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Equality news round-up: ACLU sues for Chelsea Manning, and more

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Alabama state seal– The ACLU is suing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and others on behalf of Chelsea Manning, who is being denied needed medical care “for her gender dysphoria.”

– The parties in one challenge to Alabama’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state, Aaron-Brush v. Bentley have agreed to dismiss Governor Bentley from the lawsuit.

– Questions are being raised about the new Pew Research poll that purportedly shows support for same-sex marriage leveling off.

– Media Matters has a report on some of the myths surrounding LGBT non-discrimination laws.

– The New York Times looks at some of the strategies lawyers are using to convince the Supreme Court that their challenge to same-sex marriage bans should be heard.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings

53 Comments

  • 1. ragefirewolf  |  September 24, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Has anyone noticed that Brandall hasn't commented in a while? You out there, Brandall?

  • 2. JayJonson  |  September 24, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Yes, we miss brandall's comments.

  • 3. Jen_in_MI  |  September 24, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Being a Brandall fan, I am right there with you. Whither thou art, brother?

  • 4. brandall  |  September 26, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Hi all! I'm sorry for being absent without any notice. Thanks to SoCal_Dave to dropping me an e-mail.

    Since no one on EoT or anywhere else can explain the reason(s) for the gay stays, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had an idea and started out on a quest the day after I witnessed the 9th AC hearings about "child bonding rights." I was kidnapped by monkeys with wings and locked in a tower with an hourglass. I was told the hourglass would run out in June, 2015. That was too long to watch couples being denied their rights. So, I threw some water on this mean person with the broom. Again, since there is no rational basis for ignoring the courts own rules for the gay stays, I thought for sure I could get SCOTUS to lift the stays if I brought them the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West. While I had my hands on the broom, a charming girl dressed in a blue dress with a yappy dog, grabbed the broom so she could go back to Kansas. By the way, she was straight, but sympathetic to our cause. Alas, no broom and hence the gay=stays continue.

  • 5. dingomanusa  |  September 26, 2014 at 8:36 am

    rofl love your sense of humor and I too missed your posts wondered what happened to you.
    [youtube pQT-QFy5Nig http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQT-QFy5Nig youtube]

  • 6. brandall  |  September 26, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Actually, after a wonderful 5 month vacation, I went back to work the day after the 9th AC hearings. I should have mentioned it. Thank you all for the comments and I will find time to post more often. You are an amazing group and I'm humbled to be a part of this journey with you.

  • 7. DACiowan  |  September 26, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Did you happen to hear any Pink Floyd on that journey?

  • 8. brandall  |  September 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    No, but I did encounter the ghost of singer Perter Allen aka the "the boy from Oz."

  • 9. ragefirewolf  |  September 24, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Here's my question: how difficult would it be for SCOTUS to just consolidate all or most of the cases before them to address them all at once?

  • 10. JayJonson  |  September 24, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I think it would be easy. Couldn't they just grant cert to the ones they want to consider and then schedule the oral arguments at the same session?

    In effect, they did that with Hollingsworth and Windsor, which posed different (though related) issues. Since they decided that the defenders of Prop 8 lacked standing, they did not reach the merits of Hollingsworth; but they heard it in conjunction with Windsor, and many observers believe that some of the arguments made (in the briefs and orally) in Hollingsworth influenced the decision in Windsor.

    So I could see SCOTUS granting cert in several of the pending cases, and hearing them in tandem and perhaps issuing a single ruling that considers in addition to the right to marry, the right to have one's marriage recognized in a different state, etc.

  • 11. ragefirewolf  |  September 24, 2014 at 9:32 am

    That would be kind of awesome, especially considering the different rulings in the various winning cases – all the questions could be addressed directly.

  • 12. Riovistan  |  September 24, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I am inclined to believe Ginsburg on this issue. She is suggesting a good deal of restraint here. And I don't think the conservatives on the court want to touch this issue…ever. They are simply not going to be able to overturn the dozens of decisions in the many lower courts. They would be stuck with their names attached to either a decision that upsets their bigoted beliefs or turn the Supreme Court into a joke.

    I think all nine justices are praying that the more conservative Circuit Courts will follow the constitution and let them off the hook.

