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3/16 open thread


The Supreme Court announced today that arguments that were to be heard later this month have been postponed due to coronavirus. There are still questions about what the Court will do for opinion announcements, including the expected decisions in the two Title VII LGBT employment discrimination cases. Some federal courts have canceled proceedings and some have limited courts’ public proceedings.

This is an open thread. We’ll post any breaking news. And of course we hope you all are safe!


  • 1. Mr Domain  |  March 17, 2020 at 12:40 am

    Coronavirus changes everything, may we end the disease soon and return to normal life.

  • 2. guitaristbl  |  March 17, 2020 at 3:21 am

    It was the correct decision for SCOTUS for all the judges but especially justice Ginsburg with her frail health.

  • 3. VIRick  |  March 17, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Andorra: Draft Bill Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Presented

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    On 10 March 2020, the governing coalition of Andorra released a draft bill to replace LGBT civil unions with civil marriage, one which also recognizes surrogacy. The bill is expected to be passed in four months' time.

    In Catalan, from Andorra itself:

    Les Unions Civils entre Persones del Mateix Sexe Es Diran Casaments

    La distinció entre unions civils i casaments que existeix ara en funció, de si la parella és homosexual o heterosexual, desapareixerà i tot passarà a dir-se casament. En canvi, el terme matrimoni quedarà restringit als canònics, és a dir, per a les parelles que es casin per l’Església. Així s’ha previst en el nou text de la proposició de Llei de la Persona i la Família que els grups de la majoria (DA, L’A, i CC) van presentar ahir (10 de març del 2020).

    El conseller de CC, Carles Naudi, va assegurar que es fa “un pas més cap a la codificació” i que la llei “és un avenç important per facilitar la vida a les persones.” El text s’ha enviat al Col·legi d’Advocats i al Consell Superior de la Justícia, que tindran dos mesos per fer-hi aportacions. Després, es calcula que caldran dos mesos més per acabar de tancar el text i finalment entrar-lo a tràmit parlamentari.

    Civil Unions between People of the Same Sex Will Be Called Marriage

    The distinction between civil unions and marriages that now exists, depending on whether the couple is gay or heterosexual, will disappear and all will be called marriage (casament). Instead, the term matrimony (matrimoni) will be restricted to the canonical, that is, for couples who marry in the Church. This is foreseen in the new text of the proposed Law of the Person and the Family that the majority parties (DA, L'A, and CC) presented yesterday (10 March 2020).

    CC Council member, Carles Naudi, said that they are taking "one step closer to codification” and that the law “is an important advance in facilitating an easier life for people.” The text has been sent to the College of Lawyers and to the Higher Council of Justice, who will have two months to make their contributions. Then, it is calculated that it will take another two months to finish closing out the text and to finally enter it into parliamentary proceedings.

    Note: Catalan, the language of Andorra and northeast Spain, is a scrambled mix of both Spanish and French, with any number of unique twists, but which is spelled more like Spanish, while pronounced more like French. In that sense, it is similar to Gallegos, the scrambled mix of Spanish and Portuguese utilized in northwest Spain.

    More detail on both the draft bill legalizing same-sex marriage as well as on surrogacy, also in Catalan, can be found here:

  • 4. Randolph_Finder  |  March 21, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    There are a couple of additional pieces here.

    First, this is part of a package of laws governing family relations that among other things requires that children over 12 be listened to in the case of adoptions, removes the requirements of publication for Civil marriages, updates the rules on children of surrogate mothers and essentially changes Andorra to a no-fault divorce area. Most of these laws seem progressive…

    Secondly, the three parties in the coalition are actually sort of a center-right coalition, the primary opposition is a left wing party which actually proposed a marriage equality bill 6 years ago, which went down to defeat. So even if the laws in the package are tied together, they would probably still support them.

    Third, all bills must signed by one of the two co-princes, but I don't see a problem with Macron signing this one. (The Bishop of Urgell as the other co-prince can't do anything to stop it)

    So not all that much politically is going to stop this bill. IMO, the most likely thing to delay Marriage equality in Andorra are COVID-19 related. Support for Marriage Equality appears to be *slightly* lower in Andorra than in neighboring Spain and France, but not by much.

