people. Despite being somewhat more couth than Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, Roberts is no friend of ours.

  • 11. Ragavendran  |  June 17, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I have a small piece of hope somewhere that Roberts might yet turn around on this issue. He does care about his legacy and his leadership. He might surprise us like he did with Obamacare. But it would be a crime to steal Kennedy's pen on this issue. He has to be the one to finish what he set out to do. Heightened scrutiny, please.

  • 12. Bruno71  |  June 18, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Roberts expressed skepticism about the individual mandate during oral arguments, but it seemed to me only from the perspective that it mandates consumers to "purchase" something. He didn't actually change his mind about that, but rather found it could be interpreted as a "tax" on the consumer, which is of course perfectly standard. I don't really see it as a turnaround, but rather a broad power to interpret the law in a way it could be upheld. Perhaps he can pull another rabbit out of the hat regarding marriage equality for the reasons you speculate, but I just don't see how.

  • 13. scream4ever  |  June 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    You know how horrible it will look for any Senator to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee?

  • 14. sfbob  |  June 17, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    It will look horrible to us. To some of their supporters however, they will look like a hero.

  • 15. Zack12  |  June 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Plus, they are still steamed about Bork being denied a seat.

  • 16. JayJonson  |  June 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Are you kidding? That is standard procedure. Especially if the Republicans take control of the Senate in 2014, as they well might, they will oppose anyone President Obama puts forward.

  • 17. KarlS  |  June 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Yes, they might, unfortunately…and it very well could hinge on another mostly unrelated issue, "gun control". There are many thousands of nominal Democrats, especially in this part of the country, who are pretty much 'live and let live' on the SSM issue but will never support a candidate who thinks banning guns is an option to deal with a situation where an infinitesimally small number of crazies have abused their Constitutional rights and murdered innocents. I happen to be one of them even as I fervently work for marriage equality.

  • 18. Jen_in_MI  |  June 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Please permit me a moment of impatience. I AM SO TIRED OF BEING TOLD TO WAIT! My marriage has been in limbo for months, and let me assure you, we experience harm as a result of the 6th Circuit's stay every. single. day! That being said, the EoT community is the only place I feel some real understanding and comfort. Thanks for being an incredible group so wiling to share information and expertise.

  • 19. JayJonson  |  June 17, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I agree entirely. We have waited far too long. We need this settled now.

  • 20. lengriff  |  June 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    You have my sympathy and understanding. We were marriage in California in August 2008. After Prop 8 was past, we had to wait until the SCOTCA declared our marriage was good. When Illinois past its version of Civil Unions, our marriage was recognized as a CU. It was only until the "Marriage Bill" was past that our marriage was recognized as a marriage. Of course, we had wait six months (June 1) for all the provisions of the law to come into full effect.
    It has been a very long road to full marriage equality.

  • 21. RnL2008  |  June 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Interesting because my wife and I were married in August of 2008 and we knew that regardless of the passage of Prop 8 that our marriage remained legal, valid and recognized.

    With that being stated…..we are glad that your marriage is finally recognized as a what it always was which is a legal marriage!!!

  • 22. Lymis  |  June 17, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    We were in exactly the same situation – California marriage gradually taking effect back here in Illinois.

  • 23. RCChicago  |  June 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    You don't have to say "please" and you deserve more than a moment. We were married last Sunday in Chicago and it is a huge relief to know that our kids are protected in ways they could not be before. I check the blogs repeatedly throughout the day, hoping for news that these cases are advancing and that a resolution is in sight. For the sake of principle, for everyone else who is denied this right, I'm also extremely impatient.

  • 24. davepCA  |  June 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Yup. I'm not even dating anyone at the moment and yet I'm thoroughly tired of ALL of us being told to wait because I'm well aware that the stays and delays are causing real hardships for others.

  • 25. davepCA  |  June 17, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    …. and by the way, in case that didn't make it clear enough – Yes guys, Davep is single! And he's quite a catch!

    Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  • 26. Lymis  |  June 17, 2014 at 11:51 am

    I'm hardly an expert on SCOTUS.

    Seems to me, though, that the ideal would be something along the lines of a whole bunch of lower court and appeals court victories that are detailed, solidly grounded in precedent and tradition and impeccable constitutional scholarship and logic, and one circuit court decision overturning such a solidly reasoned lower court ruling with little or no justification at all.

    In other words, force SCOTUS to deal with a circuit split between reason, tradition, logic,and impeccable detailed analysis on one side and blatant animus and illegitimate reasoning on the other side. Even if they were uncomfortable ruling at all, seems to me they'd be really unwilling to clearly and obviously side with the bigots. I think even Scalia would prefer to write a scathingly snarky dissent picking at specifics than go on record flushing the Constitution just to spite gay people. If an extra year sets that up, especially if people are still free to travel out of state for a federally recognized marriage in the meantime, a solid and unequivocal victory is better than another round of waffling.

