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Supreme Court grants case involving a baker who refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple


The U.S. Supreme Court. Attribution: Jeff Kubina
The U.S. Supreme Court. Attribution: Jeff Kubina
The Supreme Court granted the petition in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission this morning after listing it several times for their private conferences. The case involves a state anti-discrimination law’s application to a baker who refused to sell a cake to a same-sex couple. The ruling against the bakeshop was upheld in the lower courts, so the Supreme Court’s decision to grant the case could mean that the Justices want to overturn the decision, which would be disastrous for LGBT rights.

The Court will hear the case in its next term beginning in October.

In other LGBT news, the Court reversed the state court decision in Pavan v. Smith. The case involved same-sex couples who conceived children in Arkansas through artificial insemination and wanted to be listed as the parents of the children, but state law required an opposite-sex parent to be listed. The Supreme Court ruled that the law violates the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which allowed same-sex marriage and all the benefits and rights that come from it. Justice Gorsuch wrote a dissent, and was joined by Justices Thomas and Alito.

Updated to fix mistake in the last paragraph.


  • 1. guitaristbl  |  June 26, 2017 at 8:29 am

    A ruling in favour of the baker would effectively make any anti discrimination law protecting LGBT people null and void. Very scary. Lets hope that only 4 justices voted to grant and they do not have a 5th vote…

    Truly disastrous..Gorsuch is out for blood and it is obvious.

  • 2. scream4ever  |  June 26, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    If the do rule in favor, it'll be open season on everyone. Restaurants will be able to kick out Christians for saying grace.

  • 3. davepCA  |  June 26, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    ..or interracial couples, or unmarried couples who have kids, or single parents, or people of other faiths, or people who don't have any religious belief, or people who support a war, or people who don't support a war, or people who believe in evolution, or a woman who is wearing a hajib, or a woman who is NOT wearing a hajib, or a person wearing jewely depicting a cross, or the star of David, or anyone with a tattoo, or people who appear to be black / white / asian / middle eastern etc…..

  • 4. guitaristbl  |  June 27, 2017 at 3:09 am

    A supreme court poised to rule against the Colorado anti-discrimination law that had some basic consistency would definately be unable to find a way around upholding any kind of anti-discrimination law in any state true. But this certain conservative SCOTUS composition will definately find a way to protect christians' rights at the very least at the expense of LGBT people.

  • 5. scream4ever  |  June 27, 2017 at 4:01 am

    Reading an analysis of the Christian school's playground case today, it's obvious that there's a split among Gorsuch and rest of the court regarding the scope of religious freedom to which the Constitution provides, which is why I don't think the latter will happen, even if they rule against us.

  • 6. Zack12  |  June 29, 2017 at 2:59 am

    Not only that but it would be the opening shot in taking down the entire Civil Rights Act.
    Because the bigots will say if my faith can allow me to refuse service to LGBT folks, why not blacks/ jews etc?

  • 7. VIRick  |  June 26, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Supreme Court: Arkansas Birth Certificate Ruling Reversed

    Per Equality Case Files:

    In the case, "Pavan v. Smith," the appeal of the Arkansas Supreme Court decision denying married same-sex couples the right to have both parents listed on their child's birth certificate, the Supreme Court has reversed the Arkansas Supreme Court. Gorsuch, joined by Thomas and Alito, dissented.

    From the Per Curiam Opinion:
    "Arkansas law makes birth certificates about more than just genetics. As already discussed, when an opposite-sex couple conceives a child by way of anonymous sperm donation—just as the petitioners did here—state law requires the placement of the birth mother’s husband on the child’s birth certificate. And that is so even though (as the State concedes) the husband “is definitively not the biological father” in those circumstances. Arkansas has thus chosen to make its birth certificates more than a mere marker of biological relationships: The State uses those certificates to give married parents a form of legal recognition that is not available to unmarried parents. Having made that choice, Arkansas may not, consistent with Obergefell, deny married same-sex couples that recognition.

    From Gorsush's dissent:
    Summary reversal is usually reserved for cases where “the law is settled and stable, the facts are not in dispute, and the decision below is clearly in error." Respectfully, I don’t believe this case meets that standard.

    "To be sure, Obergefell addressed the question whether a State must recognize same-sex marriages. But nothing in Obergefell spoke (let alone clearly) to the question whether §20–18–401 of the Arkansas Code, or a state supreme court decision upholding it, must go. The statute in question establishes a set of rules designed to ensure that the biological parents of a child are listed on the child’s birth certificate."

    The Per Curiam Opinion is here:

  • 8. VIRick  |  June 26, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Per Gorsuch: "The statute in question establishes a set of rules designed to ensure that the biological parents of a child are listed on the child’s birth certificate."

    The Arkansas statute does no such thing. It clearly states that the birth mother's husband be listed on the birth certificate. The husband is not medically tested to prove that he is the actual biological father. Instead, he is presumed to be by virtue of their being a married couple.

    Under the general rule of "Presumed Parentage," the standard used in Arkansas, it is merely presumed that the husband is the biological father. The problem here is that the statute in question remains gender-specific, a point which could easily be surmounted by substituting the word, "spouse," in place of "husband," something which the court has thus had to interpret, given that the state has not yet altered the statutory language. At no point does biology figure into the equation, other than for the birth mother.

  • 9. guitaristbl  |  June 27, 2017 at 3:06 am

    Gorsuch is an unhinged bigot and lacks even the writing charm Scalia had in his bigoted dissents. This man is out for blood it is obvious.

  • 10. ianbirmingham  |  June 29, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Thus underscoring the extreme importance of ensuring Democratic control of both the Senate and the Presidency… both of which are now exemplars of Ozzy's "Crazy Train"!

