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Federal Courts Prep for Marriage Mega-Ruling

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By Matt Baume

Get ready for six upcoming rulings in marriage cases, following an intense multi-case hearing in federal court. AFER’s attorneys have asked for an immediate start to weddings in Virginia, rather than wait for an appeal. And two more wins in Florida bring the victory tally to four.

Last week the Sixth circuit heard oral argument in six separate marriage equality cases, which means that all six cases are now due for a ruling any day. There’s no way to predict how the court will rule, but the three judges raised issues involving previous lawsuits, public opinion, and how marriage laws impact children. A decision could come at any time, and might cover one or multiple cases. However the court rules, parties are likely to petition the U. S. Supreme Court for review.

At least three other states will be sending cases to the Supreme Court as well. Last week, Utah petitioned the Supreme Court to hear its case, on the grounds that states, not the federal government, should decide issues relating to marriage — even when those issues involve the federal constitution. An Oklahoma official filed a Supreme Court petition the next day, on similar grounds.

The third state approaching the Supreme Court is Virginia. An court there just upheld a ruling that marriage bans are unconstitutional, but stayed the decision pending appeal. Last week AFER attorneys argued that the court should lift that stay, since it’s causing irreparable harm to the plaintiff couples. State officials filed a petition to the Supreme Court on Friday of last week.

Florida has won two new victories for marriage equality. The first came in Broward County, where Judge Dale Cohen ruled that “To discriminate based on sexual orientation…is against all that this country holds dear.” The second came in Palm Beach, where Circuit Judge Diana Lewis issued a narrow ruling that upheld spousal rights following a death. Last last week, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asked state courts to stop ruling on marriage equality until the U. S. Supreme Court has a chance to weigh in.

There’s been some action in western states this week. Wisconsin organizers have formed a new group called Wisconsin Unites for Marriage. Their goal is public education while also persuading Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen to drop his defense of the state’s marriage ban. A federal judge ruled against Wisconsin’s law in June, and oral argument in an appeal is scheduled for August 26th, along with a hearing on an Indiana case.

39 Comments

  • 1. wkrick  |  August 11, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    From SCOTUSblog…

    String of same-sex marriage rulings broken
    http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/08/string-of-same-

  • 2. andrewofca  |  August 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    It had to happen sooner or later. Better from a state county judge than elsewhere…

  • 3. jjcpelayojr  |  August 11, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    He's right in some degree. SCOTUS never took up Article 2 of DOMA because they ruled narrowly on Article 3. I really wish that Article 2 was also contested way back then…

  • 4. Bruno71  |  August 12, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I don't think Article 2 could have been contested outright in Windsor. It basically says that states don't have to recognize marriage, but it doesn't FORCE them not to. Therefore, if a same-sex couple sues for harm, they sue the state and/or the federal government for not recognizing. I think the only way Article 2 goes is if in a case like the Ohio or Kentucky case, SCOTUS explicitly says a state MUST recognize a couple's same-sex marriage from another state. Edie Windsor's Canuck marriage was already recognized by New York.

  • 5. Sagesse  |  August 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    JT Eberhard said it best:

    "This from the state that gave us the Scopes ruling banning the teaching of evolution."
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2014/08/breaki

  • 6. Ann_S  |  August 11, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I think you meant "midwestern states" in that last paragraph. Thanks for the report.

  • 7. brandall  |  August 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Republican Supermajority May Impeach NC Attorney General

    This takes things to a another low…stop fighting the unconstitutional bans and we'll dump you out of your office for doing your job.
    http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/art

    A different report states Senate Leader Phil Berger’s office is denying this.
    http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/11/4065240/ga

  • 8. sfbob  |  August 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    “Last year in the legislation we passed, was if both the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate come together, come to terms and say that the attorney general is not representing the citizens of North Carolina like they ought to be, then we have set-aside money to hire private counsel to represent us and that’s what’s getting ready to happen,” Mr. Sanderson said.
    His comments came during the inaugural meeting of the Morehead-Beaufort Tea Party held upstairs at Floyd’s 1921 Restaurant on Bridges Street. About 16 were in attendance, including a News-Times reporter.

    So 16 attendees at a meeting of the Tea Party are deciding what the citizens of North Carolina want their legislators to focus on. Because their views matter more than does the Constitution of the United States.

  • 9. micha1976  |  August 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Anyone knows when and where we will find out about who will sit on the 7th Circuit panel on the 26th?

  • 10. DoctorHeimlich  |  August 11, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    According to the Seventh Circuit's handbook, the identity of the judges on a panel aren't announced until the day of oral argument. Assignments are made randomly about a month before that, though. So at this point, the judges who will be on the case have been informed of their assignment. But we won't know until the 26th.

