Policy & Legal UpdatesDecember 16 – 22, 2013
MEUSA Summary • News Source ILLINOIS • On 16 December 2013, in Darby v. Orr, a federal judge agreed with Lambda Legal attorneys, and ordered that all IL couples in which a partner suffers a life-threatening illness can marry prior to the 1 June 2014 start of same-gender civil marriages. • MEUSA Summary • News Source ILLINOIS • On 6 December 2013, in Brenda Lee, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr, four same-gender couples filed a federal suit seeking to marry immediately instead of waiting for the 1 June start date. • MEUSA Summary • News Source PENNSYLVANIA • On 17 December 2013, in Deb & Susan Whitewood v. PA Governor Tom Corbett et al., in which 23 people are challenging the 1996 PA law that bans same-gender marriage for residents, and that ignores out-of-state same-gender marriages, U.S. District Judge John Jones rejected the argument of PA lawyers (whose team charges at least $725 each hour) that this court lacks authority to decide the case, and then he blocked any higher court review at this time. The trial starts on 9 June 2014. • MEUSA Summary • News Source TEXAS • On 17 December 2013, in Jack Pidegon & Larry Hicks vs. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, et al., with plaintiffs represented by Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill, a TX district judge temporarily prohibited Houston, TX from offering partner benefits to same-gender couples. A hearing is set for 6 January 2014. • MEUSA Summary • News Source ILLINOIS • On 17 December 2013, in Darby v. Orr, the court dismissed the case since the relief that the plaintiffs were seeking occurred when IL enacted a same-gender civil marriage law on 5 November 2013. • MEUSA Summary • News Source NEW MEXICO • On 19 December 2013, in Rose Griego, et al., v. NM Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Oliver, the NM Supreme Court unanimously ruled that same-gender and mixed-gender couples, and their civil marriages, are guaranteed equal rights, protection, and responsibilities under the law, effective immediately. The court rejected 3 arguments put forth by the opponents of equality: (1) mixed-gender marriages benefit when same-gender marriages are banned and mixed-gender marriages suffer when same-gender marriages are allowed; (2) marriage requires procreation and procreation requires marriage; and (3) same-gender couples don’t raise children from prior marriage, fertilization, surrogacy, foster care, and/or adoption. • MEUSA Summary • News Source WEST VIRGINIA • On 17 December 2013, in Casie Jo McGee, et al. v. Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole, et al., the WV attorney general asked a federal judge to dismiss the suit challenging WV’s law banning same-gender civil marriage, arguing that the plaintiffs, who are not now legally married anywhere, are suffering no harm. • MEUSA Summary • News Source ARKANSAS • On 19 December 2013, in Kendall Wright et al. v. AR Governor Michael Beebe, et al., in which 21 same-gender couples seek to overturn the 2004 AR constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, the statutory ban, and the federal law allowing states to ignore same-gender marriages from other states, the judge decided not to dismiss the suit, and also decided that couples may not marry while the case is pending. • MEUSA Summary • News Source UTAH • On 20 December 2013, in Kitchen, et al. v. Utah Attorney General John Swallow, et al., the court rejected UT’s arguments that: (1) marriage is not a right; (2) states can deny marriage to certain citizens; (3) “responsible procreation” is a reason to exclude same-gender couples, and (4) same-gender parents raising children is harmful, and then declared the UT same-gender civil marriage ban an irrational, unconstitutional denial of a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution, and allowed marriages to begin the same day. Hours later, UT appealed the decision, and filed a motion seeking to halt marriages during the appeal case. • MEUSA Summary • News Source TEXAS • On 20 December 2013, in Jack Pidegon & Larry Hicks vs. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, et al., the city of Houston said it will appeal the 17 December court order barring domestic partner benefits for same-gender spouses of city employees. • MEUSA Summary • News Source UTAH • On 22 December 2013, in Kitchen, et al. v. Utah Attorney General John Swallow, et al., in which 3 couples challenged UT’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied UT’s request to suspend the district court ruling while the district court decides whether to suspend its own ruling during the time that the case is on appeal; consequently, marriages legalized by the 20 December ruling may continue throughout the appeal process, unless the district court reverses its earlier decision. On 23 December or later, Federal District Judge Robert Shelby will decide whether to halt marriages while UT appeals the case. His decision about halting marriages during the appeal could also be appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court, as well as to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Justice Sotomayor would grant the halt, deny the halt, or ask the full Court to decide. • MEUSA Summary • News Source NORTH CAROLINA • On 20 December 2012, in Marcie Fisher-Borne, et al. v. John Smith, et al., in which the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued several state judges in federal court on behalf of 6 same-gender couples and their children seeking adoption and marriage rights, Republican lawmakers engaged free legal help from Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT law firm, to defend the state’s constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage. • MEUSA Summary • News Source OREGON • On 19 December 2013, in Paul Rummell, et al. v. OR Governor John Kitzhaber, et al.,two Portland couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging OR’s ban on same-gender civil marriage. They hope to combine their suit into Deanna Geiger, et al. v. OR Governor John Kitzhaber, et al., which was filed on 15 October. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
MEUSA Summary • News Source FLORIDA • On 16 December, FL state Representative Linda Stewart re-submitted a domestic partner bill. • MEUSA Summary • News Source ARIZONA • On 17 December 2013, Cottonwood, AZ legalized same-gender unions, joining Bisbee, Jerome, Sedona, and Tucson, AZ. • MEUSA Summary • News Source NEW MEXICO • On 19 December 2013, NM state Senator Bill Sharer (R) proposed to amend the NM constitution to ban same-gender civil marriage based on his assumption that same-gender couples have no children. The change would have to pass both chambers of the NM legislature, before appearing on a statewide voter ballot. Similar proposals in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 all failed in the legislature. • MEUSA Summary • News Source FLORIDA • On 18 December 2013, FL state Representative Linda Stewart (D) filed HB-439, which would legalize domestic partners, but give them only a few of the rights and protections available to married people. A similar bill, SB-196, filed in the Senate on 9 January 2013, died in the Judiciary Committee in May 2013. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
MEUSA Summary • News Source
Send questions and comments to: NFlaherty@MarriageEquality.org.
