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Open thread and news round-up January 2

Community/Meta Discrimination Transgender Rights

– Over the holidays, the Trump administration withdrew its appeals in challenges to the administration’s ban on transgender servicemembers. The appeals involved preliminary injunctions and the cases will continue in the lower courts. The administration’s statement notes that there’s a study coming out that will (again) analyze the issue of transgender people serving in the military. The military has begun accepting transgender servicemembers as of yesterday.

– An Oregon appeals court has upheld a $135,000 fine against a baker who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple.

– President Trump fired all the members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. No explanation was given.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. allan120102  |  January 3, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Bulgaria has been sue to recognize a ssm. One by one I imagine of the EU members will be sue to recognize ssm. I see it like in the US were one by one of the us states were sue

  • 2. scream4ever  |  January 3, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    I expect the Romania lawsuit to be successful, which will require every nation in the EU to recognize (but not perform) same-sex marriages.

  • 3. VIRick  |  January 6, 2018 at 7:14 pm

    Bulgaria: Married Lesbian Couple Sues for Marriage Recognition

    A married lesbian couple in Bulgaria has become the first same-sex couple in that country to fight the legal battle for the recognition of their marriage. Lilia Babulkova and her wife, who goes by the initials DK, could set court precedent in having their marriage be officially recognized in Bulgaria. 

    After Babulkova and DK married in the UK in 2017, they filed a request with their local government, Sofia Municipality, to change the marital status on their identification cards. They were soon informed that the officials would be unable to do so as the Bulgarian Constitution prohibits marriages between same-sex couples. Now, in a bid to have their marriage recognized in their home country of Bulgaria, Babulkova and DK are suing said municipality.

    “We do not want to provoke anyone, nor do we like it, we just want to have our place that is not swept under the carpet,” Babulkova told journalist Miroljuba Benatova on NovaTV. The couple’s lawyer, Denitsa Lyubenova, who is part of the Bulgarian group, Youth LGBT Action, hopes to persuade the court by referring to the Code of Private International Law (KMCP), which governs marriages which take place between Bulgarian citizens in a foreign country.

    “If these requirements are met, such jurisdiction is established and the marriage in question must be recognized in Bulgaria.” Under EU law, Lyubenova hopes that the couple can have their marriage recognized on the basis of that legislation which dictates that no-one can be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. “In no case, can the Member States restrict the rights of their citizens, despite the limitations in national legislation relating to the right to marry on the part of same-sex couples,” she said.

  • 4. VIRick  |  January 7, 2018 at 8:11 am

    In a very lengthly article dated 5 January 2018 on this same subject in "Dos Manzanas" of Spain, they go on to discuss an alternate reference point to marriage equality, i.e., that of gender identity in Bulgaria:

    Sí que hay que indicar que, muy lentamente, se van logrando pequeñas conquistas LGTB en Bulgaria. Según señala el último informe de ILGA-Europa sobre Bulgaria, “en 2016, tres personas trans recibieron reconocimiento legal de su identidad género por los tribunales sin tener que someterse a esterilización."

    Yes, there are indications that, very slowly, small LGBT conquests are being achieved in Bulgaria. According to the latest report from ILGA-Europe on Bulgaria, "in 2016, three trans people received legal recognition of their gender identity by the courts without having to undergo sterilization."

  • 5. VIRick  |  January 7, 2018 at 8:57 am

    As a side issue pertinent to the European Union, the former Yugoslav state of Macedonia has officially altered its name to overcome Greek objections, and was to be admitted as a new member to the EU, effective from 1 January 2018, to be known as New Macedonia.

    With the admission of New Macedonia to the EU, there will be 15 member states who do not recognize marriage equality. They are: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, New Macedonia, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania. However, of these, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Greece, and Cyprus all recognize civil unions for same-sex couples.

    Or 16, if we were to count Switzerland, but it is not an EU member. Neither is Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, or Albania.

  • 6. guitaristbl  |  January 7, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    What ?!? I am sorry but this extremely innacurate reporting there. The issue is FAR from resolved and FYROM is far from being accepted as an EU member. Negotiations just re-started and they are not expected to end (if there is agreement on the issue) till late 2018.

