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Quick SCOTUS update and open thread


The Supreme Court still hasn’t acted on several cases we’re following related to LGBT employment and wedding cakes. They’ll presumably consider them again at their next private conference.

This is an open thread.


  • 1. VIRick  |  March 5, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    Colorado: "Masterpiece II," both Federal and State, Settled

    Per Equality Case Files:

    Today, 5 March 2019, in "Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Elenis," the federal case in which, for the second time running, the infamous nut-job Colorado baker, represented by the equally infamous and egregiously hateful ADF, was suing in federal court, seeking religious exemptions from Colorado's non-discrimination ordinance, the Colorado Attorney-General’s office announced that the State and the nut-job owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop have mutually agreed to end their ongoing state and federal court litigation.

    "Under the terms of the agreement, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission will voluntarily dismiss the state administrative action against Masterpiece Cakeshop and its owner, Jack Phillips, and Phillips will voluntarily dismiss his federal court case against the State. Each side will bear their own costs and attorneys’ fees. This agreement does not affect the ability of Autumn Scardina, the (transgender) complainant in the state administrative case, to pursue a claim on her own."

    The federal case had been scheduled for a 2-day evidentiary hearing next week on Phillips's revised motion for a preliminary injunction.

    The full statement from the Colorado Attorney-General is here:

  • 2. bayareajohn  |  March 5, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    It surely looks like the State blinked here, and Masterpiece gets to discriminate…

  • 3. VIRick  |  March 5, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    I viewed this "settlement' as a stand-off, with neither side winning nor losing, although their side does lose a pet wanna-be "martyr." His name and his business are both toxic and radio-active, and simply need to be shunned and boycotted by all and sundry,– and not just by LGBTs. Or better yet, harass him with outrageous, graphic requests like requesting a big black cake with giant gold dildos, complete with engraved bible verses etched on the heads, all mounted on top as flaming candles to be blown for someone's birthday.

    But seriously, this was not the best case for our side to pursue any further. Grinding him to a halt right here and now, suits our purposes, as he pre-emptively filed a wide-ranging federal suit as soon as the transgender complaintant filed her grievance with the state commission.

    Stop a minute to realize that everyone within 500 miles (or further) of his business knows who he is, where he is located, and what he is up to. This applies to the transgender complaintant, as well. Yes, he turned them down, but they went out of their way to place a rather provocative order with him, making certain he knew they were transgender, shortly after the Supreme Court ruling in "Masterpiece Cakeshop I." It is best not to take him at face value by filing suits and charges against him. Instead, either ignore him completely, or harass the shit out of him with outrageous "special orders." Any number of Denver-area individuals have been routinely doing such.

    Send/phone your most outrageous requests to:
    Masterpiece Cakeshop
    3355 S Wadsworth Blvd H-117, Lakewood CO, 80227, USA
    1 303-763-5754
    It is across the street from the Best Western Denver Southwest.

  • 4. FredDorner  |  March 5, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    I hope we learn why the state dropped the case, particularly after the commission found probable cause that state law had been violated. I understand that not all cases of unlawful discrimination can or should be pursued but that doesn't seem to be the situation here.

    The only legitimate basis I can think of for dropping the case is if the bigoted baker agreed to no longer operate the business as a public accommodation (ie to become a private members-only club).

  • 5. ianbirmingham  |  March 6, 2019 at 1:18 am

    How about "The state fatally mishandled the case"? Remember that the Supreme Court raked Colorado over the coals for not handling this bigot with kid gloves during his administrative hearing…

  • 6. FredDorner  |  March 6, 2019 at 1:24 am

    This was a different case and the state has been careful not to "mishandle" it (at least not until they dropped it), but it should be noted that even now the state could retry the bigoted baker in the original case and simply avoid making the same procedural error.

  • 7. ianbirmingham  |  March 6, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    1) No, it's the very same case:

    2) This case already went through all state appeals (up to the Colorado Supreme Court) and all federal appeals (up to the US Supreme Court). It would be better to just start over with an entirely new case under entirely new factual circumstances.

    This bigot is certainly discriminating against plenty of potential legal adversaries… and best of all, it will give his next victim the opportunity to order a cake "topped" with a splendid Donald Trump Butt Plug:….

  • 8. FredDorner  |  March 6, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    No, the anti-trans case is a different case from the anti-gay wedding cake case. Same dumb bigot, different acts of discrimination against different customers.

  • 9. ianbirmingham  |  March 6, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Indeed it is. Third time's a charm, especially when your new cake order includes a Presidential Butt Plug 🙂

  • 10. VIRick  |  March 6, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Fred, yes. And part of the "problem" in the second case, now in process of settlement, the transgender discrimination case, at least in my view, lies in the fact that the customer had to go out of their way to explain to him that in celebration of their transition that they wanted a transgender flag cake. Apparently, at first, in his utter ignorance, he did not know what that was even supposed to look like when finished. Had the customer simply requested a blue/white/pink-striped cake without any further explanation as to the symbolism of the colors, or why they wanted it in that color-scheme, he might have complied,– or so it could be argued.

