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Supreme Court to conference two LGBT rights cases on May 1

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Supreme Court building
Supreme Court building
On May 1 in their private conference, the Justices of the Supreme Court are set to discuss two cases involving LGBT rights and the Court may decide whether to take up the cases in its next term that begins in October.

The first is Kosilek v. O’Brien, challenging the Massachusetts Department of Corrections decision to deny Michelle Kosilek necessary medical care related to her transgender status. The case is being litigated by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). Kosilek initially won in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, but the case was reheard en banc, with all First Circuit judges, and they ruled against her. The petition asks the Justices to decide a procedural question, and it asks the Justices to decide whether denial of her medical care violates the Eighth Amendment.

The second case is King v. Christie, a challenge to New Jersey’s ban on so-called LGBT “conversion therapy” for minors. The Court had declined to hear a similar challenge to California’s ban, but the plaintiffs in this case are asking the Justices to weigh in on the issue. They argue the ban violates the First Amendment.

The Justices don’t have to take any action after the conference. They can hold the cases or “re-list” them for later conferences. If any of the cases are granted, they wouldn’t be argued until late 2015 or early 2016.


  • 1. F_Young  |  April 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Off-topic: Provision Protecting LGBT Passengers From Discrimination Removed From Oklahoma Uber Bill

    A bill that sets up a regulatory framework in Oklahoma for ridesharing programs such as Uber and Lyft passed the state Senate on Wednesday, but not before a provision protecting gay and transgender passengers from discrimination was removed.

  • 2. F_Young  |  April 16, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Mississippi: Auto shop owner doesn't regret anti-gay Facebook post: 'I had no idea my voice was so powerful'

    …..Most of the callers weren't making appointments. They were letting Klawiter know they opposed his beliefs. There were veiled threats and specific threats. Callers and Internet posters said they would hurt his business, his family and himself, he said.

    There were also calls of support.

    …..Klawiter announced on his company's Facebook site that openly gay people are not welcome at his business because he considers homosexuality to be wrong – just as he wouldn't want anyone who steals to be in his shop. His views reflect his conservative Christian values, he said.

  • 3. guitaristbl  |  April 16, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    The "business" is in Michigan not Mississippi. Other than that the enforcers of the thinly veiled agenda of the GOP are showing what these "religious freedom" are truly about. We went from wedding related services to auto shops and uber drivers. What's next ?

  • 4. ianbirmingham  |  April 16, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    What's next? Radical nonviolence has worked really well…

  • 5. RnL2008  |  April 16, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Michigan has not laws that truly protect the GLBTQI Community from this sort of Discrimination, but know this…if the mechanic did do something to a vehicle who he thought belonged to a Gay or Lesbian couple and something happened to them while in that vehicle, he's be charged with some sort of violation of the law regardless of what the hell his religious beliefs were!!!

  • 6. jcmeiners  |  April 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    I wish I could have your confidence in Michigan's AG Schuette. I'm afraid he may come up with some "religious exception" even to criminal laws. Like that preacher did who stole book that he didn't like from public libraries in Texas to make a point. Although he was never criminally charged, in a civil deposition he argued there is a "conscientious exception" to "thou shall not steal". From all I hear, Schuette is of a similar mindset.

  • 7. RnL2008  |  April 16, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I do try, but sometimes I wonder why……these next round of issues are truly more about revenge and trying to continue to belittle folks just because of who they are and who they love. it's NOT about anything else except hate and bigotry……this stuff needs to be stopped.

  • 8. ianbirmingham  |  April 16, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Some relevant Alito quotes from his Windsor dissent…

    Justice Alito: … Same-sex marriage presents a highly emotional and important question of public policy — but not a difficult question of constitutional law. The Constitution does not guarantee the right to enter into a same-sex marriage. Indeed, no provision of the Constitution speaks to the issue. … It is beyond dispute that the right to same-sex marriage is not deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition. … if the Constitution contained a provision guaranteeing the right to marry a person of the same sex, it would be our duty to enforce that right. But the Constitution simply does not speak to the issue of same-sex marriage. In our system of government, ultimate sovereignty rests with the people, and the people have the right to control their own destiny. Any change on a question so fundamental should be made by the people through their elected officials. …

    As previously noted at EoT, during his confirmation hearing Roberts attacked the Alito viewpoint for using the wrong level of generality; the right in question is the right to marry, not some more specific statement of what a given case is about (e.g., in Loving v. Virginia the right in question was not the right to interracial marriage, but rather the right to marry.)

