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Federal Judge Strikes Down Utah’S Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

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SCOTUS refuses to stop the commencement of marriage for gay couples in Florida, as of January 5th:

Supreme Court won't stop gay marriages in Florida

Associated Press

By GARY FINEOUT

15 hours ago

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday refused to block gay marriages in Florida, the latest of about three dozen states allowing same-sex weddings.

In a one-paragraph order, the court decided not to step into the Florida case. A federal judge previously declared Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and said same-sex marriage licenses could start being issued in the state after Jan. 5 unless the Supreme Court intervened.

"This is a thrilling day for all Florida families," Daniel Tilley, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties of Florida, said in a statement. "As we explained to the court, every day that the ban remains in place, couples are suffering real harms. We are grateful that the court recognized that, and that as a result, those days are finally coming to an end."

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has fought to uphold the state's ban, said in a statement that her goal was "to have uniformity" throughout the state while various legal challenges were pursued in both state and federal courts.

"Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has now spoken, and the stay will end on Jan. 5," Bondi said.

In August, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle declared the state's ban unconstitutional, but he put his ruling on hold until after Jan. 5 pending appeals.

Like many other judges and appellate courts, Hinkle ruled the ban approved by voters in 2008 violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.

Bondi had tried to persuade a federal appeals court in Atlanta to keep Hinkle's ruling on hold. The appeals court rejected the request so Bondi went to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees emergency appeals from Florida, Alabama and Georgia.

The entire court wound up considering the petition. The order said only Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia would have kept the stay in place.

Bondi said if the ban was struck down, some, but not all, county clerks in Florida would begin issuing marriage licenses, causing confusion throughout the state. She said that would happen because the lawsuit against Florida's ban only named the clerk in tiny Washington County in the Panhandle.

The state clerks association has warned its members that they could be risking misdemeanor prosecution under state law if they issue licenses before the question is fully settled. It is unclear how many plan to take that advice.

Tilley said his group expects "public officials in all of Florida's 67 counties to understand the significance of this development and look forward to full implementation of Judge Hinkle's decision across our state."

State judges in four South Florida counties have declared the same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but those decisions are also being appealed by Bondi and no marriage licenses have been issued.

On the federal level, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has upheld the right of four states to decide whether to allow gay marriage.

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Realized I never posted news from December 17th that could mark the case that SCOTUS does finally take for the nationwide ruling:

Dec 17, 5:18 PM EST

JUSTICES TO DISCUSS LOUISIANA GAY MARRIAGE CASE

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_SUPREME_COURT_GAY_MARRIAGE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has added the challenge to Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban to the agenda for the justices' closed-door conference on Jan. 9.

The action Wednesday does not mean the court will decide that day to hear a gay-marriage case. But the January meeting will be the first time the justices will have had the issue before them since they opted in October against taking up same-sex marriage.

The Louisiana case is unusual in that it has yet to be heard by a federal appeals court. But same-sex couples challenging an appellate ruling upholding bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee also could be considered by the court next month.

The justices would have time to hear and decide on gay marriage by late June, if they act in January.

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Interesting quote from a donation-soliciting email authored by one of the groups that backed Prop 8:

Prop 8 Backers: SCOTUS Will Reject Gay Marriage So Send Us Lots Of Money

"I am confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the states’ rights to define marriage. Even as Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013, he did so because it infringed upon the states’ authority over marriage. He relied on the states’ 'essential authority to define the marital relation,” and our nation’s 'history and tradition of reliance on state law to define marriage.' As a key swing vote on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy’s viewpoint could very well determine the outcome here. That’s why I believe the Supreme Court will ultimately rule in our favor. And when it does, we need to be ready for a nationwide 'comeback' for traditional marriage.

"If you’re like me, you probably feel as though the last couple of years have been especially dark times for marriage and the family in America. The traditional, natural family unit has been under relentless attack; and liberal, unelected judges have run amok in attempting to reform society as they see fit by judicial fiat. The legitimacy of the courts is more precarious than ever. But great victories often emerge from the darkest of times. This battle is not yet lost. I still have hope that traditional marriage will be restored in California. Do you? If you would like to help us prepare for the coming challenges, we welcome your tax-deductible and confidential contribution of any size." - Andy Pugno, head of Protect Marriage.

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Interesting quote from a donation-soliciting email authored by one of the groups that backed Prop 8:

 

 

Throwing it back to the States will just be a longer route to the same destination.  I don't think they have the popular vote in CA anymore.

