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Open thread


Open thread for discussion.


  • 1. VIRick  |  October 16, 2015 at 9:12 am

    Per Equality Case Files:

    One Alabama Marriage Case Dismissed as Moot

    On 15 October 2015, the federal suit, "Aaron-Brush v. Bentley," a challenge to the Alabama marriage ban brought by a same-sex couple married in Massachusetts, and one of the several Alabama marriage cases, this one brought by the ACLU challenging Alabama's refusal to recognize an out-of-state marriage, has been dismissed as moot.

    "Plaintiffs have stated a concern that, 'though the immediate harms with regard to adoption, birth certificate, drivers’ licenses, and tax returns have now been rectified,' certain state actors (who are not before the court in this case) will continue to enforce the laws which, under "Obergefell," are unconstitutional, and which Judge Granade has already enjoined Attorney-General Strange from enforcing. (Doc. # 43).

    There are two easy answers that address this concern. First, these matters are too speculative to constitute a remaining live controversy between the parties to this case. Second, and in any event, if in the future, unconstitutional conduct is perpetrated by state actors who are not parties in this case, it appears Judge Granade will have jurisdiction and the desire to address those matters in her cases."

    The Order of Dismissal is linked here:

    When a case like this involving a civil rights claim is dismissed as moot, it means that the plaintiffs' attorneys do not receive compensation from the state for their costs and fees.

  • 2. Rick55845  |  October 17, 2015 at 9:21 am

    This order was by Judge R. David Proctor of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division. In case anyone is interested.

  • 3. 1grod  |  October 17, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Rick: Judge D. Proctor found the claim had become moot based in 1) a permanent injunction against AG Luther Strange from adhering to the [yet rescinded} State marriage laws as it applies to recognition and celebration is in compliance, 2) a State's declaration that it is in full compliance with Obergefell's decision with regard to the plaintiffs, 3) this compliance applied to all same gender couples.
    While I appreciate the matter of fees , is not a declaration of mootness based on the the State's declarationn a checkmate against the willingness of the Alabama Supreme Court to rule on the request of probate judges John Enslen and Nick Williams to ignore the Supreme Court?…; but also the AL Supreme Court's intention to review the status of their temporary injunction. It will be recalled that last Winter's petition for an injunction against the probate judges to the AL Supremes, the state had not spoken for itself regarding the State's marriage laws. Recall Ex parte State of Alabama ex rel. Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program: "API and ACAP ask on behalf of the State for 'a clear judicial pronouncement that Alabama law prohibits the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.' : The State has now clearly spoken, and is quoted in Proctor's findings: "It [Obergefell] is the rule of the land" – thus no controversy.… p 2.

  • 4. A_Jayne  |  October 19, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Question – this statement "Costs are TAXED against Defendants Attorney General Luther Strange, Julie Magee, and John Richardson." is included in the order just prior to the order date and status. Does that not mean the judge will consider awarding costs to the plaintiffs' attorneys? If not, what does that statement mean?

  • 5. VIRick  |  October 19, 2015 at 11:23 am

    "Does that not mean the judge will consider awarding costs to the plaintiffs' attorneys?"

    Good point. Yes, it does. Judge Proctor has kept the door open to the possibility of making an exception from the normal ruling of mootness in this instance.

  • 6. RnL2008  |  October 16, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Folks, you gotta read this article:

    These supposed 60 legal scholars claim these harms exist, but DIDN'T file a brief with SCOTUS or ask to present their arguments AGAINST our right to marry…….here are their supposed 4 harms that will come by allowing us our right to marry:
    First, society will be harmed by being denied the right to hold out as normative, and particularly desirable, the only type of human relationship that every society must cultivate for its perpetuation. This compelling interest is strengthened by the fact that there is strong evidence to support what common sense suggests, namely, that children fare best when raised by their married mother and father who are both responsible for bringing them into the world and who provide maternal and paternal influences and care.

    Second, individuals and organizations holding to the historic and natural understanding of marriage as a conjugal union—the covenantal partnership of one man and one woman—will be vilified, legally targeted, and denied constitutional rights in order to pressure them to conform to the new orthodoxy.