  • 13. ragefirewolf  |  September 24, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I don't believe that's what Ginsburg was saying at all. I think she was saying that an adverse ruling at the Sixth would only serve to motivate a reluctant court, which she previously said would not hesitate to take up a marriage equality case "properly before them" – as opposed to Hollingsworth.

  • 14. Retired_Lawyer  |  September 24, 2014 at 10:43 am

    The Supreme Court granted certiorari and consolidated several cases in the 1954 school desegregation litigation that came to be known as Brown v. Board of Education. The Court could grant all the pending petitions in the marriage equality cases, and by consolidating them, consider all the issues raised without appearing to go beyond the parameters of the cases before them. In actuality, they would be free of the fact pattern limitations of each individual case. The Court could not only rule broadly on marriage equality, but could in addition establish standards (perhaps heightened scrutiny) to guide lower courts in future cases presenting disparate treatment of the LGBT community.

    A last point: the conservative Justices are in a bind. If cert is denied in any of the pending cases, then marriage equality becomes the controlling precedent in that circuit. They can scarcely avoid granting cert. in at least one case.

  • 15. Riovistan  |  September 24, 2014 at 10:59 am

    That was the Warren court. Roberts is no Warren. I think the conservatives will hope for the cowards way out.

  • 16. Margo Schulter  |  September 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

    A curious question: Might Judge Sutton of the Sixth Circuit maybe be influenced either his mentor Judge Posner’s decision in the Seventh Circuit, or by Justice Ginsburg’s observation that the Sixth Circuit’s ruling will either cause or avoid a circuit split.

    Judge Sutton could rule narrowly that the statutes being challenged fail some kind of rational review — maybe with a bit of a “bite” as in Cleburne — and that would avoid a circuit split and let SCOTUS avoid ruling for a while. I recall that earlier this year, Justice Ginsburg said that the Court wouldn’t avoid a marriage case that was properly before them, and would likely decide the question by 2016. From that one might infer that she didn’t say 2015, leaving open the scenario where there’s not an immediate split, and so the “percolation” goes on until there is. And if cert. is denied, that’s the end of “gay=stay”!

  • 17. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 24, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Off topic:

    Three people have been arrested in the Philadelphia Center City attack on a gay couple. One of the persons arrested is the daughter of a police chief. Sort of like the minister's son or daughter forced into a shotgun marriage because of pregnancy?

    Related to this whole incident, Governor Corbett says he deplores the incident, yet hate crimes cannot be charged, since PA law does not include perception of, or actual knowledge of, sexual orientation to be a hate crime, and Corbett is very clear that he will not say whether he will or will not support a current bill to include such hate crimes due to perceived or actual knowledge of sexual orientation in current PA law. I don't think his silence on the issue will help his reelection bid.

    (More information on this subject in the 'Crime' section at 'The Advocate'.)

  • 18. franklinsewell  |  September 24, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Check this out … one of those charged is the daughter of a police chief in the state – http://www.queerty.com/violent-philly-gay-basher-

  • 19. franklinsewell  |  September 24, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    And here's another article about the same girl – http://www.queerty.com/meet-kathryn-knott-the-vio

  • 20. Rik_SD  |  September 24, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    He needs to resign. She needs to be in jail and to lose her license and job. End of story.

  • 21. Dann3377  |  September 24, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    She already lost her job at the hospital where she worked in the ER!

  • 22. ebohlman  |  September 24, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Apparently because she was posting patients' x-rays and scans and other details on social media, which is a slam-dunk HIPAA violation (note that she appears to be a medical technologist, not a nurse). What a piece of work.

    I see a "Law and Order: SVU" episode based on this case in the near future. Might have to be a two-parter.

  • 23. Waxr  |  September 24, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    What I gather is that 14 people were celebrating a friends birthday inside a restaurant. They walked outside, encountered the two gay men, and 8 of the 14 assaulted them. Video cameras prove the party started it. 3 of the 8 turned themselves in.

    What happened to the other 5? Are they going to be arrested? Or will they go free?

    As a result of this incident, one of the 5 who are still free, was fired from his job as an assistant basketball coach at the Catholic high school most of the party formerly attended.

  • 24. ragefirewolf  |  September 25, 2014 at 6:54 am

    I realize hate crimes protection isn't in PA law, but wouldn't this be covered under the federal Matthew Shepard Act?

  • 25. NorthernAspect  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Good question. Can you anybody shed light on the matter?

