Posts Tagged ‘marriage’


October 18, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

Freedom to marry garden stateCongratulations to loving same-sex New Jersey couples — the New Jersey Supreme Court today held that same-sex couples can marry starting Monday at 12:01 a.m., denying a stay while the court case winds its way through the appeals process.

In their decision, the Court wrote: “What is the public’s interest in a case like this? Like Judge Jacobson, we can find no public interest in depriving a group of New Jersey residents of their constitutional right to equal protection while the appeals process unfolds.”

The long, winding road to the freedom to marry in New Jersey began in earnest in 2002, when Lambda Legal filed Lewis v. Harris, which ended in 2006, with the NJ Supremes ruling that loving same-sex couples couldn’t be denied the rights and privileges of marriage without explicitly mandating the freedom to marry. The New Jersey legislature enacted civil unions, but Garden State Equality, New Jersey United for Marriage and Lambda Legal have been working since then to get full marriage.

The current case, Garden State Equality v. Dow, was filed in 2011, and on September 27, the New Jersey Superior Court found that in the wake of the Defense of Marriage Act case, civil unions no longer provided the same protections and benefits that marriage did, ruling that all loving couples in New Jersey must be allowed to marry, setting the effective date as October 21.

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.

County by County: New Mexico Embraces Freedom to Marry

August 27, 2013 By Josh Steichmann

In terms of marriage, New Mexico was an anomaly: the only state to have no laws at all regarding marriage for same-sex couples. No laws banned it, but neither was there any explicit affirmation. The marriage statutes were gender-neutral, the result of New Mexico’s 1973 Equal Rights Amendment, which stripped gendered language from state laws on deeds and inheritances to marriages.

In 2004, Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap, a Republican, announced she’d begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples, arguing that nothing prevented it. But after 66 couples were married, then-New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid ordered the county to stop. They’ve been in legal limbo ever since — lawsuits filed regarding the validity of the marriages were dropped, and the single court case involving a same-sex married couple was an incredibly narrow technical ruling that found the marriage was valid — for the purposes of splitting property in a divorce. Clerks had refrained from issuing licenses since.

That changed when Dona Aña County Clerk Lynn Ellins again reviewed the state’s statutes and concluded that there was still nothing preventing same-sex couples from getting married — New Mexico’s constitution prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, and the law had always been written in gender-neutral terms. Coincidentally, New Mexico public attitudes have shifted to favor marriage for same-sex couples by three points (45 to 42 percent). Ellins started issuing marriage licenses on August 21. Much kissing ensued. Read the rest of this entry »

Ready For Marriage

June 3, 2013 By John O'Connor

According to our new poll, Californians are ready for the freedom to marry. And whether the Supreme Court allows marriage for same-sex couples or denies it, we must be prepared.

In June, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on two cases related to the freedom to marry: Proposition 8 and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This is a historic moment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and by coming together and preparing now, we can show the breadth of our movement and the power of our love.

Our new polling shows that 55 percent of likely voters in California favor the freedom to marry.

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, we believe marriage for same-sex couples will return to California—and we will do what we need to do to ensure that happens. Which is why we need you to be ready too.

There are two ways you can get involved: Read the rest of this entry »

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DOMA at the Supreme Court: Reflections from Today’s Hearing

March 27, 2013 By Brenda Feigen

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out Brenda’s coverage of yesterday’s Supreme Court Hearing on Proposition 8.


Opponents of Equality were greatly outnumbered by those in support of marriage for same-sex couples

As I got close to the Court on my way to the DOMA hearing, I was greeted with big, ugly posters with Hate Fag language. Soon, I did see our people, and they took up all the rest of the street. A large press area was cordoned off. Once inside the Gallery, I saw a bunch of folks I know: all the heads of GLBT organizations seemed to be in the Bar section. Knowing, they paid a lot of money for placeholders. I was so grateful again to Justice Ginsburg for the gift of my tickets. Anyway, Edie Windsor was right in front of me. Soon I noticed Nancy Pelosi, and we had a conversation. She hates DOMA. I don’t know, however, if the Court fails to act, if she can muster the votes necessary to repeal it. Moving along, I was glad to see Ted Olson who argued so brilliantly yesterday against Prop 8, which I told him. Finally – and by this time we’d all been waiting at least an hour inside the Gallery, I saw Valerie Jarrett and had a very strong feeling she’d be rushing back to the White House later to fill in Obama.

At the stroke of 10:00 a.m. in they walked. Chief Justice Roberts, after housekeeping details and the issuance of their ruling against class certification in the Comcast case, called on the Amica, Vicki Jackson, a Harvard Law Professor, whose very first sentence was: “There is no justiciable case before this Court.” And thus began a more than hour-long examination into whether the Court may, by the Rules of Civil Procedure, determine DOMA’s constitutionality since the executive branch of the government agrees with Edie that DOMA does not pass muster. Is there a real case and controversy? On this point, Roberts said he didn’t see why the President didn’t have the courage of his convictions and stop enforcing DOMA, rather than ask the Supreme Court to decide for him.

In sum, I feel Justice Kennedy, who on the merits is no doubt the swing vote in this case, may be tempted to fuss that the case is not properly there. But given what he said later, I don’t think he’s going to abandon the need for our equal protection. Whether or not BLAG has standing, I do feel that 5 of them, at least, will get to the merits on our side. We should note here that we want BLAG to have had standing, BLAG having been appointed & hired by the House when the Administration decided it would enforce but not defend DOMA. If BLAG were to be found not to have standing, chaos reigns. The 2nd Circuit’s decision that DOMA is unconstitutional would stand. Edie would get her money back. What would happen in the other Circuits and for other federal benefits is quite a muddle and requires an entirely different and way too complicated discussion than we can embark on here. In fact, Nancy Pelosi gave me more bad news on this: Not only, she said quietly, did the Chair of the House Administration Committee authorize $1.7 million to pay for BLAG’s lawyers so far, there is another $3.3 million of our tax dollars ready for BLAG’s next legal bill. She, who has a lot of power in the House, seemed appalled at this.