  • 11. GregInTN  |  June 26, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    So, in other words…SCOTUS to Arkansas: "What part of Obergefell don't you understand?" (Note to TX: Any questions?)

  • 12. scream4ever  |  June 26, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    More so Indiana, as they have an identical case pending in the 7th Circuit.

  • 13. allan120102  |  June 26, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    It does not set a precedent per say but hopefully the judges of the 7th circuit will learn from the mistakes of the Arkansas supreme court. Anyhow we know they are at least 3 judges ready to accept this argument. Alito, Gorsuch and Thomas. in the other case I am worried as the chief justice looks poised to rule for the baker. I am not sure about the other judges.

  • 14. FredDorner  |  June 27, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    "It does not set a precedent per say"

    Why do you say that? Just because it was a summary ruling? AFAIK such rulings are considered precedent for similar cases.

  • 15. scream4ever  |  June 27, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Summary rulings don't set BINDING precedent, but they explicitly signal how the court will rule on said issue.

  • 16. FredDorner  |  June 27, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Right, but just look at how Baker v Nelson was applied as controlling precedent for over 40 years and that was just a one sentence dismissal with none of the analysis or commentary found in the Pavan ruling. It was really just a denial of cert which was made before the court changed its policy to allow denials without commentary.

    In any event the court doctrine on this issue is now clear, although it should have been clear to any judge who read the Obergefell ruling.

  • 17. VIRick  |  June 26, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    Yes the pending Indiana case presently before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, "Henderson v. Adams," is identical to the present Arkansas case, "Pavan v. Smith."

    And while Texas may be angling, there is a third case, presently pending before the Mississippi Supreme Court, seeking second-parent recognition in a divorce matter:

    A lesbian is asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to recognize her as a legal parent of a child born during her marriage to a woman. Chris Strickland filed an appeal on Thursday, 1 June 2017, arguing a lower court was wrong to rule in her 2016 divorce that only her ex-wife is the legal parent of the child.

  • 18. Fortguy  |  June 27, 2017 at 1:05 am

    (Note to TX: Any questions?)

    Okay, being from TX, I'll bite. The only "religious belief" legislation passed this session by the Lege regarded private adoption agencies. Presuming that this may be in conflict with the non-discrimination ordinances of many large cities within the state, wouldn't that require that the Supremes must also overturn their own Romer decision?

  • 19. GregInTN  |  June 27, 2017 at 11:52 am

    My TX reference was to the case which I believe is pending in the Texas Supreme Court challenging Houston's providing benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees. I think I read that the Gov, Lt. Gov, and Attorney General all support the challenge brought by two individuals.

  • 20. scream4ever  |  June 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Most likely the state supreme court will dismiss the case on standing, as was hinted in the oral arguments.

  • 21. VIRick  |  June 27, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Greg, true enough,– that case is still pending.

    Still, that's not a "presumed parentage" or "second parent recognition" issue, but rather, as you stated, one involving the recognition and provision of benefits to same-sex spouses.

    The presumed parentage and second-parent recognition cases all involve children and the children's welfare within the context of a couple's marriage who happen to be of the same sex.

    Oh wait! Perhaps the benefits extended to same-sex spouses in the Houston instance would also extend throughout the household to include any/all children within the context of the same-sex couple's marriage. If so, then yes, that is yet another example.

  • 22. GregInTN  |  June 27, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Although it is not a parentage issue, I think the court's reasoning would also apply to the Houston case.

    "Because that differential treatment infringes Obergefell’s commitment to provide same-sex couples “the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage,” …"

    When the court discusses "the constellation of benefits", that would seem to include employment benefits of married public employees.

  • 23. VIRick  |  June 26, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    Supreme Court: Certiorari Granted to Colorado Cake Shop Case

    Per Equality Case Files:

    In "Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission," the case in which a Colorado baker is appealing the state appellate court decision (a decision subsequently upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court) that he violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act when he refused to bake a wedding cake, the Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear this case next term.

    The Order granting certiorari is here:

  • 24. VIRick  |  June 26, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Here's what I found in my archives at the time when the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear the case:

    Colorado Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Masterpiece Cake Shop Appeal

    Denver, 25 April 2016 – The Colorado Supreme Court will not hear the case of a cake shop owner who refused to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples. That means the (state) appellate court ruling stands that Masterpiece Cake Shop violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law and must change its policy.

    In 2012, Colorado residents David Mullins and Charlie Craig, along with Charlie’s mother Deborah Munn, visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a wedding cake. Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home. Masterpiece Cake Shop owner Jack Phillips informed the couple that, because of his religious beliefs, it was his standard business practice to refuse to provide cakes to customers for same-sex weddings. Phillips has turned away several other couples for the same reason.

    Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits businesses, such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on factors including race, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado filed suit on behalf of Mullins and Craig in 2013. In December 2013, an administrative judge ruled that the bakery had illegally discriminated against the couple. In 2014, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission affirmed that ruling. Masterpiece Cake Shop appealed. In a unanimous decision issued on 15 August 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the bakery unlawfully discriminated against David Mullins and Charlie Craig by refusing to sell them a cake for their wedding reception. That Court of Appeals ruling will now stand.

    It's worth noting that the losing defense counsel was the ineptly mis-named Alliance Defending Freedom.

    I see no legal merit to the Supreme Court's granting of certiorari to this case.

  • 25. FredDorner  |  June 26, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    I think it's an issue of Gorsuch being on the court and that gave them 4 votes for cert, in comparison to the denial of cert in the Elan Photography case which arguably had a stronger argument..

