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News round-up: DC Circuit hears arguments in trans military servicemember ban case

Transgender Rights

Today, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals heard argument in Doe v. Trump, a challenge to the military’s ban on transgender servicemembers.

– Audio of the argument can be found here:$file/18-5257.mp3

The Washington Blade writes that the “three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals gave no clear signal during oral arguments Monday on whether they’d keep in place one of four injunctions against President Trump’s transgender military ban, raising the real possibility the panel would reverse the order against the policy.”

– The three judges on the panel were Stephen Williams (nominated by Reagan), Thomas Griffith (nominated by George W. Bush), and Robert Wilkins, (nominated by Barack Obama).

UPDATE: Equality Case Files has a lot more including the briefs.

We’ll have more soon.


  • 1. allan120102  |  December 10, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Looks like Veracruz has her own kim davis or may I say roy moore. A mayor did everything possible so ssm didnt occur until he was order directly by courts that if marriages didnt occur he will pay for them

  • 2. VIRick  |  December 11, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Mexico: Morena Majorities in State Legislatures

    Per Daniel Berezowsky:

    En estos 13 congresos, Morena y sus aliados (PRD y PT) tienen los votos suficientes para aprobar el matrimonio igualitario:

    In these 13 state legislatures, Morena and its allies (PRD and PT) have sufficient votes to approve marriage equality:

    Baja California
    San Luis Potosí

    Despite the law not yet having been changed, civil registries in both Baja California and Oaxaca (as well as in Querétaro under their previous administration, and for an interval, in Guerrero, under their previous governor) have invented their own "work-arounds" to allow same-sex couples to be married without the need for obtaining an amparo within their respective states.

    In addition, the legislature in Sinaloa, plus that of both Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, are all under specific time constraints set by Mexico's Supreme Court to change their state laws to allow for marriage equality, or the Supreme Court will soon do it for them.

    Thus, the only remaining states in Mexico without marriage equality, without a Morena majority, and without a specific time constraint set by the Supreme Court (but still, in defiance of Supreme Court jurisprudence), are these 5:

    Baja California Sur
    Querétaro (since recently abrogating the previous administration's 2015 decision)

  • 3. allan120102  |  December 11, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Breaking Panama supreme court could rule as soon as thursday in not declaring ssm legal but at the same time telling the assembly to do it.

  • 4. allan120102  |  December 11, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    In other words Panama supreme court will leave it to the legislature to act whenever they want something the supreme court of Costa rica didnt allow. So ssm will probably die in the legislature.

  • 5. scream4ever  |  December 11, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Another suit will be filed then. Similar to what happened in Colombia.

  • 6. VIRick  |  December 11, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    Supreme Court of Panamá: Possible Movement on Marriage Equality

    Per Alvaro Alvarado C.:

    El Matrimonio Igualitario pudiera ser analizado por el pleno de la Corte este jueves, el 13 de diciembre 2018. El proyecto de fallo del Magistrado Fábrega no declara inconstitucional el Artículo 26 del Código de la Familia, pero insta a la asamblea nacional para que con una ley sea permitido el matrimonio igualitario.

    Marriage Equality could be analyzed by the full Court this Thursday, 13 December 2018. The draft decision of Justice Fábrega does not declare Article 26 of the Family Code unconstitutional, but urges the national assembly to allow marriage equality by passing a law.

    That second sentence is not new news. We already know that that was the intention of Justice Fábrega because his draft decision, prior to any voting upon it by the other members of the court, was leaked to the media by someone within the court who disagreed with his negatively-slanted draft. This leaking was done as soon as it first became evident to said individual, in late October 2017, just a few months prior to the positive CIDH ruling on marriage equality on 9 January 2018, that that was how Fábrega had intended to rule. As a direct upshot, the court subsequently revoked that draft ruling and then assigned the case(s) to a different justice to prepare a different (second) draft ruling.

