Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Marriage Equality' Category

Kansas Governor Denies Rights to Legally Wed Same-Sex Couples

brownbackKansas Governor Sam Brownback is denying rights to same-sex couples even though they are now legally allowed to marry in Kansas.

KCUR reports that Brownback won’t offer any of the benefits heterosexual couples receive, including such things as name changes on a driver’s license or employee benefits for gay and lesbian state workers.

“There is still considerable legal ambiguity on the topic of same-sex marriage,” Eileen Hawley, a Brownback spokeswoman, told the radio station. “Once that ambiguity is gone, the governor will direct state agencies to comply with applicable laws.”

Court decisions over the past few weeks have been confusing. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has said the unions are legal, which has many upset about the delay in applying the law.

“It’s clear that they don’t respect what’s coming from the federal courts and they will continue to discriminate and deny gay and lesbian couples their constitutional rights as long as they can,” Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas said.

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Group Urges Kansas to Say No to Court’s Marriage Ruling

The Supreme Court issued an order this week allowing marriages for same-sex couples to proceed in Kansas. In response, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) urged Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to “reject the idea that Kansas must abandon marriage because out of control federal judges say so.”

The nation’s highest court issued its order after a federal judge had struck down a Kansas ban on marriage for same-sex couples, in following an earlier ruling by the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to a NOM press release, the group called on Brownback “to order local clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses that violate Kansas law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Read more

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Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge to Health Care Act

The Supreme Court is in the spotlight for both a case it has agreed to hear, a challenge to the federal Affordable Care Act, and involving an issue that it is increasingly like to take up, that of state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.

On Friday the high court agreed to hear a case from Virginia about the health care act and tax subsidies that are central to making it work. At issue, according to the New York Times, is whether these subsidies “are improperly being given in states that have decided not to run the marketplaces for insurance coverage known as exchanges. Under the law, the federal government has stepped in to run exchanges in those states.”

On Thursday, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee to ban marriage for same-sex couples, effectively clashing with rulings by other circuit courts and, according to the New York Times, “almost certainly sending the issue on a rapid trajectory to the Supreme Court.”

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Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Marriage Bans From Two States

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday struck down state bans from Idaho and Nevada on marriage for same-sex couples.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling — if upheld — would expand from 30 to 35 the number of states where marriage will be permitted for same-sex couples. That’s because it would apply to all the states covered by the Ninth Circuit, and it would invalidate the bans in Alaska, Arizona, and Montana, the newspaper said; action by the Supreme Court earlier this week invalidated bans in five other states (see Gavel Grab). Read more

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Supreme Court Declines to Review Marriage Rulings for 5 States

US Supreme CourtThe U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review decisions that struck down bans on marriage for same-sex couples in five states: Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin.

The court’s stance came as a “major surprise,” according to the New York Times, and means that marriages for same-sex couples may go forward in those states. The court’s move “suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban,” the newspaper reported.

As a result of the court’s position, the number of states permitting marriage for same-sex couples will grow from 19 to 24. At the same time, the court’s action “puts off a decision about gay marriage nationally,” the Washington Post said. Read more

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Marriage Equality Ruling Ahead? Supreme Court in Spotlight

111002075249-supreme-court-building-story-topAs the U.S. Supreme Court justices launched their new term with a private conference this week, they were the subject of attention on many news media fronts, with the issue of marriage for same-sex couples grabbing perhaps the highest profile.

A New York Times article was headlined, “Justices Embark on Road to a Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage,” and it suggested it is highly like the court will decide the issue one way or another by next June. The court could announce as early as this week which, if any, of several petitions for appeal on the topic it will consider in its new term. On other fronts, there was attention to immediate action by the court, and controversy around some of its justices: Read more

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Will Supreme Court Take Up Controversial Marriage Issue?

US-JUSTICE-GAY -MARRIAGEWith five petitions before it involving the constitutionality of state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, the U.S. Supreme Court could offer some clarity on its thinking in upcoming months.

Veteran Supreme Court-watcher Lyle Denniston offers that assessment in the Constitution Daily blog. Denniston notes that there is no inevitability to the high court’s settling the constitutional issue that has become the topic of so many lower court rulings lately, but at the same time he examines the factors that could lead up to the high court’s deciding to review one or more of the appeals.

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Another Appeals Court Strikes Down a Marriage Ban

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held unconstitutional on Monday Virginia’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The panel upheld a lower court ruling (see Gavel Grab).

Two federal appeals courts now have found such state bans unconstitutional since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor last year.

“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” said appeals Judge Henry F. Floyd in Monday’s ruling, according to The Washington Post. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life.” Read more

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JAS: TN Judges' Fundraising Part of Retention Election Trend

TN_SupremeCourtThe increasing politicization of state judicial retention races, when judges seek a new term on an up-or-down vote, has led to judges raising large campaign sums to defend themselves against ouster efforts, Justice at Stake said on Friday. JAS also reported on election fundraising developments in the state.

“In recent years we have seen state judicial retention races become more politicized,” noted Debra Erenberg, director of State Affairs for Justice at Stake, which has been monitoring money and politics in this year’s judicial elections. “As a result, we are seeing judges raising large sums of money to defend themselves against efforts to oust them. That’s what is happening in Tennessee.”

JAS said in a news release that campaigns to retain three targeted justices in Tennessee have purchased at least $107,610 worth of TV airtime and begun airing ads on behalf of the candidates. The justices’ campaigns have reported a fundraising total of  $598,261.99 according to state disclosure records.

Meanwhile, the Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based organization, registered with the state elections board on July 10, reinforcing expectations that it plans to launch a campaign aimed at ousting the three justices. Read more

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Utah Heads to Supreme Court to Appeal a Marriage Ruling

131226040854_gay-marriage-utah-640The office of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that Utah will go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a ruling by a panel of the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying the state cannot ban the marriage of same-sex couples.

When the appeals court issued its ruling last month (see Gavel Grab) it became the first federal appeals court to decide that voter-approved bans on marriage of same-sex couples violate the 14th Amendment rights of such couples to equal protection and due process, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Regarding Utah’s plans to appeal to the Supreme Court, Lyle Denniston wrote at SCOTUSblog, “This will be the first case reaching the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of such state bans since the Justices in United States v. Windsor a year ago struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act — a ruling that set off a series of decisions by federal and state trial courts, all of which so far have nullified state bans on same-sex marriages.”

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