  • 5. VIRick  |  March 17, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Mexico City Commemorates 10 Years of Same-Sex Marriage with Mass Marriage Event

    Per LGBT Marriage News:

    On Saturday, 14 March 2020, Mexico City (CDMX) celebrated 10 years of marriage equality with a mass communal marriage event in which 140 same-sex couples were simultaneously married. More than 13,000 LGBT couples have been married in Mexico City since legalization in March 2010.

    Specifically, since legalization, 13,134 same-sex unions have been registered in the capital, of which 6,997 were gays and 6,137 were lesbians, the legal services department of Mexico City stated. Apart from this landmark, since 2015, Mexico City has also revised the gender of 4,789 transgender individuals, after the current law came into effect.

  • 6. VIRick  |  March 17, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    Alaska: Transgender Librarian Wins Health Coverage Case against State

    On 6 March 2020, in "Fletcher v. State of Alaska," a librarian in Alaska won a federal lawsuit she brought against the state for not covering medical procedures related to her transition. Jennifer Fletcher works as a librarian with the state legislature, and she is on her state’s health care plan. She tried to get her insurance to cover several expenses related to her transition, but they refused. She was forced to pay thousands of dollars herself that should have been covered by her insurance.

    So, with the help of Lambda Legal, Fletcher sued the state. Alaska does not have a state law that bans discrimination against LGBTQ people. Instead, there is an executive order banning discrimination against state employees, but one which only applies to sexual orientation, not gender identity. Fletcher argued, though, that her procedures would have been covered by her insurance if they were required for conditions other than gender dysphoria. A cisgender person who needed one of the same procedures for another diagnosis would have been covered.

    Thus, that meant she was only denied coverage because she is transgender, which, she argued, violated Title VII. Title VII bans discrimination “because of sex,” and she argued that discrimination against her because she’s transgender is effectively discrimination because of sex. This argument has worked in other federal court cases, and three cases dealing with how the ban on discrimination “because of sex” applies to LGBTQ people are currently before the Supreme Court.

    The basic argument is that it’s impossible to discriminate against someone because of their transgender status or sexual orientation without taking their sex into consideration, and, even if it were possible, it would still be discrimination based on “sex stereotypes,” which the Supreme Court has already ruled is a form of sex-based discrimination. The state of Alaska countered that their policy isn’t based on sex, as neither transgender women nor transgender men can obtain procedures related to a transition covered by their insurance. Effectively, the state argued that it had a right to discriminate against transgender people.

    US District Court Judge H. Russel Holland agreed with Fletcher, Alaska Public Media reports. The state has not yet said whether it will appeal the decision.

    The Order, per Equality Case Files, is here:

  • 7. VIRick  |  March 18, 2020 at 9:25 pm

    Coronavirus (Covid-19), Central America Up-Date

    Per Jan-Albert Hootsen:

    On 16 March 2020, with 6 confirmed cases, Guatemalan president Dr. Giammattei announced what amounts to a total lockdown of the Central American country for 15 days in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, suspending both public and private sector activities. No foreigners may enter the country from any direction. Returning citizens and residents must undergo quarantine.

    From 10 PM on 16 March 2020, in Honduras, with 10 confirmed cases, the government has announced a curfew in three cities, including the capital of Tegucigalpa, as well as in Choluteca and La Ceiba, with no one allowed to enter or leave those designated localities.

    As of 16 March 2020, Mexico reported 82 confirmed cases of covid-19.

    From midnight on 18 March 2020, with 23 confirmed cases of covid-19, the government of Costa Rica has installed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for Costa Rican citizens and resident nationals who enter the country.

    On 16 March 2020, state media in Cuba announced a fifth case of coronavirus infection in the island nation. As yet, there are no major restrictions on public life.

    In Panamá, on 16 March 2020, with 69 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and one fatality, businesses are closing and the financial sector is considering (unspecified) emergency measures.

    In El Salvador, on 16 March 2020, President Nayib Bukele argued with Mexican Foreign Secretary M. Ebrard about possible infections onboard an inbound Avianca flight to San Salvador. As a result, Mexican travelers have been stranded at the San Salvador airport and say they are neither allowed to enter El Salvador nor return to Mexico due to coronavirus measures undertaken by the Salvadoran government.

