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Equality news round-up: what happens if marriage equality loses at the Supreme Court, 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
– The Washington Blade looks at what happens if the Supreme Court upholds the marriage bans.

– Transgender youth will be protected in Department of Labor federal jobs training program.

– Guam has asked a federal court to put its marriage case on hold until the Supreme Court rules. Plaintiffs have been ordered to respond by May 7.

– A woman in Nebraska is suing all gay people. There’s a news story here and a link to the complaint is here.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. DrBriCA  |  May 6, 2015 at 8:18 am

    It'll be interesting to see what the Guam federal chief judge does. Waiting the two months is an easier route, but as even the Guam AG has pointed out, ME is the rule of the land for the 9th, and the plaintiffs have already noted how quickly Alaska, Arizona, and Montana received their rulings after Oct 7.

    Then again, I never really thought that the judge for Kansas would stretch out for over 6 months action on the amended complaint to get the full state to follow his orders! Especially after Florida and (briefly) Alabama had similar clarifications.

  • 2. Jaesun100  |  May 6, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Anyone know the status in Alabama (any SSM license being issued) ?

  • 3. scream4ever  |  May 6, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Not yet, but judge Grande is likely penning the class action verdict as we speak. She ruled it can forward and the Pike County Commissioners are refusing to defend their case.

    Some sources now don't include Alabama in the list of marriage equality states. It really still should be (even though licenses are not being issued at the moment) as the federal ruling has not been stayed and what the state supreme court has done is a violation of the Supremacy Clause.

  • 4. FredDorner  |  May 6, 2015 at 11:11 am

    All the probate judges are currently following the ALSC order not to issue any more licenses to same-sex couples, but the state is recognizing all same-sex marriages no matter where or when they were issued. Some counties aren't issuing any marriage licenses to anyone.

    Federal Judge Granade might issue a ruling in the class action suit soon, or she might wait until after SCOTUS rules in June.

  • 5. scream4ever  |  May 6, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Like with the 5th Circuit, I don't see any reason to expect her to put the case on hold pending action from the Supreme Court since she's had the opportunity to do so by now and hasn't.

  • 6. FredDorner  |  May 6, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I agree and I think that's what Judge Granade would be inclined to do, but a few days ago someone here made a good argument that it might be more effective and efficient to wait until after SCOTUS rules so that the class action order becomes the binding order on the probate judges. IANAL but given Alabama's current and previous nullification attempts on marriage issues, this strategy makes sense.

  • 7. VIRick  |  May 6, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    She can (and most likely will) certify the class-action at any time, but definitely sooner rather than later. However, the point was made that, having done that, it would then be wisest and most efficient if she were to wait until after SCOTUS rules before she were to issue her own ruling in the class-action.

  • 8. scream4ever  |  May 6, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    I honestly get the impression that she's getting quiet pissed off at these shannanigans and wants to have them over with ASAP.

  • 9. VIRick  |  May 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    The current case in question, "Strawser v. Strange II," began as a simple, under-the-radar, pro se case filed by a single couple in Mobile who were seeking the legal right to be married. Given all the subsequent obfuscation and recalcitrance on the part of all sorts of state officials, the case has grown and expanded from there, and no doubt, will soon become a class-action suit encompassing all same-sex couples wishing to be married (as a class) statewide.

    Alabama is Alabama. As per its well-earned reputation, it's "special." They have to be told,– and told again,– repeatedly. Bless their hearts.

  • 10. 1grod  |  May 6, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Fred and Scream. I believe I'm the originator of the argument mentioned:

    AL. Supreme Court said that Judge C Granade's ruling in Strawser v Strange involved only four couples. Except for the probate judge in Mobile Co, all probate judges via their mandamus order should follow the AL marriage law.
    Al Supremes' order amended to include Mobile Co probate judge Don Davis.
    Not having ruled on merits in Strawser, NCLR sought to amend named plaintiffs to all potential same sex couples seeking marriage and named defendants to include all 68 probate Judges, Baldwin Co probate judge Tim Russell being named proxy for all others but Don Davis
    Attorney General, Davis and Russell recommended that judge dismiss case, which Judge Granade denied. She did not allow any defendants to drop out.
    Judge Granade can now rule of plaintiff class and defendant class's inclusion without ruling on merits.

