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Open thread


Open thread for a slow news day.


  • 1. jpmassar  |  September 10, 2015 at 10:36 am

    States that defended same-sex marriage bans — most did, to some extent — are now being asked to pay the legal fees for those litigants under a 40-year-old federal law that says the court “in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party … a reasonable attorney’s fee as part of the costs.”

    Or as Michigan attorney Dana Nessel put it: “It’s the price governments pay for defending bigotry.”

    Defeat won’t come cheap — or, in many cases, without further legal wrangling.

    Michigan is weighing its response to a $1.9 million demand from attorneys for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, plaintiffs in one of the four cases that went to the Supreme Court and was decided in June. In Kentucky, another state involved in the Supreme Court showdown, the bill for services rendered is $2.1 million. South Carolina has been ordered to pay $130,000, and Florida’s attorney general is fighting a tab of about $700,000.

    Several states have struck agreements already. Pennsylvania settled for $1.5 million, Wisconsin for $1.05 million, Virginia for $580,000, Oregon for $132,000, Colorado for $90,000, Utah for $95,000 and North Dakota for $58,000. The varying prices reflect the length of the battles or their intensity.

  • 2. almostfamous734  |  September 10, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    If I'm remembering correctly, Pennsylvania conceded after the district court's decision… Why would that state owe almost as much as a state that appealed all the way to the Supreme Court? Just out of curiosity.

  • 3. DrBriCA  |  September 10, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Kentucky and Pennsylvania both had AG who declared they would not continue defending the ban, so the governors had to enlist different attorneys to continue the case. I remember reading some of the earlier figures about how much these private attorneys were costing so the governors could keep the fight going.

  • 4. almostfamous734  |  September 10, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    But Pennsylvania's case never even went to the appeals court and Kentucky's did. Pennsylvania conceded and marriage equality went into effect right after the district court ruling. Please correct me if I'm wrong, I'm going off of memory here.

  • 5. Bruno71  |  September 10, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    You're correct. The governor and AG of Pennsylvania both refused to appeal the case, so it died at the district court (despite some pointless shenanigans from a county clerk afterwards). In Kentucky, Governor Beshear appealed the case even though the AG refused to defend the law.

  • 6. DrBriCA  |  September 10, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    You're correct, but the governor still chose an expensive legal team for the district-level case since his AG would not defend the ban.

  • 7. Rick55845  |  September 10, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Yeah, but the state's cost for their expensive legal team has nothing to do with the amount they settled with the plaintiffs for.

    Quoting from above:

    "Pennsylvania settled for $1.5 million…"

    That's what they agreed to pay to plaintiff's attorneys. Their own expenses are not part of that amount.

    So it still begs the question; how the hell did it cost Pennsylvania so much?

  • 8. VIRick  |  September 10, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    That $1.5 million for Pennsylvania could be an aggregate figure as there were a LOT of cases in Pennsylvania in addition to the one case, "Whitehead v. Wolf," which struck down the marriage ban in federal district court. To begin, there was a second federal case, which was not ruled upon, "Palladino v. Corbett."

    There was also quite a dragged-out wrangle in state court after the Montgomery County PA clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately following the "Windsor" decision. One such case which was a direct upshot, "Department of Health v. Hanes," went all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (before clerk Hanes was vindicated). Then there were multiple retroactivity cases (given that there were several hundred marriages performed there) wherein which couples married during that "window" counter-sued to have their marriages recognized, "Ballen v. Wolf," "Cuccinotta v. Wolf," as well as a case from Erie PA.

    Then there were the widow cases, where the surviving partner sued the state over the collection of state inheritance taxes, money which would not have been due had the state recognized their marriage. After the Bucks County decision, to succeed, in Pennsylvania, they would have to show they considered themselves married before the state's common-law marriage provision ended on 1 January 2005.

    At one point, Pennsylvania had more pending marriage suits than Texas.