  • 8. allan120102  |  March 19, 2020 at 8:10 am

    I am in La Ceiba Honduras and we are in a complete lockdown we cannot even go to the markets nor banks or gas stations. It's one of a strong lockdown for just one case of coronavirus in my city . I am prohibit of going outside because of my lupus condition but it's tiring being only inside. The number of cases is up 12 and now they are 105 suspects

  • 9. JayJonson  |  March 19, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Good luck and take all precautions. In New Orleans, all restaurants, bars, and gyms are closed. Gatherings of more than ten people are discouraged. Rumors of further prohibitions abound.

  • 10. VIRick  |  March 19, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Matters in many areas are rapidly changing, as the spread of the novel coronavirus continues. As a result, and with no one being able to predict the future, I cut my own West Texas/Chihuahua/Southern New Mexico sojourn short and departed the area while I still had the opportunity. In particular, New Mexico was beginning to go into lockdown mode; public events/gatherings of any kind were prohibited, while schools, churches, restaurants, hotels, and resorts have already been closed for a week. For the first time in over 450 years, all up-coming public functions pertaining to La Semana Santa have been cancelled, even into Mexico.

    On the day I flew out from the El Paso airport, I noted 3 Chihuahua license plates on vehicles in the airport's short-term parking area, which indicated to me that the US-Mexico border was still open to traffic. However, I have no idea whether that will continue to be the case.

    And Allan, if this means anything, today I bought a fresh hand of green bananas from Honduras. So, apparently, goods are still moving. However, because of Trump, my own bilingual "Mexican-looking" nephew no longer drives the long-distance trucking route back and forth across the US-Mexico border to/from Monterrey, so I no longer have any first-hand information on this subject. Instead, he has been re-assigned to a route that regularly takes him to Boston.

    But be forewarned: If that border were to close because of the novel coronavirus, be prepared to do without most fresh fruit and produce, as well as a vast array of replacement automotive car parts, once the stock has been depleted.

  • 11. VIRick  |  March 21, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    On Friday, 20 March 2020, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced that the US-Mexico border will remain closed for 30 days after its closure at midnight on Saturday, 21 March 2020. On the same date, it was also announced that as of midnight Saturday the US will not allow undocumented immigrants to enter the country from either Mexico or Canada.

  • 12. VIRick  |  March 20, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    Maryland Legislature Shortens Session because of Coronavirus

    On Wednesday, 18 March 2020, the Senate approved a House bill to repeal the state’s unconstitutional sodomy ban, and it now awaits Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s signature. However, other LGBTQ-specific bills faced cancelled hearings and uncertain futures.

    House Bill 427, sponsored by state Del. Emily Shetty (D-Montgomery County), requires a court to waive the publication requirement for name changes. The bill had passed the House and was under consideration by the Senate when the hearing was cancelled on 15 March.

    Similarly, state Del. Clarence Lam (D-Howard County)’s House Bill 488, which would bar LGBTQ panic defense, was halted in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and state Del. Gabriel Acevero (D-Montgomery County)’s House Bill 1010, which requires the posting of an LGBTQ Senior Bill of Rights in assisted-living facilities, was left in the House Health and Government Operations Committee.

    At the Sunday press conference, on 15 March 2020, Ferguson and Jones spoke of possibly convening a special session at the end of May to take up bills that failed to make it through this session. But like everything else, it depends on the future state of the pandemic.

  • 13. Randolph_Finder  |  March 21, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Basically, Hogan has said that if it doesn't involve Coronavirus, his Lieutenant Governor is in charge of it. My guess is that Hogan won't even try to veto the removal of sodomy ban

  • 14. VIRick  |  March 20, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    All Californians Have Been Ordered to Stay Home to Stop the Coronavirus Spread

    Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the order late Thursday,19 March 2020, just an hour after officials in Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the US, issued a similar mandate. Earlier this week, their Bay Area counterparts handed down similar "shelter-in-place" orders, the strictest measures taken in the country up to that point.

    Across the state of California, health officials have confirmed 675 cases of COVID-19 and 16 deaths from the disease as of Wednesday evening, 18 March 2020, behind Washington State and New York State, where more than 5,000 cases have been confirmed. The state's order takes effect immediately and will be in place indefinitely, with Newsom telling reporters that officials "could not give a deadline that we really could believe in."