  • 11. FredDorner  |  March 6, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    That's not correct, at least based on the probable cause finding which states that the plaintiff asked for a cake with a "blue exterior and a pink interior" for her birthday, and then explained that she was transgender and had "come out as transgender on her birthday". So that's a clear case of unlawful discrimination based on the transgender status of the customer.

    I've done a bit more research on this and my determination is that the civil rights commission simply folded in both these cases and isn't enforcing the law because it's too difficult or too expensive. And that's truly shameful. I base that on their "Final Agency Order on Remand" (as a result of the SCOTUS ruling in Masterpiece), where they withdrew all of their anti-discrimination remedies in that case (and thus the bigot is now free to discriminate against same-sex couples):

    What they should have done in that case is retried the case from the start and avoided the procedural error rather than giving up.

    Truly, truly shameful. At least in the Newman v Piggie Park order the federal courts stood by and upheld the Civil Rights Act at a time when it was very unpopular in the south to do so. Too bad Colorado doesn't have the balls to do the same.

    An alternative way to look at it is that the state chose to drop the first case in response to the remand and to wait for the bigot to break the law again……..which he did on the very same day that SCOTUS remanded the case. So by dropping both the 1st and 2nd cases the state is indicating that it won't enforce its public accommodations laws when a disfavored class is the plaintiff or when religious claims are made, and it will leave that burden to the plaintiff. And that's BS. I seriously doubt the state would do the same if the denial of service were because the customer were black, Jewish, or a mixed-race couple.

  • 12. VIRick  |  March 5, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    A private members-only cake shop club in a rented space in a typical suburban strip mall?

    The proprietor has pretensions (like claiming to be an "artist"), even if the business and its rented location might not. Without stating specifically what expressed messages or what celebrated events conflict with his religious beliefs, here is what it says at the bottom of his website:

    Masterpiece Cakeshop
    Mission Trace Shopping Center
    3355 S Wadsworth Blvd H-117
    Lakewood, CO 80227

    Masterpiece Cakeshop will happily create custom cakes for anyone. But like many cake artists, Jack cannot create all custom cakes. He cannot create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events that conflict with his religious beliefs.

  • 13. FredDorner  |  March 6, 2019 at 1:08 am

    As a Southern Baptist the dumb bigot would be acting well within his superstitious tradition to deny service to mixed-race couples but I doubt the state would let him get away with that. So what's different about this case – especially after the civil rights commission already made a finding of probable cause?

  • 14. VIRick  |  March 5, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Taiwan: Same-Sex Marriage Bill Moves Forward in Legislative Yuan

    On Tuesday, 5 March 2019, a government proposal to legalize same-sex unions moved one step forward at the Legislative Yuan, with the next phase in its review likely to occur on 9 April at the earliest. The latest government proposal received legislative approval to move on to a second reading, the Central News Agency reported.

    A total of 59 lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and from the smaller New Power Party voted in favor, while 24 members of the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and of the small People First Party voted against. Five DPP legislators abstained, while lawmaker Jason Hsu (許毓仁), generally seen as a rare gay rights supporter within the KMT, remained absent from Tuesday morning’s session, reports said.

    The draft bill, officially known as “The Enforcement Act of Judicial Yuan Interpretation No.748,” allows same-sex couples to register marriage or divorce at household registration offices, while also including clauses about adoption, inheritance, medical rights, and monogamy, according to CNA.

    As legislators have demanded further discussions, the proposal now enters a one-month “cooling-off” period before it can become the focus of debate again to start its third reading, probably on 9 April.

  • 15. ianbirmingham  |  March 6, 2019 at 1:23 am

    2020 US Senate forecast: Republicans 51, Democrats 46, with three toss-up seats…

  • 16. scream4ever  |  March 6, 2019 at 6:08 am

    I'd argue that Kansas is more in play since it's an open seat and they just elected a Dem Governor.

  • 17. ianbirmingham  |  March 6, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    46 + all three toss-up seats + Kansas = only 50. So Democrats would also need the Presidency, in order to break 50-50 ties in the Democratic direction. And that's assuming Democrats do in fact win all three of those three toss-up seats.

  • 18. VIRick  |  March 6, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    In addition to Kansas, what about Maine and Iowa? I should think we'd be able to win both. And ditto in Georgia if Stacy Abrams chooses to be the Democratic candidate.

