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Equality news round-up: News on Paul Hard’s case in Alabama, 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
– The Mississippi Supreme Court has allowed a same-sex married couple to divorce.

– The military has added sexual orientation to its equal opportunity policy.

– Paul Hard has filed his opening brief in the Eleventh Circuit appeal of his case.

– Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands by her controversial account of the history behind the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act, suggesting her account is based on private conversations.

– Lawmakers are trying to ensure that gay troops have their discharges converted to “honorable.”

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. jpmassar  |  November 9, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Northern Ireland
    A gay couple's marriage has been "devalued" by the fact that it is not legally recognised when their are home in Northern Ireland, a court has heard.

    The couple, who were married in England last year, have begun a court challenge to Northern Ireland's marriage laws.

    It is the only part of the UK and Ireland that bans same-sex marriage.

    Their barrister said they were stripped of lawful marriage at home, with their rights "returning and disappearing" as they cross state lines.

    The couple have taken a case at the High Court in Belfast in an attempt to get the court to declare that their marriage remains fully constituted throughout the UK.

    The men, who want full legal recognition as spouses rather than civil partners, claim that failure to recognise their marriage within the UK amounts to unlawful discrimination.
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  • 2. Eric  |  November 9, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Why all the nitpicking over DOMA, when Hillary was supportive of states' denying same-sex couples the right to marry until a year or so ago?

    Hillary supports and opposes the LGBT community when it benefits her career, nothing more.

  • 3. Mike_Baltimore  |  November 10, 2015 at 11:56 am

    2011 video of Hillary Clinton speaking FOR ME on a worldwide basis:

  • 4. VIRick  |  November 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Anti-Gay Oregon Judge Goes Before Disciplinary Commission

    Salem OR – An Oregon judge who refused to perform same-sex marriages is scheduled to go before a judicial disciplinary commission. The two-week hearing began Monday, 9 November 2015, and will determine whether Marion County judge Vance Day should be sanctioned.

    The Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability says Day committed several ethics violations. They include screening marriage applicants to exclude same-sex couples, hanging a portrait of Adolf Hitler in the courthouse, asking lawyers for money, and allowing a convicted felon to handle a gun.

    Although somewhat contradictory, Day has denied he violated judicial ethics rules, but further says the rules are unconstitutional. He says he’s being targeted because of his Christian beliefs. Day is a former chairman of the Oregon Republican Party.

  • 5. FredDorner  |  November 9, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    No surprise that Vance Day is a Southern Baptist who attended Regent U. If I were gay or black he's definitely not the sort of person judging my fate.

  • 6. davepCA  |  November 9, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    ….A portrait of Hitler, asking lawyers for money, etc.? What on earth? So is this guy just mentally ill or what?

  • 7. VIRick  |  November 9, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    "So is this guy just mentally ill or what?"

    Dave, although there's no direct evidence that this guy ever stayed in a Holiday Inn Express, there is adequate evidence that he was once the chair of the Oregon Republican Party.

  • 8. Zack12  |  November 9, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Good grief, with all those things listed against him, how is this man still a judge?

  • 9. jcmeiners  |  November 9, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    I'm kind of glad he put the Hitler portrait up in the courthouse. That removes all doubt about his persuasions.

  • 10. ianbirmingham  |  November 9, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Tyron, not his real name, has had a tough time since arriving in Kenya in December 2014. Just days after arriving in the country he was beaten up by a mob. It was Christmas Day. Since then he has been arrested and beaten up by police three times. He told me on one occasion three policemen called him over and asked him why he was "walking like a girl". "When I couldn't answer them, they beat me up and when they saw on one of my documents that I was a Ugandan refugee, they abused me saying I was one of the people Museveni [Uganda's president] had kicked out of the country for being gay." He has moved house several times after being attacked by neighbours.