    Alito is clearly in the Scalia-Thomas camp; the best we can hope for in Obergefell is 6-3.

  • 9. Zack12  |  April 16, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Alito was never going to be on our side, his 7-2 votes on the stay aside, I think he has simply accepted the fact he will be in the minority vote and doesn't see the point of dragging out the stays.

  • 10. wes228  |  April 16, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    The stays were not necessarily 7-2.

  • 11. Silvershrimp0  |  April 16, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    They always seem to forget about the 9th amendment."The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"

  • 12. F_Young  |  April 16, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    How An Extreme Anti-LGBT Legal Powerhouse Is Working To Enact "Religious Freedom" Laws

    The current push for expanded state "religious freedom" laws is thanks in large part to the work of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an extreme right-wing legal group….

    Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal organization that works with 2,400 allied attorneys nationally on a $39 million (as of 2013) annual budget. …it has become the country's best-funded and most powerful right-wing Christian group working against what the organization calls the "myth of the so-called 'separation of church and state.'"

    …..While the group prefers to talk about its "religious liberty" work when in the media spotlight, ADF also actively works internationally to promote and defend laws that criminalize gay sex.

    …..The organization annually expands its network of international (and domestic) lawyers at its Legal Academy, a week-long lawyer training event… the trainees are obligated to provide 450 hours of free legal services over a three-year period to ADF or other organizations …nearly 1,800 lawyers have participated in its training program.

    The group also has rich history of extremist anti-LGBT positions, including opposing anti-bullying efforts…

    …..the group has been at the forefront of the fight against same-sex marriage — ADF attorneys represented the defendants in the Proposition 8 case… and have defended same-sex marriage bans in over 25 states.

    ADF President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears… co-authored the book The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today, which compares the gay "propaganda" movement to what "Hitler did so masterfully in Nazi Germany… Sears claims that homosexuality and pedophilia are "intrinsically linked."

    …..Sears has persuaded legislators in 20 states to adopt his legislative recommendations. He's also "helped fashion the language for numerous state and federal laws and has testified before committees…

    …..Rob Boston… said of ADF's religious persecution rhetoric, "if you read their emails, their magazines, go to events, you hear a constant message of 'we're under attack, under siege, being persecuted. It works, motivates people to give, makes them afraid, causes them to reach for checkbooks or credit card."

    To further their myth of Christian persecution, ADF frequently provides legal representation to Christian business owners who refuse to serve LGBT customers…

    …..Fox News frequently provides ADF a national platform to bring these cases to national attention and simultaneously defend RFRA legislation….ADF relies on Fox for publicity, and Fox relies on ADF for a steady stream of stories riling up its audience about Christians being under attack…

    …..ADF first emerged as the driving force behind RFRAs in 2014, when the organization helped write Arizona's SB 1062.

    …..Working under the guise of a "religious freedom" organization, ADF's efforts to curtail LGBT rights have been largely successful.

    …..Media stories about RFRA are not complete until they acknowledge the extreme anti-LGBT group that has worked to lay the groundwork, both legally and in the media, for expanded "religious freedom" legislation.

  • 13. Zack12  |  April 16, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    ADF and Focus On The Family are the two groups behind these laws.

  • 14. jcmeiners  |  April 16, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    An interesting twist on the Michigan car repair shop that refuses to do business with gay customers, or worse, threatens to leave a few bolts loose: they don't even have a business license, and refuse to get one – it's evil government intrusion! I love how our adversaries are discrediting themselves.

  • 15. VIRick  |  April 16, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    This same Michigan car repair shop has been served notice by Cummins Inc., to stop using their logo on his missives forthwith, as he is not an agent or an affiliate of their corporation.

    If he continues, he may well find himself facing a lawsuit for infringement of copyright.

    Apparently, this guy is a serious nut-job type, not authorized to do business in the state of Michigan, nor authorized to utilize another business' logo while illegally conducting his own business. Plus, he's all into guns.

  • 16. A_Jayne  |  April 16, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    No wonder he decided to go the anti-gay statement route, hoping to GoFundMe his way out of his troubles…

  • 17. VIRick  |  April 16, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Correct. It seemingly worked for those idiots running that pizza parlor in Indiana, so why not try it for an unlicensed car repair shop in Michigan using a pirated logo from a legitimate, inclusive corporation? That way, too, if he has any success, he can use the GoFundMe proceeds to buy himself more guns (after he finishes paying the fees, fines, and legal expenses for operating an unlicensed business with a pirated, copyright-infringed logo).