  • 19. ianbirmingham  |  March 8, 2019 at 3:03 am

    The three toss-ups are Colorado, Arizona and Alabama, the latter of which was very well described by FredDorner below:

    Loving v Virginia was ruled in 1967 but the Alabama voters didn't repeal their ban on mixed-race marriage until November 2000, and 40% of those dumb bigots voted to keep the ban. Those same voters hate gay folks at least as much as they hate blacks and mixed-race couples.

    These are seriously stupid and bigoted people we're talking about here, and the politicians in these red states make big bucks by pandering to that hate and ignorance.

    Maine, Iowa and Georgia are rated "Lean Republican", as is North Carolina.

    46 plus Colorado, Arizona, Maine, Iowa, Georgia & North Carolina = 52, a slim majority. But winning the Senate means Democrats have to win in at least five of these six states. That won't be easy.

  • 20. Elihu_Bystander  |  March 8, 2019 at 3:52 am

    The question is: What is the best way or ways for that to happen?

  • 21. ianbirmingham  |  March 8, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    There's no mystery here. Thousands of people – the more the better – have to donate their asses off and work their asses off to make this happen. They have to visit the website of the campaign of the Democratic candidate in each race, where they can donate online (normally via ActBlue), and where they can also register as a campaign volunteer.

    Persons who don't live in the state can still use the campaign's "dialer" web page to phone voters who do live in the state, persuade them to vote for the Democratic candidate, and record data about this voter contact event in the candidate's voter contact database.

  • 22. ianbirmingham  |  March 6, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    McConnell preps new nuclear option to speed Trump judges – The Senate majority leader is moving quickly to confirm appointments to the Circuit and District Courts, leaving few if any vacancies for the next potential Democratic president.

    The Senate is on track to confirm the 34th Circuit Court judge of Trump’s presidency in the next week and the GOP has three more ready for floor action; that would give Trump roughly 20 percent of the Circuit Court seats in the country after just two years in office.

    Even more alarming for Democrats, the GOP is also preparing to pull the trigger on the “nuclear option” and change Senate rules once again with a simple majority to allow much quicker confirmation of lower court judges in the coming months.

    [The] Senate is making sweeping changes to the federal judiciary on a daily basis.

    On Tuesday alone, 37-year-old Allison Rushing was confirmed to the 4th Circuit Court and Chad Readler, 46, advanced toward a final vote for the 6th Circuit despite concerns from Collins over his role in supporting a lawsuit to gut Obamacare’s protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.

    "They're trying to find all kinds of ways to move things through as fast as they possibly can with the least scrutiny possible,” said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

  • 23. VIRick  |  March 6, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    Federal Felony Case against ex-Rep. Schock (R-IL) Settled

    Note: Aaron Schock was the gayest "non-gay" anti-LGBT congressional representative,– ever. He even has his own male "personal photographer" in tow as his "companion" whenever he maneuvered himself onto one of many congressional junkets. And his congressional office décor,– yikes!

    Also, in terms of full disclosure, I have seen him in DC on several occasions. There has been a rapid decline in his once-attractive physicality. He now seems like a lost soul. Plus, the "personal photographer" has long vanished.

    On Wednesday, 6 March 2019, federal prosecutors announced that they would be dropping felony charges against former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) more than two years after he was indicted for allegedly misusing campaign funds and nearly four years since he resigned from office after questions were raised about his ludicrous spending habits.

    In the deferred prosecution agreement, which was announced in court this morning, the US attorney's office agreed to drop the charges against Schock if he reimburses his congressional campaign fund nearly $68,000, pays any related back taxes, and does not violate any laws during the next six months (and be especially grateful that consenting sodomy is longer a crime in the USA).

    Schock admitted, as part of the deal, to receiving mileage reimbursements "that exceeded the number of miles actually driven," to obtaining tickets to events due to his role as a public official and then reselling them "at a profit," and to owing reimbursements for campaign expenses that "were in whole or in part unsupported by adequate records." Also as a part of the deal, Schock's campaign committee pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of improper record-keeping regarding its expenses and agreed to pay a fine of $26,553.

    "We believe this agreement provides a sensible resolution. It’s a just result and provides the necessary public accountability," Joseph Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for the US attorney's office in Chicago, which was handling the case, said in a statement.

    Schock had made a splash on the national stage when he was first elected to Congress the same year then-Sen. Barack Obama was elected president — a young, unmarried, attractive face in the conservative movement who also happened to come with six-pack abs and a "personal photographer." The Illinois Republican was seen as a rising star in the party in the years that followed, garnering significant media attention, in addition to creating his own splashy, hedonistic coverage through use of social media.

    In February 2015, however, a "Washington Post" profile of Schock that was in part the result of that profile-raising activity,– one which highlighted his 'Downton Abbey'-inspired office décor,– set off a series of reports from "Politico" about Schock's excessive spending and his subsequent lawyering up. Within two months of the "Post" profile, Schock had announced his resignation. Days later, news came that the FBI was investigating. And, days after the 2016 election, Schock was indicted.