    In 1968 SCOTUS upheld the 1964 Civil Rights Act in "Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises", and they specifically ruled against the claim made by the racist Southern Baptist business owner that serving black folks at the whites-only counter “contravenes the will of God.”

    The supreme court unanimously called this religious claim "patently frivolous." I doubt they've forgotten that precedent. No surprise that this time too the bigoted baker is a Southern Baptist… seems that bigoted cult hasn't changed much in the 170 years since it was founded to promote hate, white supremacy and slavery.

  • 26. scream4ever  |  June 27, 2017 at 1:10 am

    But I don't get that since Scalia was on the court when Elaine Photography was denied cert.

  • 27. Fortguy  |  June 27, 2017 at 1:23 am

    I agree. Gorsuch replaced an equally unhinged Scalia. Nino, however, was able to draw on 19th and early 20th Century judicial scholarship to support his opinions and convince others of how "scholarly" he was in doing so, while Gorsuch seems to evade, inveigle, and obfuscate his lack of knowledge of previous precedents to justify his opinion. He may enthrall Clarabelle and Alito, but I don't see his level of reasoning as being particularly impressive upon Roberts or Kennedy, much less the four in the liberal block.

  • 28. scream4ever  |  June 27, 2017 at 1:50 am

    I assume Roberts was the 4th Justice to grant cert. I remember that he was also the 4th Justice to grant cert in Perry v Schwarzenegger (as Kennedy hinted in oral arguments he didn't want to hear it), but it was simply to rule against standing to the defendants. Does Roberts simply want to end debate on this issue? He did rule in the majority in Hobby Lobby, but that was of much more narrow scope.

  • 29. VIRick  |  June 27, 2017 at 10:26 am

    "He may enthrall Clarabelle …."

    Indeed!! But that's about all,– and that's a point which does not impress me in the least.

    I have already dismissed Gorsuch as an ideological idiot, because based on his dissent in "Pavan v. Smith," he did not even accurately read the Arkansas statute correctly, let alone do any reasoning. Instead, he had a pre-conceived opinion, and forced the statutory language to fit this opinion, never mind that the actual language said something completely different.

    By the way, Clarabelle seriously needs to retire.

  • 30. JayJonson  |  June 27, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I don't want anyone–even Clarabelle–to retire as long as Trump gets to appoint his or her successor. The Heritage Foundation and other horribles will put on an even younger version of Gorsuch if they get the chance.

  • 31. bythesea66  |  June 27, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    It is very difficult to imagine Trump would replace "Clarabell" with someone who is any worse. However, if Dems control the Senate after next year (possible but unlikely) they should definitely deny Trump ANY further appointments as he is not legitimate and they need to pay for what was done to Pres. Obama.

  • 32. JayJonson  |  June 27, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Gorsuch seems to be even worse than Clarabell. And the key word is "younger." The opponents of gay rights are intent on packing the court with anti-gay activists while Trump is in office. They can thereby control the Court for decades. I would plead for Clarabell to stay in the seat at least until the next Democratic president takes office. The same for Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor, as well as Roberts, Alito, and Gorsuch.

  • 33. FredDorner  |  June 27, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    Gorsuch appears to be to the right of Scalia and probably has similar views as Thomas.

    Don't forget that Scalia quoted from Reynolds v US when he authored the Employment Div v Smith ruling:
    "To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and, in effect, to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances."

    Scalia wasn't consistent on such matters but it would explain why there were only 3 votes to hear the Elane Photography case.

  • 34. guitaristbl  |  June 27, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Gorsuch appears to be to the right of Thomas I would say and with even less intellect if that is possible. IMO he is the first true example of an unqualified right wing hack on SCOTUS without even a rhetorical excuse.

  • 35. ianbirmingham  |  June 26, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Supreme Court sends stark reminder that LGBTQ rights are far from settled

  • 36. VIRick  |  June 26, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Moçambique: LGBT Status Report via LAMBDA Moçambique

    Interview per Washington Blade:

  • 37. VIRick  |  June 26, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    LGBT Pride Weekend in the Americas

    This past weekend, there were LGBT Pride Parades and marches all over the Americas.

    Per Rex Wockner, AFP News Agency, Gay Guatemala, US Embassy SJO, Manuel Bautista, Justin Trudeau:

    To begin, on Saturday afternoon, 24 June 2017, the major national Pride March and its related events occurred in San Salvador, El Salvador.

    On Saturday night, a second major national Pride event occurred in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

    On Sunday, 25 June 2017, it was San José, Costa Rica's turn to host a national Pride parade, one in which both the US and Canadian Ambassadors participated.

    On the same date, New York City held its Pride Parade, one in which, in a new first, Diego Gómez Pickering, the Mexican Consul in NYC, took part.

    But not to be outdone, also on the same date, Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, along with his wife and kids, all marched in Toronto's Pride.

  • 38. JayJonson  |  June 27, 2017 at 5:48 am

    Angela Merkel signals a changed stance on marriage equality. She endorses a free vote in the Bundestag.

  • 39. scream4ever  |  June 27, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Wow that's great news.

  • 40. JayJonson  |  June 27, 2017 at 5:53 am

    Merkel also said that she had changed her position on adoption by gay couples: "Merkel claimed that a visit to the home of a lesbian couple looking after eight foster children in her constituency in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern had led her to reconsider her position. If youth welfare offices were happy to trust same-sex couples to look after eight children, then it was difficult for the state to use child welfare as part of its argument against adoption by LGBT people."

    Merkel's change of position re marriage and adoption is apparently intended to give her many more options in forming a coalition government after the upcoming federal election.

