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BREAKING: Supreme Court agrees to hear landmark transgender rights case

Transgender Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court. Attribution: Jeff Kubina
The U.S. Supreme Court. Attribution: Jeff Kubina
The Supreme Court, in an order today, has agreed to review Gloucester County School Board v. GG, a case involving a transgender student seeking to use the restroom at his public high school.

The Court has limited review to two questions: whether an unpublished agency letter that interprets federal regulations related to a federal law should be given the force of law, and whether the Obama administration’s inclusion of gender identity within the term “sex” is a valid interpretation.

Most observers had believed the Court wouldn’t take up the case in its early stages, and especially with its current lack of a ninth Justice.

The Obama administration has issued guidance letters interpreting the term “sex” in different federal laws to include gender identity. One of the laws is the Education Amendments of 1972 which address public schools. Gloucester County, Virginia’s school board barred the student from using the school restroom and the administration wants to enforce the guidelines to allow him to do so.

The case should be decided by late June 2017.


  • 1. scream4ever  |  October 28, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    My guess is that the court decided to hear this due to the conflicting ruling from Texas. Given that it's likely Merrick Garland will be confirmed soon, I expect this to go in our favor At the very worst, a 4-4 decision would still uphold it for the Forth Circuit, which included North Carolina and would be a disaster for HB2.

  • 2. allan120102  |  October 28, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I dont think they did it because of the Texas case. I think it was because they are waiting for the ninth justice to be appoint so it can go both ways. If Trumps wins then a ruling against the transgender community seems likely as he will appoint really conservative justices while if Hillary wins then its almost sure a ruling in favor four trans community.

  • 3. scream4ever  |  October 28, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    If they were waiting for a 9th Justice then it would've made sense for them to not hear the case though.

  • 4. allan120102  |  October 28, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    That would have made the 4th circuit precedent in the 5 states they mandate. I believe the conservative justices are waiting to see if DT wins so they may have a chance to reverse the 4th ruling. Imo they are just making time to see who will win and appoint the replacement of Scalia.

  • 5. SethInMaryland  |  October 28, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    If dems win the senate this year they will nuke the supreme court 60 vote to 50. They will then get Lynch on the court.

  • 6. guitaristbl  |  October 28, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    The only reason I can think of that they decided to take on this case is that they expect a confirmation of a 9th member before the case is decided. Otherwise this is a pretty certain affirmation by an equally divided court imo.

    And since today with the new FBI investigation the race becomes crucially competitive yet again we dont know what kind of 9th justice we will get..

  • 7. JayJonson  |  October 28, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I assume that there are 5 justices in favor of a pro-trans ruling: Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan (the Obergefell five). I suspect that is why the Court granted Cert.

  • 8. guitaristbl  |  October 28, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    I dont think Kennedy is there yet.

  • 9. allan120102  |  October 28, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Agree not so sure of Breyer either but we will see.

  • 10. scream4ever  |  October 28, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    I wouldn't look into Breyer's vote to stay the 4th Circuit ruling as an indication that he'll rule against us. He hinted that he supported it, but only voted to grant the stay out of "respect for the status quo".

  • 11. guitaristbl  |  October 28, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    That's what I thought when I said I expect an equally divided court if it is decided by the 8 member court. For Breyer to feel the need to specify he votes in favour of the stay out of courtesy he has to he sympathetic to the actual cause.

  • 12. scream4ever  |  October 28, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    If he doesn't rule in our favor it will be pertaining to issues regarding the federal government issuing nationwide mandates.

    I suspect Garland will rule in our favor though, which would be all we'd need for a majority.

  • 13. VPS Vietnam  |  April 27, 2017 at 2:11 am

    I think ideal same you.

  • 14. scream4ever  |  October 28, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Having analyzed both questions, I actually think that Kennedy may rule against the first question but in favor of the second question.

  • 15. Christian0811  |  October 29, 2016 at 1:11 am

    That's as good a guess as any, given Kennedys rulings and hus affection for human dignity but conservative approach to governance, but this is issue is so new it's hard to say exactly imo

    Now I'm not even a proper conservative, or liberal for that matter, so I'm really unsure what I want the result to be here. I do feel that 'Sex' is not synonymous with 'gender identity', but I also feel that regardless of ones opinion about the status of transgender people it is obvious that it's never before been an issue with letting them use whatever bathroom they choose so I suppose a bit of an overreaching ruling may be required simply to protect their right to privacy. Then again I think that using XIV or V amendment, implied privacy rights, as grounds for the suit here would've been much more legally sound approach rather than the 1972 amendments.