  • 24. VIRick  |  March 6, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Here's a second article on Aaron Schock, including my favorite "totally-not-gay" photo of him, taken by his "personal photographer," while frolicking on a glacier in Alaska as part of his "congressional duties."

    The article also discusses such matters as to who "outed" who, and who walked in on whom, and who was doing whatever-whatever,– and where and when (but we already knew all of that). However, he and his lawyers took bristled offense to this aspect of the investigation (despite it being factually true).

    Still, the government was attempting to establish the precise nature of the relationship between Schock and his "personal photographer" (but not to determine who was the "top" and who was the "bottom"), but as a result of said over-all determination, how much additional governmental money had been spent inappropriately, and which thus needed to be re-paid.

    In addition to the sums cited in the first article which he needs to re-pay as part of today's settlement, he also must re-pay $48,000 to the IRS in back taxes for disallowed expenses.

  • 25. VIRick  |  March 6, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Virginia: State Legislature Passes a Pro-LGBT Surrogacy Bill

    On 20 February 2019, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill to make the state’s surrogacy laws gender neutral, making it the only piece of explicitly pro-LGBT legislation to advance in Virginia this session. Introduced by Del. Richard Sullivan (D-Fairfax County), the bill — nicknamed Jacob’s Law — has been in the making for some time.

    Sullivan began working on it after reading about a gay couple in his district who became wrapped up in a legal battle in Wisconsin to gain custody of their son. Having learned of the case, he then wanted to change Virginia’s laws to make surrogacy just as accessible to same-sex partners as it is to straight married couples.

    The bill ultimately passed both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly with support from Democrats and Republicans. It is now awaiting the governor’s signature.

  • 26. arturo547  |  March 6, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    If I’m not mistaken they haven’t changed the marriage definition from their laws yet. LGBT activists should push for this in “red states” in case the Supreme Court reverses the Obergefell ruling, although experts in law have consistently said that this scenario seems unlikely to ocurr. However, changing the definition of marriage is always a positive step to shut up bigots.

  • 27. FredDorner  |  March 6, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Loving v Virginia was ruled in 1967 but the Alabama voters didn't repeal their ban on mixed-race marriage until November 2000, and 40% of those dumb bigots voted to keep the ban. Those same voters hate gay folks at least as much as they hate blacks and mixed-race couples.

    These are seriously stupid and bigoted people we're talking about here, and the politicians in these red states make big bucks by pandering to that hate and ignorance.

    The fact that "Jacob’s Law" actually passed in Virginia is more of a testament to changing demographics in Virginia than to a change in the culture of the idiocy which permeates the red states.

  • 28. VIRick  |  March 7, 2019 at 11:55 am

    Indeed, Alabama was definitely late in legalizing inter-racial marriage, even requiring its own separate federal court ruling in 1970 before even beginning to comply.

    In 2000, Alabama also became the last to officially remove its inter-racial marriage ban from the books. The law was supposed to be unenforceable by then, thanks to the Supreme Court decision in "Loving v. Virginia," and the subsequent 1970 ruling against the state of Alabama, after an inter-racial couple was denied a marriage license in Anniston, Alabama, on 10 November 1970. That case was "US Defense Dept. v. Probate Judge C. Clyde Brittain of Calhoun County and the State of Alabama."

    Still, according to this article, certain Alabama probate judges continued to refuse to marry inter-racial couples, even as recently as 1999.

    But without question, the "winner" of the bigoted dumb-fucks award goes to:

    The Mississippi legislature, the very last state to officially abolish slavery within its own state law by ratifying the 13th Amendment.

    The Mississippi legislature finally ratified the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolishing slavery on 7 February 2013 … "only" 147 years late, just over 6 years ago. The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution, which abolishes slavery, was officially noted in the constitution from 6 December 1865.

    Mississippi was also the very last state to recognize same-sex divorce, as well as adoption by same-sex couples. In both instances, they adamantly cited the gendered nature of their state law as their defense.

    On 5 November 2015, in "Czekala-Chatham v. Melancon," the Mississippi Supreme Court finally granted the first divorce of a married same-sex couple within the state, with the marriage itself being dissolved on 1 December 2015.

    Mississippi's adoption ban for married same-sex couples was overturned in federal court in the case, "Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services," on 31 March 2016.

  • 29. allan120102  |  March 7, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Puerto Rico to vote tomorrow if to ban conversion therapy.

  • 30. VIRick  |  March 7, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Puerto Rico to Ban Gay "Conversion Therapy"

    El proyecto que busca eliminar las terapias de conversión (PS 1000) serán llevados a votación mañana, 7 de marzo 2019, en el Senado, confirmó hoy el presidente de ese cuerpo legislativo, Thomas Rivera Schatz.

