Half the Country’s Attorneys General Ask Supreme Court to Decide Marriage Equality – Advocate.com

Half the Country’s Attorneys General Ask Supreme Court to Decide Marriage Equality

Attorneys general from 32 states filed briefs Friday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a definitive ruling on marriage equality.

BY SUNNIVIE BRYDUM

SEPTEMBER 05 2014 3:58 PM ET

Attorneys general from 32 states have asked the nation’s highest court to determine, once and for all, if same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, theAssociated Press reports. 

Top legal officials from 15 states that have already established marriage equality — and 17 states that have yet to do so — filed a pair of amici curiae, or friend-of-the-court briefs Friday, asking the Supreme Court toreview three cases currently pending before the court, regarding same-sex marriage in Virginia, Utah, and Oklahoma. 

The first brief, written by Colorado solicitor general Daniel D. Domenico, asks the nation’s highest court to review two cases: Oklahoma’s Bishop v. Smith as well as Rainey v. Bostic, a case out of Virginia brought by the American Foundation for Equal Rights and the legal team who defeated California’s Proposition 8. By granting review, a process known as writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to answer a question that only it can answer, the brief contends. Colorado, and by extension, other states withoug marriage equality, could face substantial legal fees from defending existing marriage bans if the Supreme Court ultimately strikes down such laws, the brief reads, according to the AP.  

Signing on to Colorado’s brief are attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

Top legal officials from 15 states that embrace marriage equality signed on to an amicus brief inHerbert v. Kitchen, a challenge to Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage that, when initially overturned last December, resulted in a brief window in which more than 1,300 same-sex couples were legally married in Utah. Led by Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley, attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington argue, “States do not need more time to ‘experiment’ with marriage equality or study its side effects.”

“The time has come to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from the institution of marriage,” reads the brief. “Twenty jurisdictions currently permit same-sex couples to marry, and they contain nearly half of the Nation’s population.”

The 16-page brief is straightforward in its explanation of why the nation’s highest court cannot wait to determine, once and for all, whether same-sex couples are constitutionally guaranteed a right to marry the person of their choosing. 

“The Court should settle this important issue to ensure equal access to marriage because the continued exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from the institution of marriage is unconstitutional and the harm suffered by these couples and their families is significant,” reads the brief. “Same-sex couples and their families are harmed legally, economically, and socially by being denied access to critical rights ranging from intestate inheritance to guaranteed access to healthcare benefits to joint filing of tax returns. They also suffer physical and psychological harm as a result of their second-class status.”

The brief also outright rejects the claims of antigay advocates who contend that allowing same-sex couples to marry will fundamentally change the institution of marriage and bring about dire, unintended consequences. 

“The consequences of permitting same-sex couples to marry are well understood in those States that have embraced marriage equality,” the brief reports, pointing to Massachusetts, 18 other states, and Washington, D.C., where same-sex couples can legally wed. “Ten years ago, same-sex couples were permitted to wed for the first time in the United States. While that historic moment reflected a significant advance toward equality for gay men and lesbians, it did not fundamentally change the institution of marriage. To the contrary, including same-sex couples has strengthened the institution and benefitted individuals, families, and communities. After a decade of experience with marriage equality, it is clear that there is no need for further ‘experimentation.'”

The Supreme Court is not obligated to take up any of the marriage equality cases before it, though many court-watchers expect a ruling regarding nationwide same-sex marriage within the next year or two. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently told Katie Couric that the court won’t duck its obligation to decide the issue and implied that she expects a decision to come down by 2016 at the latest.

“Based on our collective experience, the Amici States can attest that marriage equality has invigorated the institution,” concludes Coakley, writing for all 15 states that signed the brief. “After more than ten years of marriage equality, we understand its implications: more couples who love one another are free to marry; more children are able to enjoy the benefits and protections that attend their parents’ marital relationship; more families enjoy the privileged status and security conferred by civil marriage; and more communities benefit from the stability marriage facilitates. The institution has not suffered or been fundamentally altered. Nor has marriage equality diminished the privileged status of marriage in our society. It is time for marriage equality nationwide.”