  • 18. ebohlman  |  April 16, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    Nitpick: the cause of action here would be trademark infringement (important because trademarks, unlike copyrights, can be lost through failure to defend).

  • 19. VIRick  |  April 17, 2015 at 12:17 am

    Ebohlman, that's not exactly a nitpick. That difference (and thanks for pointing it out) means that Cummins Inc. is far more likely to go after his sore ass for unauthorized use of their trademark, given that they certainly do not want to lose exclusive rights to their own company trademark through failure to defend.

  • 20. Mike_Baltimore  |  April 17, 2015 at 10:41 am

    A woman who was nicknamed Sony when she was growing up in the Philippines opened a restaurant in Baltimore, named Sony's. Sony Corporation entered a trademark, unfair competition and deliberate confusion of consumers lawsuit against her.

    She lost the suit, was forced to pay a rather large sum of money (for her), and she had to vacate the store. She moved her business to Columbia, MD, and under a new name, but never had near the customers as she had had in Baltimore, and eventually she had to close the restaurant.
    (… )

    Cummins is not as big as Sony (the Japanese corporation), but it is still MUCH bigger than a repair shop.

    Infringement (of name) lawsuits are nothing to sneeze about. And they are not lost SOLELY on 'failure to defend'.

  • 21. Eric  |  April 17, 2015 at 11:35 am

    The guy also has a domestic violence conviction and a parole violation on his record.

  • 22. Sagesse  |  April 16, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Prominent Catholics call on pope to oust S.F. archbishop [SFGate]

    "In an unprecedented move, more than 100 prominent Roman Catholic donors and church members signed a full-page ad running Thursday in The Chronicle that calls on Pope Francis to replace San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone for fostering “an atmosphere of division and intolerance.”

  • 23. Randolph_Finder  |  April 16, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Sort of surprised more of this isn't hitting the other Archbishop in California, José Horacio Gómez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles , Is this that his predecessor, was Archbishop Mahony and *anyone* has to be better than Mahoney?

  • 24. VIRick  |  April 16, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Another Kentucky Judge Rejects State's Marriage Ban for Same-Sex Couples

    FRANKFORT, KY — A Kentucky state judge has ruled in favor of two same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Kentucky. However, he put his ruling on hold until the US Supreme Court considers a similar challenge to marriage bans between same-sex couples, as oral arguments on challenges to said marriage bans in Kentucky, in "Love/Bourke v. Beshear," and in three other states, have already been scheduled before the US Supreme Court on 28 April 2015.

    On Thursday, 16 April 2015, Franklin County KY (Frankfort) Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate, in "Kentucky Equality Federation v. Beshear," ruled that Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the constitutional right to equal protection. The case before Judge Wingate involved two Lexington couples, Lindsey Bain and Daniel Rogers, and David Hardee and Marshall Robertson, who were denied marriage licenses by the Fayette County KY (Lexington) clerk in 2013.

    Furthermore, Wingate in his opinion states that, “This Court believes marriage, regardless of whether that union is between members of the same sex or opposite sex is a fundamental right,” and that “When a couple is denied a marriage license based solely on their sexual orientation, the right of due process under the law is violated.”

    Wingate stayed the injunction, stating that while Kentucky’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage equality also denies the plaintiffs the constitutional right to equal protection, he is certain an upcoming ruling by the Supreme Court will vindicate them and, “alleviate the concerns of 'chaos and confusion' raised by (the privately-hired, ass-hat) counsel for the governor.”

    He added the commonwealth’s proscription against same-sex marriage “clearly lacks a rational basis, and throughout history, states and governments have disfavored… desegregation, interracial marriage, sexual privacy, divorce,” but with regard to marriage equality the, “tide has turned.”

    Shorthand translation: Judge Wingate just told Sutton and Cook to take their 6th Circuit Court ruling and stuff it. Also, given that it has been over a year now since the office of the Kentucky Attorney-General stopped attempting to defend Kentucky's marrige ban, Judge Wingate didn't seem overly impressed with the tired arguments and shrill "concerns of chaos and confusion" imparted by Governor Beshear's privately-hired counsel.

  • 25. FredDorner  |  April 17, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Does anyone have a link to this ruling? I've had no luck finding it.

  • 26. ianbirmingham  |  April 17, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    • FRANKLIN : 13-CI-01074

    Link to the Court Clerk's Office is here:….