  • 41. Randolph_Finder  |  June 27, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Even more than that, she's trying to keep voters from going with one of the more liberal parties over the issues. As far as I can tell, all parties to the left of the CDU/CSU are either completely pro-Marriage Equality or have made it a condition of joining any government or both. The only group to the right of the CDU/CSU is the AfD, which is somewhere in the general vicinity of the US Republican Party on the issue, which makes them far right for Europe.

    Even if Merkel's party does well, the CDU/CSU are unlikely to get to a Majority which means that Merkel could end up with having a choice with an alliance with the AfD which would probably mean massive changes on Immigration or an alliance with party or parties to her left which means a free vote on Marriage Equality. Given the choice of those two, Merkel has found it politically easier to accept Marriage Equaity.

    I fully expect this to start the dominoes in Central Europe, with Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Czechia to have Marriage Equality by the end of 2018.

  • 42. allan120102  |  June 27, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Switzerland delayed it to 2019.Liechtenstein I see no action being taken. I believe the prince or king in there is against. If marriage is approved in Germany I see Czechia and Austria as moving into action.

  • 43. scream4ever  |  June 27, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Hopefully it'll also help speed things along in Slovenia in any way possible.

  • 44. VIRick  |  June 27, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    "Switzerland …. Liechtenstein …."

    I know the perfect, romantic spot for a same-sex wedding ceremony that would qualify as a two-for. There's an ancient, original covered bridge over the Rhine, linking the two jurisdictions. Because of the common Customs Zone shared by both, one can freely cross between the two, including the taking of a lovely stroll, hand in hand, over that covered bridge, all without restriction.

    Thus, I propose a ceremony be conducted precisely on the demarcated center-stripe at the mid-point on that bridge. The "Alte Rheinbrücke" is a covered wooden bridge linking the municipalities of Vaduz (Liechtenstein) and Sevelen (Switzerland).
    <a href="…” target=”_blank”>

    Oh, and the wedding reception will take place at the Hotel-Restaurant Schaanerhof in Schaan, Liechtenstein. The owner-operators are absolutely in love with the US Virgin Islands, and have even visited me there.

  • 45. Fortguy  |  June 27, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    OMG! Rick, are you trying to seduce me?

  • 46. VIRick  |  June 27, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    OK, here's the actual exterior of the bridge, as seen from the Swiss side (Liechtenstein is in the background):

    And here's the demarcated center-stripe inside (although the marker for Schweiz needs cleaning):

  • 47. Randolph_Finder  |  June 28, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Agreed on the Swiss. The Swiss seem to be doing the let's let the legal bureaucrats study *everything" and report back. And I'm not even sure the slow walking is entirely being done by the opposition to ME.

    And didn't know about HSH Prince Hans-Adam II's opposition to adoption by same-sex couples. Given both this and the situation on Abortion in Liechtenstein, I'm wondering in what States in Europe the Roman Catholic church is stronger than Liechtenstein.

  • 48. guitaristbl  |  June 27, 2017 at 8:58 am

    The SPD candidate Martin Schultz also announced they will take her on her word on that and submit a marriage equality bill to Bundestag now before the legislature shuts down on Friday.

  • 49. scream4ever  |  June 27, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Wow it's moving fast!

  • 50. VIRick  |  June 27, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    Merkel Opens Door to Same-Sex Marriage in Germany

    Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested that her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party could drop its opposition to marriage equality and open the door to a free vote on same-sex marriage in the parliament. "I would like to orient the discussion in a direction which raises the question of a decision according to conscience rather than imposing anything," Merkel told Brigitte, a women's magazine, on Monday night, 26 June 2017.

    On Tuesday, 27 June 2017, German media reported that Merkel would allow a vote to take place without voting instructions for her CDU MPs – in effect allowing for a conscience vote. A vote in the German parliament could now be scheduled by the end of this week.

    With all of Germany's other main parties — the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) — in favor of marriage equality, the measure is expected to pass through the parliament.

  • 51. guitaristbl  |  June 27, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I have been reading legal analyses saying the court decision in the case involving the Trinity Lutheran Curch in Missouri and its rights to seek state money for upgrading its playground does not bode well for cases like Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission…

    I am quite afraid that this is bound to go against us I am afraid – my only hope is Kennedy remembers the principles he layed down in Romer.

  • 52. FredDorner  |  June 27, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I don't see how the Trinity ruling would have any impact on public accommodation laws. Religious views have never been an excuse to violate those laws.

    However Trinity is a troubling ruling which is a slippery slope to further state subsidies of religious enterprises, schools in particular.

  • 53. guitaristbl  |  June 27, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Footnote 3 leaving that door wide open has been largely reported on today. I am astounded Breyer and Kagan agreed on that.

  • 54. FredDorner  |  June 27, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    I'm not sure what you've been reading but footnote 3 was Roberts' attempt to narrow the scope of the ruling to exclude other kinds of state funding of religion. It was Thomas and Gorsuch who didn't like that restriction. How that gets interpreted in the future is anyone's guess but I suspect Sotomayor and Ginsburg will be proven right.

  • 55. ianbirmingham  |  June 29, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Breyer cannot be counted on as an endorser of Footnote 3; he only vaguely expressed general agreement with much of the majority opinion, without specifically identifying any part of it. Under the rules for analyzing dicta, only 3 justices clearly supported Footnote 3 and it therefore immediately qualifies as non-binding dicta.

  • 56. VIRick  |  June 27, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Guitar, I do not see the connection. The "Trinity Lutheran" case involves a state "subsidy" to a religious organization, in this instance, to a church school's playground facility.

