USA: Seven States (Or More) That Could See Marriage Equality In 2013
Click here to read Chris’ predictions.
MONTANA: Capital City Of Helena Unanimously Approves LGBT Protections
Montana’s capital city yesterday unanimously approved broad anti-discrimination protections for LGBT residents.
- In a unanimous vote Monday night, the Helena City Commission passed an ordinance to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and many kinds of public accommodation based on sexual orientation. Hundreds of people turning out to support or oppose the measure, with the commission opening two additional rooms in the City-County Building to provide audio and video of the meeting. Mayor Jim Smith gave each side an hour to speak on the measure. “I believe, and I felt the commissioners believe, that being LGBT is part of the human condition,” said Commissioner Haque-Hausrath, the sponsor of the measure, speaking of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “It’s something that people cannot change, and we believe that people should not be discriminated against because of their sexual orientations.”
The above-linked story notes that most of the those opposed to the measure brought up the standard and tired “dress-wearing men in the locker room” argument.
- “How will we be able to monitor when a person, male or female, enters the opposing bathroom and says ‘Well, I can do this, because I’m gender-identity confused?’” said Jacqui Garcia, citing situations her children might encounter. “We all have been in bathroom stalls and public stalls, There’s gaps between the doors, and you can still see in them.” Sharon Turner said the situation would put a huge majority of the population at risk. She said she wasn’t afraid gay or lesbian people would set out to harm the children, but rather others with malicious intent. “How easy it would be for a teenage boy to use this ordinance as a right of passage?” she said. She said if the measure passed, she would cease her shopping trips into Helena with her children and grandchildren.
USA: First Same-Sex Marriage Proposal In The White House
Active duty U.S. Marine Corps captain Matthew Phelps made history over the weekend by proposing to his partner Ben Schock inside the White House.
"Such a special night surrounded by wonderful people in an amazing place, and the best is still yet to come," Phelps wrote on his Facebook page. “Thanks for all the wonderful greetings and messages, and thanks to Barack Obama and Michelle Obama for lending us your home for the occasion!”
After a photo of the historic proposal was shared by the American Military Partner Association, it was subsequently picked up and shared by many across multiple social networks.
"Ben and I are blown away by the amazing love and support we have received," Phelps wrote in a follow-up post. “Thank you all so much for sharing in our joy and our lives.”
WASHINGTON: Dan Savage & Terry Miller Among The First Gay Couples To Receive Marriage Licenses
Shortly after midnight last night, Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller were among the first Washington state couples to receive to their marriage licenses. Savage and Miller first married in Canada in 2005.Hundreds of couples lined up in downtown Seattle Wednesday night for the state’s first batch of same-sex marriage licenses, in a historic, jubilant event that began at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and was expected to last for hours.They formed an eager, festive crowd, with couples young and old braving a night-time chill and wee-hours wait for the chance to make history at the normally dull King County Administration building. Supporters cheered for them with roses, coffee, hand-warmers and serenades of “Going to the Chapel.”
Photo via Seattle Slog, where you can find many more.
WASHINGTON: 140 Gay Couples To Marry At City Hall On December 9th In Seattle
Here’s a fundraising pitch for decorations and to make everything “completely free” for the participating couples.
PENNSYLVANIA: GOP Rep. Mike Fleck Comes Out
The Huffington Post reports:
Pennsylvania state Rep. Mike Fleck (R-Huntingdon) came out Saturday.
“I’m still the exact same person and I’m still a Republican and, most importantly, I’m still a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public. The only difference now is that I will also be doing so as honestly as I know how,” Fleck said,according to Politics PA. The Huntingdon Daily News, a subscription-based news service, first reported the story.
Fleck, who was married to a woman for almost a decade, said his Christian faith kept him from coming out for years.
“I wanted to live a ‘normal’ life and raise a family,” Fleck said. “I also believed that by marrying, I was fulfilling God’s will and I thought my same-sex attraction would simply go away.”
Fleck was also actively involved with the Boy Scouts of America — an anti-gay organization — as an Eagle Scout and then as a district executive for the group.
Despite the GOP’s resistance to same-sex marriage, Fleck said he would remain with the party because he’s not “a one-issue person.”
“The Republican party is all about the government needing to stay out of people’s lives,” Fleck said. “I’m not a one-issue person and it’s not a one-issue party.”
NEVADA: Court Upholds Marriage Equality Ban
A federal trial court ruled that Nevada can limit marriage to opposite-sex couples in a ruling made public hours before the Supreme Court is due to consider whether it will hear any of several cases addressing same-sex couples’ marriage rights.
Judge Robert C. Jones, a George W. Bush appointee, found that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws does not “[prohibit] the People of the State of Nevada from maintaining statutes that reserve the institution of civil marriage to one-man–one-woman relationships.”
Jones ruled that a prior Supreme Court precedent — a 1972 case, Baker v. Nelson, that denied a same-sex couple’s marriage claim as lacking any “substantial federal question” — controlled his decision. Even if not, he ruled that the “exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of civil marriage” was constitutional “[b]ecause the maintenance of the traditional institution of civil marriage as between one man and one woman is a legitimate state interest.”