  • 27. VIRick  |  April 17, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Here's a brief AP report:

    However, this report from Louisville's "Courier-Journal" is much more complete:

  • 28. guitaristbl  |  April 17, 2015 at 8:22 am

    I honestly hope there is a chance we get something out of the 5th today..

  • 29. scream4ever  |  April 17, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    It seems most of the circuit court decisions came out earlier in the week though.

  • 30. guitaristbl  |  April 17, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Not too familiar as VIRick with the chaotic situation in Mexico but this seems kind of important :

    Although this provision is worrying :

    "González noted to the Blade that nuptials for gays and lesbians will only “become a reality” throughout the country once there are nearly 140 rulings — or five from each state in which same-sex couples cannot legally marry — from the Mexican Supreme Court."

    I thought that the Mexican Supreme Court needed to rule on 5 amparos overall for marriage equality to be the law of the land throughout the country, not on 5 amparos from each state. If that's the case there is still a veeery long way to go really…

  • 31. VIRick  |  April 17, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Guitar, the most important significance of Mexico's Supreme Court ruling of 15 April 2015 was to declare with finality that Sinaloa's family code provisions defining marriage as being solely between one man and one woman unconstitutional. Only two states in Mexico, Sinaloa and Yucatán, have defined marriage in such closed terms. And Yucatán's code is also up for review.

    Of Mexico's 32 jurisdictions, only 3 have legalized marriage between same-sex couples (although ALL much recognize such unions legally-performed elsewhere): Federal District, Coahuila, and Qunitana Roo. Colima is in the advanced stages of compliance, as is Guanajuato and Nayarit.

    Legislation has also been introduced into the state legislatures of Aguascalientes, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chihuahua, State of México, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Tabasco, and Veracruz to fully legalize marriage between same-sex couples in those states.

    Mexico's Supreme Court has declared 7 states' bans unconstitutional: Oaxaca (twice), Baja California, Campeche, Sinaloa (now twice), State of México, Colima, and Chiapas. Those from Chihuahua, Durango, Jalisco, Puebla, and Yucatán are still currently up for review.

    On the subject of amparos, somewhere around 90 have already been granted, with only 5 states still at zero: Guerrero, Hidalgo, Puebla, Tlaxcala, and Zacatecas. Here's my state-by-state amparo count (which unless otherwise noted, are individual injunctions for one couple each) showing both Granted/Pending:

    2/3 Aguascalientes
    3/3 Baja California
    2/0 Baja California Sur (45 couples granted)
    1/8 Campeche
    1/0 Chiapas (51 couples granted)
    25/24 Chihuahua
    5/0 Colima
    1/1 Durango (18 couples pending)
    2/3 Guanajuato (235 couples in the 3 pending amparos)
    0/0 Guerrero (1 marriage, no injunction)
    0/1 Hidalgo (3 couples pending)
    3/1 Jalisco (14 couples granted/10 couples pending)
    1/0 State of México (4 couples granted)
    2/7 Michoacán
    3/1 Morelos
    5/0 Nayarit
    2/9 Nuevo León (25 couples granted/43 couples pending)
    4/0 Oaxaca (42 couples granted)
    0/1 Puebla (18 couples pending)
    4/0 Querétaro
    2/1 San Luis Potosí
    4/5 Sinaloa (4 couples granted/39 couples pending)
    2/0 Sonora
    1/1 Tabasco
    3/1 Tamaulipas (125 couples granted/80 couples pending)
    0/0 Tlaxcala
    2/8 Veracruz
    10/0 Yucatán
    0/0 Zacatecas

    Total: 90 granted/78 pending

  • 32. scream4ever  |  April 17, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    That's an awesome tally VRick!

  • 33. cpnlsn88  |  April 17, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Interesting. I am kind of assuming a ruling from the Supreme Court shows the way, even though technically not binding authority, at least indicate positive rulings are likely to be upheld (similar in a way to SCOTUS' denial of cert. a few months back). So good news overall.

  • 34. F_Young  |  April 17, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    VIRick: "Here's my state-by-state amparo count…"

    Thanks, Rick. That's very helpful.

    Your list shows 25 amparos "granted" in Chihuahua, five in Colima, five in Nayarit, and 10 in Yucatan. So, is that enough to create a binding precedent in those states? Or must five of the amparos in each of those states go all the way to the Supreme Court?