    El PS 1000, que tiene apoyo tripartita, prohibiría que menores sean sometidos a terapias para cambiarles su orientación sexual en consultorios médicos o en iglesias (o en cultos), a través de la oración, el consejo religioso, o el psicoanálisis.

    In the Senate, the bill that seeks to eliminate conversion therapy (PS 1000) will be taken to a vote on 7 March 2019, the president of that legislative body, Thomas Rivera Schatz, confirmed today.

    PS 1000, which has tripartite support, would prohibit minors from undergoing therapies to change their sexual orientation in doctor's offices or in churches (or in evangelical locales), through prayer, religious advice, or psychoanalysis.

    Note: In Puerto Rico, they do not distinguish between "la iglesia" (the Catholic church) and "los cultos" (all the evangelicals) they way they do in Mexico. Instead, "la iglesia" covers everything of both stripes. But do notice that they do not intend to allow for a "religious" exemption.

    Late today, 7 March 2019, the bill passed by a voice vote.

  • 31. VIRick  |  March 7, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Puerto Rico: New Civil Code Likely to Be Approved

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    El Senado celebrará vistas públicas para discutir la medida que ya fue aprobada en la Cámara de Representantes. El proyecto que establece el nuevo Código Civil (incluyendo matrimonio igualitario) será aprobado en el Senado, a pesar de las controversias por su contenido, aseguró ayer, el 6 de marzo 2019, el presidente del Senado, Thomas Rivera Schatz.

    Como presidente de la Comisión de Relaciones Federales y Económicas del Senado, Rivera Schatz, quien liderará la discusión del proyecto, prometió celebrar vistas públicas.

    The Senate will hold public hearings to discuss the measure that has already been approved in the House of Representatives. The bill that establishes the new Civil Code (including marriage equality) will be approved in the Senate, despite controversies over its content, the president of the Senate, Thomas Rivera Schatz, said yesterday, 6 March 2019.

    As chairman of the Senate Federal and Economic Relations Commission, Rivera Schatz, who will lead the bill's discussion, promised to hold the public hearings.

  • 32. VIRick  |  March 7, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Utah Legislature Decriminalizes Fornication, Adultery, and Sodomy

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    The Utah State Legislature approved a bill to legalize sex outside of marriage (thus decriminalizing fornication). The legislation, Senate Bill 43, was approved by a 41-32 vote in the House and was sent to the desk of Governor Gary Herbert on Wednesday, 6 March 2019.

    Earlier this year, the legislature approved House Bill 40, which repealed criminal charges of adultery and sodomy. "Those have been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court," Republican Representative Paul Ray said, apparently referring to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that anti-sodomy laws violated the 14th Amendment.

    On the other hand, on 5 March 2019, in an 8-4 vote, Utah Republicans in the state House Judiciary Committee gutted the newly-introduced bill which proposed to ban gay "conversion therapy."

  • 33. VIRick  |  March 7, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Maryland: Judge Lifts Order against Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

    On Thursday, 7 March 2019, in "Stone v. Trump," a federal judge in Maryland lifted his order against Trump’s transgender military ban, bringing the administration one step closer toward enforcing the policy. In a six-page order, US District Judge George Russell III, ruled that he must lift his order “because the court is bound by the Supreme Court’s decision” that essentially green-lighted Trump’s policy.

    Russell was one of four district judges to have issued an order against the transgender military ban, which Trump announced in a series of tweets pledging to bar transgender people from the armed forces “in any capacity.” But in January, the Supreme Court lifted two of these orders issued by judges in the Ninth Circuit, one in "Karnoski v. Trump" and the other in "Stockman v. Trump," essentially allowing the military to enforce Trump’s ban as litigation against it proceeds through the courts.

    Weeks earlier, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit had sided with Trump on the transgender military ban, issuing an order against the injunction issued by US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. Although courts have now lifted each of the initial injunctions, transgender advocates say the order from Kollar-Kotelly in "Doe v. Trump" remains in effect, keeping openly transgender service in place for the time being. That order contains a provision keeping the Kollar-Kotelly order intact in order to give the legal team supporting transgender plaintiffs time to seek “en banc” review before the full court.

    See also:

  • 34. VIRick  |  March 7, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Veracruz: Morena Deputies Present Reform to the Civil Code to Allow for Marriage Equality

    Per José Ortiz Medina:

    Veracruz: Presentan Diputados Morenistas Reforma al Código Civil para Permitir Matrimonio Igualitario

    The same bill, allowing for marriage equality in Veracruz, if passed, will also recognize same-sex "concubinto" (cohabitation), as well as "express divorce" (no-fault divorce).

    Note: If for some reason, the divorce portion of this bill is passed, but without the marriage equality provisions included, within 30 days of its passage, we can then file an Action of Unconstitutionality against the state of Veracruz.