  • 26. SPQRobin  |  September 27, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I found http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Pa_law_Center_C

    It appears that the federal hate crimes law only applies to cases that are prosecuted at federal level.

  • 27. franklinsewell  |  September 24, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Arrgh. I am so tired of waiting for the 6th and the 9th. Come on already.

  • 28. Sagesse  |  September 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Could be comic relief?

    Robert Oscar Lopez To Fifth Circuit: Stop Gay Marriage Because I Was A Prostitute [Joe.My.God]

    "Homocon horcrux Robert Oscar Lopez has filed a deranged amicus brief with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the ban on same-sex marriage in Texas."
    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2014/09/robet-oscar-

  • 29. Japrisot  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I cried at work laughing so hard.

  • 30. Ragavendran  |  September 24, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    No doubt this will somehow find its way into our opponents' arguments (although Germany hasn't legalized same-sex marriage yet):
    https://www.vocativ.com/world/germany-world/inces

  • 31. Zack12  |  September 24, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Ironic considering Germany doesn't allow same sex marriage to my knowledge.

  • 32. ragefirewolf  |  September 25, 2014 at 6:59 am

    It very importantly kills the "slippery slope" argument for just that reason. Same-sex marriage didn't lead to this in Germany because it doesn't exist there. I hope any judge with a sound mind will see this.

  • 33. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Oh come on who is going to take seriously a commitee that says that incest provides minimum medical risks to children born into those relationships when 3 out of 4 children of these people have health problems ? This is such a non issue really, medical support in non existant and totally unrelated to the same sex marriage issue.

    Germany and Australia are the two paradox countries on the marriage equality issue. Both with overwhelming approval of marriage equality according to every recent poll but both with ultra conservative governments, hugely influenced by christian lobbies.It's a pity truly.

  • 34. Ragavendran  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I'm with you on the merits of incest, but apparently this is a very influential committee. From the article:

    The council’s decision is only a recommendation, but it’s one with weight. The German government formed the council in 2007 to handle the meatiest questions of “ethics, society, science, medicine and law” with the goal of recommending “political and legislative action.”

    And the relationship between incest and same sex marriage is only through the slippery slope arguments of our opponents, though in this case, it would be in reverse!

  • 35. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:30 am

    If we want to use this silly slippery slope in our advantage then we have to admit that a christian democrat government that refuses to introduce same sex marriage, even though more than 70 % of the german population supports it will never legalize incest, especially on such shaky grounds, even if this council is supposed to be influential. It's a debate sparked by an incestuous couple who have 2 kids with disabilities and one in need of a heart transplant and they refuse to witness the medical facts here, it's that simple.

    Also what is the opinion of this council on same sex marriage ? Have they recommended as well ? Because if it was I don't see anything happening currently there on that issue..

  • 36. SPQRobin  |  September 27, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Interestingly, the council recommended that it should remain illegal when a couple of an adult and an underage partner live in a family; even more, that in such situations the criminalization should be extended to other sexual acts, such as anal sex.

    In any case, I didn't see anyone linking the topic of incest with LGBT issues in Germany.

    And I agree with the "similarity" between Germany and Australia; marriage equality is long overdue in both countries. Both waiting for a more progressive government.

  • 37. RnL2008  |  September 24, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    Hi folks, I see we're still waiting on the 6th and the 9th for their rulings………maybe by the end of the month…ugh!!!

    Hope everyone has been well……have a great weekend folks!!!

  • 38. DaveM_OH  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Hey, the 6th has been busy slapping down our illustrious Secretary of State's efforts to keep people from voting. (NAACP v. Husted)

  • 39. RnL2008  |  September 25, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the update…….another ugh, I mean keeping folks from voting…….my guess is another attempt to ensure a Republican wins in 2016……for shame on these idiots!!!

  • 40. Dr. Z  |  September 25, 2014 at 5:58 am

    Regarding that new Pew poll: most news outlets do a terrible job at interpreting polls.

    The Salon article rightly points out that the poll may have tapped into a known source of systematic error known as priming. By combining questions about the role of religion in public life with questions about homosexuality, the poll may have inadvertently framed the issues in a manner that skewed the results.

