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Equality news round-up: Federal judge rules that Affordable Care Act protects against anti-trans discrimination in healthcare, and more

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Alabama state seal– A federal court has ruled that the Affordable Care Act protects against anti-transgender discrimination in healthcare. UPDATE:The order is here.

– Texas has filed a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s new rule allowing same-sex couples who are married to be eligible for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) based on where the marriage was performed instead of whether same-sex marriage is legal and recognized in a state where the couple lives.

– The probate judge in Montgomery County, Alabama, is asking the Alabama Supreme Court to allow probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples quickly if the US Supreme Court strikes down marriage bans.

– The federal judge in Hathcote v. Green, a marriage case filed in Alabama’s Northern District (the other cases, except for Aaron-Brush v. Bentley, were filed either in the Southern or Middle Districts), has recused herself from the case without explanation. Judge William Acker, Jr. will preside over the case instead.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. Raga  |  March 19, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Docket indicates this was a denial of a motion to dismiss and not a final ruling/judgment. Still, great news!

    The opinion:

  • 2. Jaesun100  |  March 19, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Great news!

  • 3. guitaristbl  |  March 19, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    87 year old Reagan appointee taking over this case in Alabama..Not too hopeful although I have been surprised before. It won't matter in the end but anyway..

  • 4. 1grod  |  March 19, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Judge Blackburn (b 1950) has been on this bench since 1991- Bush appointment…… It appears Kevin Hathcote and Joseph Hill were seeking a license in Blount County. Defendant Probate Judge Chris Green had issued ONE license before refusing. Complaint filed February 16… So with this case yet to begin in the Northern District and Hard v Bentley stayed in the Middle District, Judge C. Granade of the Southern District can issue a class action finding encompassing all county probate judges (68) without fear of being contradicted in the short term by either Alabama federal district judge .

  • 5. sfbob  |  March 19, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    From the article:

    "Green said he was thankful for the Alabama Supreme Court ruling so he and other probate judges are not left "dangling on a thread" with nothing to stand on."
    In fact Green and the Alabama Supreme Court are now dangling together. It will be up to SCOTUS to get them off the hook.

  • 6. 1grod  |  March 19, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Bob – a way to shorten this dangling to July. What if the Granade stay scenario plays itself out again, as it did in January leading up to February 9? I mean temporary stay appealed to the 11 Circuit Appeals Court, then the Supreme Court who deny a stay of another preliminary injunction. Without a peep from the Alabama Supreme Court. The AG was the appellant then, but has he not be frozen out! Faced with a second declining of a stay by the US Supremes, how would the probate judges behave?… Is this speculation getting into the realm of possible but highly improbable. G

  • 7. sfbob  |  March 19, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    The Alabama Supreme Court has shown it is willing to ignore the federal courts for as long as it possibly can. I don't doubt that no matter how strong an injunction Judge Granade writes, the AL Supreme Court will once again order the state probate judges to comply with their prior decision rather than hers or face sanctions. I suppose a certain proportion of the probate judges, mindful of how the wind is blowing, might be inclined to obey the federal court ruling rather than the state supreme court on the assumption that even if they are sanctions, those sanctions can be contested in federal court. And so it will go until the Supreme Court eventually rules in favor of marriage equality.

    I am assuming that when the Sixth Circuit cases are argued before the US Supreme Court next month at least some of the plaintiffs' attorneys (if not all of them) will press not only for a court finding that sexual orientation is a protected class but will also cite actions such as the AL court's very disingenuous ruling but the recent spate of "freedom to discriminate" legislation as evidence that there is sufficient evidence of animus that such a ruling is not only appropriate but necessary to prevent married same-sex couples from facing state-supported discrimination even in the face of a pro-marriage-equality ruling.

  • 8. DACiowan  |  March 19, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    We are one week away from the 5th Circuit taking as long as the 4th:

    Of the Circuit Courts that have had hearings, the time from hearing to decision:

    7th Circuit – 9 days
    9th Circuit – 29 days
    5th Circuit – 69 days
    4th Circuit – 76 days
    10th Circuit – 76 days for Kitchen
    10th Circuit – 92 days for Bishop
    6th Circuit – 92 days

  • 9. guitaristbl  |  March 19, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Well the 4th is one of the fastest circuits around (taking under consideration that both the 7th and the 9th had unanimous opinions of course something we do not expect the 5th to have) so I would expect the 5th to issue its decision somewhere between the 4th and the 6th, at about 80-85 days, meaning early april.

  • 10. Zack12  |  March 19, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I fully expect to see a ruling by the end of the month or early April.