    So-called "express divorce" has become a very popular issue in Mexico, as it is one that modernizes and streamlines the entire current, cumbersome, fault-based divorce procedure. And in Mexico, among heteros, the divorce rate is skyrocketing. Thus, by tying this popular concept together with marriage equality, we may have finally found a winning strategy for breaking the intransigence in the remaining recalcitrant states against marriage equality.

  • 35. VIRick  |  March 10, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    Veracruz: Marriage Equality Bill in Committee

    The recently introduced marriage equality/express divorce (el divorcio sin causa) package, cited above, and presented by Morena, is now in committee, la Comisión Permanente de Justicia y Puntos Constitucionales, for analysis and drafting.

    In addition, Maryjose Gamboa Torales, PAN, (Boca del Río) has professed that she also is in favor of marriage equality. In fact, as she points out, she had introduced a similar measure into the Veracruz Congress two years ago (which at the time caused quite a stir, because in general, right-wing, pro-business PAN deputies throughout Mexico tend to be adamantly against the idea). However, this seeming dichotomy on her part might well be explained by the fact that she represents the most up-scale municipality in the entire state.

  • 36. ianbirmingham  |  March 8, 2019 at 2:45 am

    LGBTQ+ Americans make up 4.5% of the population; most live in coastal states

    * Oregon was the state with the highest concentration of queer people, at 5.6%, followed by Nevada (5.5 %), Massachusetts (5.4%), California (5.3%) and Vermont and Washington (5.2% each)

    * North Dakota had the smallest LGBTQ+ population, at 2.7%, followed by Idaho (2.8%) and Montana (2.9%)North Dakota had the smallest population of queer Americans (2.7%), followed by Idaho (2.8%), Montana (2.9%), South Dakota (3%) and Alabama (3.1%).

    * White people were the least likely to identify as LGBTQ+, with 3.9 percent of all white people identifying that way. Asians were next (4.4 percent), followed by African Americans (4.6 percent) and Hispanics (6 percent).

    * Women were significantly more likely to identify as LGBTQ+, at 5.1 percent, compared to 3.9 percent of men. The survey did not offer a non-binary gender option, which could have affected those results.

    * Members of the LGBTQ+ people were more likely to be unemployed (9 percent compared to 5 percent of straight Americans. They were also more likely to go without health insurance (15% vs.12%) and struggle with food security (27% vs.15%). They also tended to have lower incomes than straight Americans, with a quarter reporting making less than $24,000 a year, compared to 18% of the straight population. Those socio-economic disparities were consistent across all races. For example, white people who identify as queer were more likely to be low-income than white people who identify as straight. The disparity in incomes can't be explained by educational attainment: LGBTQ+ people had college graduation rates similar to their straight counterparts.

    * White LGBTQ+ people were the least likely to have children younger than 18 (21%), followed by Asians (25%), African Americans (34%) and Hispanics (39%). Women were more likely than their male counterparts in the LGBTQ+ community to have young children (39% and 17%, respectively).

  • 37. ianbirmingham  |  March 8, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    After decades-long legal battle, gay couple's 1971 marriage officially recognized; Minnesota couple Michael and Jack McConnell are now thought to be the longest-married, same-sex couple in the U.S.

    In 1971, gay couple Michael McConnell and Jack Baker applied for a marriage license from Blue Earth County, Minnesota. The clerk, not realizing one of the individuals listed on the application was male, issued the license — though stopped short of officially recording it.

    Nearly five decades later — after a prolonged legal battle to get their union legally recognized — their wish was granted. The couple received a letter from the Social Security Administration on Feb. 16 officially validating their '71 marriage.

    “We knew from day one when we were legally married in 1971 that we were right — that we had followed the law to the letter,” Michael McConnell told NBC News.

    After first being denied a marriage license in Hennepin County, Minnesota, in May 1970, the couple figured out a loophole. Jack McConnell changed his first name to the gender-neutral name “Pat Lyn,” and Michael McConnell went to Blue Earth County to apply for a license alone.

    Because Minnesota’s marriage statute did not explicitly state that two people of the same sex could not get married, the license was valid as far as they were concerned. But after it was revealed that “Pat Lyn” was male, the couple recalled, the county attorney instructed the clerk not to officially record it. With no proof of marriage, the McConnells explained, they could not collect Social Security spousal benefits, even after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.

    In September of last year, after a lengthy legal battle, a Minnesota district court judge ruled the marriage valid. In the letter they received from Social Security Administration in February, they learned they were entitled to spousal benefits. But to the men, the victory is about much more.

    “This just simply proves that the first same-sex marriage ever recorded in the public files of any civil government anywhere in the world happened in Minnesota,” Jack McConnell said.

    “The bullies with power have been bullying us for all this time, and we won,” Jack McConnell asserted.