    The "Masterpiece Cake Shop" case does not involve any church or any state "subsidy" to a church entity. Instead, as Fred points out, it has everything to do with public accommodations laws, and nothing whatsoever to do with "church." And it doesn't matter to what denomination or to what free-will nut-job sect the proprietor himself claims he belongs, as that specific "church" or sect has no involvement in the case. He's not a minister in it, and may or may not even be an attendee, let alone an active participant or gullible follower. And even if he were, those points are immaterial. Phillips, the proprietor, has made a self-imposed decision, based strictly and solely on whatever he claims he "believes," in a completely personal manner, without any claim of any outside input or adherence.

  • 57. guitaristbl  |  June 28, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I think it relates to the views of the court majority om what constitutes religious freedom and what are its limits. If they are willing to muddle the establishment clause like that I can see how they would side with "poor christian baker".

  • 58. VIRick  |  June 27, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Puerto Rico: Suit Challenging Inflexible Birth Certificate Policy

    Per Equality Case Files:

    In "Arroyo-González v. Rosselló-Nevares," the suit challenging Puerto Rico's policy that denies transgender people the ability to obtain accurate birth certificates, the Plaintiffs have asked the court for summary judgment in their favor.

    • Motion (with multiple attachments, including statement of material facts and plaintiffs' declarations):
    • Memo in support:
    • Declaration of Omar González-Pagan (staff attorney for Lambda Legal) in support:

    On 12 June 2017, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss.
    • Defendants' Motion to Dismiss:

    Yesterday, 26 June 2017, the Plaintiffs filed their opposition to that motion:
    • Plaintiffs' Opposition:

    Besides Puerto Rico, the other remaining inflexible jurisdictions are: Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee.

  • 59. Fortguy  |  June 27, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    After two years since the Obergefell decision, how well is Texas complying? As we've mentioned here at EoT before, the county clerk in Irion County tucked into San Angelo's armpit still isn't issuing licenses–although no one has asked her to do so in her lightly populated rural county.

    Elsewhere, in Jerusalem-on-the-Brazos (aka Waco), magnet to institutions of freakish religious cults such as David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound and Ken Starr's Baylor Bible School where athletes rape with impunity but gay students must remain unmarried and celibate, same-sex couples still can't have a courthouse marriage in a civil ceremony.

    J. B. Smith, Waco Herald-Tribune: No courthouse weddings in Waco for same-sex couples, 2 years after Supreme Court ruling

    Only two of the counties' justices of the peace perform marriages. One, Dianne Hensley, will only marry straight couples contrary to the advice of the local county attorney. The other, David Pareya, will marry all couples, but his precinct is based in the town of West, 18 mi. north of the county seat Waco where the county clerk issues licenses. None of the other JPs nor the county judge marry anyone.

    McClennan County holds Waco, with a population greater than 100,000 as well as West and Crawford that have been newsworthy in recent years. West is still trying to recover from a 2013 fertilizer warehouse explosion that blew away a quarter of the town and killed 15 and injured more than 160. It wasn't very big news at the time because it happened just two days after the Boston Marathon Bombing. When big events like that happen, cable news doesn't know how to use their 24-hour format to report on any news other than the one story that is their bright, shiny object. Crawford is the home of the former pig farm that GWB (Shrub) called his getaway "ranch" during his presidency.

  • 60. FredDorner  |  June 27, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    JP Hensley is creating legal liability both for herself and the county. I'm not sure what duties a JP holds in Texas but if they extend to quasi-legal proceedings then she's revealed a bias which would require either her resignation or her recusal from any cases involving gays.

    FYI, I thought the industrial accident in West was pretty well covered by the MSM, and it revealed that Texas is incredibly lax on regulating fertilizer storage and has virtually no zoning laws. I'm not sure that particular accident could have happened in any other state, at least not where a school, a nursing home and an apartment building are allowed to be built well within the blast radius of an existing fertilizer plant.

  • 61. Fortguy  |  June 27, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    In Texas, JPs may only hear court cases punishable by a fine only, such as traffic citations, and small civil claims up to $200. Their authority is often superseded in incorporated communities by municipal judges. They are not required to perform civil marriages for the general public, but it seems obvious that, if they choose do to so, they must not discriminate.

    CNN's daytime news coverage is abominable. Not only did they barely report on West during the daytime at the time of the explosion, but they spent a ridiculously small amount of time reporting on the Russian takeover of Crimea lest they fail to have time to report on the speculation, uncorroborated rumors, and opinions of their clueless panelists regarding the Beijing-bound Malaysian jetliner that disappeared previously. (The co-pilot had previously expressed political opinions? Horrors!)

    As the investigation proceeded and Boston faded behind, CNN did report on the West findings. Much of their audience must have been wondering, "What West explosion? When did that happen?"

    Late night CNN, if you can stay up that late, is excellent. Daytime, however, no news, no matter how important, can get more than casual mention on the air if it's not about either Trump or terrorism (and I'm not counting the stupid crawl running at the bottom of the screen). You get more news in any of the big three traditional network evening newscasts in their half-hour than you get watching CNN all day.

    Regarding the West explosion, I suspect that could have happened anywhere in the South run by conservatives opposed to "big gubmint and their anti-freedom regulations". The city of West has zoning authority, but as a small town I suspect the local city council had no idea what they were dealing with.

  • 62. houstonguy19  |  June 29, 2017 at 6:22 am

    If you are going to speak about the Texas Legal Structure at least get your facts straight.

    JP's are COUNTY positions, therefore they actually have more "authority" than a municipal court judge. For instance, a municipal court judge cannot pronounce and sign a death certificate, but a JP can.