    Per my own archives, dated 15 February 2018:

    "Luis Ramón Fábrega, the author of the proposal, ordered the withdrawal of the draft which rejected marriage equality in light of the opinion of the IACHR."

    Thus, given this CIDH ruling favorable to marriage equality, plus that of the Constitutional Court of Costa Rica, come Thursday, I, for one, assuming that the first sentence in that same tweet is accurate, will be prepared to hear the analysis of the new, second draft ruling. In the meantime, it is my understanding that that first draft, written by Fábrega, has been a dead issue ever since its withdrawal.

    In Panamá, the crux of the case is this:

    The Supreme Court of Panamá has to rule on a claim of unconstitutionality against the Family Code that was originally presented over two years ago (in a consolidated case) by several same-sex couples (with the first case having been accepted by the court in October 2016) and that seeks to legalize same-sex unions. The lawsuit seeks to invalidate Article 26 of the Family Code, which states that "marriage is the union voluntarily agreed between a man and a woman" because, according to the complainants, that contradicts the Constitution, which in Article 57 says that "marriage is the legal foundation of the family and rests on the equal rights of the spouses."

    Needless to say, the older, broader, gender-neutral wording of the Panamanian Constitution takes precedence over the newer, more restrictive language found in the Family Code.

  • 7. Fortguy  |  December 13, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    Any word on whether the Panama Supreme Court dealt with this issue today as was originally anticipated?

  • 8. allan120102  |  December 14, 2018 at 9:06 am

    There was no time as they discuss other topics so now is expect until december 20th. Fabregas has the decision. It looks like there will be 4 concurrences out of 9 or 7 not sure how many justices there are . What I am seeing though is that many analyst believe the court will leave it to the assembly. Not sure why Fabregas has the decision again might be the other justice couldnt get a majority or I believe it has already retire. Anyway if its left into the legislature Panama will not get ssm soon as there a lot of deputies against and also the general election is in May and a ruling will probably push people to elect conservstive members like in CR only that Panama is much more conservative.

  • 9. VIRick  |  December 13, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    No, not a word.

    However, on a slightly different topic, there is this fun-filled, snarky, eye-opening missive from Perú, relative to the imminent downfall of "uno de los representantes de la iglesia mas homofóbicos en el mundo entero" (one of the most homophobic church representatives in the entire world):

    El 28 de diciembre 2018, Cipriani colgará la sotana del Arzobispado de Lima por órdenes del Papa.

    On 28 December 2018, Cipriani will hang up his cassock (that is, step down and resign) as Archbishop of Lima on orders from the Pope.

    Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne is a Cardinal Priest and Archbishop of Lima in the Roman Catholic Church. He is one of two cardinals who are members of Opus Dei, the ultra right-wing, hyper-secretive, pompously self-righteous church society that does its best to block the expansion of LGBT rights, particularly in Latin nations. From 28 December, we can speak of Cipriani in the past tense.

    For an ex-priest, "colgando la sotana" (hanging up his cassock), is in the same category as an ex-athlete hanging up his jock-strap.

  • 10. Fortguy  |  December 12, 2018 at 1:54 am

    The situation in NC-9 keeps getting even more twisted.

    Zach Montellaro, Politico: N.C. GOP says fresh misconduct allegation should trigger new House election

    The North Carolina Republican Party said Tuesday that a new election should be held in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District if a new allegation regarding the leak of early-voting results before Election Day is proven.

    The results of the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready have already been held up over allegations of election fraud against a contractor for one of Harris' campaign consultants. But the state Democratic Party has highlighted another incident in the inquiry into the House race, releasing a signed affidavit from a Bladen County poll worker alleging that the results of early votes were shared improperly before the election.

    “On Saturday, 11/3/18, the last day of early voting, the ‘tape’ showing election results at the one-stop polling site was run after the polls closed, and was viewed by officials at the one-stop site who were not judges. It is my understanding that this was improper,” wrote Agnes Willis, a precinct worker in the state, in an affidavit dated Nov. 29, according to The Charlotte Observer.