    And btw, I don't believe the Santai-Gaffney affair cost the state a dime. She did her refusnik thing with ADF backing,– and lost. Alito told her "No." At that point, she crawled back under her rock. As an amusing side-note, *someone* has painted an awesome memorial on an overhanging rock alongside the highway as one approaches Pottsville PA from the south, which reads, "The Santai-Gaffney Rock" in huge, bold, day-glo, rainbow colors. It's quite an artistic accomplishment.

  • 9. F_Young  |  September 11, 2015 at 4:40 am

    VIRick: "That $1.5 million for Pennsylvania….."

    Rick, you're amazing. All that information, too.

  • 10. almostfamous734  |  September 11, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Yes, thank you. Definitely the best possible explanation. 🙂

  • 11. VIRick  |  September 11, 2015 at 1:12 am

    You spoke too soon regarding North Dakota, as that state had two marriage suits, only one of which has been settled regarding legal fees.

    Last month, North Dakota settled with attorneys who represented seven same-sex couples who sued the state and agreed to pay $58,000 in legal fees and costs (but only on the first suit, "Ramsay v. Dalrymple").

    Gay Rights Group Seeking $124,000 from North Dakota

    A national gay rights group that sued North Dakota on behalf of a same-sex couple is seeking $124,000 in legal fees in "Jorgensen v. Montplaisir," a figure the organization calls modest compared with amounts other states have paid after similar lawsuits.

    Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in June 2014 on behalf of Jan Jorgensen and Cindy Phillips, who live in Fargo. The couple married in Minnesota and sued North Dakota because the state wouldn’t recognize their marriage. The group and the Minneapolis-based Faegre Baker Daniels law firm have asked a federal judge to award a total of $124,000 to 10 attorneys who worked on the case, noting the lawyers accrued more than 380 billable hours.

    That’s a modest request as far as marriage litigation is concerned, said Lambda Legal attorney Camilla Taylor, who noted that senior attorneys on the case even billed the state at cheaper rates than normal.

  • 12. GregInTN  |  September 10, 2015 at 11:20 am

    From "Right Wing Watch":

    Oath Keepers Send Armed Guards To Protect Kim Davis From US Marshals

    Rhodes said that the Rowan County sheriff should have blocked U.S. Marshals from detaining Davis, but since neither the sheriff nor the state’s governor will do their “job” and “intercede” on behalf of Davis, the Oath Keepers will have to do it instead.

  • 13. davepCA  |  September 10, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Wow, the extremists are just tripping over each other to get into the center ring of this circus. What a bunch of babbling idiots. I, for one, welcome their efforts to show the general public just how delusional and hysterical they really are.

  • 14. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 10, 2015 at 11:45 am

    If Federal soldiers show up to protect the Federal Marshals, I wonder who the Oath Keepers will choose to defend, Ms. Davis or the Federal Marshals? Federal Marshals do not go into any situation with the intent of killing anyone. Their job is to protect people, whether they are there to arrest someone or to protect a person. The same thing cannot be said of the Oath Keepers.

    Also remember, it was the Oath Keepers who claimed Federal military recruiting stations were not being properly protected, and sent members to 'protect' the soldiers and potential soldiers at the recruiting stations.

  • 15. Montezuma58_1  |  September 10, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    If they are going to "protect" Davis they should change their name to the Oaf Keepers.

  • 16. Rick55845  |  September 10, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    Scottie, please differentiate different "Open thread" posts in some fashion. Perhaps put a date in the title.

    When there are more than one active threads with the same name, it is impossible to distinguish which post is posted to which thread in the "Recent Comments" sidebar because they'll both have the same title. Thank you.

  • 17. Mike_Baltimore  |  September 10, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    It would appear that a new category needs to be added to 'Counties where officials are making it difficult for couples to get married' in addition to certain counties in Texas, Kentucky and Alabama.

    In McDowell County, North Carolina, couples (same sex or not) who are seeking a civil marriage are limited to getting married in the county only because judges from Rutherford County are filling in on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. ET (the article says 10 hours/week, but I learned prior to math class that 3 (days) X 4 (hours/day) = 12).
    (… )

    To me, it sounds like a violation of equal protection under the 14th Amendment. 12 (or 10) hours per week of availability of civil marriage in McDowell County is NOT equal to the probable 40 hours in other NC counties.