    The McConnells received the Social Security Administration’s letter just days after Valentine’s Day.

    The McConnells, who met in graduate school at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1960s, will celebrate 49 years of marriage in September.

  • 38. ianbirmingham  |  March 8, 2019 at 3:57 pm

    South Carolina elementary school principal rejects fourth-grader's pro-LGBT rights essay because the topic is 'not acceptable to discuss outside the home'

    She and her mom, Hannah Robinson, have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the principal, school and district of violating her First Amendment right to free speech.

  • 39. VIRick  |  March 8, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Georgia: Bill Introduced to Ban Gay "Conversion Therapy"

    A member of the Georgia state Assembly filed HB580 this week to protect LGBT youth. Titled the "Youth Mental Health Protection Act," it would ban the provision of "conversion therapy" to minors, while also barring counsellors from “seeking to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
    Representative Matthew Wilson (D), who sponsored the bill, said in a statement: “All children in Georgia should receive care that first, does no harm .Conversion therapy has no scientific basis and contradicts the medical community’s understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity. I am proud to sponsor this bill that helps ensure the safety of Georgia’s LGBTQ youth by outlawing this incredibly dangerous practice.”

  • 40. VIRick  |  March 10, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    Georgia: Hate Crimes Bill Passes in State House of Representatives

    On 8 March 2019, the Georgia House of Representatives passed a hate crimes bill, HB 426, that specifically includes protections for the LGBTQ community. The passing of the bill means that if someone is abused, either physically or verbally, because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it will be treated as a hate crime.

    Jeff Graham, the executive director for Georgia Equality, said: “It is truly a historic moment for Georgia. A bill that was first passed at the state level in California in 1984 and has been a priority of Georgia’s LGBTQ community since the early 1990’s has finally passed Georgia’s House of Representatives.”

    To date, there are 45 other states, plus the District of Columbia, which have already passed similar hate crimes legislation.….

  • 41. VIRick  |  March 8, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Lower Court Decision Striking Ban on Gender-Confirming Surgery

    Per Equality Case Files:

    On 8 March 2019, in "Good/Beal v. Iowa Department of Human Services," the appeal of a lower court decision by the Iowa DHS which struck down the state's ban on Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming surgery, the Supreme Court of Iowa, in a unanimous opinion, affirmed the lower court's decision in striking down the ban.

    The Opinion – AFFIRMED – is here:

    The ACLU statement is here:

  • 42. VIRick  |  March 9, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    South Africa: High Court Rules against Dutch Reformed Church on Marriage Equality

    On 8 March 2019, a South African court has overturned a decision by the Dutch Reformed Church not to recognize same-sex unions. The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria scrapped the church’s policy against gay marriage, stating it is discriminatory to exclude members of the church from the right to marry.
    The church decided to allow individual church councils to recognize same-sex unions in 2015, but the decision was reversed a year later when the church maintained these unions did not meet “Christian guidelines.” A key figure in the Dutch Reformed Church, Reverend Laurie Gaum, along with his father Dr Frits Gaum and eight other members, then launched the High Court application to have the 2016 decision overturned and declared unconstitutional. Individual churches will now be able to conduct same-sex marriages once they have obtained a licence from the Government.

    South Africa legalized same-sex marriage in 2006.

  • 43. ianbirmingham  |  March 9, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    This reflects the difference between South Africa and the USA where religious freedom is concerned. South Africa defines the space available for religious freedom to be the area within constitutionally defined civil anti-discrimination boundaries. USA applies those constitutionally defined civil anti-discrimination boundaries only to government and to businesses operating as "public accomodations". In USA, the space available for religious freedom is bounded only by the criminal law.

  • 44. VIRick  |  March 9, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Alabama: Potential Good News for Democrats

    Roy Moore (R), who lost a US Senate race in 2017 after nine women accused him of either sexual assault, pedophilia, or pursuing them sexually when they were teens and he was an adult, wants a rematch. Moore told American Family Radio he's "seriously considering" running against Democrat Doug Jones, the current Senator, next year.

    Jones, a former civil rights attorney, prevailed in the race for the Senate seat vacated after Jeff Sessions left to become US Attorney-General. Jones's victory meant a Democrat represented Alabama in the Senate for the first time in decades; it also meant a bigot, a homophobe, a transphobe, a pedophile, and an all-around nut-job was not representing the state (for once).

  • 45. Mechatron12  |  March 10, 2019 at 7:06 am

    Unfortunately, I'd be willing to wager that even Roy Moore wins Alabama in a Presidential election year. The state is THAT blood red. It would definitely be closer than the typical race, but even that might be bad as it would suck money from the Democrats thinking they might win.