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SCOTUS is going consider several cases in January:

Justices To Consider On Jan. 9 Whether To Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases, Legal Group Says

http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/justices-to-consider-on-jan-9-whether-to-hear-same-sex-marri?s=mobile#.qorLgGL5Y

“The [Tennessee case plaintiffs’] petition will be considered at the Court’s January 9 conference, along with … petitions filed by the plaintiffs in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana,” an advocate tells BuzzFeed News.

posted on Dec. 22, 2014, at 5:15 p.m.

Chris GeidnerBuzzFeed News Reporter

The U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington in this May 20, 2009 file photo.

Molly Riley / Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is set to consider on Jan. 9 whether it will hear appeals of same-sex couples' marriage challenges in cases out of five states, one of the legal teams representing the couples told BuzzFeed News on Monday.

"The Tanco [Tennessee case] petition will be considered at the Court's January 9 conference, along with ... petitions filed by the plaintiffs in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Louisiana," National Center for Lesbian Rights spokesperson Erik Olvera told BuzzFeed News on Monday afternoon.

The plaintiffs and marriage equality advocates alike hope the petitions will provide the Supreme Court with the chance to take a case to resolve the issue nationally with a ruling that would apply across the country.

Although the justices denied petitions filed earlier in the year from other states, all were in cases in which the lower court had struck down the bans — and before there was a "circuit split," a disagreement among the federal appeals court on the issue. All five petitions before the court now come from decisions upholding the various states' bans.

In November, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, reversed the four district courts to have heard the cases out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee — sending the plaintiffs in the cases from all four states to the Supreme Court seeking an appeal.

NCLR is among the lawyers representing the same-sex couple plaintiffs challenging Tennessee's ban on recognition on same-sex couples' marriages, and Olvera said the news about the Jan. 9 conference came from the Supreme Court clerk's office.

The justices need to decide in the next month whether they will hear a case addressing same-sex couples' marriage rights this term — meaning the case would be heard this spring and a decision would be expected by late June.

If the justices don't accept one of the cases for review by mid-January — even if they accept a case later this winter or spring — then it is expected the case would not be heard until the Supreme Court's next term, which begins in October 2015. If they deny the petitions out of the 6th Circuit, on the other hand, the lower court ruling would stand and the bans would remain in effect.

Although it was expected the petitions would be considered at the Jan. 9 conference given the timelines for such petitions at the court, four of the five cases are yet to be distributed to the justices — making Olvera's comments the first known confirmation from the court that they all would be considered on Jan. 9.

The Supreme Court previously noted on its docket that the Louisiana case had been distributed to be considered at the Jan. 9 conference. To be considered on Jan. 9, the other cases are expected to be distributed to the justices on Tuesday.

The same-sex couples challenging marriage bans in Kentucky and Tennessee on Monday filed their reply briefs on Monday, joining the reply brief filed on Sunday from the plaintiffs in the Ohio case. The reply brief is the plaintiffs' last chance to tell the justices why they should take their case.

Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio officials agreed that the Supreme Court should take a case and resolve the issue nationally; only Tennessee officials opposed Supreme Court review.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Jeffrey Fisher, from Stanford Law School, joined the Kentucky lawyers, led by Daniel Canon, in Monday's reply brief, arguing, "For petitioners here – and for lesbian and gay couples and families across both the Sixth Circuit and the country – the harm and confusion that the circuit split has caused calls out for immediate review."

In the Tennessee case, and responding to the state's argument against Supreme Court review, the lawyers, led by Douglas Hallward-Driemeier of Ropes & Gray in D.C., noted, "Apart from noting that the Court is not 'compelled' to grant review of a circuit split, respondents offer no reason why the Court should not now take up the issue." Ropes & Gray is joined by NCLR and local counsel that includes William Harbison and Abby Rubenfeld.

In Ohio, the ACLU and Lambda Legal are supporting Alphonse Gerhardstein's reply, in which they argue that, in addition to taking up the case in order to address the marriage recognition question, they also should take up the question of whether the state can refuse to recognize the adoption of a child to a same-sex couple granted by another state.

The four petitions seeking a writ of certiorari, the technical way the justices take a case, out of the 6th Circuit will be joining the petition from a case out of Louisiana — where the plaintiff same-sex couples, after losing at the trial court, are asking the justices to hear the case before the appeals court weighs in on the matter. Louisiana has supported Supreme Court review of the issue.

On Jan. 9, incidentally, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will be hearing the appeal of the Louisiana marriage case, along with cases challenging similar bans in Mississippi and Texas.