    North Carolina Republican Party chair Robin Hayes released a statement on Tuesday saying that if these allegations were true, they alone would be cause to hold a new election.

    “This action by election officials would be a fundamental violation of the sense of fair play, honesty, and integrity that the Republican Party stands for,” he said in a statement. “We can never tolerate the state putting its thumb on the scale. The people involved in this must be held accountable and should it be true, this fact alone would likely require a new election.”

    Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the state Republican party, said it was likely early votes were leaked.

    "We're almost sure those early vote totals were leaked out," Woodhouse told POLITICO. "That's where we are. The [state elections] board's got to do whatever it does."

    In a press conference later Tuesday afternoon, Woodhouse echoed the call for a new election to be held if the allegations proved true and said that the state board of elections needed to take over any special election. He also defended Harris.

    "We have seen nothing that makes us think Mark Harris participated or would condone this behavior," Woodhouse said at the press conference. "We believe it is against his character."

    So the NC GOP wants a mulligan vote even though their candidate currently leads the vote tally and when everyone now knows it's their candidate's organization that committed vote fraud that the GOP has spent so many years screaming and railing against. Oh, Mary!

  • 11. Randolph_Finder  |  December 12, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    It's actually quite simple, they want a primary so that the current Republican house member Pittenger can run against Harris. The problem is that the primary was already certified. (Whether it should have been or not), but the Republican dominated NC Legislature wants to change the law so that a Primary would be redone as well.

  • 12. JayJonson  |  December 12, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Brazen and rampant violations of election law have occurred in the North Carolina 9 Congressional race. The Republican candidate funded an illegal operation in an attempt to steal the election. Now that these violations have been exposed, the Republicans have endorsed a new election. That is not a proper solution. Only one side cheated. The solution is to disqualify the cheater, not to force the innocent candidate to have to run a new and expensive election. The Democrat should be certified the winner in the race and all those who participated in the plot to steal the election should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  • 13. Fortguy  |  December 13, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    Here's some background on the GOP candidate Mark Harris.

    Jack Jenkins, Religion News Service: Southern Baptist minister embroiled in election fraud controversy

    (RNS) — The Rev. Mark Harris, a Southern Baptist pastor turned aspiring congressman, is facing allegations of election fraud in North Carolina, where authorities are investigating whether an operative for his campaign paid workers to take absentee ballots from voters illegally.

    The probe is centered on Leslie McCrae Dowless, who was hired by the conservative political group Red Dome to work on voter turnout for Harris’ campaign for the U.S. House seat from the Charlotte area. State officials are following reports that Dowless led a team of workers in Bladen County to collect absentee ballots from voters — an act that may violate North Carolina laws that only allow individual voters or close relatives to mail a ballot.

    Authorities are especially interested in whether ballots taken from voters who backed Harris’ opponent, Democrat and Marine Corps veteran Dan McCready, were ever returned to election officials. State data show Bladen County saw unusually high numbers of mail-in ballot requests compared with other parts of the state, but also reported unusually high numbers of unreturned ballots, especially among African-American and Native American voters.

    The current vote tally has Harris, who stepped down as pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church in June 2017 to run for the House, beating McCready by a margin of just 905 votes.

    Reports indicate that Harris, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 and lost a close GOP congressional primary in 2016 by 134 votes, knew Dowless at least since 2017, when the pastor introduced Dowless to a church member who was running for Charlotte City Council. According to The Charlotte Observer, Harris subsequently told the church member that Dowless was known for getting out absentee votes.

    Dowless, who has denied any wrongdoing, is also known to law enforcement due to earlier convictions for fraud, perjury and other crimes in the early 1990s, for which he served six months in prison, according to court records.

    Harris’ campaign did not return a request for comment.

    The allegations are awkward for Harris, who made a name for himself in the Tar Heel State as a conservative crusader.

