Marriage Equality Recognized in Six More States By Federal Government – OUT.COM

Marriage Equality Recognized in Six More States By Federal Government

Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, Wyoming, and West Virginia join the states where same-sex marriage is recognized by the federal government.


OCTOBER 25 2014 5:12 PM ET


Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will now recognize same-sex marriage the states of Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, Wyoming, and West Virginia, reports CBS News.

This brings the total number of states where same-sex marriage is recognized at a federal level to 32, in addition to the District of Columbia.

Same-sex couples who married in those states following the recent wave of historic marriage equality wins are now eligible for several federal benefits, which include veterans’ and Social Security benefits.

“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” the attorney general said in a statement. “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.”

The news follows on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this month not to hear a series of cases regarding same-sex marriage, which allowed the previous favorable rulings on marriage equality by lower courts to stand in several states.  

Despite the rapidly changing landscape of marriage equality in the U.S., a few state officials aren’t giving up their antigay litigation, including Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, and Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

Antigay groups such as the National Organization for Marriage are also desperately clinging to their defense of same-sex marriage bans. NOM Chair John Eastman told reporters earlier this week, “Until the Supreme Court decides it, this remains a viable option.” 


Wyoming Won’t Appeal Marriage Equality – Wyoming Won’t Appeal Marriage Equality
Same-sex couples can begin marrying Tuesday morning.

The Equality State is about to live up to its name, after Wyoming’s Republican leadership announced today it will not appeal a federal judge’s Friday decision requiring the state to begin performing and recognizing same-sex marriages. Same-sex couples will be able to marry in Wyoming immediately after the state formally files its notice with the court Tuesday morning.

Wyoming attorney general Peter K. Michael plans to inform the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming Tuesday at 10 a.m. that his office, also representing Gov. Matthew Mead, does not plan to appeal U.S. District Judge Scott Skvdahl’s Friday ruling in favor of marriage equality, reports Cheyenne’s KGWN TV.

After Michael’s office files its formal notice that the state will no longer defend its ban on same-sex marriage, Skavdahl’s ruling will take effect immediately, bringing marriage equality to Wyoming. Skavdahl had placed a hold on his Friday ruling until this Thursday, or until state officials stopped defending the existing marriage law.

The attorney general pointed not only to Skavdahl’s ruling but to the recent avalanche of pro-equality decisions, including two from Oklahoma and Utah that the U.S. Supreme Court let stand earlier this month. By refusing to review those decisions, the Supreme Court effectively made the lower courts’ rulings legally binding in all states in the 10th Circuit, which includes Wyoming.

Mead-and-Michael-x400“Judge Skavdahl’s opinion and order make clear that the decisions in Utah and Oklahoma have left Wyoming with few legal options,” said Michael, according to KGWN. “After reviewing the law and the Judge’s decision that binding precedent requires recognition of same-sex marriage, I have concluded that further legal process will result in delay but not a different result.”

Michael’s conclusion echoes that of his fellow Republican attorney general in nearby Arizona, who said that given the now-binding legal precedent in the district, it was “unethical” to continue defending the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples began marrying in Arizona Friday.

Once Michael’s office files its notice, county clerks throughout the state will be required to issue marriage licenses to all eligible couples who apply, regardless of the gender of either partner. The state will also be required to recognize the legal marriage of any same-sex couples married outside the state while that couple is in Wyoming.

Barring further breaking marriage equality news, Wyoming will become the 32nd U.S. State, plus the District of Columbia, where same-sex couples can marry.

Arizona Now Has Marriage Equality – Arizona Now Has Marriage Equality
A federal judge clears the way for the Grand Canyon State to get marriage equality, and with the attorney general’s refusal to appeal, same-sex couples can now marry in Arizona.

U.S. District Judge John Sedwick (left), Arizona Attorney General Thom Horne
U.S. District Judge John Sedwick (left), Arizona Attorney General Thom Horne
A federal judge struck down Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriage Friday, refusing to place the ruling on hold while the state considers an appeal.