  • 7. VIRick  |  January 7, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Guitar, as originally stated, "It was to be." Apparently then, it did not happen.

    Read the rest of my post as "14 member states who do not recognize marriage equality," removing New Macedonia from that listing, and adding it instead to the last sentence.

  • 8. allan120102  |  January 3, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Another 5 wedding are expect in January in Veracruz plus 3 amparos are expect to be resolve. Lgbt couples in Veracruz are now more open in asking for amparos as before. I was quite surprise at first that in 2016 they were very amparos compare to other states that have less population as Veracruz is the 2nd most popuous state after State of Mexico. Another guess is the cost as Veracruz has a high cost for amparos.

  • 9. Rakihi  |  January 3, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    I'm just posting this interesting article I came across.

    State "Hostility" to Religion Without Religious Discrimination?: The Unexpected Free Exercise Issue Lurking in Masterpiece Cakeshop

  • 10. VIRick  |  January 6, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    Virgin Islands: Another Post-Hurricane Up-Date

    As of today, 6 January 2018, exactly 4 months (123 days) after Hurricane Irma slammed through the territory and wiped out our electrical grid, the local electric authority, WAPA, reports that they have now restored service to about 92% of their customers territory-wide.

    However, in addition to the fact that they have not yet finished, the service is still not stabilized. We spent most of yesterday evening sitting in the dark, flashlights and sun-powered devices in hand, listening to other people's generators making noise.

    Then, quite unexpectedly, late this evening, 6 January, for the first time since the entire Wi-Fi internet system crashed on 2 January 2018, our temporary make-do Wi-Fi service miraculously revived itself, albeit running quite slowly. As a result, I have spent the last number of hours attempting to catch up on 4 days worth of business and happenings. During the prolonged outage, whenever I checked, my computer would unsuccessfully try to connect to CCT (Caribbean Cellular Telephone) in the BVI.

  • 11. VIRick  |  January 6, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Illinois: Judge Rejects Request to Bar Trans Students from School Restrooms

    On 29 December 2017, in a 14-page decision, US District Judge Jorge Alonso rejected a request from parents who objected to the inclusion policy at Township High School District 211 (in Palatine IL) to overturn a magistrate judge’s determination in favor of the school allowing transgender students to use the restroom of their choice.

    “Notably, District 211’s practice of allowing transgender students to use the restrooms of the gender with which they identify was implemented nearly three years before the filing of this action,” Alonso writes. “As the magistrate judge observed, either student plaintiffs did not notice that transgender students were using restrooms consistent with their gender identity, or they knew and tolerated it for several years. The passage of time therefore further undermines plaintiffs’ claim of irreparable harm.” Citing the ruling of the magistrate judge, Alonso writes he agrees “[t]here is no indication that anything has negatively impacted girl plaintiffs’ education.”

    A group calling itself Students and Parents for Privacy as well as five current or prospective students of Township High School District 211 initiated the complaint after the Obama administration issued guidance requiring schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. The basis of the guidance was Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, which bars sex discrimination in schools.

    Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert upheld the policy last year. Although much of the magistrate’s decision was rendered moot after the Trump administration subsequently revoked the Obama-era guidance, the plaintiffs continued their objections in federal court.

    Alonso, however, rejected the request for relief on the basis of rulings from the US Supreme Court broadly interpreting federal prohibitions on sex discrimination to apply to sex stereotyping as well as a 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of allowing a transgender student in the Kenosha School District to use the restroom consistent with his gender identity. “The school district in 'Whitaker' unsuccessfully defended its policy with the same argument as plaintiffs advance here, i.e., that allowing transgender students access to restrooms based on their gender identity infringes on the privacy rights of other students with whom they do not share biological anatomy,” Alonso writes. “The court here is similarly unpersuaded. This case does not involve the forced or extreme invasions of privacy that the courts addressed in the cases cited by Plaintiffs.”