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The Huff Post has an interesting editorial today:

Marriage Equality Is a National Issue, And So the Time Has Come for Our National Court to Address It

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6409852?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

Steve Sanders 

01/03/15 06:54 PM ET

The Supreme Court has been reluctant to jump into the question of same-sex marriage, preferring to let the issue percolate through state-by-state litigation in the lower federal courts.  But the time has come for the justices to come out of hiding.  The denial of marriage equality is a national problem, not a state-level problem, and it requires a national resolution that only our nation’s constitutional court can provide.

At the moment, 35 states allow marriage equality, while 15 forbid it.  The anti-equality states not only refuse to allow same-sex marriages to be licensed and celebrated; 14 of them also refuse to recognize marriages from sister states where such unions are perfectly legal.  Petitions from cases in four of those states – Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee – will be considered by the justices at their next private conference this coming Friday.

One reason marriage equality is a national issue is that our current patchwork of marriage laws imposes unreasonable, indeed absurd, burdens on same-sex couples’ security in their marriages and their freedom to move from state to state.  A married gay couple from a pro-equality state can relocate for job, education or family reasons to an anti-equality state – as long as they’re willing to give up their marriage, and perhaps even their property andparental rights.  A rational legal regime cannot tolerate this state of affairs.

In a 2012 article in the Michigan Law Review, I first proposed that the Constitution provides not only a right to get married, but a right to remainmarried.  Multiple federal court decisions, including one from the 10thCircuit U.S. Court of Appeals involving Utah’s marriage laws, have since endorsed this principle.  There is also an argument to be made that denial of interstate marriage recognition offends the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause.

Aside from the harms they inflict on couples, inconsistent state marriage laws also cost American businesses $1.3 billion per year, according to astudy released in October by the consulting group Marsh and McLennan Companies.  “As marriage confers a host of legal and social privileges,” the report explains, “the irregular landscape generates a host of administrative and compliance requirements for employers."

A patchwork of marriage laws also means a tax penalty for employers and employees in states without the freedom to marry, because the value of spousal health insurance and other benefits for an employee in a same-sex household is treated as ordinary income, triggering additional payroll and income taxes.  “As many corporate leaders now view national freedom to marry as inevitable,” the Marsh and McLennan report observes, “they would prefer that this tax and compliance burden disappear sooner rather than later."

There is another important reason why marriage equality should be settled at the national level: that is where the campaign to ban it has always been fought.

Although same-sex marriage was not possible in the United States until a decade ago, affirmative and categorical prohibitions are a relatively recent phenomenon.  The first state constitutional amendments banning marriage equality were not passed until 1998, when voters in Alaska and Hawaii approved measures effectively overturning state court rulings favorable to marriage equality.  By 2008, only 10 years later, more than 30 states had approved such measures. 

Aside from the harms they impose, I have argued that the process that was used to enact these measures raises serious constitutional concerns.  It is fanciful to believe that these laws were the products of carefully considered, historically validated, independent policy decisions by each state, and thus worthy of deference as a matter of federalism.  For the most part these laws were, in fact, products of a determined, nationwide blitzkrieg by religious conservative activists and Republican operatives.  In the 2004 elections, President George W. Bush’s strategist Karl Rove helped oversee efforts that saw 11 anti-marriage equality measures approved in one swoop.  James Dobson, founder of the once-powerful group Focus on the Family, called the nationwide fight against gay marriage “our D-Day, or Gettysburg or Stalingrad.” 

The campaign was one of classic backlash:  it sought to exploit short-term public passions and prejudices to slam the door on marriage equality just as a national debate was starting to emerge on the issue.  As CNN’s report the day after the 2004 electionsdescribed it, “Six months after gay and lesbian couples won the right to marry in Massachusetts, opponents of same-sex marriage struck back” with amendments in 11 states “codifying marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.” 

Experience demonstrates that when Americans learn more about gay people and their relationships, they become more likely to support marriage equality.  Even while marriage equality opponents were still enjoying success at the voting booth, attitudes were evolving: between 1998 and 2009, the average vote against mini-DOMAs in statewide referenda increased from 31 percent to 46 percent.

If the remaining marriage bans took the form of ordinary statutes that could be revisited by legislatures in light of the growing majority support for same-sex marriage, there might be less reason for the Supreme Court to act right now.  But all 15 remaining bans are in the form of state constitutional amendments, which are much harder to undo because they typically require legislative supermajorities, votes in multiple legislative sessions, and/or statewide voter referenda.