    Tyrone is one of more than 500 Ugandans who have escaped to Kenya, to apply for asylum and be resettled abroad on the basis of their sexual orientation. His country made international headlines in recent years when it tried to introduce a tough new anti-homosexuality law, which allowed life imprisonment for "aggravated homosexuality". Although the courts struck it down, the environment has proved too dangerous for a growing number of Ugandans. But in Kenya they face constant attacks, kidnappings, extortion and police harassment.

    Recently, almost a dozen LGBT people were taken by the United Nation's Refugee agency (UNHCR) to a safe house in Nairobi, after they were attacked on a night out. The Ugandans stand out in this refugee camp as they are the only residents fleeing a peaceful country. Even that agency – the very group tasked with protecting LGBT people – has admitted its own staff are hostile. The deputy head of protection for UNHCR told me that staff have said that as Christians they could not work with, or talk to, a gay man. …

    Read more:

  • 11. ianbirmingham  |  November 9, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    US-based NGO Asia Catalyst estimates there are four million transgender people in China, and says they face severe discrimination. Sexually ambiguous characters have a long history in Chinese art and literature, but being transgender is still classified as a mental illness in the country –homosexuality was removed from the category in 2001 — although sex reassignment surgery is legal. Those who come out as transgender to their families risk being rejected or forced to marry and have children. …

    Transgender issues were given unusual prominence in China last year, when the country's most famous sexologist, Li Yinhe, announced she had been living for 17 years with a partner who was born female but identifies as a man, referring to him as her "husband" and stressing she saw herself as heterosexual. The couple were profiled by a national magazine and the Communist party mouthpiece the People's Daily said on a microblog: “Respecting the choices of people like Li Yinhe is respecting ourselves."

    Together with the success of male-to-female transsexual dancer Jin Xing, who often appears on mainstream television shows, the reaction to Li's statement was taken as a sign of slowly shifting attitudes. But many Chinese doctors and psychiatrists know little about how to deal with transgender individuals, the Beijing LGBT Centre's executive director Xin Ying, told AFP. Those who have changed their physical appearance face difficulty getting a job, having a medical operation, or even boarding a train, she said, as there is no established legal procedure to change information on Chinese identity cards.

    Hong Kong-based transgender activist Joanne Leung urged the audience at the meeting not to lose hope: "Before I had sex change surgery, I thought no one would love me and I would be single until I die. But I was wrong." Even so fears about others' reactions remain. Fang Yuran, another speaker at the meeting, was born female but wants to become a man. She has only come out to her family as a lesbian, fearing their response if she explained further. She explained: "If I told my parents the truth, they would think I am ill and never let me be."

    Read more:

  • 12. Zack12  |  November 9, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    On a different note, the 5th Circuit just released it's option on immigration and Obama's attempts to stop almost five million of them from being deported.
    All I can say is this, at least SCOTUS handed down it's ruling on marriage equality so we didn't have to read Judge Smith's vile option on us or watch a pro equality ruling get overturned en banc.
    Next year's elections aren't just about SCOTUS, they are about the various circuit courts as well.
    It won't take much for some of the courts Obama helped shape into more modern courts (like the 4th) back into right wing hell holes like the 5th again.
    And since they deal with more cases then SCOTUS does these days, they are in many ways more important.
    Just another reason we need to get out and vote next year, it's not just SCOTUS that is at stake, but the whole judicial system as well.

  • 13. VIRick  |  November 10, 2015 at 12:24 am

    Michoacán Marriage Equality Lawsuit Filed Directly with Mexico's Supreme Court

    Brief background:

    On 27 August 2015, the Justice and Human Rights Committee of the Michoacán state legislature approved a new text to the Family Code that would maintain the heterosexual definition of marriage, but enact a domestic partnership law for same-sex couples. It was approved unanimously by the full Michoacán Congress on 7 September 2015. The law was then published on 30 September 2015 in the state's official journal, and thus has been enacted, despite previous rulings already rendered by Mexico's Supreme Court emphatically asserting that "separate but equal" is discriminatory, and thus unconstitutional.