  • 11. DoctorHeimlich  |  August 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I should also add, if you're of a mind to speculate, there aren't that many judges on the Seventh Circuit. Discounting the four judges on senior status, there are 10 possible judges the panel could draw from.

    We've seen that the president who appointed a judge doesn't always provide insight into the judge's ultimate ruling, but for what it's worth, the Seventh appears to have 7 Republican appointees and 3 Democratic appointees. (There is currently one vacancy.)

    One Republican appointee we could actually hope to draw would be Richard Posner, who was already drawing his own comparisons between Loving v. Virginia and gay rights years ago:
    http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/2012/05/homosex

  • 12. StraightDave  |  August 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    (from a straight man growing up in the 60's…)
    I have no doubt Posner will be on our side, given that he wrote this over 2 years ago. Much has changed since then. But I do take issue with his explanation for the rapid increase in tolerance for homosexuality: "Greatly increased tolerance of nonmarital sex, and of cohabitation as a substitute for marriage, reduced the traditional abhorrence of homosexual sex,". I don't think those issues have anything to do with each other.

    For starters, the 60' and 70's were the era of loosening sexual mores. At the same time, homosexuality was starting to enter the public consciousness, but in a very negative way. It was now understood to be something that was real, and probably not very far away – certainly not as far as Eskimos. There was little welcoming with open arms. On the contrary, this was generally viewed as hidden, mysterious, dangerous, and certainly very wrong.

  • 13. weshlovrcm  |  August 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Completely off topic, but curious now: "(from a straight man growing up in the 60's…)" Did you by any chance read "Famous Monsters of Filmland" magazines in the 60's? Thanks!

  • 14. StraightDave  |  August 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Actually, no. Never even heard of them. Must have had a sheltered life. I was just getting weaned off my Superman/Batman comic books then.

  • 15. dingomanusa  |  August 11, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    “Recent legislation written and introduced by Senator Mike Enzi(R) of Wyoming and Congressman Mike Kelly(R) of Pennsylvania have introduced a bill titled "The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014". This rather tongue-in-cheek title should rather be called the "child welfare exclusion act" because what it does is ensure that third party agencies that provide child welfare services can no longer be forced to provide those services in the instance that doing so would cause them to violate their "sincerely held religious beliefs". You know, like believing gay people are an abomination?…yeah, those kind.” Find out more about this issue by reading Bryans Blog: http://gayfamilyvalues.blogspot.com/2014/08/adopt

  • 16. F_Young  |  August 11, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    "The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2014".

    In other words, gays are equal citizens when it comes to paying taxes, but have no right to get government-funded services outsourced to churches contrary to the establishment clause.

    And who cares about what happens to orphans anyway, as long as gays don't get equality and churches get to defend their special right to discriminate?

  • 17. Waxr  |  August 11, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I have a strongly held religious belief against paying taxes (Matt 17:25-27.) Can I get out of paying them?

  • 18. Jen_in_MI  |  August 11, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    PLEASE take it to court so we can find out! 😉

  • 19. ragefirewolf  |  August 11, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    I don't really want to wait another year or longer, as the case may be…

    I wouldn't care as much if these stupid stays weren't in place.

  • 20. Ragavendran  |  August 11, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    James D Schneller has filed a motion to expedite the appeal and argument of the denial of his motion to intervene in Pennsylvania's Whitewood, before the Third Circuit. This is just a Santai-Gaffney all over again: http://www.scribd.com/doc/236250466/14-3049-Exped

  • 21. ebohlman  |  August 11, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    "including by a complex inter-relatedness"

    " amidst unproven, short-term theories which boil down to
    a state condoning of infusion of a sub-classes choice of non-biological sex partners"

    The whole thing reads like a "scientific" paper invoking quantum theory in support of medical quackery. It also reads as if it was created by one of the text generators at http://www.elsewhere.org.

    Schneller and Santai-Gaffney appear to be each other's groupies.

    While we're on the subject of weird litigation, this one, in addition to being truly funny, appears to touch on the "animus jurisprudence" considerations brought up by Judge Holmes.

  • 22. StraightDave  |  August 12, 2014 at 6:07 am

    "…a state condoning of infusion of a sub-classes choice of non-biological sex partners"

    "The liberty protected by the Constitution allows homosexual persons the right to make this choice." – Lawrence v Texas

  • 23. Jen_in_MI  |  August 11, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Can you smell the desperation? It's like a noxious fog of stupid.