This emphasis on constitutional amendments also was a deliberate strategy pursued at the national level by anti-gay-marriage activists.  The goal was not merely to enact laws that appealed to lawmakers and voters at the time, but to place the question of same-sex marriage beyond democratic debate and the ordinary lawmaking process – that is, persuading a simple majority of your elected representatives, the way most laws are made or repealed – in as many states as possible, for as long as possible.  The spirit of these efforts was captured by a Georgia Republican politician who urged his state to adopt a constitutional amendment because it would “set in stone that marriage in this country is a union between one man and one woman.  The laws of man did not create marriage; the laws of man should not alter marriage.”

The campaign against same-sex marriage has seen its fortunes dramatically reversed in the past few years.  Many Americans who once opposed gay marriage have, with better information and greater reflection, changed their minds.  It is an important principle of the Supreme Court's equality jurisprudence that courts should not intervene in such matters too hastily, because “the Constitution presumes that even improvident decisions” by lawmakers or voters can “eventually be rectified by the democratic processes.” But in the 15 states where anti-equality laws remain, they are embedded in state constitutions, and the ordinary democratic lawmaking process cannot address them.

And so the time has come for the Supreme Court to step in.  The campaign against marriage equality was mapped and executed at the national level, and it continues to impose harms and indignities on individuals and businesses that reverberate across state boundaries.  The validity of such laws should be weighed and ruled upon by the justices whose responsibility it is to interpret and apply our highest national law, the Constitution.

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Yesterday, Florida became the 36th state to recognize marriages for gays and lesbians.

The New York Times weighs in, including some interesting observations of how Jeb Bush is approaching the issue, as well as a reminder that SCOTUS will consider the other petitions this Friday for a case that could being national resolution on the issue:

Florida Joins The Wave on Same-Sex Marriage

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/01/07/opinion/florida-joins-the-wave-on-same-sex-marriage.html?mabReward=RI%3A5&action=click&contentCollection=N.Y.%20%2F%20Region&region=Footer&module=Recommendation&src=recg&pgtype=article&_r=0&referrer=

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

JANUARY 6, 2015

Now that Florida has become the 36th state to allow same-sex couples to marry, more than 70 percent of Americans live in jurisdictions that permit such unions. What’s made this possible is a string of supportive federal court rulings following the Supreme Court’s pivotal 2013 decision striking down provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act — the 1996 federal law that denied federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples.

Judge Robert Hinkle of Federal District Court in Tallahassee cleared the way for the Florida breakthrough with a New Year’s Day clarification of an earlier ruling in August in which he declared the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The clarification said that clerks in all 67 Florida counties were required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The first Florida county to allow same-sex weddings was Miami-Dade, where a state judge, Sarah Zabel, lifted her own temporary injunction, and, fittingly enough, proceeded to officially marry two of the six couples who had sued the county over the marriage ban. The rest of the state began legalizing same-sex marriages just after midnight on Tuesday. All clerk offices agreed to comply with Judge Hinkle’s order, although, disappointingly, some said they would stop performing marriages altogether so that staff members who objected to same-sex unions would not have to officiate them — an infuriating but probably not unconstitutional act of defiance.

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and marriage-equality opponent who may make a run for the Republican presidential nomination, reiterated his longstanding belief that the decision on whether to allow same-sex marriages should be left to the states. In 2008, during his tenure as governor, Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure defining marriage as a union between a man and woman in the State Constitution.

Mr. Bush said that everyone should show respect for the rule of law as well as “the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue — including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty.” Mr. Bush’s call for compliance and civility was commendable, although it is hard to see how allowing gay couples and their children the dignity that comes with marriage threatens anyone’s religious liberty.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court appears to be inching closer to deciding whether to extend marriage equality nationally before its term ends in June. At the court’s private Friday conference, the justices are expected to consider petitions for review from five states where federal district judges, departing from the national trend, upheld same-sex marriage bans. The spread of marriage equality in the states should help persuade the justices to use one of these cases as a vehicle to end a grievous injustice.

The assertion that "marriage should be left to the states" used to be the last somewhat-tenable approach for politicians to try to sound supportive of "the will of the people" to win popular votes.

However, that now seems like an antiquated argument that could put politicians in peril. Does anyone think that interracial marriage is "a decision that should be left to the states"? Would a political candidate who advocated that the southern states should be permitted to return to segregation and bans on inter-racial marriages gain any traction to win an election?

It seems obvious that state guidelines/restrictions on marriage are subject to (and cannot violate) constitutional principles that govern the entire nation.

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The 5th Circuit Court is widely regarded to be one of the most conservative of Appeals Courts. They held the hearing for three state appeals today:

Federal Appeals Court Appears Poised To Strike Down Three Southern States’ Same-Sex Marriage Bans

http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/federal-appeals-courts-appears-likely-to-strike-down-louisia?s=mobile#.ssEjAnX6q

Originally posted on Jan. 9, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.