In reaching his decision, Jones found that a classification like Nevada’s marriage law, which distinguishes between heterosexual and homosexual people (his analysis did not address bisexuality), should not be viewed with additional scrutiny, as are laws that distinguish based on sex or race. The analysis, made as part of challenges claiming a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection guarantees, asks whether the group claiming discrimination under the law has experienced a history of discrimination and continues to face levels of political powerlessness.
In these areas, Jones found — contrary to a recent decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals — that gay and lesbian people did not exhibit the characteristics necessary for additional protection.
"Homosexuals have not historically been denied the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, or the right to own property," he wrote, in dismissing claims of a history of discrimination. Noting recent ballot successes on marriage issues, Jones wrote, "It simply cannot be seriously maintained, in light of these and other recent democratic victories, that homosexuals do not have the ability to protect themselves from discrimination through democratic processes such that extraordinary protection from majoritarian processes is appropriate."
Once Jones decided that “rational basis,” the lowest type of scrutiny, would be applied to Nevada’s prohibition on allowing same-sex couples to marry, he quickly found several reasons for upholding the differential treatment.
"The protection of the traditional institution of marriage, which is a conceivable basis for the distinction drawn in this case, is a legitimate state interest," he began, adding that if the state recognized same-sex couples’ marriages, "it is conceivable that a meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons would cease to value the civil institution as highly as they previously had and hence enter into it less frequently … because they no longer wish to be associated with the civil institution as redefined."
Notably, Jones began his opinion by looking at the nature of the distinction drawn by Nevada itself.
"Homosexual persons may marry in Nevada, but like heterosexual persons, they may not marry members of the same sex. That is, a homosexual man may marry anyone a heterosexual man may marry, and a homosexual woman may marry anyone a heterosexual woman may marry," he wrote. "Although the State appears to have drawn no distinction at all at first glance, and although the distinction drawn by the State could be characterized as gender-based … the Court finds that for the purposes of an equal protection challenge, the distinction is definitely sexual-orientation based."
The case was brought by Lambda Legal, whose lead attorney on the case, Tara Borelli, said in a statement, “We will appeal and continue to fight for these loving couples, who are harmed by Nevada’s law barring marriage for same-sex couples. By forbidding same-sex couples’ access to marriage, the State brands them and their children as second-class citizens.”
Their appeal will be to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
MARYLAND: Gay Couples May Marry On January 1st
The Washington Blade reports:
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said on Thursday same-sex couples can begin to marry in the state on Jan. 1.
He wrote in a 19-page opinion that clerks can begin to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians as soon as Dec. 6, as long as they don’t take effect until the same-sex marriage law takes effect at the start of the new year. A 1999 law states a marriage license is not valid until 6 a.m. on the second calendar day after a clerk issues it.
Gansler concluded this requirement does not “expressly prohibit licenses becoming effective after that time.”
“Although there is a legal reason why same-sex couples cannot be licensed to marry before midnight on Jan. 1, 2013…, there is no such legal reason why they should not be licensed to marry at any time after the moment the law takes effect,” he wrote.
The same-sex marriage law voters approved by a 52-48 percent margin earlier this month is scheduled to take effect on a legal holiday when clerks’ offices are typically closed. It was previously believed the earliest a same-sex couple would have been able to legally marry under Maryland law was 6 a.m. on Jan. 4.
A spokesperson for Gov. Martin O’Malley welcomed Gansler’s opinion.
“We think it is a thorough and well-reasoned opinion,” David Rocah, staff attorney for the ACLU of Maryland, said. “We expect that, in line with the opinion, county clerks throughout the state will quickly begin accepting applications for marriage licenses, and will start issuing the licenses after December 6, with a January 1 effective date. There are many people who have literally waited a lifetime to get married, and they should not have to wait any longer than necessary after Dec. 31 to do so.”
“What a great start to the new year,” Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Kevin Nix told the Washington Blade.
Gansler also wrote a same-sex couple who entered into a civil union in another jurisdiction can marry in the state. Maryland law will still legally recognize a same-sex marriage legally performed out-of-state.
Illinois May Vote On Marriage Equality By January
Via press release from Lambda Legal:
Today plaintiff couples in Darby v. Orr and Lazaro v. Orr, the lawsuits brought by Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Illinois, met with legislators to urge them to vote in favor of a bill ending the ban on marriage for same-sex couples in Illinois. The bill, House Bill 5710, The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, could be voted on by the Illinois General Assembly in January 2013.
"We want our lawmakers to know how important this is to our family," said Anne Dickey, plaintiff in Darby v. Orr. “Every day, our child go to feels different from their classmates because Laura and I aren’t allowed to get married. Whether it is through the courts or the legislature, we need the freedom to marry.” ”Our family, our love and our commitment deserves the recognition and dignity of marriage,” said Richard Rykhus, a plaintiff in Lazaro v. Orr. “We believe that Illinois law should recognize fully the family that we have built together.”
Nude HIV/AIDS Protesters Storm House Speaker John Boehner’s DC Office
More from ACT UP New York: “As the US Congress and President begin negotiating on the so-called fiscal cliff, ACT UP/NY ACT UP/Philadelphia, Housing Works and Student Global AIDS Campaign plan to give Congress a pre-World AIDS Day Message that AIDS Budget Cuts Kill.”UPDATE: Mediaite has a few more photos.