    I also am not sure who is paying for travel expenses and the travel times of the Judges from Rutherford County. It's not fair for the Rutherford County taxpayers to be picking up the tab, and McDowell County taxpayers, if they are not paying at least travel expenses and travel times, are getting something (of value) for nothing.

  • 18. VIRick  |  September 11, 2015 at 1:35 am

    North Carolina Magistrates Say "No" to Same-Sex Marriages

    Marion NC — A supervising judge says magistrates in a western North Carolina county are refusing to perform same-sex marriages, citing the state’s religious exemption law. Supervising Judge Randy Poole said that, by law, the McDowell magistrates cannot perform any kind of marriages for six months if they refuse to marry same-sex couples.

    WLOS-TV in Asheville reports four McDowell County magistrates have recused themselves from performing the ceremonies. Magistrates from neighboring Rutherford County are substituting.

    State lawmakers adopted a measure in June that allows court officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages because of their religious beliefs. Governor Pat McCrory vetoed it, but the North Carolina Senate and House overrode his veto.

  • 19. jjcpelayojr  |  September 11, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Since the governor vetoed it, who can citizens sue for harmed rights. The clerk? The Senate and House? Surely the Governor would be absolved of being named of the suit since he vetoed it in the first place.


  • 20. Eric  |  September 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    The magistrate denying service selectively would be the party to sue, but what is the specific harm? The service must still be provided by the county.

  • 21. jjcpelayojr  |  September 11, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Right, but in this case all the magistrates of that county are utilizing the religious exemption which would forbid them from issuing licenses (gay or straight) for 6 months. If all of them partake of it at the same time, then the county is effectively (and legally as defined by that state law), not allowing any licenses to be issued for 6 months.

    The "reasonable" accommodation would be for you to drive to the next county…unless that county does the same thing, and so forth and so forth. At least I hope I'm understanding this correctly…


  • 22. sfbob  |  September 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    They aren't refusing to issue licenses (I don't think that's a function performed by a magistrate in NC but I could be mistaken). They are refusing to perform marriage ceremonies. They are not, strictly speaking, required to perform marriages but state law also requires every county have someone on hand at least ten hours per week to fulfill that function. The law that permits magistrates to opt out of performing marriages doesn't apply to the county so magistrates from adjacent counties are being contracted to drive in as needed.

  • 23. flyerguy77  |  September 10, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    i JUST watched an interview with Mrs Davis' attorney Matt S with Megyn Kelly, and she asked him what she will do when she returns to work. He said I don't know and she loves everybody and BLAH BLAH Other words she will ignore the judge's order, might block her clerks.. jmo If Judge can he should REMOVE her attorneys off of the case. Something is fishy,. he said he knew her for months now…….. hmm its THEIR PLAN………… I believe it will backfire on them..

  • 24. Iggy_Schiller  |  September 11, 2015 at 1:13 am

    A nice text from The Economist: "Gays, not Christians, are still America’s truly embattled minority"

    "In most states of America homophobes can still legally discriminate against homosexuals, married or otherwise. That is a much graver scandal than Ms Davis’s theatrical refusal to do her job".

  • 25. VIRick  |  September 11, 2015 at 1:41 am

    82 Year-Old Vet Demands His Name Be Cleared After 1955 Dishonorable Discharge For Being Gay

    82 year-old Donald Hallman is among an estimated 114,000 men and women who were booted from the military over their homosexuality between WWII and the end of DADT. Hallman appeared on CNN yesterday to demand that his record be cleared of its “dishonorable” notation. The "Dallas Morning News" agrees in an editorial published today, 10 September 2015, which supports a bill pending before Congress:

    To set things right, gay veterans must apply individually to revise their discharge status. It is time consuming and puts the onus on the veteran to prove that the dishonorable discharge status was wrongfully assigned. Many must hire lawyers at their own expense. The process can take years. Straight veterans with identical service records have faced no such hurdles. According to a recent "New York Times" report, the Department of Defense upgraded 80 percent of the nearly 500 requests submitted since 2011. Under current military procedures, the Veterans Administration may refuse benefits when a discharge was the result of “aggravating” circumstances – misconduct leading to a general court martial, or when a service member deserts, refuses orders or refuses to wear the uniform. For those veterans whose sexual orientation was the sole reason for the reduced status, the frustration factor must be enormous. They’ve given years of service in support of their country’s military missions, only to be told that it doesn’t count – for reasons that never were the military’s business to begin with.