Updated on Jan. 9, 2015, at 2:13 p.m.

Chris Geidner

BuzzFeed News Reporter

NEW ORLEANS — After three hours of arguments, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals appeared poised to strike down bans on same-sex couples' marriages in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas — joining all but one of the other appellate courts to consider the issue.

If the court upholds the lower court decisions striking down the Mississippi and Texas bans and reverses the trial court decision upholding Louisiana's ban, it could have the effect of bringing marriage equality to three deep South states — and it could come before the Supreme Court acts on pending marriage cases.

More than halfway through the morning's arguments, an exasperated Justin Matheny, the assistant attorney general in Mississippi charged with defending the state's ban, tried to change his tune during his rebuttal arguments.

When it became clear that the three-judge panel was leaning against upholding the bans, Matheny acknowledged that the "trajectory" for marriage rights for same-sex couples is "undeniable" — but added his new argument: "it's not there yet."

Judge Patrick Higginbotham, born in Alabama almost eight decades ago and appointed to the appeals court by President Reagan more than three decades ago, spoke up. And though the older judge was hard to hear at times, he spoke loudly and clearly when he responded to Matheny: "Those words, 'Will Mississippi change its mind?' have resonated in these halls before."

Throughout the arguments, in fact, ghosts of court hearings past and court hearings future were a constant presence in the discussion.

Shortly into the arguments came the first mention of the fact that the Supreme Court was meeting at the same time as the 5th Circuit arguments in a private session to discuss, among other cases, whether to hear one or more appeals of five challenges to states' marriage bans.

Although the Supreme Court took no action on the pending requests on Friday, most court observers expect the court to take an appeal of at least one of the petitions pending for review in the coming weeks.

Along with that future, the South's history with regards to federal court intervention to help enforce civil rights laws appeared to weigh heavily, particularly on Higginbotham.

At another point, when talking with the lawyer challenging Texas' ban about the timing of marriage cases, Higginbotham asked, rhetorically, "When do you challenge Plessy?" — a reference to the 1896 Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of "separate but equal."

Higginbotham, along with Judge James Graves Jr., grew increasingly skeptical of the three states' arguments as the morning wore on, with Judge Jerry Smith at times interjecting to slow down one of his colleagues' lines of questioning in the courtroom.

More than 150 observers cycled through the courtroom between the three cases, with many same-sex couples traveling from each of the states involved. There were about 120 people in the room at any time, a number that included about 20 reporters and as many as 30 or 40 lawyers and court staff in the front portion of the courtroom beyond the public seating.

When the arguments began a little after 9 a.m. Central Time, Camilla Taylor, the Lambda Legal lawyer representing the Louisiana same-sex couples, went for several minutes at a time with no interruption from the judges. It was a marked contrast from other appellate marriage hearings — where questions began almost immediately and continued throughout the allotted time.

Roberta Kaplan, the Paul Weiss lawyer representing the Mississippi couples, and David McNeel Lane, the Akin Gump lawyer representing the Texas couples, faced similar extended periods where they spoke without interruption from the bench.

The states' lawyers, on the other hand, faced a nearly constant stream of skeptical questioning from Higginbotham and Graves. Even Smith, who mostly served as a counterpoint to his colleagues, occasionally raised skeptical questions.

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Wow, Daniel 2. Sounds like to tough day to represent the government. From experience I can tell you that you can't always presume the way a court will go based off of which side they grill the most. Sometimes they use the grilling to make sure the position they're inclined to support is not weak. That said, you can make some assumptions based on the tone of the court. There's a difference between being grilled to make sure your argument is sound vs. being grilled because they have no respect for your argument.

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This appears to me to be a dead issue. The movement appears to have succeeded, and I see no need to carry on with a lot of publicity which is religiously divisive. For the most part SSM has served as a cultural wedge issue which allows us to avoid addressing issue of widespread impact and concern, especially economic issues.

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I haven't posted the last several state updates, but as of today we are up to 37 States as Alabama joins the list.

The reason I chose to chime in now is because this ruling is significant in that this is the first stay that the US Supreme Court chose to deny since their decision to take up the issue to resolve it nationwide. With this refusal to grant a state, it appears certain that they will rule in favor of nationwide marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that several top officials in Alabama have fought hard against marriage equality for same-sex couples, given their unfortunate historical track record on civil rights issues.