    Of course, I certainly wouldn't mind an ongoing trend of unanimously supportive rulings and the SCOTUS staying out of it while it all piles up in our favor, either.

  • 27. JayJonson  |  June 17, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    The problem with your "ideal" is that it presumes Supreme Court justices act with honor and integrity. They do not. Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito are going to vote against equal rights regardless of the strength of the arguments. Luckily, the other five justices will do the right thing if the appropriate case gets to them quickly. If a conservative justice replaces one of the five who voted in favor of Windsor, it is almost certain that we will not have a ruling that establishes a fundamental right to marry the person one loves.

  • 28. ebohlman  |  June 17, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Additionally, marriage equality is only one part of the larger struggle for GLBT equality, and an accumulation of good case law will help in the future with the other aspects of such. I suspect, for example, that the SCOTUS could take one of the cases that would be currently ripe for this fall's term and decide it in favor of marriage equality while still not explicitly stating what level of scrutiny sexual orientation gets. At the rate things are progressing, that would be much harder for them to do in the 2015-16 term.

  • 29. RnL2008  |  June 17, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Interesting…….I'l love to hear the arguments as they are taking place instead of after the fact!!!

  • 30. DaveM_OH  |  June 17, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I'm going to try to attend. Anyone want to join me?

  • 31. RnL2008  |  June 17, 2014 at 9:23 am

    I'd love to join you, but just don't have the funds to do so….ugh:(

    Please share your experience…….I'm sure it will be amazing!

  • 32. Ragavendran  |  June 17, 2014 at 9:44 am

    I'd love to, and I don't mind spending some saved-up miles for this trip, but I'll be in India then, getting my visa renewed – an equally ugly process 🙁
    [compared to the poor judges having to listen to several hours of arguments against marriage equality over and over again]

  • 33. Retired_Lawyer  |  June 18, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Best of luck to you, Ragavendran, on getting your visa renewed. Hurry back to the U.S.

  • 34. Ragavendran  |  June 18, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Thank you 🙂

  • 35. JayJonson  |  June 20, 2014 at 6:08 am

    Yes, good luck, Ragavendran. We rely on you here and are so grateful for your help in explaining the complicated legal landscape.

  • 36. RCChicago  |  June 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Please take notes and share them with us!

  • 37. ericshoot  |  June 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Dave, Me and my husband want to be there too! We are from Columbus, OH. Do we need tickets to be in the courtroom?

  • 38. RnL2008  |  June 17, 2014 at 9:27 am

    By the way……maybe the anti-gay folks should use this video in place of their worn out, tired rhetoric…….not that it would help them, but it certainly would be more entertaining:

  • 39. Margo Schulter  |  June 17, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Of course, the most desirable course would depend on how the circuits rule — and Jen_in_MI, my heart goes to you and your wife. Maybe the ideal would be having each circuit ruling for equality, which would mean relief in the Sixth Circuit as soon as the ruling comes down (without any stay while cert. is sought and denied), with similar results in the Tenth Circuit and then in the Fourth, etc.

    So it’s a scenario like that of Fledge01.
    That’s hopefully guessing that the SCOTUS stay in Kitchen v. Herbert was meant only to delay things until a circuit level decision. It’s also guessing that SCOTUS would like all circuits, or as many as possible, to weigh in before either granting cert. (if there’s a circuit split), or possibly just letting the circuit decisions inaugurate the new Fourteenth Amendment reality of marriage equality (if there’s no split, maybe with the Fifth Circuit being one of the last to rule and following the others).

  • 40. F_Young  |  June 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Given that five cases will be argued together, and the number of lawyers and parties in each case, it seems likely to me that an en banc hearing will eventually be requested and granted.

    Would it be possible for the 6th Circuit, in the interest of judicial economy, hold an en banc hearing on its own initiative on August 6th?

  • 41. Ragavendran  |  June 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    An initial en banc hearing was requested and was unanimously denied by the Sixth Circuit. Based on that, I don't see any significant chance that an en banc review of any of these cases will be granted.

  • 42. Zack12  |  June 17, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Speaking of En Banc, I don't know about the odds in the 10th circuit IF we get a bad ruling but if we got a bad one in the 4th, it would quickly get reversed due to Obama being able to appoint so many Democratic judges to it.