    New Yorkers Have Been Ordered to Stay Home to Stop the Coronavirus Spread

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ordering 100% of the state's nonessential workers to stay at home as the positive coronavirus cases in the state total more than 7,000. The order will come into effect on Sunday evening, 22 March 2020.

    Cuomo announced on Friday, 20 March 2020, that he will sign an executive order that all nonessential businesses must work from home, except essential services, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and others. Food delivery services and public transportation will continue to operate, he said.

    All People in Illinois Have Been Ordered to Stay Home to Stop the Coronavirus Spread

    Governor JB Pritzker's order, which will go into effect on Saturday, 21 March 2020, at 5 PM local time and last until at least 7 April, will mean everyone in Illinois should stay home unless they work in an essential business such as a supermarket, pharmacy, or hospital. Gas stations and grocery stores will remain open for people to use, and the governor said there was no need to rush to such places now to hoard supplies. Residents will also still be allowed to go outside to exercise or walk their pets. But nonessential stores, such as restaurants and fashion retailers, will all be closed.

    DC: Coronavirus Closures Extended

    DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced at a news conference on Friday, 20 March 2020, that she has extended the city’s emergency order requiring restaurants and bars to discontinue onsite operations and the full closure of nightclubs until at least 27 April as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

  • 15. VIRick  |  March 22, 2020 at 6:18 pm

    Ohio, Louisiana, Delaware, Philadelphia Under Stay-At-Home Orders Due to COVID-19

    The governors of Ohio, Louisiana, and Delaware, as well as the mayor of Philadelphia, have placed their residents under mandatory orders to stay at home, as each attempts to control a rapid spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

    The Ohio order goes into effect at 11:59 PM on Monday, 23 March 2020, and will last for at least two weeks (until midnight on 6 April 2020), while Philadelphia's will begin at 8 AM, Monday, the same date. Louisiana's order begins at 5 PM on Monday, 23 March 2020, and will last until at least 12 April, while that in Delaware will begin from 8 AM on Tuesday, 24 March 2020.

    Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards also retweeted a report stating that his state now has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases across the US.

    Pennsylvania previously ordered the closure of all businesses except those considered "life-sustaining" (but did not order residents to stay home), while Philadelphia's new order on Sunday, 22 March, clarified some of those categories while also ordering people to stay home except to get groceries, care for family members, obtain medical attention, or other essential personal activities.

    The full Stay-At-Home Order for Ohio can be found here:

  • 16. VIRick  |  March 22, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    Canada: Yukon to Pass Ban on "Conversion Therapy" for Minors

    Per Dr. Kristopher Wells:

    In the Yukon, the pending draft legislation will prohibit "conversion therapy" on:

    (1) Any person under 18.
    (2) Any adult with an appointed guardian.

    Any substitute decision-maker has no authority to consent to conversion therapy for any other person. Conversion therapy is not an insured health service.

    One can read the full text of the draft legislation, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act, here:

  • 17. VIRick  |  March 22, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    US Virgin Islands: 11 New Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 Brings USVI Total to 17

    As of Sunday evening, 22 March 2020, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US Virgin Islands increased by 11, from six to 17, the VI Department of Health reported. There are nine confirmed cases in St. Croix and eight in the St. Thomas/St. John District.

    If one is returning home to the USVI, one must quarantine for 14 days and self-monitor one's symptoms.

    Note: I am currently on the US Mainland, and at present, have no idea when it will be practical to return to the USVI. In the lingering aftermath of the massive destruction from the double-hurricane of 2017, the medical facilities there still leave much to be desired. As a result, I am content to remain where I am.

    US Virgin Islands: Stay-At-Home Order Issued Due to COVID-19

    On Saturday, 21 March 2020, USVI Gov. Albert Bryan has ordered all non-essential businesses to close and for residents to stay at home, as his administration ramps up its response to COVID-19 in the territory:

    – Non-essential businesses should cease in-person business operations until at least Monday, 6 April, and should require their employees to stay home.

    – Hotels, guest houses, villas, bed and breakfasts, and similar businesses should not accept new guests for the next 30 days.