    Third, the new jurisprudence of dignity is unlimited in principle and will encourage additional claims to redefine marriage and other long-established institutions.

    Fourth, the right of all Americans to engage in democratic deliberation, and ultimately self-government, will be decisively undermined.

    Seems similar claims were made after the Loving ruling and it seems ONLY rulings handed down by SCOTUS that involve the rights of Gays and Lesbians are the ones that both the States and the President are NOT required to follow nor are they binding on them…….wow, really?

  • 7. jpmassar  |  October 16, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Insiders have indicated that over the last seven years the Mormon Church may have lost up to 1 million members because of all it did to end gay marriage…

    …These documents proved that the Mormon Church's 1995 declaration of war against gay marriage and the LGBT community was a deliberate and well executed plan over a long period of time. It was also crystal clear that it had partnered with the Catholic Church in its fight. It also showed the extremes that the Mormon Church went through to avoid getting caught including setting up its last front group, the crooked National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in 2007 to help qualify and pass Prop 8.

  • 8. jpmassar  |  October 16, 2015 at 11:18 am

    According to a new study by Facebook, 800,000 of its users came out on the site last year.
    <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  • 9. VIRick  |  October 16, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Per Equality Case Files:

    Today, 16 October 2015, in "Chin v. Armstrong," the federal challenge to Florida's refusal to list both same-sex parents on children's birth certificates, the plaintiffs have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. The motion (with all attachments) is linked here:

    The National Center for Lesbian Rights press release relative to the same filing is here:

  • 10. VIRick  |  October 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Nevada: State Agrees To Pay Lambda Legal $615K After Losing Same-Sex Marriage Battle

    On 13 October 2015, a Nevada board approved a $615,000 payment to lawyers who successfully challenged the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The Nevada Board of Examiners voted to pay attorney fees and costs to Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which said it spent about 2,000 hours working on the case. The group originally sought more than $900,000. Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in April 2012 on behalf of eight Nevada couples. It said a 2002 state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by denying same-sex couples in Nevada the same rights that other married couples enjoy.

  • 11. VIRick  |  October 16, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    For those who might be trying to keep tab on the tab for the plaintiffs' legal expenses in the various marriage equality cases, several posters at Joe.My.God have given us these figures:

    AZ – $ 200,000 (2nd case has not yet filed request for legal fees)
    CO – $90,000
    FL’s attorney-general is fighting a tab of about $700,000
    ID – $ 400,000
    KY – the bill for services rendered is $2.1 million.
    MI – $1.9 million
    ND – $58,000
    NV – $615,000
    OH – $1.1 million
    OK – $298,000
    OR – $260,741 (Includes $128,741 in separate "Rummell v. Kitzhaber" case)
    PA – $1.5 million
    SC – $130,000, $215,000
    SD – $242,000
    UT – $95,000
    VA – $580,000
    WI – $1.05 million

    Thus, so far, the total is over $11.5 million.

  • 12. ebohlman  |  October 16, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    WI and PA seem to be outliers; all the other states with costs over $1M went all the way up to SCOTUS. PA seems especially strange since cases terminated in district court (Judge Jones of PA is in a paradox; he's got three very famous decisions (college speech codes, "intelligent design" creationism, marriage equality) that didn't set any precedent because they were so airtight that nobody was willing to spend the money to appeal them).

  • 13. 1grod  |  October 17, 2015 at 7:32 am

    In another thread, I suggest this information needs to be put before the public on Alabama, and if an effort to influence 9/10 intransigent judges to the Alabama Association of Probate Judges –

  • 14. Zack12  |  October 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Sad to say but I don't think the public in Alabama will care.
    Roy Moore being reelected to the State Supreme Court should be proof of that.