  • 43. brandall  |  June 17, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    We have all seen many posts about the costs of defending traditional marriage against the overwhelming tide of rulings in favor of ME. Here is a small glimse of the costs Oregon will have to pay the plaintiffs attorney and that was a state where there were no appeals ($184,090):

  • 44. davepCA  |  June 17, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Wow, did you guys see the opening segment on the Daily Show a couple of minutes ago?

    Frikken. Awesome.

  • 45. Corey_from_MD  |  June 18, 2014 at 7:40 am

    You mean the one below:

    Indeed! 🙂

  • 46. davepCA  |  June 17, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    AND – David Bois and Ted Olsen are going to be on The Colbert Report in a few minutes!!

  • 47. Sagesse  |  June 18, 2014 at 3:40 am

    Speaks for itself:

    Former NOM Official Calls for Catholic Church to Excommunicate Nancy Pelosi [Towleroad]

    "Former NOM Communications Director Thomas Peters is suggesting that the Catholic Church should excommunicate Nancy Pelosi for urging San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone to drop out of NOM's hateful March for Marriage. "

  • 48. sfbob  |  June 18, 2014 at 8:28 am

    I suppose I could look up the circumstances under which the church excommunicates a member but even without doing so, I would strongly suspect that expressing an opinion another church member disagrees with, even expressing that opinion to an archbishop, is not grounds for excommunication.

  • 49. Randolph_Finder  |  June 20, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I don't think that either the RC Church or the LDS (See Harry Reid) would be willing to excommunicate nationally known politicians for their votes or expressed opinions.

  • 50. SoCal_Dave  |  June 20, 2014 at 10:24 am

    Re: the mormons, maybe not nationally known politicians, but there has been a recent crackdown on some who are known within the church. Apparently expressing an opinion opposed to church doctrine IS grounds to get you ex'd from mormon church if you express loud enough.

  • 51. DaveM_OH  |  June 18, 2014 at 7:05 am

    PC(USA) considering adding marriage rites for same-sex couples:

    Will go to plenary session for a floor vote late this week.

  • 52. RCChicago  |  June 18, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Hadn't caught this important news elsewhere. Thanks for posting!

  • 53. DaveM_OH  |  June 18, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Discussion and floor vote scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, in the 1:30-4:30 session. I believe they do livestream…

  • 54. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Here's an off-topic question that I really hope someone can answer regarding the new law in effect in Illinois since June 1 that allows one to convert an Illinois civil union to a marriage with the date of the original civil union. My partner and I got a civil union in New Jersey the first day it was possible in 2007. If we had moved to Illinois last year, our civil union from NJ would be recognized as a civil union (only) in Illinois.

    My question:

    If we went to Illinois today with our 2007 New Jersey civil union, could we have it converted to a marriage recognized by Illinois and dated to the original civil union in 2007?

  • 55. RCChicago  |  June 18, 2014 at 9:53 am

    This PDF from Equality Illinois provides a partial answer to your question: Illinois will currently recognize your NJ civil union as a civil union in Illinois. Naturally, your 2013 NY marriage would be fully recognized here as marriage. As to dating your effective date of marriage back to your civil union in 2007, that might require a talk to someone either at Equality Illinois (773.477.7173) or to one of the county clerk offices. Being able to backdate our marriage to the date of our 2011 Illinois civil union was the reason why we waited to June 1 to convert. I would wonder if your NY marriage would cancel your NJ civil union status in Illinois. If EQIL doesn't know the answer to your question, ask them to recommend lawyers or call Lambda Legal in Chicago: (312.663.4413).

  • 56. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Thank you!

  • 57. davepCA  |  June 18, 2014 at 10:43 am

    I don't know if this will help, but in case your more recent 2013 marriage is preventing Illinois from using your earlier civil union date as the date they rely on for recognition in Illinois….. what if you got a divorce? Would that actually HELP you, by now making your earlier NJ civil union the only remaining legally recognized relationship you have, so that Illinois would rely on the date of the earlier CU for recognition? You will be 're-married' once again in Illinois as soon as Illinois recognizes either the CU or the marriage, so if it works, it would just be a brief technicality.

    I guess it hinges on whether you are considered as being both married AND in a CU simultaneously…

  • 58. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Well, that could be a theoretical option for some people. The absurdity of these piecemeal marriage laws puts us all in ridiculous positions. But divorce is not for us. We have been together since 1981, and the only reason we did not marry sooner is because my partner is physically disabled. It was a significant hardship just to travel to NY from NJ last September to get married. But once it had meaning in terms of Federal recognition, I dragged her to Staten Island! She's still recovering.

    I'm not sure we could even travel to Illinois to accomplish this – if it is possible. It just seems like it should be a legal possibility.

