Summer Finale: ‘doing this stupid thing’
SEVENTH CIRCUIT STUNNER: Many people who listened to the oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Tuesday, August 26, were struck by how aggressively the judges grilled attorneys for Indiana and Wisconsin to justify the states’ bans on same-sex couple marriages. The panel sounded unconvinced that either state could justify its law. Reagan appointee Judge Richard Posner implied the states were trying to justify their bans by saying, ‘We’ve been doing this stupid thing for a hundred years, a thousand years, we’ll keep doing it, ‘cause it’s tradition.’ Judge David Hamilton, an appointee of President Obama, likened the arguments to ban same-sex couples from marriage to arguments trying to preserve segregated schools in Brown v. Board. And Judge Ann Claire Williams, an appointee of President Clinton, said, bluntly, “I just don’t see how you get around Loving,” referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down bans against interracial marriages. The audio of both arguments, Baskin v. Bogan from Indiana and Wolf v. Walker from Wisconsin, can be heard on the circuit’s website.
NINTH CIRCUIT REJECTS NOM REQUEST: A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted two motions from Oregon on Wednesday, August 27, in a marriage equality case there. The panel dismissed an effort by the National Organization for Marriage to intervene in a case to defend the state ban on same-sex couple marriages. It also dismissed NOM’s appeal a district court judge’s ruling that the state ban is unconstitutional.
SUPREME COURT STAYS THE FOURTH: The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, August 20, granted a stay of the Fourth Circuit’s decision striking down Virginia’s marriage ban on same-sex couples. The action by the full bench was the second time the high court has intervened to delay enforcement of lower court decisions that would allow same-sex couples to marry. The first was in a Utah case in the Tenth Circuit. Both the Fourth Circuit case, McQuigg v. Bostic, and the Tenth Circuit case, Herbert v. Kitchen, have petitioned the Supreme Court for a final ruling on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex couples marrying. Interestingly, the court’s order in the Virginia case stated that, “Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically.” That suggests a strong possibility that the high court will grant cert to the Virginia case …or that it is comfortable with allowing marriages to proceed for same-sex couples in Virginia.
TENTH CIRCUIT ISSUES STAY: A two-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit on Thursday, August 21, issued an order to continue a stay against enforcement of a decision striking down Colorado’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. In Burns v. Colorado, the panel noted the Tenth Circuit had issued similar stays in cases involving the bans in Utah and Oklahoma and noted that, one day earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court had extended a stay in a Virginia case.
TEMPE ARIZONA VOTE NON-DISCRIMINATION: Tempe voters on Tuesday, August 26, approved ballot Proposition 475 to amend the city charter to prohibit discrimination against city employees based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and veteran status. The vote made Tempe the first Arizona city to protect LGBT employees against discrimination. The ballot measure expands protections passed in February by the city council to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in housing, private employment, and public accommodations.
ABERCROMBIE BLAMES LOSS ON MARRIAGE FIGHT: Although news analysts tell another story, Hawaii Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie is blaming his primary defeat this month on his push for marriage equality in the state legislature. But Abercrombie told Associated Press he does not regret having forced the legislature into a special session last November to address the matter. “There’s no way I could live with myself if I thought I was diminishing another human being’s ability to reach their full capacity,” he told AP. Most news reports in Hawaii blamed the loss on Abercrombie’s proposal to tax pensions, cut Medicare reimbursements, and cut pay for teachers and nurses.
MAINE GROUP WON’T ENDORSE IN SENATE RACE: Equality Maine said Friday, August 29, it will not make an endorsement in the U.S. Senate race between longtime incumbent Republican Susan Collins and Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows. According to Associated Press, the group issued a statement saying both candidates were pro-gay. The Human Rights Campaign endorsed Collins in June after she made a statement supporting marriage equality.
CRIST ADVANCES IN FLORIDA: Former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist won the Democratic primary Tuesday, August 26, in his effort to unseat current Republican Governor Rick Scott. The Miami Herald predicts the Crist v. Scott race will be “brutal.” The Herald reported Log Cabin Republicans of Miami endorsed the current Republican Governor, Scott. Acknowledging that Scott has never supported marriage equality, the group said it is not a one-issue organization and credited Scott with improving the state’s economy. Meanwhile, Crist sent a letter to Scott Friday, urging the current governor to declare the state’s ban on same-sex couple marriages “finished.”