Here's a bit more information that would agree with Stonehelm's prediction that marriage equality for same-sex couples is a done deal (in his terms, a "dead issue"):

Pro-gay marriage signals seen in U.S. Supreme Court action

http://news.yahoo.com/pro-gay-marriage-signals-seen-u-supreme-court-180725673.html

Reuters By Lawrence Hurley 34 minu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court's move on Monday to allow gay marriage to proceed in Alabama is the strongest signal yet that the justices are likely to rule in June that no state can restrict marriage to only heterosexual couples.

Of the nine justices, only two - conservatives Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia - dissented from the court's refusal to block gay weddings from starting in Alabama. Gay marriage is now legal in 37 states.

Thomas acknowledged in a dissenting opinion that the court’s move to allow gay marriages to go ahead "may well be seen as a signal of the court’s intended resolution" as it considers cases from four other states on whether same-sex marriage bans are permitted under the U.S. Constitution. Although only two justices publicly dissented, the court order did not reveal whether any other justices voted to grant the stay.

Oral arguments in the cases, which are expected to result in a definitive nationwide ruling on the matter, are due in April with a decision expected by the end of June.

Gay rights groups shared Thomas' view.

Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign's legal director, said the justices' action on Alabama "has telegraphed there is virtually zero risk that they will issue an anti-equality ruling this summer."

The group also told same-sex couples in the 13 states where gay marriage is still banned to "start your wedding plans now."

Thomas' words echoed Scalia's 2013 dissent from the court's decision to invalidate a federal law that denied benefits to same-sex couples. Scalia predicted that the language of Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion in that case would give judges a green light to strike down state gay marriage bans. That's exactly what happened.

At the time of that ruling, only 12 of the 50 states permitted gay marriage. That number has now hit 37, with federal judges playing the central role in paving the way for gay marriage in 23 of the 25 states where it has become legal since then.

As Thomas noted in his dissent, the court's normal practice would have been to put the Alabama case on hold until it had decided the cases involving the same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Tennessee, Ohio and Michigan.

One of the factors the court considers when deciding whether to put a hold on a lower-court ruling is the "likelihood of success" for the petitioners if the case were to be appealed.

The court in recent months has denied similar stay requests from other states, most recently Florida, thus allowing gay marriage to go ahead even while litigation continues.

Alabama's case was different as it was the first application to be made after the high court's announcement in January to take the four cases and settle the matter once and for all.

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Yep, dead issue.  Question is whether Dallin Oaks can revive it by calling us victims with his "deeply held religious belief" exemption.  Sometimes it is better to stop beating a dead horse, as you really annoy the carrion flies, and increase the likelihood that someone will kickback in the form of a tax exemption challenge like confronted the Bob Jones University over its miscegenation dating stance.

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I haven't posted the last several state updates, but as of today we are up to 37 States as Alabama joins the list.

The reason I chose to chime in now is because this ruling is significant in that this is the first stay that the US Supreme Court chose to deny since their decision to take up the issue to resolve it nationwide. With this refusal to grant a state, it appears certain that they will rule in favor of nationwide marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that several top officials in Alabama have fought hard against marriage equality for same-sex couples, given their unfortunate historical track record on civil rights issues.

Here's a bit more information that would agree with Stonehelm's prediction that marriage equality for same-sex couples is a done deal (in his terms, a "dead issue"):

 

 

The Thomas/Scalia dissent seems to confirm your conclusion.

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Yep, dead issue.  Question is whether Dallin Oaks can revive it by calling us victims with his "deeply held religious belief" exemption.  Sometimes it is better to stop beating a dead horse, as you really annoy the carrion flies, and increase the likelihood that someone will kickback in the form of a tax exemption challenge like confronted the Bob Jones University over its miscegenation dating stance.

 

Not particularly applicable. Homosexuality itself is not a sin in LDS Theology. Homosexuals are free to join the Church and partake of all its blessings, The act of homosexuality is considered a sin much akin to adultery. As such we are under no legal obligation to change our doctrine to accept adultery in our members. To invoke a change in tax exempt status because of belief is itself a violation of the principle of the Separation of Church and State. Also it would be very hard to rationalize under greater public good as the state has little to no compelling interest in personal religious beliefs.

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Yep, dead issue.  Question is whether Dallin Oaks can revive it by calling us victims with his "deeply held religious belief" exemption.  Sometimes it is better to stop beating a dead horse, as you really annoy the carrion flies, and increase the likelihood that someone will kickback in the form of a tax exemption challenge like confronted the Bob Jones University over its miscegenation dating stance.

 

Your post reminded me of this Bagley cartoon from a couple weeks back...

 

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2108751-155/bagley-cartoon-lds-and-lgbt-wwjd

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Your post reminded me of this Bagley cartoon from a couple weeks back...