    But since we finally married after 33 years together, we certainly would not divorce at this point for pretty much any reason!

  • 59. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I would even be happy if they would back-date the civil union to 2011 because that is when Illinois first recognized civil unions because at least we could amend 2011 and 2012 taxes.

    If it is not to be, so be it. The higher imputed income will help my (measly) future Social Security benefits (since I paid SS taxes on it too).

    It's just the darn principle. NJ should fix it for NJ citizens, and the proposed legislation here is modeled on that in Illinois. I have been writing to the NJ legislature and others since the Windsor decision – and held up Illinois' law to them as an example of the groundbreaking stuff we could have been doing in NJ.

    But until Christie is out, the legislature will do exactly NOTHING to address marriage equality issues.

  • 60. LK2013  |  June 19, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I contacted Equality Illinois, and they said they have an inquiry in right now with the Illinois Attorney General to clarify this question because the law is "vague." They said they will distribute the answer widely when they receive it.

  • 61. RCChicago  |  June 19, 2014 at 11:36 am

    So glad you contacted them! Be sure to post an update here as well when you hear.

  • 62. LK2013  |  June 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I will!

  • 63. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 7:37 am

    FYI, we have subsequently married in New York in 2013, but for many reasons want our 2007 civil union recognized as the marriage it was intended to be, and the NJ legislature (and Gov) are not inclined to do so yet. Nor is Lambda Legal interested in pursuing this legally now (they are very busy, as we know).

  • 64. ebohlman  |  June 18, 2014 at 8:03 am

    I'd suggest you contact the Illinois Attorney General's office and see if they can offer any clarification.

    If your concern involves Federal taxes, I seem to remember that there's a 3-year limit for amending tax returns, though you need to get advice from a tax professional on this.

  • 65. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Thanks, ebolman, we probably should do that.

  • 66. tornado163  |  June 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I figure that the 3 year limit on amending federal taxes is a lawsuit waiting to happen. If DOMA was unconstitutional in 2013, it was unconstitutional in 1996 and every year in between. So if a couple was married in 2007, a 3 year statutory limit shouldn't override a 7 year denial of constitutional rights, and that couple should be able to amend a full 7 years.

    Of course, that would probably require a lawsuit, which would be more expensive than the expected tax returns for the vast majority of couples in that position. Also, I was married in 2011, so I don't have a dog in this fight, but would love to see the government recognize tax claims for all same sex married couples going back to when they were married.

  • 67. LK2013  |  June 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

    tornado163, that would be great. Apparently in Germany people are being allowed to file retroactive amended taxes for many, many years, and they are getting HUGE refunds.

  • 68. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Yes, the reason is to save THOUSANDS of dollars in Federal taxes. If our 2007 civil union is recognized as the marriage it was supposed to be according to the 2006 NJ Supreme Court ruling, we can file amended Federal tax returns going back to 2010.

    I filed a Protective claim in April 2014 asking the IRS to allow us to file an amended return for 2010 if our 2007 Civil Union is recognized as a marriage from that date.

    For 2010 alone, we would save over $3000.

    Filing jointly saves enormously, and I would be refunded all the imputed Federal income tax I paid on health benefits for my partner.

    Also, many people are not aware that Social Security benefits – and many other benefits – depend on the LENGTH of the marriage.

    Because marriage has been unavailable to us all for so long, most people are not even aware of all the ways we've been screwed financially.

  • 69. JayJonson  |  June 20, 2014 at 6:16 am

    I don't doubt that filing jointly will save you and your partner thousands of dollars. But that is not true for all couples. My husband and I filed our federal taxes jointly this year (we had to file as single for our state taxes), and we probably had to pay a little more than we would have had we filed as single. Taxes are complicated and situations vary from couple to couple. For us, even if we paid a little more, it was nevertheless gratifying to be able to file jointly.

  • 70. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 8:58 am

    To RnL2008, actually in New Jersey, the 2006 NJ Supreme Court decision ruled that same-sex couples had to be afforded absolutely equal marriage rights. The legislature was allowed to – and chose to – call same-sex unions something else, i.e., civil unions, but in New Jersey civil unions have been meant since 2006 to offer EXACTLY marital rights.

    That's why NJ was the FIRST state after Windsor to win same-sex marriage in September 2013 in a summary judgment, because the NJ Supreme Court decision in 2006 so clearly stated that civil unions had to EQUAL marriages.

    The Feds not recognizing civil unions gives even more weight to the injustice of New Jersey's failure to convert civil unions RETROACTIVELY to marriage. Legislation is pending, but no one has the guts to pass it with Christie in office.

    I would sue if I could afford it.