  • 15. allan120102  |  October 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Well Kansas will depend on judge Crabtree . Will see what he does

  • 16. VIRick  |  October 18, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    More legal expense settlements for plaintiffs' attorneys:

    AK – $362,000
    AR – $66,000 (state suit only)
    GA – No cash, in exchange for definitive judgment striking down ban
    IN – $1.4 million (5-case tally)
    UT – $119,302 (up-dated)
    WV – $99,804

    Including these figures, the grand total now exceeds $13.5 million

  • 17. VIRick  |  October 19, 2015 at 12:51 am

    We still need monetary settlement amounts (whether not yet rendered, or simply missed by us in compiling the tally) for these states/territories:

    AR – Federal
    AZ – second case

  • 18. F_Young  |  October 17, 2015 at 12:28 am

    Off-topic: Canada's Girl Guides say all transgender girls are welcome

  • 19. JayJonson  |  October 18, 2015 at 7:14 am

    1grod and other Canadians who contribute to this forum: any insights re the Canadian election that is to be held soon? Is gay rights settled in Canada or is the Conservative Party still attempting to erode them in various ways? What are the issues?

  • 20. Sagesse  |  October 18, 2015 at 10:00 am

    In Canada, most polling projects the % of popular vote, which is useless in forecasting who will form the government. 170 seats are required to form a majority government. This projection (scroll down) shows the Liberals forming a minority government, with 140 seats.

    CBC News – Canada Votes

    Those of us who desperately want to see Harper's conservatives out will be satisfied with that. The progressive vote, unfortunately is split between the slightly-to-the-left-of centre Liberals (leader Justin Trudeau), and the historically more socialist NDP (leader Thomas Mulcair), which makes it difficult for either to win a majority. As Canadians, we are used to dealing with minority governments at both the federal and provincial level, and with only three parties, it is not the crap shoot that exists in other parliamentary democracies, such as the UK or Isreal.

    I believe the answer to your question is 'both'. Yes, gay rights are pretty much settled in Canada, and yes, the Conservative government (and other interest groups) are subtly still attempting to erode them in various ways. The resistance to the new Ontario sex ed curriculum (which deals inclusively with sexual orientation, and pushes other religious right buttons on sexuality) is one example. Canadians as a whole, though, are a tolerant people, and overt efforts to curtail civil rights would not be welcomed. Harper's stealth program of packing the federal judiciary with culturally conservative, and in many cases unqualified, right wing appointees has not had an appreciable negative effect so far, but these judges will be on the bench long after Harper's imperial tenure is ended.

    The election is tomorrow. Also worth noting, some 3.2 million Canadians voted in the advanced polls over four days on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. The population of Canada (total, not limited to registered voters) is 36 million. The Harper Conservatives have implemented some voter suppression legislation, and the turnout was perhaps driven to some extent by people who didn't want to wait for election day to be sure they would be allowed to vote. My opinion, though, there is a lot of interest in this election.

  • 21. JayJonson  |  October 18, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Is it likely that the LIberals and the NDP would form a coalition government? Or could the Liberals form a minority government with just the 137 votes they are projected to win?

  • 22. Sagesse  |  October 18, 2015 at 11:38 am

    We rarely have formal coalitions. There hasn't been a federal coalition government since 1917. The NDP will vote with the Liberals unless some particularly sensitive legislation is brought forward, in which case it would be voted down. A vote of non-confidence can bring down a minority government. If and when there is a political advantage to calling an election, the NDP would then support a no-confidence vote. This rarely happens at the beginning of the term, since the public has just voted, and has no appetite for going through the disruption and cost of another election.

  • 23. Mike_Baltimore  |  October 18, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    In Canadian politics, do the Liberal or DNP no longer rely on Parti Quebecois (I guess known now as Block Quebecois?) for national elections?

    Formerly, neither the Liberal nor DNP parties had any organization in Quebec, and thus because the political philosophy of Parti Quebecois was similar, it was a good substitute for Liberal or DNP nationally, but in Quebec. No longer the case?

    (Oh, and I agree with you that Harper and his political philosophy needs to go.)