  • 35. VIRick  |  April 17, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    That should be enough (or more than enough) for each. Also, Colima and Nayarit are heeding the process and ought to be in compliance with marriage equality relatively soon. I know the quoted article stated "from the Supreme Court," but any judicial injunction, state or federal, and at any level, will do, with most injunctions being granted by the lowest level of the federal court system, and are usually not appealed (but if they are, the state only has a 10-day window in which to do so before it goes into effect).

    There's also a lawsuit already filed in Baja California claiming that no more injunctions in that state are needed, given that Mexico's Supreme Court has already declared Baja's state marriage code unconstitutional.

    We've also seen a flurry of recent activity in neighboring Baja California Sur:

    On 25 March 2015, the Chief Justice of the Baja California Sur state Supreme Court handed the BCS state Congress a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage. Then, to emphasize the need to legislatively change the law sooner rather than later, on 10 April 2015, a First District judge in BCS approved a collective injunction involving 36 same-sex couples seeking to marry. Almost immediately thereafter, on 15 April 2015, a member of the state Congress told the media that analysis of the Chief Justice's initiative would begin in May.

    I love "activist" judges! The Chief Justice of the BCS Supreme Court is the absolute, perfect flip-side of our "friend" from Alabama, Roy Moore.

    I just tallied up my own numbers, and to date, at least 380 same-sex couples have been allowed to marry through the judicial injunction process in 24 different states where the current law ostensibly prohibits it. Another 502 same-sex couples are seeking to marry in the multiple cases currently pending. Many of these newer cases are requesting "amparos collectivos," which when granted, are allowing large numbers of couples to marry. In a sense, this tactic slows down the amparo count, but in the meantime, is allowing many more same-sex couples the ability to marry, many of whom might not otherwise be able to afford the legal expense to do it individually.

  • 36. F_Young  |  April 19, 2015 at 11:38 am

    VIRick: "That should be enough (or more than enough) for each…"

    Thanks for finding all this out and compiling it, Rick. It's really helpful and appreciated.

  • 37. thelawworks  |  April 17, 2015 at 9:42 am

    The US Supreme Court today will meet to review NOM's (John Easton's money machine) Petition for Cert begging for review of Oregon's Judge Michael McShane's decision to keep NOM out of the proceedings due to untimeliness and lack of standing in the Geiger case.

    When NOM sought en banc review of the 9th circuit's affirmation of McShane's ruling, not a single judge referred the matter.

  • 38. A_Jayne  |  April 17, 2015 at 9:59 am

    How soon do we get to read their rejection? And will it be simply dismissive? Or scathingly so?

  • 39. wes228  |  April 17, 2015 at 10:01 am

    It will probably come out in Monday's orders list. Just a simple "Certiorari Denied."

  • 40. A_Jayne  |  April 17, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Yes, that is most likely, but what I wouldn't give to read "Certiorari Denied amid raucous laughter" or something like it…

  • 41. VIRick  |  April 17, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I'd love to read that, too, but the Supreme Court is simply way too dry and devoid of any sense of humor for any such add-on notation.

    By the way, NOM's chief clown is named John Eastman, not John Easton.

  • 42. Zack12  |  April 17, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Good grief, talk about beating a dead horse.

  • 43. RQO  |  April 19, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Late to the party, but referring to Scottie's headline post: $5 says SCOTUS figures they are going completely 21st Century overboard with a plus for ME and will pay short shrift to the transgendered and therapy suffering teens as part of a Roberts engineered political compromise. Now that we barely socially acceptable LG people have made some real progress, the prospect of others being left behind is upsetting. Comments, please.
    That said, last night I went to my Douglas County Colorado (a rich and about 70+% Romney county) annual Democratic Party Dinner. The Dem. attendees here are 95% white, 99.5% straight, and 80% former Republicans. Yet when you talk to them most say they arrived not via economic or foreign policy issues as much as the bigotry and discrimination tolerated, and encouraged, in the R's since Nixon launched the "Southern Strategy". So I am encouraged that it is not always "it's the cononomy stupid", but that civil rights do matter to many.

  • 44. F_Young  |  April 19, 2015 at 11:42 am

    RQO: "Yet when you talk to them most say they arrived not via economic or foreign policy issues as much as the bigotry and discrimination tolerated, and encouraged, in the R's since Nixon launched the "Southern Strategy".

    I wouldn't have expected that, but it's great to hear.

  • 45. carlwise17  |  September 3, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    Nice article!

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