    Sec. 27.031. JURISDICTION. (a) In addition to the jurisdiction and powers provided by the constitution and other law, the justice court has original jurisdiction of:
    (1) civil matters in which exclusive jurisdiction is not in the district or county court and in which the amount in controversy is not more than $10,000, exclusive of interest;
    (2) cases of forcible entry and detainer;
    (3) foreclosure of mortgages and enforcement of liens on personal property in cases in which the amount in controversy is otherwise within the justice court's jurisdiction; and
    (4) cases arising under Chapter 707, Transportation Code, outside a municipality's territorial limits.
    (b) A justice court does not have jurisdiction of:
    (1) a suit in behalf of the state to recover a penalty, forfeiture, or escheat;
    (2) a suit for divorce;
    (3) a suit to recover damages for slander or defamation of character;
    (4) a suit for trial of title to land; or
    (5) a suit for the enforcement of a lien on land.
    (c) A justice court has concurrent jurisdiction with a municipal court in cases that arise in the municipality's extraterritorial jurisdiction and that arise under an ordinance of the municipality applicable to the extraterritorial jurisdiction under Section 216.902, Local Government Code.
    (d) A corporation need not be represented by an attorney in justice court.

  • 63. Fortguy  |  June 29, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Okay, I'll concede being wrong about the limit in monetary amount for civil suits. I must have been looking at old information. Nothing else you state, however, contradicts my point.

    The authority of JP is superseded by municipal judges in some circumstances, and, because counties largely lack zoning or ordinance-making authority, municipal judges wield more power in certain instances. If you park in a no-parking zone within the city limits, you'll pay your fine to the municipal court, not the JP. If a restaurant owner in your city refuses to serve a gay couple and the city has a non-discrimination ordinance, the municipal court will fine the restaurant. If a restaurant outside the city limits discriminates, the couple has no recourse. Similarly, if your neighbor has a backyard hog pen that stinks to high heaven, a city may likely prohibit livestock in small-lot residential areas, and a municipal judge can fine your neighbor and order the removal of the offending animals. In an unincorporated area, your only recourse is to move or buy the neighbor's property.

    There are exceptions, of course. The Lege has allowed certain counties regulatory authority in specific circumstances. Also, many rural towns are too small to have the authority to establish home-rule charters and operate under more restrictive general law limiting their regulatory powers.

  • 64. FredDorner  |  June 29, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    I was surprised to learn a while back that probate judges in Alabama generally have no requirement at all to be members of the bar or even have any legal experience or education. That's why I wasn't sure about the scope of authority of a JP in TX, because I know these county-level positions vary a lot from state to state and that the southern tradition is a bit odd.

    It also reminds me of the JP in Louisiana in 2009 who cited his Southern Baptist cult when he refused to marry a mixed-race couple.

  • 65. Fortguy  |  June 29, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    From the Texas Government Code (link):

    Sec. 27.005. EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS. (a) For purposes of removal under Chapter 87, Local Government Code, "incompetency" in the case of a justice of the peace includes the failure of the justice to successfully complete:

    (1) within one year after the date the justice is first elected, an 80-hour course in the performance of the justice's duties; and

    (2) each following year, a 20-hour course in the performance of the justice's duties, including not less than 10 hours of instruction regarding substantive, procedural, and evidentiary law in civil matters.

    (b) The courses may be completed in an accredited state-supported school of higher education.

  • 66. FredDorner  |  June 29, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Thanks – that's relatively progressive!

  • 67. VIRick  |  June 29, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Fortguy, I hope everyone realizes that houstonguy19 is our favorite old troll of long standing, Jim-in-Texas, simply with a new, thinly-veiled disguise.

  • 68. Fortguy  |  June 29, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I had that suspicion, but this time I gave him the benefit of the doubt. If I post something that is factually wrong (as opposed to being merely my opinion), I don't mind being called out for it, and at least he did provide the proper statute supporting his position. I posted my response below.

  • 69. Fortguy  |  June 29, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    The basis of my monetary claim while responding to Fred above was Article 5 of the Texas Constitution which states (link):

    Sec. 19. JUSTICES OF THE PEACE; JURISDICTION; EX OFFICIO NOTARIES PUBLIC. Justice of the peace courts shall have original jurisdiction in criminal matters of misdemeanor cases punishable by fine only, exclusive jurisdiction in civil matters where the amount in controversy is two hundred dollars or less, and such other jurisdiction as may be provided by law. Justices of the peace shall be ex officio notaries public.

    Apparently, the expansion of the monetary threshold to $10,000 happened in accordance with the "such other jurisdiction as may be provided by law" clause. The state's constitution was ratified in 1876 when $200 had much more buying power than it does today. Even this short, two-sentence section has been amended twice since 1876 (in 1978 and 1985).

    Since the section has not been amended to explicitly strike the $200 stipulation, the statute Houstonguy references theoretically could be constitutionally challenged in justice court civil judgements above $200. To do so, however, would likely cost more than $10,000 in court costs and attorney fees.

  • 70. VIRick  |  June 27, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Colorado: Intersex Case Challenging Binary-Only US Passport Policy Re-Opened

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 26 June 2017, in "Zzyym v. Tillerson," formerly "Zzyym v. Kerry," the case of the Intersex person challenging male-or-female, binary-only gender marker policy on US passports, in a docket text-only order, Judge Jackson granted the motion to re-open this case.

    The Unopposed Motion to Reopen Case is here:

    The reason the case has been re-opened is because despite having several letters from doctors stating that they are intersex, the US State Department has not acknowledged said letters as valid. In 2016, in the original ruling, federal District Court Judge Jackson urged the Department to reconsider its decision. But once again, it has refused:

    “The Department is unaware of generally accepted medical standards for diagnosing and evaluating a transition to any sex other than male or female,” reads a US State Department refusal letter dated 1 May 2017. “Thus, the Department does not accept a medical certification that specifies transition to a sex other than male or female as evidence for the issuance of a passport.”

