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Equality news round-up: Attorneys’ fees granted in marriage cases, LGBT civil rights bill to be introduced in Congress, and more

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

David Fancher and Paul Hard. Attribution: Michael Kukulski
David Fancher and Paul Hard. Attribution: Michael Kukulski
– In Hard v. Bentley, challenging Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban, the judge lifted the stay to give Paul Hard the proceeds from the underlying wrongful death lawsuit, since Alabama now recognizes him as the spouse of the man who was killed. Also in the case, Pat Fancher, the intervenor who is Hard’s husband’s mother and who is opposing their marriage, asked the judge to revisit his decision to release the funds based on an argument that Obergefell didn’t apply retroactively, it only applies going forward, therefore, her argument goes, Hard is not the surviving spouse. Hard’s lawyers suggested the court release the funds as soon as possible. He was also ordered to respond to Fancher’s motion, and he did here.

– Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has an important piece urging the LGBT community and our leaders to turn to the fight for racial justice. It’s a must-read.

– An omnibus LGBT rights bill will be introduced in Congress this week. Instead of only focusing on employment, the legislation will cover many topics.

– The judge in the West Virginia marriage case has granted attorneys’ fees and costs to the plaintiffs, though the amount was reduced substantially.

– The plaintiffs in the Missouri marriage case filed a motion for attorneys’ fees.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. sfbob  |  July 21, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Hard's lawyers' (SPLC) response to the evil mother's motion was particularly blunt. As well it should have been.

  • 2. VIRick  |  July 21, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    "…. the evil mother's motion …."

    Bob, I like to keep repeating it as "evil mother-in-law's motion," as that not only reminds everyone of her innate miserableness, but simultaneously reinforces the notion that the two men were legally-married (a basic point that's she's trying to deny).

  • 3. sfbob  |  July 21, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Good point Rick.

  • 4. A_Jayne  |  July 21, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Comment on the linked article re:

    "Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has an important piece urging the LGBT community and our leaders to turn to the fight for racial justice. It’s a must-read."

    This is a great call to action for white LGBTQ people. Because the reality is, many many queers of color and white queers working in solidarity have been here, the whole time, in THIS fight — to end mass incarceration, to confront this nation's deeply embedded racist history and virulently racist present-day practices — in everything from hiring to lending to policing to health care provision — as our primary queer battle. Black Lives Matter is a queer-led, women-led feminist centric movement. The holdouts are white gays — who constantly invoked Martin Luther King Jr. on the way to the marriage victory, who called out the Black community when the prop 8 vote did not go their way, who continue to gentrify our cities with glee and amp up policing at every corner to protect their precious property.

    But you hit the nail on the head here, Kate — this moment is a clear call to action to the white led organizations that hold the lion's share of the resources in the movement — the 'what next' answer must be — dismantle racism. And if we are serious about that — our organizations will undergo deep change, our leaders will hand over their batons to a new generation of leaders of color, our budget spending lines will actually reflect this commitment. What the LGBTQ movement spends our time and our money on will align with the rhetoric of justice. Because there is no LGBTQ liberation without an end to racism. Not for any of us.

    Powerful addition to a powerful article.

  • 5. DJSNOLA  |  July 21, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I think our movement should stay focused on our goals. Too wide a focus distract and decreases effectiveness.

  • 6. A_Jayne  |  July 21, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Much as the EEOC recently incorporated LGBTQ issues into their interpretation of laws against sex discrimination, all issues of discrimination are connected. We fail to address them all if/when we fail to address them together. We cannot afford to leave anyone behind.

  • 7. JayJonson  |  July 23, 2015 at 7:33 am

    All issues of discrimination may be connected, but we are neither qualified nor necessarily the appropriate ones to lead movements for other groups. How would we like it if the leaders of the glbt movement(s) were not themselves glbt? Surely, we would question the motives of others who set themselves up as our "leaders." I doubt other minorities want us to assume leadership in their struggles.

    Of course, we should be loyal allies and speak out and otherwise help others in their struggles, just as many straight allies helped us. But that is not the same thing as turning away from our historic struggle for equal rights for sexual minorities to focus on the struggle for racial justice. That struggle must be led by racial minorities themselves.

    Moreover, it is not as though our struggle for equal rights is over. There are many other issues we need to confront. As DJSNOLA says above, our movement needs to stay focused on our issues.

  • 8. A_Jayne  |  July 23, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Neither I nor the article advocate for LGBT groups to take over leadership of other rights groups. Both it and I, however, advocate for joining forces. Together we are better and more effective; many fights are essentially the same fight, sometimes even against the same people/groups…

  • 9. JayJonson  |  July 23, 2015 at 10:29 am

    When the fights are really the same, then of course we should be on the same side. We must be loyal and reliable allies. But we cannot presume to speak for other people, whose experiences may be quite different from ours.

  • 10. davepCA  |  July 21, 2015 at 11:54 am

    I hope Pat Fancher gets stuck with an absolutely enormous legal bill. Frankly, I'm hoping for a lot worse than that for her, but I'm practicing restraint of pen and tongue.