  • 11. F_Young  |  March 19, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    How state legislators plan to limit LGBT rights next, in one map

  • 12. RnL2008  |  March 19, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Wow, that's a real eye opener for those of us who DON'T live in those States……throughout this fight, I've LEARNED that so many folks really have issues with Gays and Lesbians……and some are nothing more than fear brought on by ANTI-GAY bigots who are behind these hateful comments.

    It's really sad and pathetic what homophobic individuals will do to promote their hate.

  • 13. Mike_Baltimore  |  March 19, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    This map is already a bit out of date (it's dated March 19, 2015), since WV (for example) is shown as one of the anti-GLBT states, but the WV legislature went out of session last Saturday (March 14, 2015) and won't return until next January (2016).

    What is more scary to me and not shown (and almost certainly can't) is what legislative action is being contemplated in some of the states that don't show any action now (Alaska, Nebraska, Louisiana, Wisconsin, etc.).

  • 14. ianbirmingham  |  March 19, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Slate article: Even a favorable SCOTUS ruling may not settle SSM in Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands…. "For these people, a Supreme Court ruling will likely be the start, not the end, of a legal battle for marriage equality, a battle whose roots reach back to America’s imperialist past."

  • 15. scream4ever  |  March 19, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    -Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are technically covered by the 9th Circuit ruling. All that has to be done is for couples in both territories to file cases.

    -Puerto Rico will likely have marriage equality before the Supreme Court hands down the ruling at the end of June since the government has announced that it will no longer defend the ban in court.

    -The Virgin Islands has drafted legislation and will likely pass it shortly after the Supreme Court hands down their ruling.

  • 16. Sagesse  |  March 19, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    More on the Utah non-discrimination law that isn't…

    The Religious Right Operative Who Helped Write Utah’s Nondiscrimination Law

  • 17. sfbob  |  March 19, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    The most important point is at the very end of the linked article:

    "[N]ow that the Religious Right has high-profile endorsements of their false framework of religious freedom and LGBTQ rights being opposed to each other, unfortunately, the ability of LGBTQ activists and organizations to oppose RFRAs and other efforts to codify discrimination—all dressed up in the language of 'religious freedom'—has been curtailed."

  • 18. Zack12  |  March 19, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Indeed, I truly don't get why anyone on our side agreed to this bill or is celebrating it.

  • 19. JayJonson  |  March 20, 2015 at 6:43 am

    I don't either. The bills passed in Utah are trojan horses. They demonstrate what we already knew: that the Utah Legislature is just a pawn of the LDS Church. But they also reveal that the LDS Church wants to APPEAR conciliatory to the glbtq community even as they as always foster discrimination and carve out special rights for themselves. They are acutely aware that their reputation was badly damaged by their anti-gay activism, especially in California on behalf of Prop 8, hence they pretend that this legislation is a "compromise." The third bill that they want, SB 322, was withdrawn at the last moment: it is a license to discriminate in public accommodations bill. I think they realized at the last minute that pushing it in the same session as SB 296 would give the game away so they decided to save it for the next legislative session.

  • 20. Zack12  |  March 20, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Indeed and if nothing else, Rhode Island's joke of a civil unions bill showed what happens when the religious bigots are allowed to give major input to LGBT bills.
    Less then 100 civil unions were performed in Rhode Island for two reasons.
    1) Why settle for seperate but equal when you can go to MA,CT,NH for full equality?
    2) The bigger reason though, was that by the time the church got done with it, the civil unions bill was a joke.
    Anyone from a doctor, county clerk, police officer etc could simply cite a religious belief and refuse to acknowledge the civil union.
    In other words, they weren't worth the paper they were printed on.
    That is what happens when you let the religious bigots take charge.
    Anything that has the approval of the Mormon chruch is NOT something we should be getting behind.

  • 21. scream4ever  |  March 19, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    I just heard that the 8th Circuit (FINALLY) denied to lift the stay in the Missouri case. There is no reason not to appeal it to the Supreme Court since it's uncontested on all sides. I can't find the exact order but I'll post it when it becomes available.

  • 22. Raga  |  March 19, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    I thought the Plaintiffs asked the Eighth Circuit for a second time just so they can appeal a denial to SCOTUS. Hopefully they do that. I've already expressed my endless frustration and disappointment that not a single plaintiff in any case has appealed stays to the Supreme Court, especially given the current circumstances (Florida/Alabama) where it'll seem obviously unjust not to let marriages proceed just because of the geographical location of that state.

    Here's the order from ECF:

  • 23. scream4ever  |  March 19, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    My thoughts exactly. We have nothing to lose and the worst that can happen is they dont lift the stay.

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