Movement toward same-sex marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
2014-MAY: Accelerating steps towards
marriage (SSM), LGBT equality etc.
We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage"
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. The acronym "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.
See also the previous essay describing events during 2013-APR
2014-MAY-01: USA: Current status of SSM (same-sex marriage):
- Same-sex couples can marry in 17 states and the District of Columbia. About 40% of the U.S. population lives in one of these jurisdictions.
- Same-sex couples who reside in Oregon can marry out-of-state wherever it is permitted, and have their marriages recognized in Oregon.
- Federal District Courts in 6 states (Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia) have issued rulings legalizing SSM. All have been stayed pending appeals to various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal.
- Same-sex couples can marry in 17 other countries, and in some states of Mexico. The most recent countries to have achieved marriage equality are England and Wales.
- The Freedom to Marry web site states that there are 60 active lawsuits in 30 states or territories attempting to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.
Most of these are in federal District Courts where plaintiff(s) are:
- Married and seek to have their out-of-state marriages recognized in their home state, and/or
- Are unmarried and want to be able to marry in their home state.
- Currently, rulings by federal District Courts have been issued:
- in five states -- Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia 1 -- a District Court has legalized same-sex marriage, but their rulings have been stayed and are currently being appealed to U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal.
- in two states -- Kentucky and Tennessee -- a District Court has legalized state recognition of same-sex marriages made in other states. However, the rulings have also been stayed and are being appealed to U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal.
- in one state -- Ohio -- where a District Court ruled that a person who married a spouse of the same sex in an out-of-state marriage can have his married state acknowledged, but only on his Ohio death certificate.
- in one state -- Nevada -- where a District Court ruled against same-sex marriages.
- 2014-MAY-09: AR: County Court Judge Chris. Piazza in Arkansas issued his ruling on same-sex marriage. He declared state statutes and an 2004 amendment to the state constitution invalid. However, he did not issue a stay to his ruling. Same-sex marriages began the next morning, a Saturday, and continued the following week. The Attorney General has appealed the case to the Arkansas Supreme Court. This is the first state in the old Confederacy that has attained marriage equality. Extensive coverage.
- 2014-MAY-13: ID: Still another state has added to a unanimous series of rulings in U.S. District Courts in favor of marriage equality! District Court Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale in Idaho has declared the bans on same-sex marriage in the state's marriage law and in Amendment 2 to the state Constitutional to be unconstitutional. Amendment 2 was passed in 2008. It is a stealth amendment advertised as a method of stopping same-sex marriages, but in reality banned same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.
As with previous decisions in federal District Court, District Court Judge Dale
relied heavily on the ruling written by Justice Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Windsor v. United States. This was the very famous case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on 2013-JUN-26. It declared that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and void. She might have established a new record: she quoted Justice Kennedy 45 times!
Marriages may begin on Friday, MAY-16 at 9 AM. Keeping up with a new tradition among judges, she did not issue a stay of her ruling.
In her 57 page ruling, Judge Dale wrote:
"Idaho's Marriage Laws withhold from them a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted. ... The defendants offered no evidence that same-sex marriage would adversely affect opposite-sex marriages or the well-being of children. Without proof, the defendants' justifications echo the unsubstantiated fears that could not prop up the anti-miscegenation laws and rigid gender roles of days past."
However, the Attorney General is expected to file a motion for a stay on MAY-14 and to appeal the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
It appears that a race may be forming between between the speed with which the AG can obtain a stay from a probably unsympathetic Court of Appeals, and the possible availability of marriage licenses on Friday morning.
- 2014-MAY-13: Virginia: A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held hearings in the Virginia case: Bostic v. Schaefer. This is an appeal of a decision by a District Court in Virginia that overturned VA's ban on SSM A ruling in this case is expected to be handed down in the fall. If the panel upholds the District Court's ruling, then it is possible that the panel's ruling could overturn similar bans in the other states that are also under the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit Court. This includes West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Maryland is also under the jurisdiction of the 4th circuit Court, but it already has implemented marriage equality. So, it is theoretically possible that progress on the United Church of Christ case in North Carolina may suddenly halt, and marriage equality could come simultaneously to four states (NC, SC, VA, and WV). However, this scenario is unlikely. Whatever ruling the panel makes is most likely to be stayed pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- 2014-MAY-17: Massachusetts: This date was the tenth anniversary of the first legal same-sex marriage in the U.S. It was the sixth political jurisdiction in the world to attain marriage equality. The Netherlands, Belgium, as well as the Canadian provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec preceded MA.
- 2014-MAY-18: Oregon: A federal District Court judge legalized same-sex marriage in the state. This makes 17 states and the District of Columbia that have attained marriage equality. No stay has been imposed on the ruling and so same-sex couples are able to marry. He wrote in his ruling:
"Because Oregon's marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest, the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. ... My decision will not be the final word on this subject, but on this issue of marriage I am struck more by our similarities than our differences. I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families, families who we would expect our Constitution to protect, if not exalt, in equal measure. ... With discernment we see not shadows lurking in closets or the stereotypes of what was once believed; rather, we see families committed to the common purpose of love, devotion, and service to the greater community. 2
- 2014-MAY-20: Pennsylvania: A federal District Court judge issued a ruling, deciding that the Pennsylvania laws banning same-sex marriage were unconstitutional and void. Couples started to marry immediately. Most commentators expected that Governor Tom Corbett (R) would request a stay of the ruling and/or appeal the case to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But he did neither! Pennsylvania thus became the 19th state in the U.S. to accept marriage equality. The Los Angeles Times speculated that his decision may have been influenced by his "uphill fight for his second term as governor." More details.
- 2014-MAY-21: Status of SSM in the U.S.:
Between 2013-JUN, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Windsor v. United States and 2014-MAY-21, not a single state marriage ban -- whether by marriage statutes and/or by amendments made to the state constitution -- has survived a court challenge.
The courts' rulings have either legalized SSM in the state or have required the state to recognize marriages performed out-of-state, or both. However, almost all of these court decisions have been stayed pending appeals to a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal or, in the case of lawsuits in state courts, to the state Supreme Court.
By mid-May, at least one lawsuit was active in almost every state that does not currently allow same-sex marriage. There were three exceptions: Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. By 2014-MAY-24, two additional lawsuits had been filed. This left North Dakota as the only remaining state that bans SSM and did not have an active legal case seeking marriage equality.
Such a lawsuit was filed in North Dakota on MAY-26. It may be a largely symbolic act. This is because another case may be decided in the Supreme Court which affects the entire country before the District Court in North Dakota can rule. Also a decision by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for a nearby state could be sufficiently broad to require North Dakota to abandon its opposition to SSM. Only time will tell.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- "Marriage Litigation," Freedom to Marry, at: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/
- Bill Mears and Catherine E. Shoichet, "Federal judge strikes down Oregon's same-sex marriage ban," CNN, 2014-MAY-19, at: http://www.cnn.com/
How you may have arrived here:
Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2014-MAY-02
Latest update: 2014-MAY-28
Author: B.A. Robinson