  • 26. VIRick  |  September 11, 2015 at 2:32 am

    Cayman Islands Anti-Gay Laws to be Challenged in Court

    A gay lecturer who faces deportation from the Cayman Islands aims to challenge the territory’s anti-gay legislation in court. Leonardo Raznovich recently lost his job lecturing law at the Truman Bodden Law School in the Cayman Islands. He believes this was because of his participation in a series of lectures aimed at tackling LGBT rights in the Caymans that took place in January, and drew criticism from some lawmakers in the country.

    Now unemployed, the educator is no longer allowed to remain on the island on a working permit. However, his husband can, meaning that if the Caymans recognized the legal status of same-sex marriage, then he could stay.

    Raznovich now hopes an earlier European Court of Human Rights verdict in Italy, which found legal recognition of same-sex relationships to be a fundamental human right, will help force the government to allow him to stay in the country on his husband’s work visa.

    “We are very happy living here, so we are going to take this as far as it’s needed because we know the law is on our side. We’re going to take it all the way that is needed until we get a formal seal of approval to us living here as a family unit.”

    Raznovich has been given two weeks to remain in the country, as he prepares to begin the legal process of challenging the law. Despite the Cayman Islands being a British Overseas Territory, meaning residents in many ways are treated as British, including passports, access to the UK and EU, the territory does not have many of the protections for LGBT people.

    Some issues faced by LGBT people in the Cayman Islands, whether visiting or living there, include a lack of discrimination protections, no legal recognition of relationships, with gay cruise ships often being picketed when they dock.

  • 27. Fortguy  |  September 11, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Out of curiosity, I Googled him. Raznovich is from Argentina while his husband is a British citizen and a lawyer for a law firm offshore. Their marriage is recognized in both of their native countries.

    Cayman News Service: Gay couple press on with fight for equality

  • 28. VIRick  |  September 11, 2015 at 3:22 am

    Thailand Introduces First Law to Protect LGBT People

    The country’s first law specifically protecting LGBT people came into effect this week. The Thai parliament passed the 2015 Gender Equality Act in March. The law is designed to protect members of the LGBT community and aims to punish discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Those found guilty of discrimination may face up to six months in jail and a 20,000 baht fine.

    The law defines “unfair discrimination among the sexes” as any action that “segregates, obstructs or limits the rights” of a person because they have “a sexual expression different from that person’s original sex.”

    Somchai Charoenamnuaysuk, Director-General of the Department of Family Affairs and Family Development, noted that the law bars government agencies, private organizations, or Thai individuals from formulating anti-gay policies, rules, regulations, measures, or operating procedures. “Co-operation from all sectors is key in moving forward with the enforcement of this Act, in order to create an equal and just society,” he said.

    Original exemptions due to education, religion and the public interest were removed from an earlier draft of the law, meaning that governing bodies are no longer exempt from being prosecuted for anti-LGBT legislation or behavior.

    He added that the support of non-LGBT people in Thailand is vital to the law’s success and that the public will play a key role. “The public plays an important role in keeping a watchful eye on cases of discrimination, providing support to LGBT people, as well as ensuring compliance with the rules, regulations and measures."

    The Thai government are currently considering a civil unions bill and amendments to the constitution that would further recognize the rights of trans people in the country. Thailand is famous for having a large and vibrant LGBT community, particularly trans and gender non-conforming people. It allows trans people to change their legal gender, but does not currently allow same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage was discussed in 2012, with legislation being drafted, but was put on hold as the country struggled with political instability. Earlier this year, it was announced that Thailand’s new constitution will include references to a third gender for the first time .

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