  • 71. RnL2008  |  June 18, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Have you ever read the Commission's report regarding Civil Unions? My point was this….here in California words like "NEARLY" or "VIRTUALLY" were used with regards to Domestic Partnerships trying to make them appear to be given the same rights, benefits and privileges of marriage, but in reality, they were NEVER equal to marriage because here in California, being married entitles the married couple to over 300 state rights, benefits and privileges, where DP's only are granted a few of those rights like State tax returns, inheritances, child custody and things like that.

    Hopefully something is done, but this is a long process….it will happen and soon…….I'm still trying to add my wife to my VA disability, but there seems to be some hiccups with wording and we have been fighting this for almost a year now and we just got our 2011 tax return corrected!!!

  • 72. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 10:38 am

    In NJ, it was different. The 2006 NJ Supreme Court decision was unique. And groundbreaking at that time. That is what makes this so egregious.

    In February 2007, ALL NJ marital rights were extended to NJ civil union couples. Civil Unions were IDENTICAL to marriage.

    That's why after Windsor, the September 2013 summary judgment granting same-sex marriage to NJ was a slam dunk.

  • 73. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 11:33 am

    RnL2008, that is true now. Windsor made that true.

    What you are saying is accurate now but prior to Windsor, it was not clear at all how civil unions would be treated or recognized.

    A Civil Union in NJ in 2007 was the strongest union available to anyone in the United States who did not reside in Massachusetts.

    Until June 26, 2013, it was not clear that civil unions that were legally equivalent to marriage in NJ would not be recognized federally.

    Obviously, a lot of us wish we had 20-20 hindsight because the retroactive benefits the Federal government subsequently granted in August 2013 are valuable.

  • 74. JayJonson  |  June 19, 2014 at 10:52 am

    One of the consequences of Prop 8, ironically, was that the California Supreme Court, when it upheld Prop 8, said that the domestic partnerships in California had to be exactly equal (except for the name) to marriage as far as the state was concerned. Hence, even as they upheld Prop 8, they strengthened domestic partnerships.

  • 75. RnL2008  |  June 19, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Sorry, but if it's NOT called or identified as a "MARRIAGE" it's NOT the same thing and DP's here in California are NOT equal to marriage and are NOT entitled to the same 308 rights, benefits and privileges of marriage.

    Also, the couple's personal information is stored in a Database on the Sec of State's website…………and each couple entering into a DP must not only pay a fee for the DP, but also MUST pay an additional $23.00 for a Domestic Violence fund…….that DOESN'T happen when applying for a marriage license!!!

    Here is a list of what a DP covers, but it still is NOT federally recognized, nor will it and it still ISN'T equal to marriage:

    Words have been used liked "NEARLY" or "VIRTUALLY" the same as marriage, but those words have NEVER been clearly defined.

    As a person who is married under California laws, I have ALWAYS opposed DP's for various reasons and continue to do so even today!

  • 76. JayJonson  |  June 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    The question is moot now, thank goodness, but while Prop 8 was in effect, the CA Supreme Court ruled that dp's must be equal to marriage (for state purposes). That was a great improvement in the status of dps and probably reflected the guilt of the CA Supreme Court justices for not doing the right thing and striking down Prop 8 as they should have done. But after that ruling, anyone in a dp could have sued over any discriminatory treatment. And, in fact, some did. Before Prop 8, domestic partnerships did not offer a "spousal privilege" against testifying against a partner. But after the Supreme Court ruling, the spousal privilege was recognized for couples in domestic partnerships. In addition, the CA Supreme Court ruling reaffirmed that all cases involving sexual orientation had to receive heightened scrutiny (ironically, since they just upheld Prop 8, which discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation). As with New Jersey civil unions, as long as DOMA was in effect, the argument could be made that domestic partnerships were equal in the conferral of rights to marriage. However, after DOMA was struck down, that was manifestly not true. I think if SCOTUS had not ruled in such a way that Prop 8 was tossed out but had decided Windsor as they did, California couples could have gone back to the CA Supreme Court and challenged Prop 8 on the basis of the very ruling that upheld it, just as in New Jersey couples challenged civil unions on the basis of the very NJ Supreme Court ruling that made them possible.

  • 77. Christian0811  |  June 19, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    What should've be done in 'Strauss v. Horton' to beginwith was to go the 'Perez v. Sharpe' route (on Federal 14th Amendment grounds) as well as sought an emergency injunction.

    Lord knows that the case would've been over in 2010 instead of 2013.

    The revision claims were always unlikely to succeed (not that I didn't agree with the dissenting justice).