  • 24. sfbob  |  August 12, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Who is this person and why should we or the court care what he thinks?

  • 25. brandall  |  August 12, 2014 at 8:30 am

    He is a local PA politician with SFA (serial filing addiction):
    http://www.jim4us.com/news.htm

  • 26. sfbob  |  August 12, 2014 at 9:19 am

    So he doesn't actually hold any elected office?

  • 27. brandall  |  August 12, 2014 at 10:04 am

    He has never held an elected office. He was a civil servant as an NYC license inspector and is an attorney. He is running for a seat in the 7th PA District. Considering his anti-ME brief, he's a very mixed-up person….at the bottom of his campaign page:

    "Jim does not relent in his efforts to attain freedom and equality for all – please join our campaign !"

    I'll have to send a donation to his opponent.
    http://www.jim4us.com/Qual.htm

  • 28. sfbob  |  August 12, 2014 at 10:17 am

    So his claim to have standing in the case would be…what, exactly?

    You're right. He's a very mixed-up person.

  • 29. Bruno71  |  August 12, 2014 at 11:34 am

    He has standing because he is a white, Christian, heterosexual, bald male and because reasons.

  • 30. Ragavendran  |  August 11, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    All you need to know about Utah's and Oklahoma's cert petitions before the Supreme Court: http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/08/08/3469139/

  • 31. RnL2008  |  August 12, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Well, their first argument will fail as there are many heterosexual couples who marry after the woman's childbearing years. The other is that the couple is either infertile or sterile also makes that "SEXUAL COMPLEMENTARINESS" irrelevant!

    Regardless of HOW MANY Same-Sex couples are raising children……ALL should have the same protection under the law……siting the dissent from Justice Kelly is NOT their friend!!!

    This is a new one…….how we have sex is "DIFFERENT" therefore a legally married Same-Sex couple is NOT similarly situated based on sexual interaction………are they for real?

    The old opposite-sex couples will just simply have more children without getting married is NOT going to fly……next!!!

    Right, marriage simply DOESN'T mean the same if we allow those Gays to get married…….boy, what a bunch of idiots in my opinion!!!

    Really, grabbing a definition of marriage from an 1828 dictionary because it's using God and scripture……..okay, can we say "GRASPING AT STRAWS?"

    The old stand-by argument…..ONLY opposite-sex couples can "ACCIDENTALLY" get pregnant…..though procreation is a Fundamental Right…..it has NOTHING to do with one's right to marry!!!

    Number 8 is just pathetic!!!

    Number 9 is just silly…….voter's DON'T have the right to vote on a minorities basic rights like marriage, procreation or other rights!!!

    The last one about incest and polygamy are NOT similarly situated, however they did forget to include the ole bestiality claim as well as marrying objects like one's computer!!!

    One would think that if they wanted to win at SCOTUS, they would have used better arguments……and they DIDN'T!!!

  • 32. Ragavendran  |  August 12, 2014 at 5:10 am

    I couldn't have put it better myself, Rose! Yeah, if this is all they have, I feel really good about our chances 🙂

  • 33. RnL2008  |  August 12, 2014 at 5:16 am

    Where is George Carlin? Because he would just have a field day with these 10 ridiculous claims………I mean with all of the "REAL" issues going on in this Country and this is ALL the anti-gay folks can do is make up STUPID uneducated reasons as to why Gays and Lesbians SHOULDN'T be allowed to exercise their FUNDAMENTAL right to marry.

    Stupid SHOULD hurt and these anti-gay folks SHOULD be required to pay for damages to Gays and Lesbians for the harm they cause!!!

  • 34. ragefirewolf  |  August 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    George has been dead since 2008 🙁

  • 35. RnL2008  |  August 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    I know that, but if he were alive…….his comments would have been funny as hell….lol!!!

  • 36. ragefirewolf  |  August 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I figured. Absolutely, I wish he was…I would love to hear his responses. 🙂 haha

  • 37. JayJonson  |  August 12, 2014 at 6:33 am

    Offtopic but telling. Newsflash from Joe.My.God blog, Charles Manson, 79, who is serving a life sentence for multiple murders, is going to marry a young woman, with whom he will not be allowed conjugal visits. So much for procreation being the purpose of marriage. Convicted murderers enjoy the fundamental right to marry, but, alas, in the eyes of some members of the judiciary, gay and lesbians do not.

  • 38. brandall  |  August 12, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Dear Jay, this is not off-topic by any means. A serial killer with no appreciation for the lives of the complete strangers who were brutally killed has more "fundamental rights" than a loving same sex couple. I hope our ME lawyers make use of this of this marriage in their briefs.

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