    Alonso also points out each of the school restrooms at Township High School District 211 has privacy stalls that can be used by students seeking an additional layer of privacy and single-use facilities are also available upon request. “Given these protections, there is no meaningful risk that a student’s unclothed body need be seen by any other person,” Alonso writes.

    Representing the plaintiffs who sued over the school policy was Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT legal group designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • 12. VIRick  |  January 7, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Argentina: Another New First for Marriage Equality in La Pampa

    El primer matrimonio igualitario se celebró anoche (6 de enero 2018) en Winifreda y tuvo como protagonistas a una pareja de hombres. Uno es enfermero, el otro panadero y pastelero. Esta unión es la primera del año en la provincia de La Pampa.

    Fabián Villafañe (43) y Ernesto González (33) se casaron por civil, rodeados de sus afectos y plena alegría. Los flamantes contrayentes, en nombre de la ley que permite este tipo de enlaces, quedaron unidos en matrimonio por la titular del Registro Civil y Jueza de Paz local, Adriana Genovesio, a las 21.30, en una celebración que tuvo lugar en el parque recreativo municipal. Minutos antes de que dieran el “Sí," ambos hablaron con "La Arena" junto al padrino de la boda, Omar Ceccopieri, secretario de capacitación, cultura, y difusión del Centro Empleados de Comercio de Santa Rosa.

    The first egalitarian marriage was celebrated last night (6 January 2018) in Winifreda, and had as participants a male couple. One is a nurse, the other is a baker and confectioner. This union is the first of the year in the province of La Pampa.

    Fabián Villafañe (43) and Ernesto González (33) were civilly married, surrounded by their affections and full joy. The new spouses, in the name of the law that allows for this type of link, were united in marriage by the head of the Civil Registry and local Justice of the Peace, Adriana Genovesio, at 9.30 PM, in a celebration that took place in the municipal recreational park . Minutes before they gave the "Yes," both spoke with "La Arena" together with the godfather of the wedding, Omar Ceccopieri, secretary of training, culture, and dissemination at the Centro Empleados de Comercio de Santa Rosa.

    Winifreda is a small town of several thousand inhabitants in the sparsely-populated hinterland province of La Pampa and whose capital is Santa Rosa. Same-sex marriages continue to be few and far between in the more remote areas of Argentina, well outside of the major urban centers of the country.

  • 13. VIRick  |  January 7, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Norway and Luxembourg: Marriage Equality Anniversaries

    Per Latitud Gay de Argentina:

    On 1 January 2018, both Norway and Luxembourg celebrated another year of marriage equality. In Norway, the law authorizing the change took effect on 1 January 2009, while that in Luxembourg became effective from 1 January 2015.

  • 14. VIRick  |  January 7, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Washington State to Recognize Third Gender

    Washington State has announced that it will recognize non-binary people on official documents, making it the third US state to put ‘X’ alongside ‘M’ and ‘F’ on forms like driver's licenses and birth certificates. Adults wishing to change their legal gender on official forms will also now not require a letter from their doctor. Washingtonians under 18 can change their gender on birth documents, but will need consent from their guardian and doctor.

    In 2017, DC became the first US jurisdiction to officially recognize a third gender, and has subsequently been followed by Oregon and California.

    The law in Washington State will come into effect from 27 January 2018, and means that people can change their documents to state that they are Gender X. The State Department of Health has defined ‘X’ as “a gender that is not exclusively male or female, including, but not limited to intersex, agender, amalgagender, androgynous, bigender, demigender, female-to-male, genderfluid, genderqueer, male-to-female, neutrois, nonbinary, pangender, third sex, transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, and unspecified.”

  • 15. allan120102  |  January 7, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    Tamaulipas very close to the resolutions need so there civil code becomes invalid. I didnt thought that Tamaulipas would be in play this year but happy for it. Aguascalientes resolution is expect soon too.

    TAMPICO.- After having carried out the first marriage between people of the same sex in the municipality of Altamira, Tamaulipas, Mercurios Espinoza, an LGBT activist from the southern part of the state, sees an ambiguous scenario for equal rights.