    Zzyym currently has a birth certificate which reads “unknown”, and a driver's licence which states that they are female, plus the several letters from doctors. However, they are left unable to leave the USA, despite having invitations to speak around the world, as they have been unable to obtain a US passport. The original lawsuit was filed back in 2015.

    “This isn’t that hard. Several countries issue passports with gender markers other than ‘F’ or ‘M,'” Paul Castillo, Zzyym’s Lambda Legal attorney, said. “And just this past month, Oregon officials unanimously voted to allow state residents to select ‘X’ as a gender marker for their driver’s licenses and state IDs. And it looks like other states will soon follow suit. If Oregon can do it, why can’t the US State Department?”

  • 71. Fortguy  |  June 27, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    When the Texas Lege reconvenes on July 18 in special session, Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) plans to file, not one, but two potty bills. One would ban cities from allowing transgender people to use appropriate bathrooms in any public accommodation. The other would be limited only to public schools should the previous bill be too much for the Lege to stomach.

    Lauren McGaughy, The Dallas Morning News: House Republican plans to file 2 bathroom bills during special session

    Although Gov. Greg Abbott has stated his intention to add passage of a potty bill to the session's agenda, he said initially that the agenda would only cover the must-pass sunset extension legislation needed to keep five state boards continuing. Once that critical legislation has passed, only then would he extend the agenda to his very ambitious goals that include potties. Since the session only lasts 30 days, let's hope House Speaker Joe Straus spends his damn good time passing the critical bills, and then brings the culture war legislation to a grinding halt. He can do this by either having his committees shut the bills down or, once the sunset bills pass, gavel the House into adjournment if he has that courage.

    That would piss off Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, but it would work unless Abbott wants to waste taxpayer money on a second special on strictly divisive culture issues.

  • 72. scream4ever  |  June 28, 2017 at 2:06 am

    I get the impression that most of the legislature doesn't want to tackle this issue, and what you described is what probably will happen.

  • 73. Fortguy  |  June 27, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    As Rick mentioned in a previous thread, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) have resigned in protest of the policies of the Orange Sphincter's administration. One former member of the council explains why.

    Scott A. Schoettes, writing for Newsweek: Trump Doesn’t Care About HIV. We’re Outta Here

  • 74. JayJonson  |  June 28, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Germany's parliament has scheduled a marriage equality vote for Friday. Keep your fingers crossed.

  • 75. guitaristbl  |  June 28, 2017 at 11:47 am

    If Merkel sticks to her word this will pass easily.

    P.S. Theoretically the bill does not need any support from CDU/CSU to pass just them to allow it to go to the full parliament through the commitee which they did (albeit it would mean virtually all other MPs should be present and vote yes as CDU/CSU hold 310 out of 630 seats – 6 seats below a majority). But a good amount of CDU MPs from its more liberal wing will support it so it should face no trouble.

  • 76. allan120102  |  June 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Breaking Bolivia has legalize marriage for transgender people.
    TSE instructs Serecí to recognize civil marriage of transgender and transgender people

    The determination, assumed by the Plenary of the Electoral Body, was communicated through the TSE-PRES-015/2017 directive and is signed by TSE President Katia Uriona.

    The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) on Tuesday instructed the Civil Registry Service (Serecí) to recognize the civil marriage of transsexual and transgender people, with no other requirement than the presentation of the document proving their gender change, such as the identity card, in Adherence to the Law 807 of Gender Identity promulgated in May of 2016.

    "Transgender and transgender persons who effected the change regulated by Law No. 807 of Gender Identity, may contract civil marriage, without need of any other requirement and / or procedure, will only suffice with the presentation of the document proving their gender change , After complying with the requirements and procedures for the same, "said the document.

    The determination, assumed by the Plenary of the Electoral Body, was communicated through the TSE-PRES-015/2017 directive and is signed by TSE President Katia Uriona.
    On the eve of World Pride Day, also referred to as the Day of Sexual and Generic Diversity, which is remembered today, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal issued an instruction in which it notifies the national and departmental divisions of the Civic Register Service ( Sereci) to proceed with the registration of marriages of transsexual and transgender persons in the national territory.

    The provision signed by Kathia Uriona, president of the TSE, states that Law 807 of May 21, 2016 on Gender Identity, regarding the effects of the change of proper name, data of sex and image, transgender and transgender people enjoy Of all their social and economic rights, which includes the institute of marriage.

    "The TSE Full Chamber, in consideration of the legal criteria of the National Legal Directorate, instructs that transsexual and transgender persons who effected the change regulated by Law 807 may enter into civil marriage, without any other requirement. It will only suffice with the presentation of the document that proves your change of sex, "reads the document.

  • 77. DevilWearsZrada  |  June 28, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    What does this mean? Couldn't transgender Bolivian citizens marry anyone earlier?

  • 78. VIRick  |  June 28, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Devil, this means that, indirectly, the Court in Bolivia has sanctioned same-sex marriage, as long as one of the two in the partnership has gone through the simple procedure of changing their gender on their government-issued IDs to match their gender identity.

    Bolivia's Law 807 allows transgender individuals to self-declare to change their gender without undergoing any additional surgical or hormonal procedure.

    Two men still can not marry, but a transgender woman and a man can. Likewise, two women still not marry, but a transgender man and a woman can. Previously, Law 807 was not quite clear on these points. The Court in Bolivia has just issued its ruling, giving its interpretation of this new law, a law which only went into effect a bit more than a year ago.

