Huffington Post – All Eyes Turn to the U.S. Supreme Court

All Eyes Turn to the U.S. Supreme Court
Posted: 09/29/2014 4:37 pm EDT Updated: 11/29/2014 5:59 am EST
Today the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to discuss seven petitions from five different states urging it to decide on the constitutionality of state laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage on a nationwide basis. The Supreme Court has complete discretion over whether or not to take a case. And no one knows if it will decide whether to take any of the cases at this time or defer its decision until a future conference this fall. Indeed, the Supreme Court will have a lot to cover at its first conference, with 53 petitions in other cases on its schedule as well. However, we could learn next week — possibly as early as Tuesday — whether it will take up the issue of the freedom to marry nationwide this term, with a substantive, definitive decision likely in June 2015.

The momentum toward marriage equality in the courts has accelerated at breakneck speed in the just over a year since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor invalidated Section 3 of the misnamed “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), a statute that prohibited the federal government from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples validly performed in states with marriage equality. Since Windsor, 27 federal courts have found state bans to be unconstitutional, with only one lower federal court upholding such a ban. Significantly, all four federal appellate decisions, from which the seven petitions to the Supreme Court come, favor equality. Judges ruling for the freedom to marry include appointees of Presidents Carter, Reagan, G. H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush, and Obama. Federal District Judge Richard Young of Indiana described in his ruling the winning streak as a phenomenon “never” before “witnessed … throughout the federal court system….” Similarly, 13 state courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality, with only one opposed.

The petitions before the Supreme Court arise out of federal appeals court decisions striking down marriage bans in five states: Indiana (Seventh Circuit), Oklahoma (10th Circuit), Utah (10th Circuit), Virginia (Fourth Circuit), and Wisconsin (Seventh Circuit). All the cases present the issue of whether or not a state may prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. However, the cases differ as well, and the justices likely will be considering these differences in determining which case or cases to take. Attorneys for same-sex couples in each of the cases have argued that the particular circumstances of their individual cases make them desirable for review.

One difference in the cases is that the Oklahoma case raises only the issue of whether a state may ban same-sex couples from marrying under its state laws, while the other states’ cases also involve challenges to whether a state must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were validly married in other states. If the Supreme Court were to strike down state marriage bans nationwide, it would not need to decide if and when one state must recognize marriages performed in other states. Alternatively, if the Supreme Court declined to decide the issue nationwide or upheld state marriage bans, the issue of recognition of out-of-state marriages could be very important.

The various states’ laws at issue in the petitions also differ. For instance, Wisconsin permits same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships, affording them limited legal rights, while the other states with petitions before the Supreme Court do not. The wording of the marriage bans and the history of the political campaigns to pass them vary from state to state. Procedural histories of the cases differ as well. For instance, in Virginia the attorney general, representing the state defendant, agrees that the ban is unconstitutional, and local county clerks are defending the state ban. In the other states, the state has uniformly defended the bans. The attorneys in each case differ too and include lawyers from groups that have been advocating for LGBT equality for decades, such as the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and the ALCU.

The legal bases for striking down the bans also differ between the various federal appellate decisions before the Supreme Court. The appellate courts in the Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia cases invalidated those state bans on the grounds that that they violated same-sex couples’ “fundamental right to marry,” while the appellate court in the Indiana and Wisconsin cases struck down those states’ bans on the grounds that laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation are entitled to elevated scrutiny under the U.S. Constitution. Windsor held that DOMA violated the Constitution’s guarantees of both liberty and equality. Both issues, and very possibly the question of whether the bans constitute unlawful sex discrimination, will doubtlessly be argued before the Supreme Court regardless of which case or cases it takes. However, the Supreme Court justices may consider the logic or rationale of one or more of the appellate court decisions particularly useful for review.

Two additional federal appellate circuits will likely weigh in this fall as well. The Sixth Circuit heard cases arising out of marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee in early August, and the Ninth Circuit heard cases from Idaho and Nevada in early September. From relevant circuit court precedent and the questions and comments the judges made at oral argument, most observers believe the Ninth Circuit will very likely rule in favor of equality, but the outcome of the Sixth Circuit cases is much harder to predict.

In remarks last week at the University of Minnesota, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fueled speculation that the court might wait to determine whether or not to take a case until the Sixth Circuit rules. She stated that there would be “no need for [the Supreme Court] to rush” if the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the freedom to marry as all the other circuits that have addressed the issue since Windsor have done. However, she said that a Sixth Circuit ruling against equality would create “some urgency” for the Supreme Court to step in. It often takes cases to resolve disputes among the circuits.