IN FLORIDA, ANOTHER FEDERAL RULING: A federal district court judge in Tallahassee on Thursday issued an order declaring the state ban on marriage for same-sex couples to be unconstitutional. But Judge Robert Hinkle stayed most of his order in the consolidated cases of Brenner v. Scott and Grimsley v. Scott, pending appeal. (The exception: Hinkle ordered the state to correct the death certificate to include the deceased’s same-sex spouse as her surviving spouse.) Calling the ban an “obvious pretext for discrimination,” Hinkle noted, “The founders of this nation said in the preamble to the United States Constitution that a goal was to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity. Liberty has come more slowly for some than for others.”
FLORIDA SUPREME COURT TO WEIGH IN: The Florida Supreme Court announced Wednesday, August 27, that it will determine the constitutionality of the state laws banning same-sex couples from marrying and banning the state from recognizing marriage licenses obtained by same-sex couples in other states. The court’s notice said the issues are of “great public importance and will have a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout the state.” Several state courts have ruled the bans unconstitutional. The state supreme court will decide the issue in a divorce case, Shaw v. Shaw.
NEW DRUG CONTROL CZAR NOMINEE: President Obama on Thursday, August 28, nominated an openly gay man, Michael Botticelli, to become director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Botticelli has been deputy director since 2012 and acting director since March. In recovery himself for 24 years, Botticelli won the Ramstad/Kennedy National Award for Outstanding Leadership in Promoting Addiction Recovery in 2008. The Office leads the administration’s community-based programs to reduce drug abuse.
19 PERCENT IN L.A. FOSTER CARE ARE LGBT: A Williams Institute report Wednesday, August 29, says that 19 percent of the 7,400 youth in foster care in Los Angeles County are LGBTQ youth.
SUING FOR VET BENEFITS: Lambda Legal filed a “petition for review” Monday, August 18, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to review the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs assessment that it cannot provide equal benefits to the same-sex spouses of veterans. The benefits are denied, says the lawsuit, because the VA determines whether a veteran is married based on where the couple lives, not where they were married. The lawsuit is American Military Partner Association v. Robert McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
NO WHERE TO TURN: The United Nations has recorded 35 LGBT people from Uganda in its refugee camp in neighboring Kenya, reports Associated Press. But some are being targeted for hostilities by others among the 155,000 refugees in the camp, and the Kenyan parliament is considering a bill that would call for stoning foreign gays to death.
UGANDA AGITATOR MAKES THE BALLOT: Anti-gay activist Scott Lively, who has become notorious for promoting anti-gay legislation in Uganda, has turned in enough signatures to make the November ballot in Massachusetts’ governor’s race. Chances for Lively, running as a non-party candidate, are extremely remote; he’ll be one of five names on the ballot in a race heavily favored for either a Democrat or Republican. The major parties will pick their candidate next Tuesday, September 9, according to the Boston Globe.
PLAYWRIGHT ACTIVIST LARRY KRAMER RECOGNIZED: AIDS activist Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” won Best Television Movie at the Emmys Monday night. A frail-looking Kramer came to the podium with Ryan Murphy, who directed the HBO movie and accepted the award, asking young people watching the show to “become young Larry Kramers.”
GAY DATING APP REVEALS USER LOCATION: Business Insider reported Friday that a dating app for gay men, called Grindr, has a “security flaw” that enabled an “anonymous internet user” to create a map that displays the names, photos, and locations of other Grindr users.
RAMS CUT MICHAEL SAM: The St. Louis Rams announced yesterday that they were cutting 21 players from its roster to meet the National Football League’s maximum of a 53-player team, and among those cut was openly gay player Michael Sam.
NFL PUNTER SETTLES DISPUTE: Pro gay football NFL player Chris Kluwe settled his wrongful termination dispute against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, last week. According to the New York Times, Kluwe agreed not to file his intended lawsuit in return for agreements from the Vikings to make contributions to five LGBT charities during the next five years.