Policy & Legal UpdatesOctober 14 – 20, 2013
- On 18 October 2013, the NJ Supreme Court decided to start same-gender civil marriages on 21 October 2013, so MEUSA updated its National Marriage Map to reflect that 33% of Americans live in 15 states with full, state-level equality (CA, CT, DC, DE, IA, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA), and 17% live in cities, counties, or states with partial equality (mainly CO, HI, IL, NM, NV, OR, WI), but 50% live in 29 states that still ban all types of unions except one-man-one-woman couples. • Map
On 11 October 2013, Pew Research Center surveyed earlier polls, and reported that from 2001 to 2013, support for same-gender civil marriage grew from 35% to 50%, and opposition declined from 57% to 43%. Opposition is strongest among evangelical Protestants, Republicans, and political conservatives, but even in those groups is rising, as older voters die off and younger people reach voting age. • Survey Details
MEUSA Summary • News Source VIRGINIA • On 3 Ocober 2013, in National Organization for Marriage v. U.S. Internal Revenue Service, NOM filed a federal lawsuit claiming that IRS unlawfully released its confidential tax data. • MEUSA Summary • News Source NORTH CAROLINA • On 15 October 2013, in preparation for a lawsuit, Buncombe County, NC Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger began accepting marriage license applications from same-gender couples, and he asked NC Attorney General Roy Cooper to decide whether the NC statutory and constitutional bans on same-gender civil marriage violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. • MEUSA Summary • News Source ALASKA • On 14 October 2013, in Debra Harris v. Millennium Hotel, et al., Lambda Legal appealed to the AK Supreme Court to obtain survivor benefits for same-gender couples, for whom marriage is banned by AK’s law and its constitution. • MEUSA Summary • News Source OREGON • On 15 October 2013, in Deanna Geiger et al. v. OR Governor John Kitzhaber et al., two couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging OR’s constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, and OR’s refusal to recognize legal marriages from other jurisdictions. • MEUSA Summary • News Source MICHIGAN • On 16 October 2013, in April DeBoer & Jayne Rowse v. MI Governor Rick Snyder, et al., U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman denied both sides’ petitions for summary judgment, saying that he will expedite completion of the case, witness lists will be exchanged in October 2013, and expert testimony will be heard during a trial starting on 25 February 2014. • MEUSA Summary • News Source ARKANSAS • On 12 December 2013, in Kendall Wright et al. v. AR Governor Michael Beebe et al.,11 same-gender couples who are seeking to overturn the AR constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, the state law banning same-gender civil marriage, and the federal law allowing states to ignore same-gender marriages from other states, and also seeking parental rights, birth certificate names, insurance, and other benefits, will request a preliminary injunction and a declaratory judgment. • MEUSA Summary • News Source NEW JERSEY • On 18 Octobner 2013, in Garden State Equality, et al. v. NJ Attorney General Paula Dow, et al., the NJ Supreme Court ended a 12-year legal battle when it unanimously affirmed a Superior Court ruling that same-gender civil marriages may begin on 21 October 2013. Despite the governor’s appeal which will get decided in 2014, the court concluded that starting marriages now benefits the couples, without harming the state. • MEUSA Summary • News Source NEW MEXICO • By 18 October 2013, NM county clerks had issued over 1,000 civil marriage licenses to same-gender couples, in advance of the NM Supreme Court hearing on 23 October 2013. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
MEUSA Summary • News Source VIRGINIA • On 16 Ocober 2013, Christopher Newport University surveyed 944 registered VA voters including 753 likely voters, and reported that 56% oppose VA’s 2006 constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, and 36% favor it. • MEUSA Summary • News Source TENNESSEE • On 16 October 2013, Knoxville, TN expanded employee benefits coverage to include same-gender and opposite-gender domestic partners, effective 1 January 2014. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
MEUSA Summary • News Source
Send questions and comments to: NFlaherty@MarriageEquality.org.