    Latest move:

    In late October 2015, following the Family Code's passage, a lawsuit claiming discrimination and unconstitutionality was then filed directly before Mexico's Supreme Court and was brought by JOSÉ MARÍA CÁZARES SOLÓRZANO, in his official capacity as Presidente de la Comisión de los Derechos Humanos del Estado de Michoacán (CEDH).

    The link to the actual court filing (in Spanish) at Mexico's Supreme Court is here:

    So, we now have a federally-appointed Mexican official (as ombudsman) suing a group of elected state officials over the matter of marriage equality before Mexico's Supreme Court.

  • 14. JayJonson  |  November 10, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Two women who wed in Costa Rica recently, along with their attorney who successfully registered their marriage, are now the subject of a criminal complaint, filed by the Director of the Civil Registry. They could face up to six years in jail. The women and their attorney attempted to take advantage of a clerical error that listed one of them as male on her birth certificate.

    Gay marriage is banned in Costa Rica and those who break the law are subject to punishment of 2 to 6 years in jail.

    Read more:

  • 15. VIRick  |  November 10, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Lest anyone misunderstand, no one will be going to jail over this matter.

    The couple's lawyer, Marco Castillo, is the president of the LGBTI rights group, Diversity Movement. One woman in the couple, Laura Florez-Estrada, is a 28-year-old Spanish citizen, and same-sex marriage is legal in Spain. The other women in the couple is Jazmin Elizondo, a 24-year-old Costa Rican citizen with a clerical error on her birth certificate that lists her as male. The error is not her fault.

    Besides, for current law in Costa Rica, we also have this, as saved in my archives and dated 29 September 2014:

    Costa Rica: Update on Same-Sex Unions

    As best as can be determined, the latest interpretation of this very difficult gender-neutral passage from Article 22 of the "Law of Young People," originally passed by the Legislative Assembly on 2 July 2013, and signed into law by President Laura Chinchilla on 4 July 2013 (as translated from Spanish):

    "The right to recognition without discrimination contrary to human dignity, social and economic effects of domestic partnerships that constitute publicly, notoriously unique and stable, with legal capacity for marriage for more than three years."

    is as follows:

    " . . . domestic partnerships . . . unique and stable . . . for more than three years."

    will mean that domestic partnerships, whether hetero or same-sex, that have been stable for more than three years will be legally recognized and binding in Costa Rica as de facto unions, and will be referred to for all legal purposes as "unregistered cohabitation," or common-law marriage.

    Furthermore, in another saved article dated 3 June 2015, and following through on the above:

    On Tuesday morning, 2 June 2015, news broke that Gerald Castro and Cristian Zamora, a gay couple in the city of Goicoechea, north of San José, were granted a common-law marriage by the Family Court there.

    Common-law marriage grants all the same benefits of a traditional marriage in Costa Rica, but requires the approval of a judge after the couple has been together, but not necessarily lived together, for at least three years. It guarantees partners the rights to inheritance, to social security and public insurance benefits, and to visit the other person in the hospital.

    Subsequently, on 13 August 2015, the office of Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís introduced a bill to the nation's legislature for the direct legalization of same-sex common-law marriages, a bill which is still pending. It will eliminate the need for judicial approval, thus allowing the common-law marriage (same-sex or hetero) to become automatic after the required time-interval.

  • 16. Christian0811  |  November 10, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I know Costa Rica's SC ruled against actual marriage in 2006, what are the odds of by-passing the passive-aggressive "common law marriage" stuff and getting that older ruling overturned?

  • 17. VIRick  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    In general, Central America is hideously conservative, and violently messed-up in a number of other arenas. Costa Rica, without question, is the most progressive, peaceful state there. Two presidents in a row, Laura Chinchilla and Luis Guillermo Solís, have taken the "passive-aggressive" route to avoid their Supreme Court. Actually, that impossibly-worded gender-neutral passage in the "Law of Young People" from 2013 was the brainchild of legislator, José María Villalta, a member of the leftist Broad Front Party, and another former presidential candidate.

