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Equality news round-up: SCOTUS conference coming up, and more

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It's time for marriage equality. Attribution: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
It’s time for marriage equality. Attribution: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
It’s getting closer to Monday, September 29, which means there’s lots of focus on what the Supreme Court might do after its first conference of the term…

– The Washington Blade takes a look at what might happen with the pending petitions in the marriage cases.

– Marriage Equality USA has an opinion piece at the Huffington Post on the cases.

– Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe predicts that the state will have marriage equality.

– The recent decision by a state judge in Louisiana striking down their same-sex marriage ban may be headed to the state supreme court.

– There’s not been much in terms of court decisions for awhile – the Sixth and Ninth Circuit opinions could come out any day, and a state court in Missouri hears arguments tomorrow in a marriage recognition case, so we can expect some movement perhaps soon.


  • 1. MichaelGrabow  |  September 25, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Eric Holder to resign.

    Maybe he can announce federal recognition of the AR, IN, and WI marriages before he leaves.

  • 2. ragefirewolf  |  September 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    He's not leaving until a successor can be confirmed, so that makes things a little bit more interesting.

  • 3. Ragavendran  |  September 25, 2014 at 10:14 am

    The two routes that the Supreme Court could take to legalize same-sex marriage – equal protection and due process – brilliantly articulated for the lay person:

    When the Court rules, will it do so modestly, simply demanding that marriage everywhere expand to include gays? Or will the justices do something bolder and better for American family life: Explain that marriage doesn’t need to be expanded for same-sex couples, because it has always included them.

    I don't agree with the article that the fundamental right due process route is better, but only because the Court has so far been very shy in clarifying its equal protection approach towards sexual orientation discrimination, and clarifying that (if at all they do) would be a big step for future discrimination issues. I do agree that a due process ruling would ring bolder and louder for the dignity of same-sex couples in the marriage context. Of course, ultimately, I wish Kennedy would address both aspects, like in Loving.

    At first glance, the approach of the 10th Circuit seems more radical, but it is also deeply conservative—in all the right ways. On the one hand, it is welcoming, not only inviting gay couples into humanity’s oldest social institution, but telling them that they have always belonged there. At the same time, it should also be easier for opponents of same-sex marriage to stomach: I would rather be told that the Court disagrees with my metaphysics than be labeled a bigot.

  • 4. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I am big fan of the judicial interpretation that says that "there is no right to same sex marriage, there is a right to marriage in accordance to Loving, Griswold and Zablocki and it includes same sex couples as per the guarantees of the 14th amendment and full faith and credit clause". It's one that can convince even conservative (true conservative, not Feldman conservative) justices. It can certainly appeal to Kennedy.

  • 5. JayJonson  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Arkansas judge who recused himself from marriage case accused of improper contact with state senator:

  • 6. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Not surprising. Louisiana supreme court justices will have similar "contacts" with the Louisiana Family Forum and its puppet legislators as well but that will not be reported for sure. I do not trust state courts in those conservative states handling such stuff. They are much influenced by the state legislature and can be voted out and that crambles their credibility especially on such cases.
    The Iowa SC did the right thing in 2009 and we saw what happened to those judges (3 of them at least). And now that GOP is about to take over all public offices there, a referendum to ban same sex marriage is probably underway.

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

    I don't think we have much to expect from the Monday conference honestly unless the 6th issues its ruling upholding the bans today or tomorrow which seems unlikely. Sutton must have got the message by now from SCOTUS : Don't expect us to relieve you of this. Do what your stupid logic, anti-LGBT animus and historical illiteracy (waiting for the democratic process to give minorities their rights as they always do on time – not) tell you and give us a reason to step in. I hope the 9th issues a decision soon as well though, before SCOTUS takes on so a) marriages can begin in Nevada and b) it will be a 4 against 1 federal appeals courts' decision when the issues is taken on by SCOTUS.