 

Pink News – Michael Sam signs 4-year contract with St Louis Rams

Michael Sam has signed a four-year contract with the Rams
Michael Sam has signed a four-year contract with the Rams

Openly gay NFL player Michael Sam has signed a four-year contract with the St Louis Rams.

Sam, who came out in February this yearwhile playing for the University of Missouri, made history when he was drafted to the St Louis Rams in the seventh draft last month, becoming the first openly gay NFL player.

This week, Sam has officially signed onto a contract with the Rams, which Fox Sports reports is worth $2.65 million over four years, with $46,000 guaranteed.

Sam tweeted today: “Grateful, humbled, and motivated after officially signing with all my Rams rookie brothers. Let’s do this!! #RamUp”

NEW YORK TIMES – Republicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage

Republicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG
Published: February 25, 2013 17 Comments

WASHINGTON — Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.

The document will be submitted this week to the Supreme Court in support of a suit seeking to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative barring same-sex marriage, and all similar bans. The court will hear back-to-back arguments next month in that case and another pivotal gay rights case that challenges the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The Proposition 8 case already has a powerful conservative supporter: Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general under Mr. Bush and one of the suit’s two lead lawyers. The amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief is being filed with Mr. Olson’s blessing. It argues, as he does, that same-sex marriage promotes family values by allowing children of gay couples to grow up in two-parent homes, and that it advances conservative values of “limited government and maximizing individual freedom.”

Legal analysts said the brief had the potential to sway conservative justices as much for the prominent names attached to it as for its legal arguments. The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers — 75 as of Monday evening — who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who have changed their previous positions.

Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.

Ms. Pryce said Monday: “Like a lot of the country, my views have evolved on this from the first day I set foot in Congress. I think it’s just the right thing, and I think it’s on solid legal footing, too.”

Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor, who favored civil unions but opposed same-sex marriage during his 2012 presidential bid, also signed. Last week, Mr. Huntsman announced his new position in an article titled “Marriage Equality Is a Conservative Cause,” a sign that the 2016 Republican presidential candidates could be divided on the issue for the first time.

“The ground on this is obviously changing, but it is changing more rapidly than people think,” said John Feehery, a Republican strategist and former House leadership aide who did not sign the brief. “I think that Republicans in the future are going to be a little bit more careful about focusing on these issues that tend to divide the party.”

Some high-profile Republicans who support same-sex marriage — including Laura Bush, the former first lady; Dick Cheney, the former vice president; and Colin L. Powell, a former secretary of state — were not on the list as of Monday.

But the presence of so many well-known former officials — including Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, and William Weld and Jane Swift, both former governors of Massachusetts — suggests that once Republicans are out of public life they feel freer to speak out against the party’s official platform, which calls for amending the Constitution to define marriage as “the union of one man and one woman.”

By contrast, the brief, shared with The New York Times by its drafters, cites past Supreme Court rulings dear to conservatives, including the Citizens United decision lifting restrictions on campaign financing, and a Washington, D.C., Second Amendment case that overturned a law barring handgun ownership.

“We are trying to say to the court that we are judicial and political conservatives, and it is consistent with our values and philosophy for you to overturn Proposition 8,” said Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who came out as gay several years ago. He is on the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which brought the California suit, and has spent months in quiet conversations with fellow Republicans to gather signatures for the brief.

In making an expansive argument that same-sex marriage bans are discriminatory, the brief’s signatories are at odds with the House Republican leadership, which has authorized the expenditure of tax dollars to defend the 1996 marriage law. The law defines marriage in the eyes of the federal government as the union of a man and a woman.

Polls show that public attitudes have shifted drastically on same-sex marriage over the past decade. A majority of Americans now favor same-sex marriage, up from roughly one third in 2003.

While Republicans lag behind the general population — the latest New York Times survey found a third of Republicans favor letting gay people marry — that, too, is changing quickly as more young people reach voting age. Several recent polls show that about 70 percent of voters under 30 back same-sex marriage.

“The die is cast on this issue when you look at the percentage of younger voters who support gay marriage,” said Steve Schmidt, who was a senior adviser to the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona, and who signed the brief. “As Dick Cheney said years ago, ‘Freedom means freedom for everybody.’ ”

Still, it is clear that Republican backers of same-sex marriage have yet to bring the rest of the party around to their views. Mr. Feehery said there are regional as well as generational divisions, with opposition especially strong in the South. Speaking of Mr. Boehner, he said, “I doubt very seriously that he is going to change his position.”