  • 11. RnL2008  |  July 21, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    I would tend to agree with you Dave…….her claims have ALWAYS been unjust and I hope she truly gets what she so rightfully deserves!!!

    To bad she will get something, she deserves NOTHING!!!

  • 12. VIRick  |  July 21, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    "…. but I'm practicing restraint of pen and tongue."

    Oh Dave, let it all hang out! You're particularly cute when you do.

    Besides, her legal expenses could well equal or exceed her share of the proceeds.

  • 13. VIRick  |  July 21, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    American Mennonites Change Course on LGBTQ Rights

    Harrisonburg VA — Harrisonburg’s Eastern Mennonite University expands non-discrimination policy to include married LGBTQs

    In an email sent out to all students today, Kay Nussbaum, Chair of Eastern Mennonite University’s Board of Trustees, and Loren Swartzendruber, EMU’s University President, said the policy change came after months of listening sessions with input from students, alumni and employees.

    “… as we affirm the goodness of singleness, celibacy, and sexual intimacy within the context of a covenanted relationship (marriage) – our hiring practices and benefits will now expand to include employees in same-sex marriages,” read the email. ”The Board of Trustees and EMU leadership believe this is the right decision for Eastern Mennonite University as an institution at this time.”

    Below is a copy of the updated hiring policy:

    Eastern Mennonite University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or any legally protected status. As a religious institution, Eastern Mennonite University expressly reserves its rights, its understandings of, and its commitments to the historic Anabaptist identity and the teachings of Mennonite Church USA, and reserves the legal right to hire and employ individuals who support the values of the college.

    I'm impressed, as the Anabaptist movement includes the Amish, the Mennonites, and the Moravians, three separate religious identities which are about as "fundamental" and as "hard-core" unchanging in their ways as one could want. EMU's second campus is located in Lancaster PA, in the heart of Pennsylvania "Dutch" country.

    I'm also reading EMU's move as a direct slap at the "other" suit that provoked the "Hobby Lobby" decision, as the case involved the "closely-held," Mennonite-owned, family business operation called the Conestoga Stage Coach and Buggy Whip Co., or some such impossibleness.

  • 14. VIRick  |  July 21, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Kansas Seeks Dismissal of ACLU Lawsuit on Marriage Equality

    Wichita KS.–– In "Marie v. Moser," Kansas faces a court-imposed deadline to make its arguments, as a federal judge considers whether to explicitly strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.

    The state has asked the court to dismiss as moot the lawsuit filed by the ACLU challenging the ban. Kansas contends it has recognized such unions since a US Supreme Court decision last month legalizing them.

    But the ACLU has argued that in other states facing similar lawsuits, courts have been entering final judgments getting rid of marriage bans against same-sex couples, not simply dismissing cases as moot. ACLU contends neither the governor nor attorney-general has issued any clear directives acknowledging the decision’s binding effect in Kansas.

    A federal court has given Kansas until today, 21 July 2015, to respond before it makes its ruling.

  • 15. VIRick  |  July 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Ohioan Again Seeks Same-Sex Divorce; 1st Request Was Undone

    Athens OH –— A woman whose request for a same-sex divorce in Ohio was accidentally granted and then denied by a judge is seeking a redo months later, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on marriage between same-sex couples. Brenda Mohney, of Rockbridge, filed a new divorce complaint last week in Athens County court. It says she was married in 2008 in California but has lived apart from her spouse for more than a year. Both women live in southeast Ohio.

    The judge listed for the case is the one who approved the divorce and then vacated that decision last December after realizing that the case involved two women and that their marriage wasn’t (then) recognized under state law

  • 16. allan120102  |  July 21, 2015 at 5:38 pm

    Henry probate judge in Alabama will start issuing licenses to all couples gay or straight. Starting tomorrow at 8:30. Couldnt find anything of Houston county though .

  • 17. 1grod  |  July 22, 2015 at 5:17 am

    AL: Day 26 Licenses Now
    Allan this link below may work. Perhaps the other counties were waiting until today to quietly implement equality, hoping against hope. "After consultation with the Alabama Probate Judges Association, the Association of County Commissioners of Alabama as well as with attorneys for those associations, and after recognizing that all legal options have been exhausted…" with no word from the AL Supreme Court or even Roy Moore its past the time. Recall Patrick Davenport on July 13 said
    The Houston County Probate office will continue to operate under the discretion provided under Alabama law regarding the issuance of marriage licenses and not issue any marriage licenses before the remainder of the 25 days has elapsed for a Motion for Rehearing provided for under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and all other legal remedies have been exhausted. Considering the recent US Supreme Court ruling that legalized same sex marriage and the impact it has had in redefined thousands of years of what has been a moral, social, and political norm, and, considering Houston County has only one same sex marriage applicant and the broad availability of access to a marriage license in surrounding Wiregrass Counties, The Houston County Probate Office will allow the legal process to run its course. We regret the inconvenience caused to heterosexual applicants over the last several months in obtaining a marriage license but are very grateful to the vast majority who have been supportive and encouraging.
    Whereas Houston (pop 101547), Clay (13434) Chambers (34067) and Coosa Co (10966) had been issuing and accepting applications, and whereas legal processes are acknowledged to have run their course, its time that those couples demand licenses.