    There is also the potential for sampling bias. This sample of 2002 adults found that 49% of those surveyed supported SSM, with a margin of error of 2.5 points. The confidence level was 95%. That does not mean that the true level of public support is 49%. It means that, 19 times out of 20, the true level of public support lies somewhere between 46.5% and 51.5%. The 49% number is just the mean value for the sample, it's not more likely to be correct than 48% or 50%. All values within that 5 point error margin are equally likely to be accurate. There's nothing special about the 49% value except that it happened to represent the sample mean.

    Then there's that 19 out of 20 part. What that means is that 1 time out of every 20 the true population mean lies somewhere outside the 5 point range. In other words, the poll is flat out wrong. This is an important point to consider: given the thousands of polls conducted every year, a sizable number of them are destined to be wrong, no matter how carefully they are conducted.

    This is why the media gets it wrong – they place too much emphasis on individual polls. Instead, they should be looking at multiple polls before concluding that there is a new trend, as Nate Silver does. The Pew poll was just one poll, so we don't know if it was the 1 out of 20 outlier that got it wrong. The only thing we can do is look at lots of polls, and note that the Pew poll sticks out when compared to the others. It is possible that Pew was measuring a new trend, but until confirmed by other polls it's far more likely that the Pew poll was the "1 time out of 20" outlier.

  • 41. critter69  |  September 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Another thing to consider:

    Interpreting the responses to the questions can be biased, although much more difficult to prove. One person could easily interpret the response one way, and another would interpret it another way.

    And the reason cell phones are usually not included in polls? When the current law on polling was put in place (early- to mid-1990s I believe), most cell phones had very strict, and low, numbers of minutes for 'free' calls. Proper polling can take several minutes to conduct. The law recognized this, and prohibited pollsters from calling people with cell phones. It also required phone companies to periodically make available the numbers for cell phones and required polling organizations to obtain those lists (it would have been easier for the US phone companies to use the European method of using specific area codes [ACs] for cell phones, different than landline phones in the same ACs. After all, there are now lots of ACs where there are 'overlays' of ACs [Maryland, Manhattan, LA, Chicago, NE Ohio, Oregon and many more have 'overlays'). If a pollster intentionally and repeatedly calls cell phones, the pollster can be massively fined for each call (fairly easily proven, by the feature called last call (usually sorted by incoming and outgoing) or missed calls included in almost all cells phones. Also, phone company records can be subpoenaed for periods of time of six months or longer.

    Since that law was put in place, people are now buying plans that have increased number of minutes allowed. (In the late 1980s, Verizon was pushing a cell phone and plan that included 60 'free' minutes/month rather than the then-usual 30 'free' minutes/month. I'm not sure anyone today even offers a plan for less than 200 'free' minutes/month.)

  • 42. JayJonson  |  September 25, 2014 at 6:13 am

    I don't think the Pew people "inadvertently framed the issues in a manner that skewed the results." I think they deliberately framed the issues in a manner that skewed the results.

  • 43. Dr. Z  |  September 25, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Pew is a well respected group, there's no evidence they tried to deliberately skew the results. I think what probably happened in this case is that they were interested in evaluating public attitudes on the whole "religious exemption" topic. The poll is revealing not because it found a five point drop in SSM support (almost certainly an outlier, as I discussed elsewhere) but because it suggests that combining questions on SSM with questions on religion is likely to skew both findings. Unless and until these findings are confirmed by other surveys that control for the associative priming, you can safely ignore this poll.

    What Pew may have found is another "Bradley Effect" of sorts that intriduces bias to poll results. Bottom line: if you want to sample the public's support for SSM, don't ask questions about religion in the same poll. And vice versa.

  • 44. JayJonson  |  September 25, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Their polls about same-sex marriage consistently show less support for same-sex marriage than other polls. You can find press releases on their site from several years ago with the very similar headlines as this current one: "support for gay marriage stalls." (Issued at the same time that other polls show support for same-sex marriage increasing.) Their press releases often frame the issue in terms of "redefining marriage" and place it in a context of how support for "gay marriage" will affect "religious liberty." They are not disinterested. They are part of a larger enterprise that is not friendly to gay people or to gay rights.

    There may be no smoking gun "evidence" that they tried to deliberately skew the results, but that does not mean that they did not deliberately attempt to skew the results. As you point out, their latest poll taps into "priming" errors and sampling biases. Surely, they are knowledgable enough about polling that they could have avoided those errors if they wanted to do so.