    I suggest that the Southern District Judge Granade ought to only rule on the inclusion of both classes and leave merits to post Obergefell. Inclusion alone would be appealed to the 11th Circuit Appeals Court. Doing so will take time. Hopefully, Judge Granade's ruling would be sustained on appeal. As soon as the Supreme Court's rules on Obergefell, Granade would rule on merits, tailoring her ruling on merits to reflect the outcome of Obergefell. Any such ruling would bind all probate judges of the State as well as the AG and any couple in the State seeking marriage.. No room for AL. Supreme Court to move.
    Conversely, Judge Granade does rule on its merits soon, and grants a temporary stay. Either the loosing AG, the proxy defender Russell or defender Davis file could appeal. Or the loosing plaintiffs could appeal. The 11th Appeals Court in Florida state's case Brenner v. Scott and in AL's case Searcy I "merits" have been placed on hold pending the decision of the Supremes in Obergefell….. Regarding a stay, the losing party could also appeal to the 11th Circuit. The looser there could appeal to the US Supreme Court. I would predict no action before the decision in Obergefell.
    Result, issuing of licenses in AL remains on hold pending decision in Obergefell.

  • 11. scream4ever  |  May 6, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    I don't see why she would grant a stay honestly.

  • 12. VIRick  |  May 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Scream, I don't understand your point, as I'm not at all certain at what step you think that that might occur. 1grod explained every twist and turn possible, plus each and every likely or probable maneuver from the opposition. This is Alabama, where nothing goes down easily.

  • 13. scream4ever  |  May 6, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Sorry if I wasn't more clear. I was referring to the portion after "Conversely".

  • 14. VIRick  |  May 6, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I'll let 1grod answer that, as I suspect that the part BEFORE "Conversely" is what will actually happen.

    In that second part, after "Conversely," I believe he is trying to explain how we end up getting "lost in the woods" with endless appeals if she were to rush a ruling on the merits.

  • 15. scream4ever  |  May 6, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    I guess as long as marriages resume in Alabama ASAP that's all that matters.

  • 16. 1grod  |  May 7, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Scream: What I neglect to mention, in the submissions to the District Court by Davies and Russell, is a plea not to put probate judges between a rock and a hard place in having to choose to obey the order of the Supreme Court or the District Court in the issuing of licenses. Even with the support of the Circuit's Appeals Court, it is uncertain whether probate judges will comply citing the AL Supreme Court's order. And these judges have the right not to offer marriage licensing services at all. For instance, Don Davis has declined in Mobile Co and neighbor Baldwin Co has taken on opposite-gender requests. Image the frustration if more judged refused to issue licenses. Lastly chief justice Roy Moore would like nothing better than to be given a platform to draw attention to state primacy in the area of domestic relations being trampled on by federal courts. Why give him a stage, and media a feeding frenzy while everyone awaits the decision on Obergefell.

  • 17. scream4ever  |  May 7, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Yah I expect some still won't comply but still. I really couldn't care less about what Roy Moore wants since he started this mess.

  • 18. 1grod  |  May 7, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Scream – what you and I as well as others are trying to anticipate is what Judge C. Granade would do. You might find this backgrounder useful in considering how, with a dozen years of judicial experience, she might rule:

  • 19. RnL2008  |  May 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

    The from the article is why SCOTUS WON'T uphold the ruling from the 6th in my opinion:
    "Moreover, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60, a ruling against same-sex marriage from the Supreme Court would enable states to seek to vacate rulings by lower federal courts that have already ruled in 21 states in favor of marriage equality".

    The chaos that states like Oklahoma, Kansas, North Carolina and others would do to NOT only prevent new marriages but try to UNDO the legal marriages is one IMPORTANT reason SCOTUS will more than likely toss the ruling from the 6th and ensure the right to marry for ALL American Citizens regardless of gender make-up!

  • 20. ebohlman  |  May 6, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I agree. Although the cert refusals from October and the stay denials since then don't formally create any precedent, their effect is such that if the SCOTUS upheld the 6th it would create new legal questions that would end up before it within a few years. The SCOTUS does not generally like to do this.

  • 21. RnL2008  |  May 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Wow, that was weird…..trying to respond to you through the link gave me some error about this site could hack my personal information……it's like the 2nd time that has happened, but then I get here and everything is okay……sorry, now to yoru response!

    That's what my point was all about….by upholding the ruling from the 6th, that would set precedent that would throw the rulings from the 4th, 7th, 9th and 10th all to hell and this issue would NEVER truly come to some conclusion……that's why I believe SCOTUS will toss the ruling by the 6th.

    I've read several articles over the last week focusing on Justice Kennedy's comment about the "MILLENNIA" reference and trying to make more out of it than what I'm sure Justice Kennedy truly meant……..and I also believe that the Justices see question 2 as a forgone conclusion because the important question is the 1st one…….it's unlikely that they will split the baby on this issue as well…..but time will reveal itself soon enough.

  • 22. Dann3377  |  May 6, 2015 at 11:21 am

    IMO The SCOTUS is NOT going to uphold the remaining marriage bans. For the 1,000th time they denied hearing the appeals last October.