    Based on their collective actions, it would appear that "baby steps" is the current operating mode at work in Costa Rica, and appears to be the continuing mode. Uniquely to Latin America, Costa Rica has never had a dictator, a revolution, nor a civil war. And that says a lot.

  • 18. allan120102  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Well being from Honduras I can assure you CR Is the most progressive of the 7 but there is still some legislators that are pretty homophobic. Imo it will be the first to legalize ssm in the region.

  • 19. Randolph_Finder  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Hmm. Depends on your definition of Latin America. IMO, from the common (if somewhat inaccurate form the original intent) definition in the US, it includes all countries in the Western Hemisphere south of the Rio Grande. With *that* definition, Belize (although certainly *not* speaking a romance language) would qualify, I believe..

  • 20. VIRick  |  November 10, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Not that I wish to pick fight, but from some legalistic quarters, especially prevalent in Guatemala, Belize is an illegally-constituted colonial construct of British imperialism whose existence is officially ignored/denied.

    Even I tend to forget about it, and I'm not Guatemalan. When Allan stated "7," I had to stop a minute and actually count, as off-hand, "7" seemed to be too many.

  • 21. allan120102  |  November 10, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Most people in Central America don´t count Belize as a country in our region because they are really different than us. Guatemala specially are the ones that said that Belize is part of them and they want to re added it. hmm also some others dont count Panama as it was part of Colombia so some people only say they are 5, the 5 that were united and later separate. Anyways I count both Belize and Panama. The first because it will be bad to not count it and the second because imo its more a central American country than Belize. Not trying to force a fight just stating what most in this region think.

  • 22. Fortguy  |  November 10, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Indeed, the group of 5 nations that historically identify themselves as Central American have a number of political and economic organs uniting them and even have an international network of numbered highway routes connecting them with Central American Highways route numbers continuing across borders. Belize, like Guyana in South America, much more identifies culturally, legally and economically with current and former British colonies in the West Indies. As an example, Guyana is the only nation in South America that is a member of the CONCACAF, world soccer's regional organization that otherwise unites the teams of North America, Central America, and the West Indies.

    Belize and Guyana are also united with their British colonial brethren in their extreme homophobia. You can be imprisoned potentially in those nations for being gay, while the rest of Central and South Americans would at worst just insult you while many Southern countries are more progressive than some EU countries.

  • 23. VIRick  |  November 11, 2015 at 1:24 am

    "…. while many Southern countries are more progressive than some EU countries."

    Living in Santiago de Chile is a delight, where one has choices between rubbing shoulders (or other parts of the anatomy) with the gay fashionistas of Providencia to the east, or crossing the river to the uber-gay/hipster/counter-culture area to the north where Pablo Neruda once held reign.

    And that's "conservative" by regional standards. I could write an entire book on São Paulo and Rio and my many "adventures" in that area. Or is that already too much information?

  • 24. Randolph_Finder  |  November 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    I prefer to think of Guatelama as a illegally-constituted colonial construct of Spanish imperialism. 🙂

    Besides, the road is built now, the 1859 treaty didn't specify a deadline.

  • 25. Christian0811  |  November 10, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Didn't the supreme court hold that a referendum on same sex civil unions was unconstitutional? Wouldn't that create good case law to revisit the issue? I mean it overturned it's 2008 ruling against same sex couples having conjugal visits, is it unreasonable to expect a new ruling overturning the 2006 decision?

  • 26. VIRick  |  November 11, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Christian, you're asking me to speculate on how Costa Rica's Supreme Court might rule at some point in the future and/or how likely they might be in overturning their previous decision. I hesitate to do that.