  • 18. VIRick  |  March 23, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    Oregon, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin Under Stay-At-Home Orders Due to COVID-19

    Oregon, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin became the latest states in which the respective governors have ordered residents to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the mayors of Missouri’s two largest cities, St. Louis and Kansas City, did likewise. The governors of Massachusetts, Kentucky, and Maryland also ordered all non-essential businesses to close in their states, but stopped short of issuing stay-at-home orders.

    Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order on Monday, 23 March 2020, effective immediately, ordering everyone in the state to stay at home to "the maximum extent possible." The order will remain in effect until Brown decides to end it. The order closed additional retail businesses, including malls, gyms, barbershops, nail salons, spas, theaters, amusement parks, and other recreational and entertainment venues. It also prohibited all non-essential "social and recreational gatherings regardless of size" if a distance of 6 feet could not be maintained between people.

    Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order which goes into effect at midnight on Monday, 23 March 2020, and stays in effect until 13 April. The order directs all residents to stay inside their homes and allows them to leave only "under very limited circumstances" including engaging in outdoor activities or going to the grocery store or hospital. A violation of the order would be a misdemeanor. The order also suspends all nonessential businesses in the state.

    In Indiana, the order takes effect from Tuesday, 24 March 2020, at 11:59 PM ET and ends on Monday, 6 April, but could be extended if the outbreak warrants it. The order is "mandatory" and will be enforced by the Indiana State Police, with local law enforcement.

    Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced that he would issue a “Safer at Home” order on Tuesday, 24 March 2020, requiring all residents to stay at home and limit their travel to only essential needs like going to the doctor and getting groceries or medications.

    On Monday, 23 March 2020, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all non-essential businesses to close their physical workspaces and facilities as of noon on Tuesday, 24 March, and which will continue until 7 April. Baker also directed the state's Department of Public Health to issue a stay-at-home advisory that outlines self-isolation and social distancing protocols.

    Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that all non-essential retail businesses will close, effective from Monday, 23 March 2020, at 8 PM. He also mandated ending all elective medical procedures. Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, hardware stores, gas stations, and other businesses that provide staple goods will remain open, Beshear said.

    Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan enacted an executive order closing all nonessential businesses, organizations, and establishments in the state, starting from Monday, 23 March 2020, at 5 PM.

  • 19. VIRick  |  March 23, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    New Mexico, Washington State Under Stay-At-Home Orders Due to COVID-19

    New Mexico's stay-at-home order, which takes effect Tuesday morning, 24 March 2020, closes all businesses and non-profits, except essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, laundromats, and banks, and prohibits gatherings of five or more people. In announcing the new order on Monday afternoon, 23 March, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham emphasized that restricting person-to-person contact was necessary to slow the spread of the disease in the state, where 83 people have been infected in 11 of the state's 33 counties.

    Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also announced a similar stay-at-home order on Monday evening, 23 March, calling on all "non-essential" businesses to close within 48 hours, unless employees can work remotely. The state has been one of the hardest hit by the disease so far, with more than 2,000 cases and 110 deaths, as of Monday afternoon, 23 March. An outbreak at the Life Care nursing home in Kirkland led to at least 35 deaths.

  • 20. VIRick  |  March 24, 2020 at 11:00 am

    All of India Under 3-Week Stay-At-Home Orders Due to COVID-19

    On Tuesday, 24 March 2020, India’s government ordered the country’s more than 1.3 billion citizens to remain under lockdown for three weeks in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. “This is the only path we have in front of us,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a live address to the nation on Tuesday. “We cannot leave our houses no matter what.” During the three-week period, no Indian citizen will be allowed to leave their homes to socialize or work, except those working in health care, law enforcement, media, and other essential services.

    With just over 500 positive cases and 10 deaths, India has recorded lower coronavirus infection rates than many other countries, but there are concerns that the real rate of infection is much higher due to India having some of the lowest testing rates in the world. Health researchers have warned more than a million people in the country could be infected by the virus by the middle of May if the government didn’t take drastic steps to contain it.

    Large parts of India had already locked down citizens over the last few days, keeping open only essential services, such as grocery stores. Last week, the federal government stopped trains and flights across the country.

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