It was 11:13 a.m. (and the Court usually ends hearings at noon) before they turned to the merits. It was already, I noticed later, 55 pages into the transcript by this time! The lawyer for BLAG, Clement, made almost no sense. Justice Breyer interrupted him off the bat, asking why treat gay marriage differently? And Justice Ginsburg observed in a tone that both warmed my heart and brought tears again to my eyes that every aspect of life is affected by DOMA, that the discrimination is pervasive. I am inserting here her words that set the tone for the rest of her remarks, as well as those of Justices Breyer and Sotomayor: Read the rest of this entry »

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Prop. 8 & DOMA Actions Across California

March 20, 2013 By Shaun Osburn

A number of LGBT and allied groups, grassroots leaders and families are organizing events all over the country including right outside the Supreme Court. Together we will remember how far we have come, and look forward to that moment when every American can marry the person that they love.

Los Angeles: Sunday, March 24th 6:30pm
Los Angeles City Hall (200 N Spring St, Los Angeles)

Inland Empire: Monday, March 25th 7:00pm
George E. Brown Federal Building and US Courthouse (3470 12th St, Riverside, CA)

Sacramento: Monday, March 25th 4pm
Sacramento Federal Courthouse (501 I St, Sacramento, CA)

San Diego: Monday, March 25th 6:30pm
San Diego Federal Court House (880 Front St, San Diego, CA)

San Francisco: Monday, March 25th 6:30pm
Harvey Milk Plaza (Corner of Castro and Market, San Francisco)

San Jose: Monday, March 25th 5:30pm
Billy DeFrank Center (938 The Alameda, San Jose, CA)

Fresno: Tuesday, March 26th 4pm
Fresno Federal Courthouse (2500 Tulare St, Fresno, CA)

Orange County: Tuesday, March 26th 6:30pm
Ronald Reagan Federal Building and Courthouse (411 W 4th Street, Santa Ana, CA)

Palm Springs: Tuesday, March 26th 6pm
Riverside County Building (Tahquitz and El Cielo, CA)

Santa Barbara: Tuesday, March 27th 5:30pm
Santa Barbara County Courthouse (1100 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, CA)

Santa Cruz: Wednesday, March 27th 5:30pm
Santa Cruz County Courthouse Steps (701 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz, CA)

San Francisco: Thursday, March 28th 5:30pm
San Francisco LGBT Community Center Rainbow Room (1800 Market Street at Octavia, San Francisco, CA)

And be sure to visit for a complete listing of all events across the nation.

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Obama To Back Marriage For Same-Sex Couples In Prop. 8 Case

February 28, 2013 By John O'Connor

When we asked you to contact President Obama and encourage him to file a friend-of-the-court brief in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Proposition 8 case, we knew that the strength of our movement has always been in the simple, honest yearning for equal respect and dignity. We knew that by asking you to contact the President, and giving a way for you to share your stories, that the President would listen.

And he did. The Justice Department filed a friend-of-the-court brief today urging the Supreme Court to strike down the unfair and unjust Proposition 8, which denies the freedom to marry to millions of Californians.

So today we thank President Obama for following his words with actions and giving our love his support from the highest office in the land. And we thank you. Your letters and stories made this possible, and when we look back at this historic moment, you can feel a justified pride in being a part of it.

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San Jose to File Amicus Brief in Prop 8 Case

February 13, 2013 By Guest Contributor

san jose city councilLast night, San Jose’s City Council took an important step towards invalidating California’s Proposition 8, when they voted 9-1-1 in favor of officially joining San Francisco in an amicus brief to challenge the Prop 8 in the United States Supreme Court. The Council’s support to ban Prop 8 is a move forward in achieving the freedom to marry in California, and in support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The decision was made possible thanks to the hard work, mobilization and community organizing done by the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, Pride at Work and the LGBT movement in San Jose, and the leadership from Councilmember Ash Kalra, as well as Xavier Campos, Kansen Chu, and Don Rocha to get the issue on the table.

“This is San Jose’s chance to affirmatively stand on the side of equality for all and on the right side of history,” said Councilmember Kalra in a press release.

— Shane Bannon and Linnea Högberg

Equality Roundup: National Exhalation Day

November 8, 2012 By Josh Steichmann

Whew. We made it. And we won!

Slate talks about the freedom to marry strategy. The short of it? A vindication for the campaign mode of appealing to reluctant voters emotionally. Heart cooks brain, essentially, and we finally made it work for us.

Ta-Nehisi Coates puts it in a hopeful context of a more representative America.

L.A. Times on Maryland and Maine, first to call freedom to marry. (We heard about Washington from a little birdie, maybe you saw it on Facebook.

Sally Ride was the first LGBT woman in space (that we know about); hopefully her successors kept that in mind when they voted.

A handy primer for those still muddled by federal versus state issues in the freedom to marry.

Check out all those LGBT freshmen (and women — freshmembers?) heading to Washington, DC.

The NY Times reminds us that sometimes equality happens by leaps.

Ohio could be up for overturning their odious law banning the freedom to marry.

Of course, Maggie and Brian say that just because they’ve lost, doesn’t mean they’ve lost.

With the defeat of Prop. 32, California rejected an elaborate money-laundering scheme from the Koch Bros. and other opponents of equality.