    Continued below…

  • 14. Fortguy  |  December 13, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    …Continued from above

    He campaigned in 2012 for North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which banned same-sex marriage in the state; the measure passed the same day Harris was elected president of North Carolina’s Baptist State Convention.

    He also was a vocal supporter of a bill mandating that men’s and women’s restrooms in government buildings be used according to a person’s sex as identified on the individual’s birth certificate. When a repeal effort was mounted, he fought to preserve the law. (Compromise legislation was passed in March 2017.)

    In 2017, Harris championed the idea of pastors becoming involved in politics, telling the Baptist Press that “there continues to be a tremendous need (in politics) for voices that are going to stand on righteousness, that recognize where we are moving as a nation.”

    His bid for Congress was backed by Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the North Carolina Values Coalition and trustee for the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

    McCready, Harris’ 2018 Democratic opponent, is also a Christian. His campaign website notes that he converted to the faith while serving in Iraq a decade ago and was baptized in water from the Euphrates River.

    But Harris’ religious background, which includes a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, proved troublesome on the campaign trail.

    In July, the liberal political action committee American Bridge unearthed a 2013 sermon in which Harris questioned women’s desire to pursue a career in lieu of “biblical womanhood.” He prefaced the sermon with a prayer saying, “Father, I realize that this message today is not politically correct in 2013. … But Lord, you have called me to declare ‘thus sayeth the Lord God’ in accordance to your word, and I can do nothing less than just share the word that is here before us.”

    A group of clergy who affirm LGBTQ identities and relationships came out against Harris during his campaign, citing his support for laws they see as discriminatory. The Council on American-Islamic Relations also called on the North Carolina Republican Party to repudiate previous sermons, in which he described Islam as “dangerous” and argued that peace between Israelis and the Palestinians cannot be achieved until Jews and Muslims accept Jesus Christ as their savior.

    Asked about the controversy, Harris’ former church said it had no statement on the matter but noted that Dowless is not listed as a member of the church and isn’t known to attend services there.

    As someone who has lived in the South most of my life, I can attest that the church's "no statement" combined with what it has "noted" about who isn't a member and who doesn't attend services while failing to note who is a member and, not only attended, but lead services as pastor is why I learned as a child to reflexively recoil from anything or anyone associated in any way with the Southern Baptist Convention. Unfortunately, its like a horror movie. As soon as you think you ran away and escaped from a Baptist and try to catch your breath in a cold sweat, there's another one right in front of you! Here in the South, they're everywhere!

  • 15. VIRick  |  December 12, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Chile: Non-Discrimination Provision for Adoptions Approved by House Commission

    Per Fundación Iguales:

    Por 7 votos, con 4 en contra, se aprueba en la comisión de Familia de la Cámara de Diputados que no se puede discriminar por ningún motivo al momento de iniciar procedimientos de adopción, incluida orientación sexual e identidad de género.

    By 7 votes, with 4 against, it is approved in the Family Commission of the Chamber of Deputies that one can not be discriminated against for any reason at the time of initiating adoption procedures, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • 16. allan120102  |  December 12, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Sinaloa on its way to legalizing ssm and becoming the 14 state or territory in Mexico to have ssm. The second reading was pass yesterday unanimously and it looks like it will be pass before the year end,.

  • 17. VIRick  |  December 13, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    West Virginia: Following the Alabama "Solution" on Marriage Equality

    A judge who refused to perform marriages for same-sex couples won’t face any charges after an ethics investigation. Earlier this year, the LGBTQ organization Fairness West Virginia conducted a survey with judges in the state about marriage. Mineral County Circuit Judge Lynn Nelson was the only judge who openly admitted to discriminating by refusing to perform their marriages.

    Fairness West Virginia then filed a complaint with the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission, and Nelson agreed that he was discriminating. “It’s against my religious beliefs,” he said. “I’ve allowed same-sex couples to adopt children in my courtroom. I’ve given them their children back in abuse and neglect cases. On divorce appeals, I’ve handled them just like everybody else, but I’m just not interested in getting them married. The (West Virginia) Supreme Court told me I didn’t have to marry anyone I didn’t want to,” he added.