    Instead, I have this peculiar habit/need to remain after-the-fact, reporting factual actions, once completed. Perhaps, I've lived too long in Latin America (specifically in Mexico, and several locales in South America), but from my observation, especially when it comes to the legal system, incremental "baby steps" seems to be the operative way to go. Since Costa Rica is already well ahead of its neighbors, a full-on assault could well be counter-productive.

  • 27. Christian0811  |  November 11, 2015 at 8:18 am

    Yeah that got slapped down pretty hard when they tried to go for the all-or-nothing approach. Perhaps you're right and the baby-steps approach is wisest.

    It just seems like the court has changed a lot and now would be a good time to re-litigate but I understand better now.

  • 28. Mike_Baltimore  |  November 10, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Central America is not a language area, but a geographic area, from the Southern Mexican border to the Northern border of Columbia, inclusive. Mexico is part of North America. And Belize is located South of Mexico, but North of Columbia, therefore is part of the geographic area of Central America.

    Europe is comprised of many countries that speak Romance languages (Italy, France, Iberian peninsula, etc.), but it also includes such NON-Romance language countries as Greece, Germany, Russian, etc.

  • 29. VIRick  |  November 10, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    Mike, as a geographic entity, you are correct. However, as an historic, political construct, there are some differences:

    Politically, Panama was always part of Nueva Granada (Colombia).

    The rest, Centroamérica, was under the Captaincy-General of Guatemala, which was further sub-divided into intendencias as follows: San Salvador (El Salvador), Ciudad Real (Chiapas), Comayagua (Honduras), León (Nicaragua), and Cartago (Costa Rica). Immediately post-independence, Centroamérica stuck with Nueva España (Mexico), but then split from it, leaving Chiapas behind as part of Mexico. It then shattered further, with the other intendencias going their own separate ways, leaving a rump Guatemala to fend for itself, but still, with what is today called Belize still attached (or so many Guatemalans claim).

    See República Federal de Centroamérica (1821-1841):

    All five Central American nations, as Centroamérica, celebrate independence day (from Spain) on 15 September. Chiapas incorrectly celebrates Cinco de Mayo, Mexico's Independence Day.

  • 30. Fortguy  |  November 10, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Actually, Central America can be defined in any number of arrangements depending on history, language, culture, politics, or whatever is the most appropriate context for the issue under discussion. Archaeologists, for instance, disdain the term Central America preferring the name Mesoamerica because their studies of the great civilization-building pre-Columbian cultures extend into central and southern Mexico disrespecting modern political boundaries. In our times, the Dominican Republic is more than happy to jump on board any CA economic pact or trade agreement.

    If someone in the LGBT community wants to describe themselves, not as gay or transgender, but some other term such as "pansexual", "questioning", or "intersex", I don't demand that they conform to another predetermined labeling taxonomy. I take them at their word that their terminology best represents their identity, and try to learn from that. Likewise would I ever try to tell someone elsewhere how they regionally identify themselves for whatever purpose. We can't even agree among ourselves what states are "Southern" states or "Midwestern" states!

  • 31. itscoldoutside  |  November 10, 2015 at 7:52 am

    At least 343,104 votes need to be cast against the new marriage law in Slovenia to overturn it. I don't know why I bother, the law is as good as dead. But still, it'll be interesting to see by what margin we'll lose and compare that with the previous referendum three years ago.

  • 32. scream4ever  |  November 10, 2015 at 8:47 am

    But keep in mind that it won't be the end of it, as the constitutional Court said that our side could then sue.

  • 33. Christian0811  |  November 10, 2015 at 10:21 am

    In fact, the court only ruled that the NA has no authority to judge constitutionality. LGBT group could still sue for a ruling against the referendum from occurring.

    Whether they have the wisdom and foresight to do so is another matter.

  • 34. itscoldoutside  |  November 10, 2015 at 11:57 am

    The Court also ruled that the referendum *must* take place so the NA already set the date for it. There will be no legal challenge against that decision and the LGBT groups are already working on their campaign.

