BLOG | Archive for the ‘DOMA Repeal’ Category

100 Days Later

October 4, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

100 days from SCOTUS marriage100 days ago, the Supreme Court struck down the central portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, and dismissed the last gasp appeal of the Prop. 8 supporters, returning the freedom to marry to California. Across the country, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people cheered along with allies who supported the vision of an America where everyone could marry the person that they love.

Since then, we’ve seen a parade of victories at the federal level, from the Department of Homeland Security allowing same-sex spouses full immigration privileges to the IRS issuing new rules to make sure loving same-sex couples are recognized, to the first same-sex weddings on U.S. military bases. We’ve seen big marriage victories in New Mexico and New Jersey, and we’ve seen the roll-out of the biggest advance in LGBT healthcare in our lifetimes with the Affordable Care Act.

Here in California, we’ve seen the federal courts uphold SB 1172, which ended the psychological abuse of LGBT youth by licensed therapists, we’ve seen transgender students win both with the passage and signing of the School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266), which ensures that transgender students can participate as their authentic selves in school, and at the Arcadia Unified School District, which settled a lawsuit and implemented policies to ensure transgender equality.  Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom to Marry Affirmed in NJ Court Decision

September 27, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

new jersey freedom to marryNew Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson granted a summary decision today in favor of plaintiffs, represented by Lambda Legal, seeking the freedom to marry in New Jersey.

The decision rests on two points: First, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided in the 2006 Lewis v. Harris case that New Jersey’s constitution requires same-sex couples be granted the same rights as opposite-sex couples, something that had until now been resolved with civil unions.

But given the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which overturned the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples who are married are now entitled to the same federal rights and benefits as any other married couple, which does not apply to civil unions.

Given that, Jacobson held that in order for same-sex couples to have the same protections and rights, the current ban on same-sex marriage could not be constitutional. She ordered that marriage licenses for same-sex couples are to be granted starting Oct. 21.

Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who will likely seek the Presidential nomination in 2016, had held that it was constitutional to exclude same-sex couples from marriage, and will likely appeal.

AG Holder ends Exclusion of Same-sex Couples from Veteran Benefits

September 4, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Saluting LGBT veterans

In a letter (PDF, Washington Blade) issued today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder informed Speaker of the House John Boehner that the Department of Justice would no longer be enforcing sections 101(3) and 101(31) of Title 38, which covers veterans’ benefits.

In plain English, that means that same-sex spouses of veterans are entitled to the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses.

Holder cites the Windsor case, where the Supreme Court ruled that treating married same-sex couples differently for tax purposes violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause, arguing that under the court’s decision, treating same-sex spouses differently in veteran’s benefits would violate the same due process protection.

He goes on to mention that the only reason why the Department of Justice was enforcing them was because the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — the same folks who defended DOMA — were still defending them. Since BLAG recently dropped that case, Holder saw no reason to keep enforcing the discriminatory portions of the law even without having a clear court ruling on those portions specifically. Continuing to enforce those previsions would only have “tangible adverse effects” on same-sex spouses of veterans.

It’s a win, and one more stop on the road to full equality.

John Kerry: Same-Sex Visa Applicants Given Equal Treatment

August 2, 2013 By Jesse Melgar
U.S. Department of State updates policy pertaining to U.S. visas for same-sex spouses.

U.S. Department of State updates policy pertaining to U.S. visas for same-sex spouses.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced today that effective immediately the United States will treat the visa applications of same-sex spouses in the same manner as opposite-sex spouses.

The policy change will apply to American citizens as well as foreign same-sex couples, dependent only on the marriage having taken place in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage.

“Effective immediately, when same-sex spouses apply for a visa, the Department of State will consider that application in the same manner that it will consider the application of opposite-sex spouses,” announced Kerry at the U.S. Embassy in London.

“If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are the spouse of a noncitizen your visa application will be treated equally.”

The State Department posted a new FAQ document which can be found here that addresses U.S. Visas for Same-Sex Spouses.