  • 8. franklinsewell  |  September 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Yes … please hurry up 9th. Anyone have a cell phone number of a 9th circuit judge? LOL

  • 9. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 11:37 am

    By the way I was wondering about two other issues concerning state courts :

    a) The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments in a same sex couple's divorce case about a year ago..! Is it usual to take that long for this court to issue decisions ? It's kind of ridiculous..I also read that surprisingly this all republican court showed some skepticism over the marriage recognition issue. Is there any chance for a slight surprise there ?

    b) The Mississipi Supreme Court took on a divorce case of a same sex couple in Mississipi (just read that ACLU petitioned to file a brief). My question is probably rhetorical but what are the chances there for a favourable ruling ?

  • 10. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I can't respond to your first question, but only to the second:

    Mississippi Supreme Court Justices are elected to eight year terms. The voters of Mississippi have been extremely conservative for decades (the state was one of the original members of the CSA in the 1860s, and FDR tried to not rely on Southern Senators, even though 'members' of his own political party, unless necessary, since they were so conservative. Also, Mississippi was one of the few states that voted for Strom Thurmond in 1948, and for Barry Goldwater in 1964. Just a few indications how CONservative the voters of Mississippi are.).

    As a result of the extreme CONservative voters of Mississippi, it is not unusual for the justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court to have a very conservative political and judicial philosophy.

  • 11. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I did not expect anything else to be honest. Mississipi is last on everything (good) in the USA including progress on human rights. Whatever progress is made there will come through SCOTUS, not even state courts or the 5th circuit. Same with segregation etc. I almost feel sorry for the lesbian couple going there..The hostility they will face even in court during the hearing will probably be visible..

  • 12. DACiowan  |  September 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    How conservative is Mississippi? I'll let Nate Silver explain. MS is projected to hit 37% approval — in 2020.

  • 13. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I have seen this estimation from Nate. I still find it kind of unrealistic that 44 states will have majority support by 2020 to be honest. I mean West Virginia at 56 % support by 2020 ? I doubt it…

  • 14. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 25, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Support for is not exactly the same as actual progress in the law.

    And also remember, WV is surrounded by Maryland (already has ME), PA (already has ME), VA (almost certainly will soon have ME), OH (should have ME by or before 2020) and KY (which SCOTUS should force to have ME by 2015 or 2016). When the people of WV see that the sky hasn't or won't fall in those states with ME, public opinion can and probably will change fairly quickly. And although it's fun to say WV is full of only CONservatives, it is not entirely true – there are those on the left side of the political and philosophical spectrum in the state.

  • 15. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I always thought of WV as the state that tends to vote democrat on state level mainly due to the liberal, unionized fiscal philosophy of the population but it is staunchly conservative on social issues, thus WV democrats tend to be socially conservative as well (take for example support for same sex marriage in the senate – Manchin was essentially the only democratic senator to oppose it considering that both Landrieu and Pryor did but hesitated to say so due to the political climate in their states). I think the whole argument on how public opinion will change when SSM becomes legal nationwide and the sky won't fall applies to all states, not only west virginia. But Nate's projection does not take that acceleration under consideration anyway. He goes on a linear basis, based on the change in public opinion that occured from 2008 to 2012.

  • 16. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    WV has historically been a union-dominated state, supported the more liberal candidates and been a quite reliable Democratic state. For the past 20 years or so, though, the state's voters have been getting more and more CONservative on almost all issues.

  • 17. Ragavendran  |  September 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    What comes to my mind is the same-sex couples tax benefit case Schmidt which languished for about 1.5 years after oral argument at the Alaska Supreme Court before the opinion was issued. I don't know much about the Texas Supreme Court.

  • 18. guitaristbl  |  September 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Well we can also remember Bishop which went back and forth for no less than 10 years before a (timely I admit) opinion was issued. In general conservative states tend to drag LGBT rights decisions as much as they can obviously. The Alaska Supreme Court has at least a good LGBT record.

  • 19. SPQRobin  |  September 25, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Small update from Europe, where progress is generally stalled: the Estonian Parliament voted to proceed with a civil unions bill, with a final vote taking place in about two weeks.

    If approved, afaik it would be the first former Soviet state to recognize same-sex unions. The other two Baltic states (Lithuania and Latvia) are considerably more homophobic and won't recognize same-sex unions any time soon. Lithuania even has a Russia-style propaganda law.

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