  • 23. mu2  |  May 6, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I just have a couple questions that would kinda hard to get answers from a quick Google, I think…

    Is there any legal reason or procedural rule that would prevent the SC from releasing their opinion before the end of the term?…I mean like any time between now and then….?

    And are they bound by law or rule TO issue it by the end of the term? That is, could they POSSIBLY defer releasing it for…..some arbitrary interval after that?

    And does anybody here think there's any real chance of either of those happening? I just wonder because this is such a landmark case with so many repercussions regardless of which way it goes!

  • 24. ebohlman  |  May 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    There are no rules that would prevent either event. Practicality dictates that a case that was heard on the next-to-last day of arguments and that is guaranteed to result in a split decision won't get a ruling until very close to the end of term. As I understand it, holding a ruling across terms has happened, but is extraordinarily rare.

  • 25. RnL2008  |  May 6, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I seriously DOUBT that SCOTUS will split this issue. I believe it will be a 5-4/6-3 ruling on the first question and a possible 7-2, though not likely more like a 5-4/6-3 ruling on the second question.

    I SERIOUSLY don't see SCOTUS wanting to keep addressing this issue for the remainder of their lifetime.

    JMPO though.

  • 26. ebohlman  |  May 6, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    By "split" I meant that it won't be unanimous; there will be at least one dissent, quite possibly a concurrence, and that necessarily slows things down.

  • 27. mu2  |  May 6, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Sounds reasonable & proper. Was just thinking about unlikely possibilities…thanks.

  • 28. ianbirmingham  |  May 6, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    In the long-running judicial wars between the Senate and the White House, the first skirmish of the year is flaring into the open this week.

    How it plays out will offer insight about whether the new Republican majority plans to continue making the federal bench a venue for venting displeasure with President Barack Obama, or whether he’ll be allowed to refashion the courts a bit more during his final two years in office.

    The locus of the new fight is L. Felipe Restrepo, chosen by the president six months ago for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He’s the only person Obama has picked for eight current vacancies on the regional appeals courts. The seat has been open for 18 months, and as a result, the caseload recently became so backlogged that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts declared a “judicial emergency” for appeals out of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

    But the Senate Judiciary Committee is convening its third hearing of the year Wednesday afternoon to hear from judicial nominees, and Restrepo is not invited. His supporters say efforts to spur his progress behind the scenes have been frustrated at every turn.

    “This is just slow-walking a totally qualified nominee,” said Kyle C. Barry of the Alliance for Justice, which advocates for a more liberal judiciary. “There’s no substantive reason, and it’s unconscionable.”

    …some on the right are suggesting the best possible Plan C is preventing new judges on the appeals courts

    “There is little risk of the public outrage that might accompany a DHS shutdown or even a fight over a Cabinet nominee,” Curt Levey of the conservative Committee for Justice legal think tank wrote in the Wall Street Journal in March.

    “Nonetheless, denying Mr. Obama the power to shape these all-important circuit courts would give Republicans nearly as much leverage as a broader approach,” he continued. “If Republican senators stick together, this is a no-lose strategy. Either the president relents by rescinding or substantially modifying his immigration orders, or Republicans halt his leftward transformation of the circuit courts and keep judicial vacancies open for a possible GOP president in 2017.” …

  • 29. bythesea66  |  May 6, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    That will help make a GOP President in 2017 even less likely than it already is though.

  • 30. VIRick  |  May 6, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    A quick reminder note to whomever wrote that article:

    The Virgin Islands is also included within the 3rd Circuit Court.'s jurisdiction.

  • 31. Eric  |  May 6, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Why is the President unwilling to make recess appointments?

  • 32. bythesea66  |  May 6, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    The Senate never technically goes into recess now and they sued successfully when he last made a recess appointment arguing that they were effectively in recess IIRC. Someone correct me if my recollection is wrong though.

  • 33. sfbob  |  May 6, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    I think you meant to say "they sued successfully when he last made a recess appointment arguing that they were effectively [still] in session…

    No more recess, therefore no more recess appointments.

  • 34. ianbirmingham  |  May 6, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    On June 26, 2014, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that President Obama overreached his executive authority in appointing members to the NLRB while the Senate was still formally in session. Justice Stephen Breyer, in the majority opinion, wrote that the Constitution allows for the Congress itself to determine its sessions and recesses, that "the Senate is in session when it says it is", and that the President does not have the right to unilaterally dictate Congressional sessions and make recess appointments thusly. However, the decision allows the use of recess appointments during breaks within a session for vacancies that existed prior to the break.

