Los Angeles Times – Gay marriage ruling: Supreme Court finds DOMA unconstitutional

Gay marriage ruling: Supreme Court finds DOMA unconstitutional

By David G. Savage
June 26, 2013, 7:06 a.m.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples.

The decision is a landmark win for the gay rights movement. It voids a section of the law known as DOMA, which was adopted with bipartisan support in Congress in 1996 to deny all benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.

At that time, no state permitted gays and lesbians to marry. Now, 12 states and the District of Columbia authorize same-sex marriages.

FULL COVERAGE: Prop. 8 and DOMA

Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the 5-4 majority, said DOMA was unconstitutional because it violated the right to liberty and to equal protection for gay couples.

“By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute” violates the Constitution, he said

Dissenting were Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

The ruling means that more than 100,000 gay and lesbian couples who are legally married will be able to take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits that are available to other married couples.

Four years ago, several gay couples who were married in Massachusetts launched a lawsuit to challenge DOMA, arguing it denied them equal protection of the laws. They won before a federal judge in Boston and before the federal appeals court there.

DOCUMENTS: Supreme Court decisions on DOMA, Prop. 8

Their win prompted the Obama administration to switch course and join with the challengers, who said the law was discriminatory. House Republicans voted to take up the legal defense of the law.

When the issue reached the Supreme Court, the justices voted to decide a case brought by Edith Windsor, a New York widow who was sent a $363,000 estate tax bill by the Internal Revenue Service after her wife died in 2009.

The decision leaves in place another provision in the law that says no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in any other state. That provision was not under challenge.

Reuters -After court rules, California gay marriage fight may go on

After court rules, California gay marriage fight may go on

 

By Peter Henderson

SAN FRANCISCO | Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:11am EDT
(Reuters) – The fight over legalizing gay marriage in the most populous U.S. state may go back to the ballot box in 2014 with California voters asked once again to settle the matter even after the Supreme Court’s expected ruling this month on the issue.

Experts believe the top court is unlikely to proclaim a national right to same-sex marriage in its decisions. The court is set to rule on a challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage and on a provision of federal law denying certain benefits for married same-sex couples.

At issue is California’s 2008 prohibition on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8. Lower federal courts struck down the ban, and a high court majority appears likely to rule in a way that would affect only Californians.

A vast array of legal issues, from the procedural question of who can legally defend a ballot proposition to more consequential questions of states’ rights, leaves room for continuing uncertainty over the fate of Proposition 8. That has prompted each side to prepare a Plan B.

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California could help to shape the national agenda again.

California voters in 2008 ended a summer of court-approved gay marriage by adopting Proposition 8. The proposal, backed by 52 percent of voters, changed the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

That enraged and energized the national gay rights movement while offering social conservatives proof that their message resonated even in a state known for its liberal leanings.

For gay marriage supporters, buoyed by laws permitting gay marriage in now 12 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, a California ballot initiative would be a chance to recover from their biggest loss.

For gay marriage opponents, it would be a chance to regain momentum.

“It’s the biggest state in the union. It is a state that has twice voted for traditional marriage, and if we were able to prevail here, I think it would be an incredible feat, and would certainly cut the legs out from the inevitability argument,” said Frank Schubert, who led the 2008 campaign to pass the ban.

2014 ELECTION GOAL

Social liberals, who are among the biggest supporters of same-sex marriage, generally turn out to vote most in presidential elections, which would suggest the best time to challenge Prop 8 would be November 2016.

 

But state gay rights groups don’t want to wait, and they universally predict that if the need arose, they would fight at the ballot box in November 2014 when Americans hold midterm Congressional elections and California elects a governor.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of people in the donor community and outside the donor community,” said John O’Connor, the new head of Equality California, the group which led opposition to Prop 8. “There is a sense of readiness,” he said. Groups are ready to launch a coalition, he added.

The 2008 pro-gay-marriage campaign was generally seen as lacking a clear message, ignoring minority groups and bedeviled by complacency that gay marriage support was assured.