 

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2108751-155/bagley-cartoon-lds-and-lgbt-wwjd

Yeah I mean really folks baking cakes, why does this so very much sound like lunch counters revisited?

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thesometimesaint

 

Actually the great Southern political party migration has been for the most part traced back to the IRS threat against Bob Jones University and its policies against inter-racial dating and marriage.  I suspect the test would occur if a pair of gay BYU students decided to get married and BYU moved to expel them.  There was a battle with BYU over the lack of co-educational dormitories back in the 70's to which President Kimball said, "We will not comply."  But the Feds backed down.

 

There has been some discussion of late as to whether the tax exemption granted to Church facilities can be squared with the Constitution, but I know of no serious politician who has suggested moving against it.

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With this refusal to grant a state, it appears certain that they will rule in favor of nationwide marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Historically, it means they are leaning one way. It doesn't indicate a surety of anything. The other possibility is that they simply are tired of jerking gay people around with legal, illegal, legal, illegal. They've put stays on "gay marriage" in the past and then let those stays expire. They also recently informed the lawyers for "gay marriage" that there would be two hearings, one to determine if the federal government can force states to pretend homosexual unions are the same as heterosexual unions in all ways that matter. The other to determine if states need to recognize the "marriages" performed in other states. Constitutional scholars say that's not a very good sign for gay "rights," that SCOTUS is apparently strongly considering having the latter but not the former.

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thesometimesaint

 

Actually the great Southern political party migration has been for the most part traced back to the IRS threat against Bob Jones University and its policies against inter-racial dating and marriage.  I suspect the test would occur if a pair of gay BYU students decided to get married and BYU moved to expel them.  There was a battle with BYU over the lack of co-educational dormitories back in the 70's to which President Kimball said, "We will not comply."  But the Feds backed down.

 

There has been some discussion of late as to whether the tax exemption granted to Church facilities can be squared with the Constitution, but I know of no serious politician who has suggested moving against it.

The Bob Jones University fiasco played little to no part in the exodus of racist Democratic southerners to the Republican Party. They are just racist Republicans now instead. The North was just as racist. It was just expressing itself as de facto racism as opposed to the de jure racism of the South. So really none should get on their political high horse about it.

SEE The Southern Strategy

 

I was at BYU in the mid 1970's not the mid 1870's. ;) I don't remember any big push by the Feds to enforce co-ed dorms. But then we were living in that political incorrect area called Y-Mount Terrace. :lol:

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The Democratic Party prior to the Bob Jones University case was still basically bi-polar, the great shift from the Solid Democratic South to the Solid Republican South did not make its full acceleration until then.  Not saying there wasn't some quaking going on and third-party attempts.  Obviously there were, ETB sought permission to be involved in one of those third-party attempts at the White House, but was denied permission.  Pundits used to say of the Democratic Party that it was a national party every four years because of its bi-polar nature.  Similarly, there was a certain disunity in the Republican Party insofar that during that era it was possible to say a Liberal Republican without committing an oxymoron.  Nelson Rockefeller being the best known.   But, I am not sure that you can take the anti-homosexual or anti-SSM stance and parse it out between the parties as it is becoming pretty mixed, and there have since the beginning of the struggle been the so called Log Cabin Republicans.  It is a very poorly kept secret, that many of the early SSM lawsuits were actually initiated by Log Cabin Republicans rather than Liberal Democrats, and the Centrist Democrats didn't really join the wave until it was starting to look like a tsunami --  note Clinton's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, and Obama's change of heart or the fact that Howard Dean as Governor of Vermont telling the legislature when they were debating the issue after the Vermont Supreme Court decision that he would prefer not to have a SSM bill put on his desk for signature [and as a consequence a Civil Unions bill was placed on his desk for signature -- although both our Church and the Catholic Church were heavily invested in the fight against even that.]

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The Democratic Party prior to the Bob Jones University case was still basically bi-polar, the great shift from the Solid Democratic South to the Solid Republican South did not make its full acceleration until then. 

Pretty sure this is just a story. The Republican Party was strongly supporting civil rights prior to LBJ. LBJ was the one STOPPING the civil rights movement, while was Senate Majority Leader, in fact. Republicans were the ones who were willing to pass civil rights, despite an opponent getting the credit (when he didn't deserve it).

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Pretty sure this is just a story. The Republican Party was strongly supporting civil rights prior to LBJ. LBJ was the one STOPPING the civil rights movement, while was Senate Majority Leader, in fact. Republicans were the ones who were willing to pass civil rights, despite an opponent getting the credit (when he didn't deserve it).