    National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, 573 U.S. ___ (2014), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court unanimously ruled that the President of the United States can only use his authority under the Recess Appointment Clause of the United States Constitution when the United States Senate is in recess and not able to transact Senate business. The Court held that the clause allows the president to make appointments during both intra-session and inter-session recesses, but only if the recess is of sufficient length, and if the Senate is actually unavailable for deliberation. The case arose out of President Barack Obama's appointments of Sharon Block, Richard Griffin, and Terence Flynn to the National Labor Relations Board and Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    For purposes of the Recess Appointments Clause, the Senate is in session when it says that it is, provided that, under its own rules,it retains the capacity to transact Senate business. — SCOTUS , 6/26/14

  • 35. Zack12  |  May 7, 2015 at 7:46 am

    They did this with Bill Clinton so George W could have his right wing judges put on there, now they are doing it to Obama.
    More proof on why the Senate should have done the nuclear option sooner.

  • 36. VIRick  |  May 6, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    POLL: Americans Prefer Gay President to Evangelical or Tea Partier (per

    More than 60 percent are just fine with the idea of a gay person running for president. The majority of Americans are not only rooting for marriage equality — they’re also fine with the idea of a gay president, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. In fact, most Americans would rather see a gay candidate for president than an evangelical Christian or a Tea Partier jockeying for the White House.

    In the poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies for the news organizations in late April 2015, 61 percent of respondents said they’d be either enthusiastic about or comfortable with a gay presidential candidate. For an evangelical candidate, just 52 percent said they'd be enthusiastic. And in a showing of how unpopular the Tea Party is, just 33 percent said they’d react with enthusiasm or at least a degree of comfort to a candidate affiliated with that conservative movement.

    On marriage equality, 58 percent said they want the US Supreme Court to rule for equal marriage rights nationwide; 44 percent said they feel strongly about this. Thirty-seven percent said they would oppose such a ruling, with 29 percent saying they feel strongly. Support for marriage equality was highest among young people, Democrats, Hispanics, and highly educated people, and lowest among conservatives and seniors. Only 20 percent of respondents thought society had gone too far in accepting homosexuality. Forty-four percent thought more work needed to be done on acceptance, while 32 percent said society has struck a reasonable balance.

  • 37. VIRick  |  May 6, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Cyprus Government Approves Civil Partnerships

    The government in Cyprus has approved a bill allowing for same-sex civil partnerships. The long-awaited bill has gained the approval of the Cabinet, and now passes to the Parliament where it will be voted on. The bill gives couples in civil partnerships all the benefits of marriage – with the exception of joint adoption.

    Accept-LGBT Cyprus, an advocacy group, said: “The government is living up to its promises, taking the first step towards modernising the state’s institutions. We also welcome the efforts of all parliamentary party representatives that took part in the group that worked towards promoting the legislation to the government and to their respective parties.”

    Director of ILGA-Europe, Evelyne Paradis said in a statement: “We sincerely welcome today’s move by the Cypriot government. This bill was promised by politicians two years ago and we call on the parliament to support this important piece of legislation without delay. This bill is designed to ensure all families are protected and enjoy their human rights. The European Court of Human Rights has made it clear that family today is understood not as only a union between a married man and woman and their biological children, but include a whole variety of arrangement’s, including families of same-sex partners and their children.”

  • 38. VIRick  |  May 6, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    Cuba to Hold Mass Wedding, Pushing to Legally Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

    LGBT rights activists in Cuba are planning a mass wedding on 9 May 2015, with a view toward pushing for legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Leading the activists will be Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro, who also happens to be a leading LGBT rights campaigner. Although only symbolic, and not legally recognized, the mass wedding will take place in Havana as part of Cuba’s annual gay pride parade.

    Speaking ahead of the event, Ms. Castro said she hoped the statement made by the mass wedding would lead to a legislative change in the future. “We can’t do a legal marriage, but we wanted to have a very modest celebration of love with some religious leaders,” said Ms Castro. “In the future, we’ll see what more we can do.”

  • 39. MichaelGrabow  |  May 7, 2015 at 6:51 am

    I am just getting around to listening to the second half of the second question.

    Maybe this has already been discussed, but did anyone hear a male justice clearly say "oh, lord" when Kagan or Sotomayor was explaining that couples already go to neighboring states to get married and then return demanding their home state recognize it?

  • 40. josejoram  |  May 7, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    For me, even not being a constitutionalist lawyer, even a lawyer whatsoever but a political scientist, it is very clear that US Constitution doesn't allow or permit any discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation, even if by "orientation" we mean a completely conscious choice.

    Besides, Law is made up just to protect individual freedom and individual's legitimate choices.

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