“The lessons of Prop 8 have been learned. The lessons of victories have been internalized,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

An Equality California poll this month found 55 percent of likely voters favored gay marriage. However, that is no guarantee; a Field Poll from September 2008 showed 55 percent of likely voters would oppose the Prop 8 ban. Less than two months later it passed.

Schubert is concerned about same-sex marriage supporters’ recent fundraising success. “We can’t go through another year like we did last year where we get outspent four to one,” he said.

The 2008 ballot fight was one of the most expensive in state history, costing more than $80 million, with both sides raising more than $40 million in 2008.

Both sides aim to reach out to faith groups and minority groups, which are especially important in diverse California, and to do so early on. In fact, California groups have been doing grassroots support-building since 2008, in particular aiming to get gays and lesbians to discuss marriage with straight friends and family.
Gay marriage supporters signal they will seek to avoid a long million-dollar signature-gathering campaign to get an initiative on the ballot. Instead they hope Democrats will use their supermajority in the state legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman)

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ADVOCATE.COM – Minnesota Senate Adds Its Blessing to Same-Sex Weddings

Minnesota Senate Adds Its Blessing to Same-Sex Weddings
In a vote of 37-30, the state Senate approved a marriage equality bill. The governor is expected to sign the legislation Tuesday.
BY SUNNIVIE BRYDUM MAY 13 2013 3:59 PM ET

Following several hours of often emotional testimony, the Minnesota state Senate voted in favor of marriage equality Monday. The final vote was 37-30.

Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign the legislation on Tuesday, The Star Tribune reports. Gay and lesbian Minnesotans can begin getting married August 1.

A far-reaching amendment that would have allowed individuals and organizations to refuse goods, services, and accommodations to same-sex couples based on sincerely held religious beliefs was overwhelmingly defeated by a vote of 42-25.

Senators opposed to the bill evoked fearful rhetoric about the endangerment of religious freedom and the “unknown consequences” of “redefining marriage.”

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One senator, who introduced a failed amendment to make sure the words “mother” and “father” were universally codified i

n state statutes, hoped the chamber would step 16 years back, to when the Minnesota Senate overwhelmingly voted to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“I think this is a wrong step in history, a step that we should not be going down,” said Sen. Torrey Westrom. “I think we should affirm what the legislature did in 1997. … If marriage is about marrying who you love, where does that stop?” asked Westrom, before his mike was cut, presumably because he ran out of his allotted speaking time.

Sen. Roger Reinert, a member of the Democrat-Farmwe-Labor party from Duluth, spoke movingly about the love the

unmarried senator hopes to find in his own life.

“I vote today to give something that is not really mine to give,” he said. “I vote today to recognize for all the very same desires that I have for myself. I vote today to ratify the right for all to life, liberty, and the pursuit of public happiness.”

The Minnesota House of Representatives approved the bill Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 75-59, including “aye” votes from four Republicans. In November, Minnesota voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned marriage for same-sex couples, only the second time an electorate had rejected such an antigay proposal.

TIME – Same-Sex Couples Welcome Delaware Gay Marriage Law

Same-Sex Couples Welcome Delaware Gay Marriage Law

By AP / Randall ChaseMay 07, 2013129 Comments

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Mikki Snyder-Hall married her partner, Claire, in California in 2008, and moved two years ago to Rehoboth, a gay-friendly Delaware beach town.

Now they’re looking forward to July 1, when Delaware officially becomes the 11th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage after Gov. Jack Markell signed a gay marriage bill into law Tuesday.

“As of July, we are considered married,” said Snyder-Hall said. The couple said that while they don’t intend to have another wedding ceremony, they may have another reception to celebrate their new legal status in Delaware.

Markell, a Democrat, signed the measure into law just minutes after its passage by the state Senate on Tuesday.