    Also, the ruling did not quite say what I just said, in as direct a fashion as I can, but that is the intent of its ruling. We have to remember that the current President of Bolivia is quite homophobic. Yet, despite this, Bolivia has been moving quite rapidly on transgender rights, pushing way ahead on this exact subject, while leaving gay rights far behind.

  • 79. scream4ever  |  June 28, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    It sets things up quite nicely for a lawsuit.

  • 80. VIRick  |  June 28, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Scream, that is difficult to say, as this tribunal ruling is a generous "slide-round," dodging wording found in both the Bolivian Family Code, as well as that of the national Constitution. Further along in that same article, it mentions:

    En Bolivia, el Código de Familia dice claramente que el matrimonio se desarrolla entre un hombre y una mujer; lo mismo está previsto en la Constitución Política del Estado.

    In Bolivia, the Family Code clearly states that marriage takes place between a man and a woman; the same is stated in the Political Constitution of the State.

  • 81. VIRick  |  June 28, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    Devil, here's a second, shortened translation:

    Bolivia: Tribunal Confirms Validity of Transsexual and Transgender Marriages

    Bolivia: Confirman Validez de Matrimonios de Transexuales y Transgénero

    On Tuesday, 27 June 2017, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) instructed the Civil Registry Service (Serecí) to recognize civil marriage for transsexual and transgender persons, with no other requirement other than the presentation of the document proving their gender change, such as their identity card, in adherence with Law 807 of Gender Identity, promulgated on 21 May 2016. This determination, taken by the Full Chamber of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, was communicated through the directive, TSE-PRES-015/2017, and is signed by the TSE President, Katia Uriona.

    "Transgender and transgender persons who have made the change regulated by Law 807 of Gender Identity, may contract civil marriage without the need of any other requirement and/or (surgical or hormonal) procedures, and will only need to present the document proving their gender change, after complying with the requirements and procedures for (obtaining) the same," it said.

    The Supreme Electoral Tribunal issued an instruction in which it notified the national and departmental divisions of the Civil Registry Service (Serecí) to proceed with the registration of marriages of transsexual and transgender persons within the national territory of Bolivia.

    "The Full Chamber of the TSE, in light of the legal criteria of the National Legal Directorate, instructs that transsexual and transgender persons who have made the change regulated by Law 807 of Gender Identity may enter into civil marriage, without any other requirement. One only needs to present the document that proves one's change of sex," it stated.

  • 82. VIRick  |  June 28, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    Florida: Trans Student Suing School District for Bathroom Access

    Drew Adams, a 16-year-old trans boy, is suing the St. Johns County School Board in St. Augustine, FL, because he's been denied access to the boys' bathroom. The 16-year-old transgender student at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, is suing his school district after being denied access to the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity.

    Drew Adams came out as transgender when he was 14, and started his freshman year at the school in August 2015 as a boy, which was reflected on his drivers' license and in the pronouns teachers and other students used for him. He also used the boys' bathrooms — until 22 September 2015, when he was pulled out of class by guidance counselors who told him that someone had anonymously reported that he was using the boy's bathrooms, and that he had to use the school's gender-neutral bathrooms instead.

    He has since only used the gender-neutral bathroom, though it felt like "an insult to [his] identity," and caused him humiliation and anxiety, according to the federal court documents filed Wednesday, 27 June 2017, in the Middle District of Florida. The St. John's County School Board, which oversees the high school, is named in the lawsuit as a defendant, along with Tim Forson, the superintendent of schools, and Lisa Kunze, the high school's principal.

    Adams had, along with his parents, first appealed to school administrators. When that failed, they filed a complaint with the federal Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, which began investigating his case, but has not issued a decision. The suit argues that the school’s actions are a violation of Adams’ constitutional rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and a violation of his civil rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex.

    "(The current policy) sends a message to transgender students that schools see transgender students as different or unworthy of the same educational opportunities as other students. The law is quite clear in terms of the recent decisions," Paul Castillo, senior attorney for Lambda Legal who is representing Adams in the case.

  • 83. VIRick  |  June 28, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    4th Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms "Lack of Standing" Claim to Magistrate Recusal Law

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 28 June 2017, in "Ansley v. Warren," the plaintiffs' appeal of the district court dismissal of their challenge to North Carolina's magistrate recusal law, SB2, for lack of standing, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court ruling, holding that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the law.

    "Three couples assert that North Carolina’s Senate Bill 2, which allows state magistrates to recuse themselves from performing marriages on account of a religious objection, violates the Establishment Clause. But the plaintiffs, all of whom are either married or engaged, do not claim that the state has impeded their right to get married. Instead, they challenge the religious exemption as taxpayers who object to the alleged spending of public funds in aid of religion. In light of the Supreme Court’s admonitions on the narrow scope of taxpayer standing, we affirm the judgment of the district court that plaintiffs lack standing to press this claim."

    The Opinion is here:

  • 84. Zack12  |  June 29, 2017 at 4:54 am

    Have to say I'm shocked by anyone who is surprised by the fact Gorsuch is the far right hack and bigot many of us here said he was.
    His article in the National Review in 2005 telling the LGBT community and other minority groups they had no business turning to the courts for help no matter what kind of bigoted law was passed spoke volumes.
    Darn shame our side didn't make a bigger stink about that or the 130 other stolen seats, it really is.
    Because long after Trump and McConnoll are gone, the damage they will have done to the courts will still be there, just like with St. Ronnie and W.

  • 85. scream4ever  |  June 29, 2017 at 8:32 am

    I mostly blame the Bernie or Busters for not giving a damn about the future of the judiciary.

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