Experts say that amicus briefs generally do not change Supreme Court justices’ minds. But on Monday some said that the Republican brief, written by Seth P. Waxman, a former solicitor general in the administration of President Bill Clinton, and Reginald Brown, who served in the Bush White House Counsel’s Office, might be an exception.

Tom Goldstein, publisher of Scotusblog, a Web site that analyzes Supreme Court cases, said the amicus filing “has the potential to break through and make a real difference.”

He added: “The person who is going to decide this case, if it’s going to be close, is going to be a conservative justice who respects traditional marriage but nonetheless is sympathetic to the claims that this is just another form of hatred. If you’re trying to persuade someone like that, you can’t persuade them from the perspective of gay rights advocacy.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: February 26, 2013

An earlier version of this article misstated the year in which Steve Schmidt was a senior adviser to Senator John McCain. It was 2008, not 2004.

A versi

Edge On The Net – New Proposition for Gays Tying the Knot

New Proposition for Gays Tying the Knot
by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Contributor
Tuesday Apr 17, 2012

When New York passed marriage equality last summer, New York couple Sam Street and Jonathan Tack had been together for 13 years. Encountering difficulties in finding appropriate wedding bands, the men founded Proposition Love, an online jewelry site that offers a wide selection of rings and other accessories and donates a percentage of profits to the marriage equality movement.

“The tradition of going to Tiffany’s or a mainstream jeweler just wasn’t appropriate for us,” said Tack. “I had a jewelry background and there was a need in the LGBT community for this. So we formed Proposition Love, which is a double entendre on a proposal, as well as a nod to Prop 8. We also decided to be proactive in the marriage equality movement by giving a portion of proceeds back to gay marriage.”

The two men had traveled to California to get married, and were one of the 18,000 couples whose union was grandfathered in before Proposition 8 voter initiative took effect.

“It was before the Presidential election, and John McCain and Sarah Palin had said that if elected, they would do away with gay marriage. So we didn’t know whether we would ever see it in our lifetime,” said Tack.

“It was a bittersweet experience for us,” added Street.

Their business has been in the works for a couple of years. The men exhibited at this year’s New York LGBT Expo at the Javits Center, and their website will go live this month. It features a blog from Street with the latest marriage equality news and events in the U.S. and around the world.

It was Street who came up with the idea of using the triangle symbol in the design of some of the jewelry, noting the history and importance behind the symbol.

“We also have a classic collection,” said Tack. “There is something for everyone. Our Countdown Collection features a ring for each of the states that passed marriage equality, with the date when the legislation was passed. As each state passes marriage equality, we will honor them and dedicate a ring for their state as a callout and reminder. We’re not going to stop until we have all 50 states!”

Street and Tack said that they wanted to target the higher-end market and make a better quality product than they had seen in their search for wedding bands. The price points range from $95-$2,000 retail, and rings can be ordered in 14 carat gold, white gold, yellow gold, and a cobalt alloy that is white in appearance, and all can be inlaid with diamonds. The Proposition Love logo is engraved on the inside of all of the jewelry.

“This isn’t just about rainbow flag jewelry,” said Tack. “We’re not doing that. We’re making quality pieces…and the reaction we’re getting is tremendous.”

Proposition Love has a gay Pride ring ready to launch for the upcoming Pride festivities, and will also carry pendants for straight allies, “reminiscent of the Lance Armstrong Livestrong bracelet.” People have also scooped up the company’s T-shirts featuring the Prop Love logo and pink triangle.

Tack and Street have partnered with a factory in the U.S. to make their jewelry, and offer engraving on all pieces. Their headquarters are in New York, and their business partner, Julie Hartstein, runs the California office.

“There is a whole worldwide movement supporting marriage equality, and we want to be a part of it,” said Street. “You think things are changing, but they don’t sometimes if you become complacent about what’s happening. It is important for us to be active for our rights.”

For more info, visit www.propositionlove.com

Winnie McCroy is a freelance writer based in New York City. She has written for publications including The Village Voice, The Advocate, Curve Magazine, Gay City News, and Chelsea Now.

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