  • 78. RnL2008  |  June 20, 2014 at 6:46 am

    I agree with ya…….had our side used a different approach to Strauss vs Horton…..the CSSC would have ruled differently because California has allowed it's Constitution to be changed by the initiative process since like 1910 and Prop 8 was NEVER a revision, just an Amendment……….which is why the ruling went the way it did……however the CSSC did rule that the marriages that took place before the passage of Prop 8 were going to remain legal, valid and recognized because of how the CSSC ruled in the re Marriage case in May of 2008.

    Frankly, I think California needs to do away with the initiative/proposition issue….I find it ridiculous that a State that is only a little over a 150 years old has changed it's Constitution over 500 times!!!

  • 79. sfbob  |  June 20, 2014 at 8:02 am

    The initiative process certainly needs to be revised. Unfortunately, because of the way the state constitution is written, that can only come about by…you guessed it…another ballot measure.

    So the challenge will be to come up with revisions that modify the process slightly. If it's done carefully it could succeed. For instance, in 2010 the law was revised to lower the threshold needed for the state legislature to pass a budget. The legislature is now attempting to come up with a measure that would modify the infamous Prop 13 which inhibits the state's ability to generate new revenue by dictating how and when a property can be reassessed for tax purposes. Homes are reassessed only when they are sold. Commercial properties are reassessed on the same basis. But most commercial properties are held not not by individuals but by legal entities. When the holding company changes hands, for tax purposes, ownership of the property does not change. The result has been that single family homes shoulder a greater and greater proportion of the tax burden as time goes on while taxes on commercial properties remain artificially low. The state legislature is trying to come up with a ballot measure that would at least modify the way transfers of commercial property ownership entities are viewed. If the measure is crafted correctly it will succeed. Not only will things become at least a bit less unfair as a result, the state and its political subdivisions, which are all perpetually broke because of Prop 13, will at least have access to more income.
    It would make sense to, at a minimum, change the threshold of votes needed to pass a constitutional amendment, which is now a simple majority. That makes it far too easy to amend the constitution and the system can easily be gamed.

  • 80. ebohlman  |  June 20, 2014 at 8:55 am

    It's worth pointing out that CA's initiative system was actually a progressive reform at the time it was instituted; it was created to reduce the influence big businesses (particularly railroads) had over the legislative process. Times have changed, however.

  • 81. RnL2008  |  June 20, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I so agree with ya………every time I see a lot of propositions on the ballot, I wonder how it got to be this chaotic……at the very least a proposition should NOT only be verified to have enough actual signatures, but it should have to go through a Constitutional Review process.

    I think that by doing both a verification of legitimate signatures and a review for Constitutional purposes…….it would then cut down on legal lawsuits and free up the Courts to handle real issues…….not to say that the right to marry ISN'T a really important issue because it is!!!

  • 82. Christian0811  |  June 21, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Personally I like the idea of the initiative statute, but not for constitutional amendments.

    Our constitution is a mess.

  • 83. Bruno71  |  June 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    The problem would be that in California, the state Constitution specifically forbids same-sex marriages. This was not present in the NJ Constitution. The CA SC would probably be unable to rectify that, given that they felt they couldn't toss out prop 8 to begin with.

  • 84. RnL2008  |  June 20, 2014 at 6:51 am

    The CSSC DIDN'T want to toss out Prop 8 because they wanted to send a message to both the Governor and AG that the people's right to change the Constitution through the initiative process could NOT be simply nullified or void just because no one wanted to defend it, and even though a group tried to force the Governor and AG to defend Prop 8 in Court, the lower Court ruled that they COULDN'T be forced to defend an unconstitutional amendment………had the Governor or AG just given a poor defense like Charles Cooper did, Prop 8 probably would have been gone in 2009 instead of 2013!!!

  • 85. Bruno71  |  June 20, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Well, I think the CA SC didn't want to toss out prop 8 because they felt that the people had the right to overrule them through a constitutional amendment. They acted as if their hands were tied. I highly doubt the governor and AG's actions entered much into their decision in that case, other than they didn't like AG Brown's argument against the law. I think Justice Kennard basically said it was antiquated.

  • 86. RnL2008  |  June 20, 2014 at 11:43 am

    You have a point……also the CSSC looked at their actions against Prop 22 differently than with Prop 8……..that was stated many times…….personally, I'm just glad Prop 8 is gone…….and that the legislators have put things in place to prevent those types of ballot initiatives in the future!!!

  • 87. Bruno71  |  June 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Have they put something in place? I didn't know that. I was under the impression that the citizens of California, as a result of the judgment in that prop 8 case, could do pretty much anything they wanted through an amendment and have it be justified by the CA Constitution, as long as it doesn't constitute a "revision." If we here in the Golden State wanted to draft and pass an amendment stating that only the female California Supreme Court justices must wear pink, it would be valid according to the state constitution.