    Combining questions about the role of religion in public life with questions about homosexuality is a deliberate choice. Experienced pollsters as they are, they know what the effect of doing so will be.

  • 45. Dr. Z  |  September 25, 2014 at 8:53 am

    It's not necessarily bias for one poll to consistently score higher or lower than others. It is a natural consequence of the tradeoffs inherent in sampling design. For example: you want to ensure that you don't oversample one age demographic (eg older respondents) at the expense of others. However, you can't use the same methods to reach all demographics. Older people are more likely to have landlines; younger people are more likely to use cellphones, but there are problems polling cells. The sampling design has to control for that, and not everybody does it the same way. That right there causes differences in polls.

    Instead of comparing across polls, it is more useful to track sets of changes within the same series of polls. If Gallup and Pew and Rasmussen and four other polls are showing an uptick of three points, that's meaningful. But a consistent difference of three points between Pew and Gallup (for instance) isn't meaningful.

  • 46. JayJonson  |  September 25, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I certainly agree that it is useful to compare polls and to track differences within polls. But surely it is telling that even as Pew proclaims a decline in support of same-sex marriage, Gallup and NYT/CBS etc all show increases, that tells us a lot.. If Pew knows that combining questions about the role of religion in public life with questions about homosexuality skews the results (as surely they know it does), then they are deliberately skewing the results. That sounds like bias to me.

  • 47. Dr. Z  |  September 25, 2014 at 10:30 am

    "Bias", like "animus", is a tricky thing to prove. If a pollster is the first to uncover something like the Bradley Effect it may appear at first blush like they were cooking the results. But somebody has to be the first, after all.

    I think Pew may have done us all a favor here by inadvertently proving that there is a religion effect in polls about SSM. It's long been known that polling results can be skewed by using the word "homosexual" instead of "gay". What THIS poll may have done is quantify that as much as a five point bias can be introduced in a SSM poll by combining the topic with questions about religion.

    Within the Pew polling history, this latest poll showed a dip of five points. Other polls have not confirmed that dip, suggesting that there was something about the design of this poll was responsible. It could have been the 1-in-20 thing, or it may have been the question mix. Only additional results can determine which one it was.

    Now, if it had been established by previous research that this practice skews the results, yet they did it anyway, THEN you can fairly conclude the pollster was attempting to cook the results.

  • 48. JayJonson  |  September 25, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I understand your point. Without some whistleblower within the organization, it would be difficult to prove a deliberate intention to cook the results. Yet I don't think we can ignore Pew's history with this issue. This is not the first poll that they have trumpeted as indicating that support for same-sex marriage has plateaued.

    I suspect that they are consciously or (less likely in my opinion) subconsciously, tailoring their results to fit the hopes of their supporters–at Pew Charitable Trust, in particular, but also religious folk generally who want to be reassured that they are still the dominant force in American cultre. As R_A_J comments, Deseret News and other conservative newspapers LOVE Pew polls. But my suspicion may simply indicate that I am more cynical and/or jaded than you are. (lol)

  • 49. R_A_J  |  September 25, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I can tell you this, the Deseret News in Utah LOVES Pew Research. They consistently feature the polls out of Pew with headlines like this from today:

    "In our opinion: Pew survey revisits how we look at religion's influence in politics, life"

    and yesterday from a BYU professor:

    "Richard Davis: We're not as culturally liberal as touted"

  • 50. JayJonson  |  September 25, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Precisely.

  • 51. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:13 am

    They are grasping from straws at this point, they know they got nothing, so any little statistical fluctuation gets them going. First the Louisiana federal ruling, then this poll. Little mis steps and anomalies that give hope (and keep the funding coming for Brown) to the people who know they have lost another human rights battle.

  • 52. critter69  |  September 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    The Deseret News is the official newspaper of the LDS, so what did you expect?

    Similar to Pravda (which, when translated, means 'Truth') was the official newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party. Most of the time, most people read Pravda for the laughs, not the 'truth', because most people knew that what was printed in Pravda was almost assuredly the opposite of the truth.

  • 53. ebohlman  |  September 25, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Pravda had a "competitor" (also CP-run) called Izvestia, meaning "news". The joke was "there's no pravda in Izvestia and very little izvestia in Pravda."

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