  • 16. FredDorner  |  October 29, 2016 at 10:19 am

    While there are equal protection issues (particularly with HB2), the Grimm case is primarily about Title IX as viewed through the 1989 Price Waterhouse v Hopkins precedent which protects gender expression and gender non-conformity as aspects of "sex", as well as some very serious issues about medical privacy and the best medical treatment, suicide rates, and the persecution of a disfavored minority.

  • 17. VIRick  |  October 28, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Texas: GOP Calls On State Supreme Court To Abolish Spousal Benefits For Houston’s Gay Employees

    The "Austin Statesman" reports:

    Ratcheting up pressure on the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court, Gov. Greg Abbott and other leading GOP officials on Friday, 28 October 2016, urged the court to revive a lawsuit that seeks to abolish employee benefits the city of Houston provides to married same-sex couples.

    The case has become a rallying point for the state’s social conservatives, with the stakes growing larger now that Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Attorney-General Ken Paxton have added their voices by asking the court to adopt a limited legal interpretation of last year’s US Supreme Court ruling that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

    “This court should take this opportunity to remind the lower courts that all disputes involving the right to same-sex marriage have not been resolved,” Abbott, Patrick, and Paxton said in a friend-of-the-court brief.

    Opponents of same-sex marriage have also peppered the court with dozens of emails urging justices to strike down the Houston benefits or face a voter backlash in future Republican primaries. Abbott and other opponents of same-sex marriage, however, face a difficult challenge.

    The Texas Supreme Court has already rejected to hear the Houston case in an 8-1 ruling, letting stand a lower-court decision that upheld the benefits. Same-sex marriage opponents have asked the court to reconsider, but such requests are rarely granted.

  • 18. FredDorner  |  October 28, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Other than rallying the GOP base it's hard to imagine what they think they'll accomplish. After the Obergefell ruling no court would overturn the Houston ordinance.

  • 19. Fortguy  |  October 28, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    The petition for a rehearing was filed by anti-HERO activist Jared Woodfill and Texas Values president Jonathan Saenz. An amicus curiae brief submitted to SCOTex has been signed by 50 GOP legislators.

    John Wright, Texas Observer: GOP State Lawmakers Sign Brief Opposing Same-Sex Benefits

    Woodfill was defeated in this past March's GOP primary in his reelection bid as Harris County Republican chairman because Houston GOPers thought he was too extreme. He then sought the state party chairmanship but was rejected at the state convention because he was too extreme. Remember, this happened in a state where GOP primary voters rejected Trump, a dumbass extremist, in favor of Carnival Cruz, a smartass extremist.

    Saenz's motivation is that he is still bitter about his first wife dumping him for another woman. If I were married to Saenz, I'd want to be a lesbian, too, and I'm a dude.

  • 20. VIRick  |  October 28, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    "If I were married to Saenz, I'd want to be a lesbian, too, and I'm a dude."

    Fortguy, we have something in common, as that definitely makes two us.

  • 21. ianbirmingham  |  October 29, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Human Rights Campaign withdraws Kirk (R-IL) Senate endorsement, endorses Tammy Duckworth instead

  • 22. ianbirmingham  |  October 29, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    80,000+ pro-SSM protesters march thru Taiwan's capital city

  • 23. scream4ever  |  October 29, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    I'm sure NOM/World Congress of Families will report on this LOL. Speaking of NOM, their 2015 tax returns are due to be made public by November 15th. If they are not posted on their website by the end of that work day, contact HRC and have them file a complaint with the IRS.

    Anyone wanna bet how much their earnings have declined from 2014? From 2013 to 2014 they dropped by about 20%.

  • 24. F_Young  |  October 30, 2016 at 4:20 am

    Taiwan: Professor's death could see Taiwan become first Asian country to allow same-sex marriage

    Campaigners believe a ‘breakthrough’ is near after draft bill tabled by ruling party to amend family law in favour of LGBT rights

    …..It would be a hard-fought victory for Taiwan’s LGBT community, but also one tinged with sadness after the suspected suicide of Frenchman Jacques Picoux, on 16 October became a rallying call against the failure of the government to make progress on legalising same-sex marriage.

    Picoux, 67, who taught French at the National Taiwan University, died after falling from the tenth floor of his Taipei apartment block. Friends believe he had taken his own life.

