Although the Supreme Court last week ruled gay marriage bans unconstitutional, the Alabama Supreme Court on Monday effectively ordered probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses for 25 days. The state’s Supreme Court picked this amount of time because, technically, there is a 25-day period to file a petition to rehear the U.S. Supreme Court case.
However, regardless of any petition period, Alabama must follow the law as set by the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest in the land. For this reason, the Alabama court’s order is confusing.
Lawmakers approved gay marriage Tuesday in a historic vote that saw supporters overcome cultural, racial and geographic divides and put Illinois in line with a growing number of states that have extended the right to wed to same-sex couples.
After more than a year of intense lobbying by both sides, gay lawmakers made emotional pleas to colleagues to give their families equal rights even as opponents argued that doing so would unravel the foundation of society.
“At the end of the day, what this bill is about is love, it’s about family, it’s about commitment,” said sponsoring Rep. Greg Harris, clutching an American flag he said was sent by a supportive soldier stationed in Afghanistan.
“At the end of the day, this bill is about the vision that the founders of our country had and wrote into our Constitution, where they said America is a journey. … And we’ll continue to walk down that road to make America a better place, to make ourselves a ‘more perfect union,’ to ensure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” the Chicago Democrat said.
Gov. Pat Quinn said he intends to sign the bill, which would take effect June 1
REPORT FROM THE STATE SENATE MAJORITY- The Hawaii State Senate today passed a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in the State of Hawaii.
“The Senate’s passage of this bill marks an historic step towards equality, fairness, and justice,” said Senator Clayton Hee, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “I look forward to working with our colleagues in the House as this measure moves forward.”
Senate Bill (SB) 1, Relating to Equal Rights, recognizes marriages between individuals of the same gender. In addition, the measure extends to same-sex couples the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of marriage to which opposite-sex couples are presently entitled.
“This measure represents the Senate’s best effort to strike a balance between religious freedom and equal rights,” said Senator Hee. “Language has been included that preserves the sincerely held religious beliefs of religious organizations.”
Fox News anchor Bret Baier suggested to his viewers on Wednesday that a good reason to oppose a law to prevent discrimination against LGBT people was that “beliefs” like sexual orientation could “conflict with a company’s goals.”
During a segment on Fox News’ Special Report, Baier noted that Democrats were pushing to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and that meant “religious freedom” would “take a backseat to another kind of freedom.”
Reporter Shannon Bream pointed out that many religious institutions opposed the bill because they could be forced to “hire a transgender teacher.”
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would criminalize workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, is set to get a vote in the Senate sometime before Thanksgiving, but while the support of 57 Democrats (and Independent Bernie Sanders) seems likely, it still falls short of a filibuster-proof 60 votes.
In an effort to push that number over the top, advocates and supporters of the bill have focused on a handful of Republican senators, including Arizona’s John McCain. But McCain has shown some resistance to supporting the bill, telling the Huffington Post that he worries it might inspire “reverse discrimination.”
From Main Street to Wall Street, this country’s belief in the American Dream remains strong, even unshakable during the tough economic times of the last few years. This is what is so uniquely great about the United States – our shared commitment to turning that dream into reality.
But for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the uphill climb to economic security has pitfalls along the way. Currently, there are no state laws protecting LGBT employees from workplace discrimination in a majority of states — a fact that most Americans would be shocked to learn. Hardworking and qualified LGBT employees, like all employees, need to provide for themselves and their families, and must have the same opportunity to be judged on job performance and merit — nothing more, nothing less.
Right now, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – or ENDA — would help change that. ENDA simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to existing employment protections — like those that already exist for race, religion, gender and disability.
The United States may have dodged an economic catastrophe by raising the debt ceiling and opening the government, but it didn’t emerge from the political debacle unscathed.
The 16-day government shutdown took a $24 billion chunk out of the U.S. economy, according to an initial analysis from Standard & Poor’s.
As a result, the rating agency projects that the U.S. economy will grow 2.4% in the fourth quarter — as opposed to the roughly 3% growth rate predicted prior to the shutdown.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gay couples rushed to a courthouse in Las Cruces on Wednesday after the county clerk decided to issue same-sex marriage licenses in a surprise move that came as several legal challenges on the practice make their way through the courts.
“I was in a coffee shop grading dissertations when my partner sent me an email saying, ‘you want to get married?’” said Char Ullman, 51. “I went home to brush my teeth and headed to the courthouse.”
Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said his office had provided 35 licenses to same-sex couples compared to four or five given on an average day to heterosexual couples.
“It’s a happy office today. Lots of happy people,” he said. “One of the first couples that came in today said they had been waiting 31 years. Another couple says they’ve been waiting 43 years. It’s time to stop waiting.”
Jeff Williams, a public information officer in the county’s government and a reverend with Universal Life Church, said he was marrying same-sex couples all day long while wearing his rainbow-colored tie.
Outside the courthouse, television reporters were busy interviewing the people getting married and there was no sign of any protesters.
Ellins said he had carefully read state laws and concluded the “state’s marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not expressly prohibit Dona Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples.”
Later in the day, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he had no plans to challenge the move by Ellins or another other county clerks who might allow the practice.
Ellins said he had been considering issuing the licenses since June, when King released a position paper saying state laws don’t allow same-sex marriage. King had asked county clerks to hold off on issuing licenses, even though he believes the laws are unconstitutional.
Ellins, however, said “any further denial of marriage licenses to these couples violates the United States and New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Human Rights Act.”
After spending 45 years being engaged, William Baxter and Peter Rocchio, of Winter Park, Fla., recently married at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. But Mary Meeks, an Orlando civil rights attorney, says, “I hate to be the downer [but in Florida] your [out-of-state] marriage certificate doesn’t mean a whole lot.”
Waternark Online reports even with the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, marriage equality in Florida still has some significant obstacles to overcome.
A forum held at The Abbey in Downtown Orlando on July 17, called “After DOMA: Now What,” which was made up of a panel of attorneys, certified public accountants and activists, discussed the challenges same-sex marriage faces in Florida. The experts attempted to answer a variety of questions about gay marriage and the legality of marriage licenses from other states as well as immigration visas, taxes, veteran benefits and estate planning.
Three positive changes came out of the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling, Meeks said: immigration rights, same-sex partner benefits for civilian and military employees of the Department of Defense, and same-sex partner benefits for federal employees. But while marriage provides couples with more than 1,000 legal federal benefits, Meeks says it is going to be awhile before federal agencies look over and fully apply the DOMA ruling in Florida.
While Florida officials figure out how to apply these benefits towards same-sex couples, out political strategist Vanessa Brito of Miami will continue to fight for equal rights and started a petition to put same-sex marriage on the 2014 Florida ballot. Some activists, however, want a statewide referendum to change Florida’s marriage laws.
“It’s unlikely that Florida’s 2008 Amendment 2, which defined marriage as between a man and woman, could be overturned at this time in the state,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s executive director, in the Miami Herald.
Freedom to Marry has named Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon as its immediate targets. All of these states have civil union or domestic partnership laws that can convert to same-sex marriage. In states including Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, activists are laying the groundwork to repeal amendments or laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.