    Nine have been the equal marriages in Tamaulipas, which have been achieved through shelters promoted by the organization Mexico Igualitario since 2015.
    Mercurios told Ulisex! Mgzn that thanks to the amparos, obtained, the necessary modifications in the matter can be accelerated soon.

    "Due to the pressure exerted by the citizenship through the amparo proceedings prepared by Mexico Igualitario, it is getting closer and closer to the moment in which the modifications to the Civil Code are made that permit, officially, the equal marriage."
    Also, Mercurios, pointed out that before June, a declaration of unconstitutionality of Tamaulipas laws that prevent Equal Marriage can be expected.

    "We are confident that during the first half of 2018 the necessary resolutions will finally be reached to begin the process of the General Declaration of Unconstitutionality, which are five resolutions of amparo under review in the same collegiate court."

    However, he stressed that the election period to come, will allow the parties to keep closing to support the rights of LGBT people due to the fear of the alleged electoral.

  • 16. VIRick  |  January 7, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Up-Date on the Notorious RBG

    Per Lawrence Tribe:

    Great news: Justice Ginsburg has hired a full slate of law clerks through 2020.

  • 17. scream4ever  |  January 7, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Kennedy has also hired a full slate through the 2019, so if we can retake the Senate, we will stop any attempts to get another Federalist member on the court.

  • 18. allan120102  |  January 7, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    I am hoping Ginsburg stays at least until 2020 I really dont want Trump to nominate her replacement. I am also hoping Missouri let her senator stay as Missouri like Arkansas and Wisconsin have trend to republicans.

  • 19. scream4ever  |  January 7, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    2018 will be like 2006. I predict we keep all incumbents, and pick up seats in Nevada and Arizona, and possibly Tennessee as well. There is also a real chance that McCain will resign or die this year, which would make another opening in Arizona.

  • 20. allan120102  |  January 7, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Tijuana denied a marriage to a ss couple will see how the state government proceed.
    ijuana, BC. The Civil Registry of Tijuana, under the General Secretariat of the State Government, violated the rights of two women by denying them civil marriage, so the State Commission for Human Rights of Baja California (Cedhbc) issued a Recommendation.

    Human rights to legality, legal security, equality and non-discrimination, the free development of personality, family, marriage, dignified treatment and not being subjected to institutional violence of two women were violated by staff of the state agency at various times from August 2017.

    When requesting the marriage process, Civil Registry argued that for the equal marriage was not approved in the city, so they required to file an amparo or out the process in Mexico City.

    After the complaint filed with the Cedhbc, the Ombudsman's Office carried out the investigation with file CEDHBC / TIJ / 1037/17 / 3VG, which concluded that there were wrongs committed against the two women.

    In addition, it was established that Officer 01 of the Civil Registry failed to comply with the pro persona principle, which indicates that when there are different interpretations of a legal norm, one should opt for the one that most protects the rights of the citizen.

    Given the situation, the Cedhbc recommends to the General Secretariat of the State Government to proceed with the requested marriage process, in addition to providing psychological assistance to the two women.

  • 21. VIRick  |  January 7, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    Chile: Legislative Movement on the Gender Identity Bill

    Per Cámara de Diputados, Chile‏ de 3 de enero 2018:

    La Comisión de Derechos Humanos aprueba en general (8 votos a favor y 4 en contra) el proyecto sobre Identidad De Género. El próximo martes (9 de enero), se vota en particular, para luego pasar a la Sala.

    Per Chamber of Deputies, Chile of 3 January 2018:

    The Commission on Human Rights approved in general (8 votes in favor and 4 against) the Gender Identity Bill. Next Tuesday (9 January), they vote upon it in particular, after which it goes to the full Chamber.

  • 22. scream4ever  |  January 7, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    Great! I assume this means the marriage bill won't be too far behind!?

  • 23. allan120102  |  January 8, 2018 at 12:40 am

    I am hoping but I pretty doubt it. Compare to the gender identity marriage equality was just introduce in the final semester of last year. The GI bill was introduce almost 4 years ago and has been play from this commision to the senate and right back. Bachelete leaves in March so fingers cross.