    They blamed depression after the death last year by cancer of his Taiwanese partner of 35 years, Tseng Ching-chao.

    Picoux had reportedly been crushed when his lack of legal status denied him the right to participate in crucial medical decisions in Tseng’s final moments. He later found himself with no legal claim over the property they shared.

    …..A new draft bill tabled by the ruling Democratic Progressive party [DPP] on Monday to amend family law in favour of LGBT rights was a “breakthrough”, they said.

    “We actually can see that there are about 66 legislators who will probably vote yes on marriage equality,” said Pride Watch activist, Cindy Su. “That’s a majority of 58.4%, the first time in Taiwanese history that we have more than half,” she said.

    Recent polls also show a public majority in favour of same-sex marriage.

    Read more:

  • 25. Christian0811  |  October 30, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Isn't there a case also pending before the Constitutional Yuan? Well either path takes a to the right destination 🙂

  • 26. VIRick  |  October 29, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Alabama: Roy Moore's Latest Courtroom Drama

    Montgomery AL — Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was suspended from the bench over his actions regarding same-sex marriage, walked out of the state courthouse on Thursday, 27 October 2016, after failing to stop the lottery to pick the judges who will hear his appeal to return to the bench. The names of 50 retired judges were picked from a box during a public proceeding as potential members of the special Supreme Court for Moore’s appeal. The first seven willing judges will hear the case, under a procedure set out by the court in a 5-3 decision.

    Moore and his attorney asked to delay the selection, but were told there was no court in place to hear the motion since all current justices sitting on the Alabama Supreme Court had recused themselves, and a replacement court has not yet been named. The selection of the replacement pool began as Moore left the courtroom.

    Moore told reporters outside the Alabama Judicial Building that he believed sitting judges — not retired ones — should hear his appeal, arguing retired judges have no accountability to the public. He also said some sitting justices should have recused themselves from establishing the replacement process because of actions they’ve already taken in his case. “This is a charade,” Moore told reporters, adding that he believed it was a “political prosecution.”

    However, the process for selecting a replacement court was the same one used when Moore was removed from the bench in 2003 for refusing to obey a federal court order to remove a boulder-sized Ten Commandments monument from the state appellate courthouse. The list of 50 judges included some notable names, such as former Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cook and former Civil Appeals Judge Sharon Yates.

    A judicial panel last month suspended Moore for the remainder of his term after finding he urged state probate judges to defy the federal courts on same-sex marriage. The charges stemmed from Moore’s January order telling probate judges that a state order to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples remained in “full force and effect.” Moore’s writing came six months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled gays and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry. The suspension effectively removes Moore from the bench, since he will be beyond the 70-year age limit for judicial candidates when his term ends.

    Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart earlier this month directed Moore to remove his personal items from his courthouse office. Moore declined to do so. His attorney said the directive was premature as he appeals his suspension. Asked Thursday if his personal items were still in his courthouse office, Moore replied, “I hope so.”

  • 27. davepCA  |  October 30, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    …When Moore finally runs out of options for dragging this out and is finally forced to clean out his office, I think a bunch of us ought to show up at the court house with a 1-800-got-junk rental truck and some wheelbarrows and offer to give him some assistance. And perhaps a nice banner like "we'll promise to miss you if you'll just get the f*ck out of here".

  • 28. VIRick  |  October 29, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Indiana: Pence's Shadow Looms over Governor's Race

    Indianapolis — Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb has rushed to distinguish himself to voters since his party chose him to replace Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on the ballot three months ago, after Pence dropped his gubernatorial re-election bid to become Donald Trump‘s vice-presidential running mate.

    But that hasn’t stopped Democrat John Gregg from keeping Pence — and Holcomb’s support for some of Pence’s most contentious issues — at the forefront of the fight to become Indiana’s next governor. Nearing the end of the race, Gregg has a more aggressive, better-funded campaign than he did when he narrowly lost to Pence in 2012. The former Indiana House speaker has a stream of television ads attacking Holcomb as a “rubber stamp” for Pence, pointing out his support for the religious-objections law the governor signed last year. The law sparked a national uproar, with opponents saying it sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians.

    A centerpiece of Gregg’s campaign is his call for extending state civil rights protections to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Though he also says the state should avoid divisive social-issue debates. "We have to be a welcoming state,” Gregg said. “We’ve got to focus on keeping talent and attracting talent here.”

    Recent polls have put Gregg slightly ahead of Holcomb.