  • 24. 1grod  |  October 18, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    Mike the Bloc is the federal parliamentary wing of the Parti Québécois. In the 2011 election the Bloc vote went strongly and for the first time to the New Democratic Party or in French Nouveau Parti démocratique 59/75 seats. In tomorrow's election their current projection is 34/78 seats. The Liberals have always been a strong federalist party in Quebec until infighting weakened them since 2000. In the 2011 election they picked up 7/75 seats and in this election they are projected to take 26/78. The current leader of the Liberals and the NDP are from Quebec.
    Marriage Equality came to Canada from 2003 to 2005 essentially though the courts and the Liberal complicity in not appealing any of the rulings of the Courts in the provinces including that of Quebec – which is guided by the Civil Code where as in the rest of Canada it is guided by the Common Law tradition. By the time that the federal government legislated on the definition of marriage in July 2005 it was all but a done deal. When the conservatives came to power in 2006, they only half heartedly sought to repeal the Marriage Act.
    The Conservatives have succeeded in uniting the Right under Harper, but their base is not much over 30%. In our system of government it is unlikely you alone can form government unless you have over 36% of the populate vote – translated into seats in the Lower House. The prime minister much have the confidence of the House.
    Mr. Harper's leadership style is autocratic. With his last government being a majority one, he had considerable more ability to act than the American president. He controlled both the House and the Senate. The only check on his power was the judiciary, and he has been appointing conservative judges as Sagesse has noted. He has appoint 7/9 judges to the Supreme Court of Canada.

  • 25. F_Young  |  October 18, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Mike_Baltimore: In Canadian politics, do the Liberal or DNP no longer rely on Parti Quebecois (I guess known now as Block Quebecois?) for national elections? …"

    I don't think they ever did. While it is true that the NDP (NPD in French) formerly was weak in Quebec, the Liberal Party once was powerful there.

    When the Bloc Québécois (a federal party that was in effect the federal counterpart of the provincial Parti Québécois) became the main party representing Quebec at the federal level, both the NDP and Liberal parties considered it to be a rival, of course. However, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois tended to share the same social and economic policies other than sovereignty. Leftist québécois who in other provinces would have supported the NDP supported the Bloc Québécois.

    Lately, the NDP has become powerful in Quebec and the Bloc Québécois has declined. We will see tomorrow whether this trend will continue.

  • 26. F_Young  |  October 18, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    JayJohnson: Is gay rights settled in Canada or is the Conservative Party still attempting to erode them in various ways? What are the issues?

    LGBT rights have diminished as a political issue, but it is not dead yet. I would not say that the Conservative Party is trying to claw back rights, but I would say it is still trying to stall further progress. As pointed out by Sagesse, the proposed Ontario sex curriculum became an issue due to backlash against LGBTs. The failure to add gender identity to the Canadian Human Rights Act is another example of anti-T politics at play.

  • 27. guitaristbl  |  October 18, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Any more news on the HERO battlefront in Houston ? I read about polls showing majority support FOR the ordinance and I was glad, are we heading to an upset due to low turnouts ?

  • 28. Fortguy  |  October 19, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Early voting began today (Monday the 19th) for the Nov. 3 election and continues through Oct. 30. Polling is mildly in our favor generally showing either a slight majority supporting HERO or merely a plurality with many respondents undecided/unresponsive. One exception is a poll conducted by an anti-HERO group with poll wording intended to elicit a negative response. Don't pay too much attention to polling, however, as polling is notoriously unreliable in low-turnout elections such as this is expected to be. GOTV efforts are much more important.

    There are other important factors at play. HERO will be listed on the ballot as municipal Proposition 1. There is also a municipal Proposition 2 regarding term limits of city council members. More confusingly, there are seven state propositions that are all proposed constitutional amendments. State Proposition 1 is a measure intended to provided property tax relief that is expected to pass. Time will tell if this redundancy will benefit HERO.

    There are no federal, state, or county offices on the ballot. Elected offices that will be on the ballot include the Houston mayor and every place on the city council. Mayor Annise Parker, the city's first gay mayor, is term-limited and cannot seek reelection. There is a large field of thirteen candidates seeking to replace her. All but two mayoral candidates, Ben Hall and right-wing nut job Bill King, have endorsed HERO. Hall is African-American and seeks support from the city's black churches which by and large oppose HERO. King and Steve Costello are the only Republicans in the field, but Costello has been running a mainstream, pro-business campaign and supports HERO. Under Texas law, municipal, school, and other special district elections are nonpartisan, so none of the candidates will have Ds or Rs next to their names on the ballot. A runoff is probable featuring likely St. Rep. Sylvester Turner against either King or former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. Turner, who is African-American, has "evolved" over the years. He now supports HERO and LGBT rights, but early in his legislative career he was no friend of the LGBT community.