  • 88. RnL2008  |  June 20, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Yeah, I've since forgotten the bills names, but one was passed in both the house and the Senate regarding fundamental rights……will have to do some research for ya and get back to ya!!!

  • 89. Bruno71  |  June 21, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I'm sure whatever they passed could be overruled by a constitutional amendment though (and be upheld in court). It's scary when 50% plus 1 of an all powerful people can run roughshod over fairness and equality.

  • 90. Christian0811  |  June 21, 2014 at 12:12 am

    I think they felt their hands were tied because the wrong grounds were presented to them. If the plaintiffs had claimed that 14th amendment of the Federal Constitution precluded the effectiveness of Prop 8 (EG. 'Perez v. Sharpe'), and if the Concurring Justices had adequately consider the question of if the majority could overrule fundamental rights, then Prop 8 should've died in 2008/2009 not 2013.

    Oh well, in anycase it's dead (even if it's smelly corpse is still rotting in our constitution).

  • 91. StraightDave  |  June 21, 2014 at 6:53 am

    One of the justices (the Chief, I believe) even opined aloud during oral argument that he thought the real problem might be that the CA Constitution was just too easy to amend. Ya think?! Seems like only yesterday, but my reaction at the time was that was a pretty amazing thing for the CJ of our biggest state to admit in open court, basically calling out the people for letting a good idea get way the hell out of hand. To quote the incomparable Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us".

  • 92. JayJonson  |  June 19, 2014 at 10:49 am

    The legislature DID pass equal marrriage in New Jersey. Christie vetoed it. After the state Supreme Court refused to stay a district court ruling in favor of marriage equality, and Christie abandoned the appeal, the legislature could have overridden Christie's veto (i.e., there were enough votes), but gay groups asked the legislature not to do so because the marriage bill gave many religious exemptions, while the court ruling did not.

  • 93. LK2013  |  June 19, 2014 at 11:16 am

    That is all true, JayJonson. The legislature did finally pass equal marriage in NJ in 2012 but Christie immediately vetoed it.

    I understand why gay groups (e.g., Garden State Equality) later opposed a veto override, because the court decision was stronger than the bill.

    But NOW there is no excuse for GSE and the legislature continuing to ignore the need to pass legislation to convert civil unions retroactively to marriages. I think they must feel it is another losing proposition because Christie will just veto, and there are not enough votes to override that either.

    It is a mystery to me why NJ cannot get this done though.

  • 94. RnL2008  |  June 20, 2014 at 6:55 am

    California's legislators had passed TWO Marriage Amendments which basically was an end around Prop 22 and both times Arnold the "GOVENATOR" vetoed them and basically forced Gays and Lesbians to bring legal challenges to Prop 22……and once Prop 22 was tossed, Arnold had a change of heart about Gays and Lesbians deserving the right to marry.

    In my personal opinion Prop 8 should have NEVER been allowed on the ballot in the first place because it was basically Prop 22 reincarnated!!!

  • 95. Christian0811  |  June 21, 2014 at 12:20 am

    Well they weren't amendments, they were statutes. And he wasn't actually wrong to veto them (but morally I'm not saying he was right either), in CA the legislature can't repeal or amend initiative statutes unless the initiative contains a rider allowing the legislature to do so (which prop 22 did not include).

    Interestingly, there were 4 attempts to pass a mini-DOMA in California (2 of which were by Senator Knight himself) but all were defeated in the legislature. Prop 22 was a recourse to the "tyranny of the majority".

  • 96. RCChicago  |  June 18, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Good idea to call Lisa Madigan's office:

    ACLU of Illinois: 312-201-9740

  • 97. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Thank you.

  • 98. Dave_wx  |  June 18, 2014 at 8:24 am


    I know NJ (my home state) still offfers civil unions in addition to marriage. Since the state also recognizes marriages from outside the state how does your NY marriage affect your civil union? Does NJ automatically convert your civil union to marriage or do you have a double status of being married and in a civil union simultaneously?

  • 99. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 9:02 am

    New Jersey now recognizes our New York marriage (since October 2013).

    For about six weeks in September 2013 – October 2013, we were married in NY and only "civil-unioned" in NJ because NJ did not yet recognize marriage.

    We feel especially screwed because of the Christie veto in 2012 when the legislature passed same-sex marriage in NJ.

    Over and over, NJ has promised that civil unions = marriage "by a different name." After Windsor, NJ should be converting civil unions retroactively to marriages, but with the big blow-hard in charge, no one has the cojones to do the right thing. Including Garden State Equality.