  • 46. VIRick  |  March 9, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Guatemala: Two Gay Men Running for Seats in Congress

    Two openly gay men are among the candidates who are running for seats in Guatemala’s congress. General elections there are scheduled to take place on 16 June 2019.

    Aldo Dávila, executive director of Asociación Gente Positiva, a Guatemala City-based HIV/AIDS service organization, is a member of the Winaq Movement, a leftist party associated with Rigoberta Menchú, an indigenous human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. Otto René Félix is a member of the far-left Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) party, a one-time guerrilla movement that formally entered politics in 1998, two years after the signing of the peace accord that ended Guatemala’s decades-long civil war.

    If successful, they will join Congresswoman Sandra Morán, a member of Convergencia, a left-leaning political movement that advocates on behalf of indigenous Guatemalans and other underrepresented groups in the country. In 2015, she became the first openly LGBTI person elected to Guatemala’s congress, and to date, remains the only LGBTI congressperson in that capacity.

    Note: The Guatemala Congress is a unicameral body made up of 158 deputies who are elected by direct universal suffrage to serve four-year terms. The electoral system is based on a closed party list utilizing proportional representation.

  • 47. VIRick  |  March 9, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Morena Corrects in Edomex: Its State Deputies Will Vote in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    Morena Corrige en el Edomex: Sus Diputados Locales Votarán a Favor de Bodas Gay

    La bancada morenista, la más numerosa en el Congreso estatal, presentará este mes (marzo 2019) su propia iniciativa para legalizar el matrimonio igualitario. Este miércoles 6 de marzo, tras una reunión con especialistas en derecho y salud, los diputados mexiquenses comunicaron a la dirigencia nacional de Morena que presentarán su propia iniciativa para legalizar el matrimonio igualitario.

    Temístocles Villanueva, diputado morenista en el Congreso de la Ciudad de México (CDMX) , activista LGBT, y exsecretario nacional de la Diversidad Sexual de Morena, quien fue uno de los ponentes en la reunión con legisladores mexiquenses, aseguró que sus compañeros de partido no votaron la iniciativa del PRD porque tenía errores conceptuales, y no porque se opusieran a los derechos de la diversidad sexual.

    The Morena bench, the largest in the state Congress, will present this month (March 2019) its own initiative to legalize equal marriage. This Wednesday, 6 March, after a meeting with specialists in law and health, Edomex deputies informed the national leadership of Morena that they will present their own initiative to legalize same-sex marriage.

    Temístocles Villanueva, Morena deputy in the Mexico City Congress (CDMX), LGBT activist, and former national secretary of Diversidad Sexual de Morena, who was one of the speakers in the meeting with Edomex lawmakers, assured that the Morena deputies in Edomex did not vote for the PRD initiative because it contained conceptual errors, rather than because they opposed the rights of sexual diversity.

    Note: If I remember correctly, beginning in 2013, the 5 states whose laws banning same-sex marriage that were struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, thereby culminating in the establishment of jurisprudence on this matter in June 2015, were, in this order: Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Baja California, Edomex, and Colima (plus many others, subsequently). Oaxaca, Sinaloa, and Edomex still have not yet changed their laws to reflect the reality of this striking down.

  • 48. ianbirmingham  |  March 10, 2019 at 1:36 am

    Iowa Supreme Court: Transgender Iowans can use Medicaid for gender transition services

    At the time the original suit was filed, the ACLU and local doctors pointed to mastectomies as an example of the inherent unfairness of the ban.

    Breast-removal surgery costs the same whether it is covered as cancer treatment or as a treatment for gender dysphoria. Only one of those surgeries was banned — even if doctors in both cases deem the surgery to be "medically necessary."

    The 6-0 Supreme Court ruling came on the heels of another step forward for transgender rights in Iowa.

    Last month, Jesse Vroegh, a transgender man and former prison nurse, won his discrimination case against the state after he was denied access to the men's restrooms and locker rooms and denied transition-related care.

    He was awarded $120,000 in damages.

    The Iowa ACLU has also previously represented Meagan Taylor, a transgender woman discriminated against at a West Des Moines hotel. The highly publicized case resulted in an undisclosed settlement.

  • 49. VIRick  |  March 10, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Chile: Incoming Senate President is Pro-Marriage-Equality

    Jaime Quintana, PPD, senator from the Araucanía region, will assume the title of Senate President in Chile on Tuesday, 12 March 2019.

    He is definitely in favor of marriage equality, and has this to say:

    Per Jaime Quintana:

    Chile está en pleno cambio cultural, demanda ampliar libertades y derechos. Que no haya dudas: desde el Senado de Chile, nos vamos a jugar por conocer, discutir, y aprobar el matrimonio igualitario en este año legislativo.

    Chile is in full cultural change, demanding to expand freedoms and rights. Let there be no doubt: from the Senate of Chile, we are going to move to discuss and approve equal marriage in this legislative year.

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