    In response to the complaint, Nelson said that he wouldn’t perform any more marriages for anyone. The Commission accepted this compromise and let him off with a warning. “After careful review and full discussion of your complaint, the Commission has voted to dismiss the matter with a warning to Judge Nelson,” the Commission stated in a letter to Fairness West Virginia.

    Fairness West Virginia said that there are many judges who now refuse to perform any marriages at all, with four counties in the state not having any judges performing marriages anymore. “It appears the judge is willing to deny this service to everyone so as to avoid providing equal treatment to gay and lesbian couples,” said Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia.

    Mineral County WV is on the Potomac River, directly facing Cumberland MD. The rural county has a population of 28,000. In the article, the other three guilty counties, of 55, are not named.

  • 18. Fortguy  |  December 13, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    According to Fairness West Virginia, the four counties where no public officials perform marriages are Ritchie, Wood, Wayne, and Gilmer. Statewide, about half of the judges surveyed do not perform marriages.

    As far as Mineral County goes, apparently they do perform marriages. Judge Nelson is a state circuit judge whose judicial district encompasses Mineral, Grant, and Tucker counties all of which presumably have local officials willing to tie matrimonial knots.

  • 19. VIRick  |  December 13, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you, I stand corrected about Mineral County WV.

    Wood County, population 87,000 is on the Ohio River, and includes the fairly sizeable industrial city of Parkersburg. Unless couples cross the river and marry in Ohio, the lack of judges willing to marry anyone here has presumably already caused hardship.

    Ritchie County, population 10,000, is a rural county immediately east of there, while Gilmer County, population 8,700, is another rural county immediately southeast of that one. Gilmer is also the county where a lesbian couple who wished to marry, on 3 February 2016, were subjected to a rant by Gilmer County Deputy Clerk Debbie Allen, who called the women an "abomination" to God and said their marriage should not be legal. In the resulting lawsuit, "Brookover v. Gilmer County," the county eventually agreed to pay an undisclosed sum of money in damages in recognition of the harms the couple endured.

    Wayne County, population 42,000, is immediately southwest of Huntington, on the Big Sandy, abutting Kentucky, just a hoot and a holler from Rowan County KY, where Kim Davis held sway. This WV county has been a pain for a while, having first been "inspired" by her infamous obstinance.

  • 20. VIRick  |  December 13, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Yet Another Federal Suit against Social Security Administration for Survivor's Benefits

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 13 December 2018, Lambda Legal filed a motion on behalf of a 63-year-old gay man, arguing that the Social Security Administration’s denial of spousal survivor’s benefits to him, on the grounds that he was not married long enough, despite marrying on the very first day when he was legally allowed to do so, is unconstitutional.

    The lawsuit, in the US District Court for the District of New Mexico, filed on behalf of Anthony Gonzales, who was in a 15-year committed relationship with his husband, argues that SSA’s imposition of a nine-month marriage requirement for social security survivor’s benefits is unconstitutional where same-sex couples were not able to be married for the nine months because of discriminatory marriage laws.

    Per the federal docket, this case was originally filed in June 2018 and is assigned to Senior District Judge Robert C. Brack with referrals to Magistrate Judge Kevin R. Sweazea. Today's filing by Lambda Legal, with attachments, is available here:

    Plaintiff’s Motion to Reverse Agency Decision and Memorandum in Support

    Lambda Legal's press release, noting that this is the third federal case it has filed against the SSA on this very same point, (the previous two having already been filed in Arizona and Washington State) is here:

    Anthony and his husband, Mark Johnson, got married literally on the very first day they could in Albuquerque NM on 27 August 2013. Tragically, cancer claimed Mark’s life six months later. In the interval, because of his age, Anthony could not otherwise claim SSA survivor's benefits until he had turned 62.