  • 24. JayJonson  |  January 8, 2018 at 8:08 am

    SCOTUS has declined to hear Lambda Legal's appeal of Mississippi's "license to discriminate" bill. It is possible that they accepted the Fifth Circuit's decision that the appeal was not ripe since the plaintiffs allegedly lacked standing. Or it may be that the Masterpiece Bakery case is duplicative of the issues involved. In any case, it is disappointing.

  • 25. guitaristbl  |  January 8, 2018 at 9:39 am

    This is more SCOTUS nonsense imo. Regardless of what is the outcome in the Colorado case, the law is blatantly unconstitutional as a violation of the establishment clause : It sets up for protection 3 specific beliefs to the expense of all others. Lack of standing is the only plausible explanation but still this will leave a big constitutional violation active for now.

  • 26. scream4ever  |  January 8, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    I'm thinking likely the latter.

  • 27. VIRick  |  January 8, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    "Or it may be that the Masterpiece Bakery case is duplicative of the issues involved."

    Most likely this.

    SCOTUS has also not acted upon Cottonelle's silly appeal of her refusal to do floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding ceremony, a case wherein which she lost at the Washington State Supreme Court, after having been found guilty of discrimination and fined accordingly.

  • 28. Raga  |  January 8, 2018 at 8:35 am

    It looks as though India's Supreme Court has finally, decisively, agreed to review its 2013 judgment that re-criminalized so-called "unnatural" sexual acts between consenting adults. It is worth noting that today's order stems from the proceedings of a separate case, Johar v. India, where petitioners are directly affected by the law, whereas the 2013 judgment was in a different case, Koushal v. Naz Foundation, where the petitioner in the court below (Delhi High Court) was a nonprofit organization. However, the selection of judges for formation of the larger (at least 5 judges, and up to 11) constitutional bench is completely at the discretion of the Chief Justice (who was part of the three-judge panel that issued today's order), who is likely to consolidate these cases before a single bench. The current Chief Justice will retire on October 2, 2018, so, I hope that he will act before then!

    An in-depth article:

    Today's order:

    The punchline: "Taking all the aspects in a cumulative manner, we are of the view, the decision in Koushal (supra) requires reconsideration. As the question relates to constitutional issues, we think it appropriate to refer the matter to a larger bench. Let the matter be placed before Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India, on the administrative side, for consideration of the appropriate larger bench."

  • 29. Raga  |  January 14, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Good news for India! Oral arguments in Johar v. India will begin starting January 17 (the fourth case in the list):

    Arguments will be heard in the Chief Justice's Court, and the Constitutional Bench will comprise the following judges: Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A. K. Sikri, Justice A. M. Khanwilkar, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, and Justice Ashok Bhushan:

    Justice Sikri was part of the 2-judge bench that, in 2014, in a landmark case NALSA v. India, recognized the right of transgender individuals to be treated as "third gender" for the purpose of safeguarding their constitutional rights.

    In late August 2017, Justice Chandrachud also delivered a plurality opinion (writing for 4 out of 9 judges) in a landmark case Puttaswamy v. India, in which the Court unanimously held that held that the right to privacy is fundamental and protected by the Constitution. Chandrachud's opinion condemned the Court's 2013 decision in Koushal as "unsustainable" because one's sexual orientation is integral to the individual's privacy and dignity (one other Justice, in a concurring opinion, agreed with this observation), but stopped short of explicitly overruling it (due to lack of jurisdiction and respect for due process). Most importantly, the judgment in Puttaswamy (decided by a 9-judge bench) binds the 5-judge bench that will now take up Johar.

    It is all but certain, therefore, that this bench will end up doing what the Puttaswamy bench could not explicitly do, and overrule Koushal. This would let the Court completely avoid dealing with the separate batch of curative petitions seeking review of Koushal (pending since 2014), and dispose them as moot.

    If Koushal is akin to Bowers v. Hardwick (US Supreme Court), then I hope that Johar will be India's Lawrence v. Texas.

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