  • 29. VIRick  |  October 29, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    Germany: Justice Minister to Fight for Same-Sex Marriage

    Justice Minister Heiko Maas has turned his back on Chancellor Angela Merkel and promised same-sex marriage will be a key issue debated ahead of the 2017 general election. Today, 29 October 2016, Maas expressed his support for marriage equality in an open letter published in honor of the fifth anniversary of the Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld, a foundation that work towards ending discrimination against the LGBT community.

    Germany allows same-sex couples to enter into registered life partnerships that provide some of the benefits of marriage, but the Chancellor’s CDU/CSU portion of the coalition continues to oppose same-sex marriage. These partnerships are limited when it comes to adoption.

    Maas, who represents the Social Democrats in the grand coalition, said they are likely to face opposition from the conservative Christian Democrats, who are also part of the same coalition government.

  • 30. davepCA  |  October 30, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Well FINALLY there's at least SOME kind of activity in Germany! What the heck is up with Merkel?

  • 31. VIRick  |  October 30, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Dave, from what it appears, Maas is deliberately differentiating his party, the Social Democrats, from Merkel's Christian Democrats, and moving his party forward on this matter, given next year's general elections in Germany. Currently, the two political parties have formed a grand coalition to govern Germany as a united bloc, despite the fact that they do not see eye-to-eye on a variety of LGBT-rights issues.

    One hopes that after the elections that the Social Democrats will be in an outright majority, and thus, won't need to be aligned with the Christian Democrats.

    Merkel has not changed. Instead, the Social Democrats are maneuvering to make her and her party the opposition, given that a majority of German voters are in favor of extending marriage to same-sex couples.

  • 32. Christian0811  |  October 30, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    "What the heck is up with Merkel" oh boy don't open that can of worms lol

    What is the rule when it comes to appealing to the German CC? Why haven't they been able/willing to secure Marriage via judicial review? I feel like it would've been much more efficient to take that route rather than wait on the cluster cuss that is the German government

  • 33. scream4ever  |  October 30, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Especially considering that the German CC greatly expanded civil partnerships and adoption rights for same-sex couples.

  • 34. allan120102  |  October 30, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    The German supreme court sounds like the Austrian supreme court. They have ruled in most cases in favor of lgbt equality except marriage. Austria has everything except marriage and there supreme court continues to toss up cases that have been challenging the ban. European courts are actually more conservative in striking laws compare to there latin American counterpart who have struck down bans in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil to name a few.

  • 35. allan120102  |  October 30, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Anyways conservative groups and the church are saying that legislators want to legalize ssm in the state and that they are planning to vote in favor in there last day before they go to recess and a new legislature takes place. Hopefully the church dont sway the mind of some legislators in voting for ssm.

  • 36. VIRick  |  October 30, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    Mexico: Veracruz: Pretende Congreso Local Aprobar el Matrimonio Igualitario

    Mexico: Veracruz: Local Congress Aims to Approve Marriage Equality

    La Arquidiócesis de Xalapa en su comunicado dominical indica que “los diputados y diputadas (del congreso local) pretenden votar a favor de un dictamen que reforma, deroga, y adiciona diversas disposiciones al Código Civil" (del estado).

    Indica que “en el dictamen se pretende hacer reformas legislativas que buscan modificar el concepto de matrimonio como aparece actualmente en el Código Civil de Veracruz. Con respecto al artículo 86 del Código Civil, por ejemplo se sugiere decir lo siguiente: No pueden contraer matrimonio las personas menores de 18 años. En forma dolosa se usa el término "persona," sin distinguir sexo. Con la bandera ideológica de la igualdad y la no discriminación, se busca anular las diferencias entre un hombre y una mujer."

    The Archdiocese of Xalapa in its Sunday statement indicated that "the (local congress)deputies intend to vote in favor of a final draft that reforms, repeals, and adds various provisions of the (state) Civil Code."

    It said that "the draft legislation intends to make reforms that seek to modify the concept of marriage as it currently appears in the Civil Code of Veracruz. With respect to Article 86 of the Civil Code, for example, it suggests that it say this: No persons under the age of 18 years can marry. The term "person" is fraudulently used, without distinguishing sex. Under the ideological banner of equality and non-discrimination, it seeks to nullify the differences between a man and a woman."

    This article, although written from the negative point of view, does indicate that the state congress of Veracruz has draft legislation pending which it could well pass in the waning days of its current legislative session.