“I do not intend to make any of you wait one moment longer,” a smiling Markell told about 200 jubilant supporters who erupted in cheers and applause following the 12-9 Senate vote barely half an hour earlier.

(MORE: How Gay Marriage Won)

“Delaware should be, is and will be a welcoming place to live and love and to raise a family for all who call our great state home,” Markell said.

Delaware’s same-sex marriage bill was introduced in the Democratic-controlled legislature barely a year after the state began recognizing same-sex civil unions. The bill won passage two weeks ago in the state House on a 23-18 vote.

While it doesn’t give same-sex couples any more rights or benefits under Delaware law than they have in civil unions, supporters argued that same-sex couples deserve the dignity and respect of married couples. They also noted that if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars married gay couples from receiving federal benefits, civil unions would not provide protections or tax benefits under federal law to same-sex couples in Delaware.

“All couples under the law should be treated equally by their government,” Lisa Goodman, president of Equality Delaware, a gay rights group that drafted the legislation and led the effort to get it passed, told lawmakers near the end of Tuesday’s three-hour debate.

Under the bill, no new civil unions will be performed in Delaware after July 1, and existing civil unions will be converted to marriages over the next year. The legislation also states that same-sex unions established in other states will be treated the same as marriages under Delaware law.

Scott Forrest, 50, of Newark said he and his partner of almost 21 years, Kevin Fenimore, look forward to having the civil union they entered into last year converted to marriage.

“I am elated,” he said.

Lambda Legal, a national gay rights advocacy group, applauded passage of Delaware’s gay marriage bill.

“Today, we celebrate with the thousands of Delaware same-sex couples and their children who will soon be able to have the full recognition and respect accorded to married families,” Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, said in a statement.

Tuesday’s debate included the first public acknowledgment by Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, that she is a lesbian. Saying she and her partner of 24 years entered into a civil union last year, Peterson rejected the notion that people choose to be gay, any more than they choose to be heterosexual.

“We are what God made us. We don’t need to be fixed, we’re not broken,” said Peterson, 63, adding that if her pursuit of happiness affects someone else’s marriage, perhaps they need to work on their marriage.

(INTERACTIVE: Timeline of the Gay Rights Movement in the U.S.)

But opponents of gay marriage, including scores of conservative religious leaders from across the state, argued that same-sex marriage redefines and destroys a centuries-old institution that is a building block of society.

“Let’s be careful about the concept of social evolution,” said the Rev. Leonard Klein, a Roman Catholic priest speaking on behalf of the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, which serves more than 200,000 Catholics in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“When you remove male and female from the definition of marriage, all bets are off,” added Klein, who urged lawmakers to show an “appropriate humility” for thousands of years of human experience.

Opponents also argued that the gay marriage will bring unintended and unforeseen consequences on broader issues ranging from religious freedom to school curricula and could be used as a basis to argue for acceptance of even more forms of marriage, such as polygamy.

“We’re about to change the entire definition of marriage in order to make people feel good about themselves,” said the Rev. Chuck Betters, pastor of Glasgow Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bear. Betters recounted how he became the subject of scathing attacks in social media recently after posting a sign outside his church suggesting that Christianity was more powerful than the movement for gay marriage.

The new law does not force clerics to perform same-sex marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. But under an existing Delaware law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, business owners who refuse to provide marriage-related services to same-sex couples for reasons of conscience could be subject to discrimination claims.

Delaware joins neighboring Maryland and the nearby District of Columbia as jurisdictions that have approved gay marriage. Last week, Rhode Island became the 10th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, with independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee signing the bill an hour after its final passage.

Minnesota appeared poised to legalize gay marriage after the Democratic speaker of the state House said Tuesday that a gay marriage bill endorsed by the governor and likely to pass in the state Senate also now has enough backing in his chamber. The House will vote on the measure Thursday, and if it passes, the Democratic-led Senate could vote on it as soon as Saturday.

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/05/07/delaware-to-become-11th-state-with-gay-marriage/#ixzz2SnDQjR4Y