  • 100. Zack12  |  June 18, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    It's stuff like that that should remind folks Christie is no moderate, he is just as bigoted as Rick Perry is.

  • 101. LK2013  |  June 19, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Right on, Zack 12. I can't understand how people fall for his manipulations when he is campaigning. He pours on the charisma and lies, lies, lies. It is nauseating, but it seems to work for him. 🙁

  • 102. LK2013  |  June 18, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    NJ definitely does NOT automatically convert our civil union to marriage.

    If the proposed legislation ever passes (S788), we will be able to elect to convert our civil union retroactively to marriage.

  • 103. eizverson22  |  June 18, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I hope there is good news can be heard.<img src=>

  • 104. davepCA  |  June 20, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Three days with no new article? Nothing about NOM's little picnic in D.C.? Or any of the news items that commenters have mentioned here? Everything okay, EoT?

    BTW, I get emails from NOM so I can check up on their shenanigans and I just got one, post-picnic, which describes their turnout in very brief and very vague terms: "several thousand". Brian also says "I can't wait for next year"! Yeah, I think they're going to save a ton of money next year on fewer buses and a much smaller sound system….

  • 105. Randolph_Finder  |  June 20, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Frankly, I expect things like NOM's little picnic to be covered in other sites (lgbtnation, joemygod, etc) , while this one focuses on the situation in the courts and (to some degree) the legislatures and ballot box.

    From a legal standpoint, it would have been pretty much irrelevant if they had had 15,000 all wearing clown makeup or 300 all missing their right big toe.

  • 106. davepCA  |  June 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Yes, we do focus on the legal issues here, but we have also covered things like NOM activities. For example, there was extensive coverage of their bus tour, and this site helped serve as a way to exchange info about counter protests at each city they visited, which politicians were showing up to support NOM at their various rallies along the way, etc. It was really quite productive.

  • 107. Bruno71  |  June 20, 2014 at 11:24 am

    But of course your original question is why EOT hasn't posted in a few days. There's been court-specific news like the decision on the PA county clerk trying to intervene in Whitewood vs. Wolf and her subsequent appeal. Hopefully we'll hear from them soon 🙂

  • 108. cpnlsn88  |  June 20, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I do agree however we are able to make a sideways reference in our comments section. EOT is more legal focused, filings etc.

  • 109. MichaelGrabow  |  June 20, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Am I making this up, or wasn't there mention of them traveling recently?

  • 110. Margo Schulter  |  June 20, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Here the distinction in California was that Proposition 22 (2000) was an ordinary statute subject to review and invalidation under the State Constitution, while Proposition H8 (2008) was a constitutional amendment.

    As RnL2008 suggests, a provision in the California Constitution that certain fundamental rights cannot be abolished or abridged by the initiative process — as opposed to a more drastic constitutional revision — would be one way of addressing a situation where a simple majority of the electorate at a given moment can compromise rights which should be above such an everyday political process. Indeed, that’s one of the issues in the current Arkansas litigation now before the Arkansas Supreme Court.

  • 111. Equality On TrialKentucky&hellip  |  July 1, 2014 at 9:39 am

    […] state’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, Bourke v. Beshear, is on appeal in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. That case will be heard, along with cases from four other […]

  • 112. Judge Overturns Kentucky&hellip  |  July 1, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    […] The decision was immediately stayed, so the status quo remains the same for Kentucky same-sex couples for now. The Sixth Circuit will consider appeals for marriage cases in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Michigan on the same day in August. […]

  • 113. Equality On TrialThis sum&hellip  |  July 12, 2014 at 10:51 am

    […] Circuit Court of Appeals: Arguments will be heard on August 6 in five same-sex marriage cases from all four states within the Sixth Circuit. Most cases currently […]

  • 114. Equality On TrialSeventh &hellip  |  July 14, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    […] arguments will take place in Chicago, Illinois, a week after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals hears five cases from the four states within its […]

  • 115. LK2013  |  July 30, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Update on the issue of Illinois conversion of out-of-state civil unions to Illinois marriages:

    I checked the Equality Illinois web site today and read this:

    Will my out-of-state civil union, which is currently recognized as a civil union, be eligible for an “upgrade” in Illinois?

    Yes. Illinois residents who received a civil union elsewhere can upgrade their civil union to a marriage in the same way that any other civil union can be upgraded – through conversion or through marriage.

  • 116. JPEG to PDF&hellip  |  October 22, 2014 at 4:19 am

    JPEG to PDF

    Equality On TrialSixth Circuit sets oral arguments in same-sex marriage cases from four states » Equality On Trial

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