    Of note is John C.B. LaRue, a city council candidate seeking an at large seat. LaRue and his husband were the first gay couple to receive a marriage license in Harris County after Obergefell.

    The Houston Independent School District and the Houston Community College district will have positions on their respective boards on the ballot, although neither district represents the entire city. One race to watch is that between challenger Ramiro Fonseca and HISD Trustee Manuel Rodriquez. When these two faced off in 2011, the Rodriquez campaign sent out an anti-gay mailer causing the Houston Chronicle to withdraw their endorsement of him.

    Harris County will have four bond proposals on the ballot for a whopping total of $848 million for infrastructure and services. Although Houston's city limits extend into two adjacent counties, only between three and four thousand residents live outside Harris. The San Jacinto Community College district also has a bond question.

  • 29. Sagesse  |  October 18, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Observing the US Catholic Church.

    Where Is the Place for Devout Gay Families in the Church? [The Atlantic]

  • 30. Sagesse  |  October 18, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Interesting take on the immigration debate, taking a page from the ME campaign. As a straight woman who was a teenager in the 60s, I have a finely tuned sensitivity to civil rights… for everyone.
    I am constitutionally (pun intended) incapable of singling out any group of 'others' for rejection because as a woman I was an 'other' myself, back in the day.

    It is disheartening to watch how the US government (and those who elect them) have allowed the situation to persist to the point that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants and their families in the US. There is no viable public policy solution at this late date that involves punishing them all, or deporting them all (other than the ones involved in criminal activity) or arguing over the birthright citizenship of their children, or punishing their children who ARE citizens. Time to get over it, in my humble opinion. Full disclosure, I am Canadian and it's not my problem, except as someone who doesn't like to see other human beings mistreated.

    Tech leaders make immigration a moral issue, not an economic one [SF Chronicle]

  • 31. Sagesse  |  October 18, 2015 at 9:06 am


    Texas May Deny Birth Certificates to Immigrants’ Children, Judge Rules [Time]

  • 32. JayJonson  |  October 18, 2015 at 9:15 am

    The thread above about fees awarded to attorneys in the marriage equality cases needs to be supplemented by a sad development out of Arkansas, where Judge Piazza awarded a measly sum to the lead attorney representing 40 plaintiffs over a three-year period. $30,000! Shocking, especially since the attorney seems to have worked almost full time on the case(s).

  • 33. VIRick  |  October 18, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Northern Ireland Assembly Set for FIFTH Showdown Over Same-Sex Marriage

    The Northern Ireland assembly is set to debate a same-sex marriage motion for a fifth time, after equality was blocked four times in a row. Same-sex marriage is law in England, Wales, Scotland, and the Republic of Ireland, but in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party has blocked it repeatedly by filing a ‘petition of concern’ in the Stormont assembly.

    The issue has been vetoed four times since 2012, but amid political uncertainty in the country, politicians are trying yet again to pass a motion on the issue. MLAs from a number of parties – the SDLP, Sinn Féin and the Green Party – have put forward a motion calling for equal marriage legislation, which is expected to be debated on Tuesday, 2 November.

  • 34. Zack12  |  October 19, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Figured it would be worth a mention that yesterday marked an important legal mark in LGBT rights.
    It was three years ago yesterday that the 2nd Circuit upheld a lower court ruling in the Windsor case that DOMA was unconstitutional, setting the stage for SCOTUS to overturn it and lead us to where we are now.
    Cheers for Judges Dennis Jacobs (conservative Republican) and Chris Droney (Obama) for their parts, boo to DemocRATic Clinton judge Chester Straub for voting to uphold DOMA, the only circuit court judge of the six who heard DOMA cases to do so.
    He did so using the same legal garbage we all know and love, will of the people, proceation yadda yadda.
    In the end, his bigotry and that of DOMA lost, and equality won.

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