    Vamos a ver (Let's wait and see).

  • 37. VIRick  |  October 30, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Iowa Justices who Decided Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Face Retention Vote

    Des Moines IA — Three Iowa Supreme Court justices who helped legalize same-sex marriage in the state seven years ago will face voters on 8 November for the first time since the ruling, but they are refusing to campaign for their jobs because they argue the courts should remain above politics. The justices up for retention votes in next week’s election are taking the same approach as three judges who appeared to pay a price for their stands when voters in 2010 removed them from office after a costly campaign waged by gay marriage opponents.

    The judges now on the ballot have said little about the vote, but two of those removed from the court in 2010 said they don’t regret their choice not to campaign even though they knew opponents were organizing a high-profile effort to oust them. “I think it’s dangerous when politics are injected into the courts and I think that is what happened in 2010,” former Chief Justice Marsha Ternus said. “If voters vote on judges or justices based on their views of issues rather than what the law requires, what they’re telling judges to do is to ignore the law when popular opinion wants them to do so. Then, we’re not a country based on the rule of law and that’s a dangerous path to go down.”

    Ternus, along with justices Michael Streit and David Baker, failed to receive the majority vote needed to remain in office for another eight years. Each of them received less than 45 percent, marking the first time Supreme Court justices were removed from office by voters since the retention system was established in 1962. The three justices in 2009 had joined in a unanimous 7-0 ruling that found a ban on same-sex marriage violated the state constitution, making Iowa the third state to legalize the practice. At the time, 29 states had constitutional bans on gay marriage and the issue remained highly contentious throughout the country.

    Gay rights opponents led again by Vander Plaats failed to remove Justice David Wiggins when he was up for a vote in 2012. Wiggins, who joined in the same-sex marriage decision, received more than 54 percent of the vote and remains on the bench.

    In the upcoming election, Chief Justice Mark Cady and Justices Daryl Hecht and Brent Appel will be on the ballot. None has campaigned, but Cady released a letter last week that stated, “I believe campaigns for judicial office only open the door of a court system to the influence of politics and money. This door must never swing open.”

    There hasn’t been a high-profile effort to remove justices this year. That’s likely in part due to the US Supreme Court ruling last year affirming that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, a decision that seemed to vindicate the Iowa ruling.

  • 38. VIRick  |  October 30, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    North Carolina High School Crowns First Transgender Homecoming Queen

    A small-town North Carolina high school crowned a transgender senior as homecoming queen last weekend, on 21 October 2016, "Trans Café" reports.

    Selena Milian, who is also Native American, won the popular vote for homecoming queen at Overhills High School in Spring Lake, NC, and is believed to be the first transgender homecoming queen in the state notorious for it’s anti-transgender law. “This is a military-based town, so it’s not always the most welcoming for trans people,” Milian told Trans Cafe, “but that hasn’t stopped me from being myself.”

    Spring Lake, a town of less than 15,000 people next door to Fayetteville, is home to Pope Field and Fort Bragg. And on the state level, transgender rights and identities have been in the spotlight as Gov. Pat McCrory fights to defend his notorious anti-transgender law, HB2.

    Perhaps the most interesting point about the homecoming article had to do with what was not said, as there was no mention whatsoever regarding Selena's bathroom usage at her high school. She is now a senior who transitioned about 4 years ago.

  • 39. VIRick  |  October 31, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    North Carolina: Newspaper Endorsement for Governor McCrory,– in Virginia

    It’s not every day a newspaper endorses the governor of a neighboring state, but the editorial board of the "Roanoke Times" — in Virginia — has given its blessing to the re-election campaign of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory — of North Carolina.

    Tongue planted firmly in cheek, the newspaper explained why it endorsed McCrory: “Which candidate would do the most to help our local economy? That’s easy. It’s Pat McCrory, the Republican governor of North Carolina, who’s seeking his second four-year term in the November election. We can point to specific and multiple ways he has helped the economy — our economy.”

    The Times pointed to McCrory’s signature legislation, HB2, as having spurred multiple “companies and even sports leagues” to move their businesses and their events across the border. For example:

    “Three of those (sporting events) have wound up in Salem (VA) — the NCAA Division III men’s and women’s soccer championships, as well as the Division II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association football championship. That’s money in the bank for us. Feel free to argue all you want about which presidential candidate would be best, but it’s clear that Virginia would be best served if North Carolina re-elected McCrory,” the Times board concluded.

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