As a result, Arizona must now allow same-sex couples to marry, reports BuzzFeed, making it the 31st U.S. state where gay, lesbian, and bisexual couples can legally wed.

On Thursday, the state’s attorney general conceded that the ban, approved by voters in 2008, is unconstitutional, according to the Arizona Republic. Shortly after the ruling was issued Friday morning, Republican Attorney General Thom Horne announced that he will not appeal the ruling, reports the Washington Blade.

“I have decided not to appeal today’s decision, which would be an exercise in futility and which would serve only the purpose of wasting taxpayer’s money,” Horne said, according to the Blade. “The probability of persuading the 9th circuit to reverse today’s decision is zero. The probability of the United States Supreme Court accepting review of the 9th circuit decision is also zero.”

Further discussing his decision, Horne said any defense of inequality, given recent federal court precedent, would be immoral.

“Lawyers live under a rule called Rule 11, which provides that it is unethical for a lawyer to file a pleading for purposes of delay rather than to achieve a result,” read Horne’s statement, according to ThinkProgress. “Therefore, the only purpose to be served by filing another appeal would be to waste the taxpayer’s money. That is not a good conservative principle.”

Horne’s decision not to appeal the ruling means that same-sex couples will be able to marry in Arizona immediately, according to BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner. Indeed, the clerk and recorder in Maricopa County — the state’s most populous, which includes Phoenix — sent out a this tweet Friday just before noon local time:

Gay pride flag
U.S. District Judge John Sedwick issued a brief but decisive ruling Friday morning, finding that Arizona’s ban on marriage equality violates the U.S. Constitution.

“The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that substantially identical provisions of Nevada and Idaho law that prohibit same-sex marriages are invalid because they deny same-sex couples equal protection of the law, the right to which is guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States,” Sedwick wrote in his four-page ruling. “This court is bound by decisions of the Court of Appeals.”

Sedwick’s ruling falls in line with recent decisions from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which holds jurisdiction over nine states, including Arizona.

Because the Ninth Circuit has consistently ruled in favor of marriage equality, the judge in Arizona, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, determined that “an appeal to the Ninth Circuit would not succeed.”

Following the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in the Idaho and Nevada cases last week, Colorado and Nevada embraced marriage equality, while just days later, a federal judge in Alaska cited the Ninth Circuit precedent and struck down that state’s ban on marriage equality. After a brief delay as Idaho officials attempted to appeal that ruling, same-sex couples in the Gem State began marrying on Thursday. Montana is also disputing whether the Ninth Circuit ruling applies.

As for the rest of the states covered by the Ninth Circuit, California, Oregon, Hawaii, and Washington already have marriage equality. Same-sex couples in Utah were granted the freedom to marry after the U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to review a series of pro-equality rulings from lower courts, letting those decisions stand.

That just leaves Alaska, where a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on marriage equality earlier this week, refusing to put his ruling on hold. However, the state’s Republican attorney general was granted a temporary stay on that decision by the Ninth Circuit, pending the state’s appeal to the Supreme Court. That stay expires at noon today, meaning unless the Supreme Court grants Alaska’s request, marriage equality will take effect in Alaska Friday afternoon.

Whether circuit court rulings that were upheld by the Supreme Court apply then to other states in that circuit is a hotly contested legal argument in a number of states. For example, the Supreme Court let stand an equality ruling from the Fourth Circuit in a case out of Virginia, but South Carolina, which is also within that jurisdiction, has so far fought legalizing same-sex marriage. By contrast, also in the Fourth, West Virginia dropped its defense of a ban and has already begun marrying couples.

Go Magazine – Fab Fall Finds

Fab Fall Finds

September 13, 2014
by Shannon Leigh Oneil and Mikey Rox
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With the advance of marriage equality, it´s important to remind ourselves that love conquers all. $48;
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