  • 21. allan120102  |  December 13, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    Breaking Bermuda appeal ssm ruling but dont expect to affect all countries directly.
    Lgbt marriage news have a good explanation of that.

  • 22. Mechatron12  |  December 13, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Sigh. So much for any sort of sweeping decision that would bring marriage equality to huge swaths of the Commonwealth…

  • 23. VIRick  |  December 13, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    But Mechatron, we already knew that. Each Commonwealth jurisdiction which still relies upon the Privy Council in the UK as its top court, in due course, will have to bring forth its own separate lawsuit challenging its own ban on same-sex marriage. Now that Bermuda has appealed, the eventual Privy Council ruling against it will thus set the precedent Commonwealth-wide, (rather than just within the 6 remaining British Overseas Territories, as would have been the case until today,) and will then be utilized by the Privy Council as standing precedent whenever the next challenge to a ban on same-sex marriage from a different BOT or Commonwealth jurisdiction under its purview comes along.

    Now that Bermuda has chosen to appeal its marriage equality ruling to the Privy Council, one can actually view this poorly-conceived decision (in the longer term) in a favorable light, particularly if viewed from the perspective of LGBT couples resident in any number of independent ex-British Caribbean nations, like Jamaica, Trinidad, or the Bahamas, which still utilize the Privy Council as their top court of appeal. A Privy Council ruling against Bermuda will thus set the standing precedent for all new challenges from all of them (or from any number of others in that long list, not just the 6 BOTs). Plus, as a major financial bonus for LGBT Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Bahamians, and other Commonwealth residents, (paraphrasing an oft-heard current expression,) Bermuda will pay for it.

    However, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, there is no stay in place on the Court of Appeal ruling in favor of marriage equality in Bermuda. Same-sex couples can continue to marry there during the appeal. And, there's no guarantee that the Privy Council will accept the appeal. If they so choose, they could refuse to hear the matter, leaving the Bermuda Court of Appeal ruling as final.

  • 24. VIRick  |  December 13, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Israel: Top Court Rules in Favor of Gay Parents in Birth Certificate Fight

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    On Wednesday, 12 December 2018, in a victory for same-sex parents, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that the Interior Ministry cannot refuse to write an adoptive parent’s name on a child’s birth certificate because of the parent’s sex. The ruling came in an appeal by two gay men who jointly adopted a son. They attempted to procure a birth certificate from the Interior Ministry for the child, but ministry officials refused to write both men's names on the birth certificate as being the boy's parents.

    The couple, who filed their appeal together with The Aguda, Israel’s LGBT Task Force, a major gay rights advocacy group, argued that the refusal to record both legal guardians on the certificate could hurt both parent and child in the future, as it would make simple administrative and legal actions that required proof of the parent-child relationship more difficult in the case of the unrecorded parent.

    The ruling was delivered by a three-judge panel headed by Justice Neal Hendel, who wrote the unanimous opinion, and including Justices George Kara and Meni Mazuz. The judges noted that the case not only concerned the parents’ right to be recognized as parents irrespective of their same-sex relationship, but also, and more importantly, the child’s right to recognition as their child.

    From a simple administrative perspective, too, Hendel wrote, “it is unreasonable for the couple to be [legally] recognized as parents but for the certificate not to give expression to that fact.” The court ordered the Interior Ministry to produce a birth certificate with both fathers' names.

    Wednesday’s ruling is expected to influence two additional cases before the court. In one, a lesbian couple is appealing to force the Interior Ministry to have both women listed as parents on a birth certificate, for a child born to one of the women. In the other, a transgender man who was born a woman is asking the court to force the ministry to change his designation on his child’s birth certificate from “mother” to “father.”

    “We’re happy that the court reminded the Interior Ministry of something that should have been self-evident — that parents are parents, no matter their sex, sexual orientation, or gender,” the couple’s attorneys, Hagai Kalai and Daniella Yaakobi, said in a statement Wednesday.

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