Further, the Supreme Court will take a case if four of the nine justices vote to hear it. The Supreme Court has stayed decisions in the Fourth, Seventh, and 10th Circuits from taking effect until final resolution of the cases. If the Sixth and Ninth Circuits were also to rule in favor of equality, most observers believe it unlikely that the four justices who dissented in Windsor would simply let all the petitions be dismissed by voting to deny review — effectively permitting marriage equality in 20 additional states located in those circuits. But if the Supreme Court held the petitions until a circuit court ruled against the freedom to marry, many thousands of LGBT Americans could have to wait even longer for a decision. Regardless of how the Sixth Circuit rules, the issue of marriage equality is in fact “urgent” for LGBT Americans, many of whom have been together for decades without legal recognition and protection.

Many of us would love to be a proverbial “fly on the wall” in the justices’ conference chamber today, but we will of course have to wait until the Supreme Court makes public its decisions from the conference either next week or on October 6, the official beginning of the new term. Federal District Judge John E. Jones III, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote in his opinion invalidating Pennsylvania’s marriage ban, “We are better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” That time cannot come too soon.

John Lewis and Stuart Gaffney, together for nearly three decades, were plaintiffs in the California case for equal marriage rights decided by the California Supreme Court in 2008. They are leaders in the nationwide grassroots organization Marriage Equality USA.

Obama spokesperson: UN resolution reaffirms LGBT rights as ‘fundamental freedoms’ Pink

Obama spokesperson: UN resolution reaffirms LGBT rights as ‘fundamental freedoms’

  • The US celebrated the resolution
The US celebrated the resolution

An advisor to President Barack Obama has welcomed the passage of a UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

The landmark resolution, which condemns “acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity”, passed yesterday with support from 25 countries, while 14 voted against it and 7 voted abstained.

National Security Advisor Susan E Rice said: “Today’s resolution reiterates that LGBT persons are entitled to the human rights and fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of all humankind, expresses grave concern regarding acts of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons, and requests the preparation of an important new report on preventing such abuses.

“We thank sponsors Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay for their leadership, and commend the Council for taking another historic step to reinforce the unassailable principle that LGBT rights are human rights.”

US Ambassador to the UN Keith Harper added: “We are pleased to see that today the international community is visibly and publicly upholding the rights of LGBT individuals, and thereby we demonstrate ourselves as a global community respecting the rights of all.”

South African Ambassador Abdul Samad also celebrated the resolution, adding that his country was committed “to the principle that no person should be subjected to discrimination or violence based on race, class, sex, religion, gender and as is the case with this resolution, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

He continued: “It is the same value base that guides our stance on fighting for equality between countries and why we shall always make our voices heard about exploitation and oppression of people in any form.”

The 25 countries who voted in favour were Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Romania, South Africa, FYR Macedonia, the UK, the US, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The 14 countries voted against the motion were Algeria, Botswana, Cote D’ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and UAE, while 7 countries including China and India abstained.

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka Are Married –

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka Are Married



The couple tied the knot in Italy.

Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka got married on Saturday. The two tied the knot during an intimate ceremony among family and friends in Italy.

Harris tweeted the news that the two were finally hitched after being engaged for nearly eight years.

According to E! online, Elton John performed at the reception while director and produce Pam Fryman officiated the wedding. Both grooms reportedly wore custom Tom Ford tuxedos.

In 2011, Harris told Out magazine he’s been wanting to call Burtka his husband for a long time: “I’ve been saying ‘better half’ for as long as I’ve been able to. I think it’s a little self-deprecating and clearly defines that we’re in a relationship, but it would be nice to say ‘my husband.'” Now the two legally can.

Egypt Orders Arrest Of Men Over ‘First Gay Marriage’ Video – Huffington Post

Egypt Orders Arrest Of Men Over ‘First Gay Marriage’ Video
Posted: 09/07/2014 2:51 am EDT Updated: 11/07/2014 5:59 am EST

CAIRO, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Egyptian authorities have ordered the arrest of nine men who appeared in a video purporting to show the country’s first gay marriage, accusing them of inciting debauchery and undermining public morals.

Gay marriage is not legal in Egypt, a conservative Muslim society where the footage, which went viral on social media sites last month, has caused a stir online.

Though homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, discrimination is rife. Arrests of gay men occasionally make headlines and the accused are typically charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy, drawing criticism from rights groups.

The footage, which was posted on YouTube, appears to show a group of men celebrating a gay wedding on a Nile riverboat.

The public prosecutor’s office said in a statement late on Saturday the party took place in April but the footage went viral in August, causing the police to take action to identify the men.

The statement said the images were “humiliating, regrettable and would anger God,” concluding that they constituted a criminal act and would be investigated.

The prosecutor told police to arrest the men and ordered the coroner to carry out physical examinations of all of the accused with a view to pressing charges against them for inciting debauchery and spreading images that violate public decency.

State news agency Mena reported seven men had already been detained and two more were still being sought. The prosecutor said the men would be held or four days pending a full inquiry.

The largest crackdown on homosexuals in Egypt took place in 2001, when police raided a floating disco called the Queen Boat. Fifty-two men were tried in the case that drew widespread criticism from human rights groups and Western governments. (Reporting by Lin Noueihed; Editing by Andrew Heavens)