The migration did not occur under LBJ's watch, although upon the passage of the Civil Rights Act , he did say "We have lost the South". The migration started later. In LBJ's day the ideological shift and concentration was just starting. The shift became a fact under Reagan. Which was when the Bob Jones incident was bubbling. Prior to that you did have the Dixiecrat revolts with people like Gov. Wallace, which is what ETB wanted to join up with, and during LBJ you also had the Birchers reach their pinnacle of influence. That of course had its roots clear back to the McCarthy Era. Eisenhower of course would have been branded a liberal had he been around today.

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I found this letter to be thought-provoking. Although it's addressed to members of a specific political party, I would suggest the principles also are also applicable to other organizations desiring to remain relevant:

Message From a Pro Gay Marriage Heterosexual Republican

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6727370?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

Christian Caballero

Posted: 02/23/15 03:46 PM ET Updated: 02/23/15 03:59 PM ET

Fellow Republicans, you are sadly mistaken if you believe that the results of the November 2014 elections are a sign from the American people that the coast is clear to continue operating as you have in the past. You should not read into the results as predictive of the 2016 presidential elections. If you want to avoid a very short-lived honeymoon at the top you will have to govern in accordance with the realities that exist in America today. One of those realities is that the prohibition of gay marriage is a form of discrimination that our court system is finally getting around to correcting. The unquestioned fact is that the government provides benefits to married couples, and because gays cannot marry they cannot avail themselves of those benefits - that is discrimination on its face. This message is not about insisting that you accept homosexuality in your personal life; that would be un-American. My case is that we welcome gays into the legal institution of marriage because to continue to fight against it is contrary to spirit of our Constitution.

I, for one, have always voted for Republican candidates at all levels of government, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to do so. I have always dismissed Democrats that have attacked the GOP as the party of exclusion. However, it is becoming more evident that those of us who disagree with traditional conservative orthodoxy are vilified as illegitimate Republicans, whatever that means. I am a big believer in a smaller, less obtrusive government, something Republicans have always espoused a belief in. Sadly, the party of smaller government applies that standard only when it is convenient. You are certainly ok with an obtrusive government that regulates marriage in a discriminatory manner. For years Republicans and conservative Democrats have tried to ensure that government-sanctioned marriage remains an institution reserved for heterosexual couples. The truth is that restricting government-sanctioned marriage to heterosexual couples is a form of discrimination that has no place in our country. People that oppose such relationships for religious or moral grounds certainly have a right to do so, and I vigorously defend their right to think differently. But to use the government's power to block the rights of people to marry is inconsistent with a policy platform that promotes equality for all.

For those that justify this discriminatory position by pointing to the wishes of the majority, which is shifting quickly, that argument fails to acknowledge our history and form of government. Majorities elect officials in this country, but policies are made with an eye towards protecting the rights of minorities. At one point in our history the majority of Americans believed in slavery, opposed women's suffrage and vehemently defended segregation. Thankfully courageous politicians and jurists did the right thing and ended those despicable practices.

Americans have always been nostalgic, but like most things in life, time has a way of altering the realities of the past. No matter what anyone may tell you, America has never had a hey-day that applied to the entire population at once. Many seniors yearn for the Eisenhower 50's. But that time was great mainly for white, Protestant men. Baby Boomers glamorize the 60's and 70's, but that period was tarnished with Vietnam, racial tensions and drug abuse. Conservatives rave about the imperfect Reagan 80's (admittedly I am a fan of some of his policies, but mostly, I loved his optimism and his unapologetic pride and love for America). Essentially, with every passing generation there have been, and will always be, older segments that fondly reminisce about the inherent happiness of yesteryears, while predicting the imminent demise of the country. Sadly, someday one of the generations will be correct, but that will not happen until we approach our most perfect form. The reality is that no civilization in history has maintained its prominence in perpetuity, and we will not be the exception. But for now I am still a believer in US - Americans. I say let us drop the fight against gay marriage and turn our focus to ensuring that the American dream is available to as many people as possible. And if one of those dreams includes the marital union of two loving adults then let us all celebrate, or at the very least, let us not use the power of government to treat them as second-class citizens. Because after all, one of the beauties of America is that we have no second-class. We are all Americans, and the next time you find yourself in need of a fellow citizen to come to your rescue you will surely not be asking: are you a married homosexual?

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I found this letter to be thought-provoking. Although it's addressed to members of a specific political party, I would suggest the principles also are also applicable to other organizations desiring to remain relevant:

 

 

Great letter.  Thanks for posting.

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