  • 18. 1grod  |  July 22, 2015 at 6:42 am

    AL Houston Co issuing licenses today! 94% of residents of the state live in counties issuing licenses. Chambers, Clay, and Coosa: our patience with your procrastination is up!
    ’” Davenport said in his statement. “Having delayed the issuance of marriage licenses in Houston County for the time allowed by law for a motion to rehear by the U.S. Supreme Court under Rule 44 and having determined after consultation with the Houston County Attorney that all legitimate legal options have been exhausted, the Houston County Probate Office will begin issuing marriage licenses immediately.”

  • 19. 1grod  |  July 22, 2015 at 7:04 am

    AL's Autuaga Co (pop 55,514) is the largest county not issuing licenses. It was doing so but individual resigned. Then Covington (37955) and Chamber ( 34067). Autuaga and Chambers are taking applications. How can these counties be encouraged to act?

  • 20. Zack12  |  July 21, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Pat Fancher is a vile human being but sadly reflects what happened to so many same sex couples before marriage equality became a reality in all 50 states.
    Let's hope she is the first of many bigoted "parents" who will be told by the courts to take their bigotry and shove it.

  • 21. VIRick  |  July 21, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    From Rex Wockner via Geraldina Gonzalez de la Vega:

    En Querétaro, Parejas Homosexuales ya No Necesitan Amparo para Casarse
    (In Querétaro, Gay Couples No Longer Need an Amparo to Marry)

    English translation below, in two parts:

    Querétaro, 21 Julio 2015 – En lo que va del año en el Municipio de Querétaro se han realizado 3 bodas entre personas del mismo sexo y una está por casarse, comunicó Leonel Rojo Montes, titular del Registro Civil de este municipio, explicando que en total entre el año pasado y este suman 4 bodas concretadas.

    Mientras que a este número pudiera sumarse una solicitud más que ya se encuentra en trámite, derivada de otro amparo ganado el año pasado, en este contexto indicó no conoce el amparo colectivo ganado recientemente por 50 personas que lo tramitaron a título personal.

    (Querétaro, 21 July 2015 – So far, in the city of Querétaro, three weddings between same-sex couples have already occurred, and another is about to marry, reported Leonel Red Montes, head of the Civil Registry of the municipality, explaining that the total between last year and this year added up to four concretized weddings.

    Besides this number, more could join the pending request, derived from another win this year, that is, from the collective amparo recently won by 50 persons, but which will be processed on a personal basis. (the Big #5, was won this year, not last year, as reported))

    Recordó que después de haber realizado un análisis de lo dictaminado recientemente por la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación; por lo menos en el Registro Civil del Ayuntamiento de Querétaro, si alguna pareja homosexual desea contraer matrimonio ya no es necesario ampararse para poder realizar la unión. ("Estas parejas) ya podrían acudir a cualquier oficina del registro civil y solicitar matrimonio."

    (The registrar stated that after performing an analysis of recent rulings by the Supreme Court of Justice; at least in the Civil Registry of the City of Querétaro, if a same-sex couple wishes to marry, it is no longer necessary for them to rely on an amparo. ("These couples) could go to any registrar's office and apply for marriage.")

    Whoever else here knows Spanish, please double-check on my translation, as this one proved difficult. There have been 5 successful amparos granted in Querétaro, the last of which was a collective amparo covering 55 couples (not 50 persons, as reported). The article, as written, is incorrectly focusing on the number of marriages, rather than on the number of successful amparos.

    Per Wikipedia itself, amparo #5 for 55 couples was granted on 23 April 2015. Ever since, Querétaro should have been colored dark blue. The article, quoted above, says why.

  • 22. __M  |  July 22, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Hi Rick. First of all, thanks a lot for your always useful data and feedback!!.
    I have a question for u please -as you are a V. Islander you may be able to help me.. Are the VI following Obergefell and issuing marriage licences at the moment? Do you know if both the Gov. and Liutenant Gov. signed the already written executive order? Thanks a lot and, as a Spanish-speaker, sorry for any mistake on my writing. Best regards!

  • 23. guitaristbl  |  July 23, 2015 at 4:51 am

    Wow the evil so called "mother" does not give up does she ? It's truly remarkable what legal sophistries she has come up with to stop the inevitable..
    So much hatred in one person…Seems impossible to me.

  • 24. duidaily  |  October 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    we should be loyal allies and speak out and otherwise help others in their struggles, just as many straight allies helped us. But that is not the same thing as turning away from our historic struggle for equal rights for sexual minorities to focus on the struggle for racial justice. That struggle must be led by racial minorities themselves.

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