    There will also be no challenge after the referendum takes place as it would be quite odd to order the referendum to happen and only then invalidate its results.

    The only recourse left for the LGBT groups after the (failed) referendum is to challenge every law that is discriminatory. Which would of course take years and years.

  • 35. Christian0811  |  November 10, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Forgive me I don't have ready access to the English version of the ruling, where in the court's ruling did it stipulate the referendum must happen? From another news source, I read that the ruling was narrow and did not regard article 90.

  • 36. itscoldoutside  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    "Fourth indent of Article 90 of the Constitution can not be interpreted as meaning that a referendum may not be called in cases where the legislature adopts the regulation, which follows indirectly through its reflex effects on other areas of law, eliminating the unconstitutionality which has been established by the Constitutional Court or the ECtHR."

    It's indirect, but it's there. In other words: coming to this Court to prevent this referendum is pointless as the judgment will be the same, no matter when in the process the challenge is made or who makes it. And yes, it was narrow and it failed on a technicality. But that is quite enough for the rightwingers on the bench to use as an excuse to shut it down.

  • 37. Christian0811  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Even if the referendum itself is not invalidated (although it could yet still be after the results are announced), the ban still can be invalidated. It appears that the CC did not appreciate the NA pre-empting them using article 90, rather than indirectly, much less directly, holding that SSM isn't a protected freedom.

    Perhaps I'm an optimist, though. Historically European cc's havent favoured us, and when they have its been rather tepid support (eg Oliari) :/

  • 38. allan120102  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Is there any chance the Slovenian people will uphold the ssm law instead of overturned it?

  • 39. itscoldoutside  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    It will be the fourth Sunday of advent in a heavily Catholic nation. You do the math.

    Of course I wouldn't want to be exclusionary towards other faiths. The Muslim and the Buddhist community have united against us as well. It's nice that we have the power to foster interfaith dialogue, isn't it?

  • 40. Randolph_Finder  |  November 10, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Any idea where the Jews are on this?

  • 41. itscoldoutside  |  November 10, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Oh, they didn't even bother asking them as they're such a small community. The majority of them left after the end of WWII. I've only ever seen interviews with Slovene speaking Jews that have emigrated to Israel.

    I even know where the Hare Krishna community and the Jehovah's Witnesses are located, but not the synagogue. Totally different from the US.

  • 42. itscoldoutside  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Oh I lost my optimism three years ago, right after that wretched referendum.

    I've learned not to celebrate right until the day the law takes effect. Otherwise it's just one disappointment after another. That's why I'm indifferent this time around and more concerned about my lesbian friends who were ecstatic when this law was passed.

  • 43. allan120102  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Do your friends there in Slovenia believe it will pass or not?

  • 44. itscoldoutside  |  November 10, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    It's the adoption provision in the new law that *really* gets on people's nerves so I think everyone is putting on a brave face until December 20th. Privately, they probably all know it has no chance of passing.

  • 45. scream4ever  |  November 10, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    No chance of passing perhaps, but will the other side get the 20% required is the big question.

  • 46. itscoldoutside  |  November 10, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    Exactly. And I've been complaining for years over why we haven't still introduced electronic voting like in Estonia. Well, at least this time, I'm glad we're still behind.

  • 47. Christian0811  |  November 10, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Personally I hope the CC does step up, in the event of failure in the referendum, it is rare in civil law countries for a CC to revisit its jurisprudence so a positive win could be permanent.

    Although in Italy I'm hoping for a blue moon, just the opposite for Slovenia, like I've been saying, and getting the court to reinterpret its marriage amendment.

  • 48. Christian0811  |  November 10, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    In fairness, the civil union referendum was pretty lousy so I personally don't see it as a big loss. It would've codified the bans against same sex couples from marrying or adopting as I recall.

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