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Policy and Legal Update – November 25-December 1, 2013

Marriage Equality USA Projects Manager Ned Flaherty closely monitors marriage equality polls, ballots, laws, and lawsuits nationwide, and keeps the MEUSA website updated with changes in these areas on a near-daily basis. Every Monday we update you via our blog with policy and legal updates covering the preceding week.

You may always find the most up-to-date information, including changes that have taken place between these weekly posts, on the Current Policy & Legal Status page on the MEUSA website.

Policy & Legal Updates

25 November – 1 December, 2013


NATIONAL MAP


NATIONAL POLLS


NATIONAL LEGISLATION

  • On 20 November 2013, U.S. Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced the Protecting the Freedoms and Benefits for All Veterans Act (H.R. #3569), which would ensure that LGBT veterans and families are treated equally for Title 38 § 103(c) survivor benefits (death pension, life insurance, educational assistance, bereavement counselling, spouse benefits, flag honors, etc.).  Lawmakers favoring it include 4 Representatives (2 Democrats, 2 Republicans).  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

LAWSUITS

NEBRASKA  •  On 22 April 2013, in Harold Wilson & Gracy Sedlak v. State of Nebraska Correctional Services Department, et al., prison inmate Harold Wilson and his transgender partner and ex-prisoner Gracy Sedlak sued for visitation and marriage rights despite the 2000 NE constitutional ban on same-gender marriage.  On 7 November, a federal district court dismissed the suit.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

TENNESSEE  •  On 19 November 2013, in Valeria Tanco, et al. v. TN Governor William Haslam et al.,National Center for Lesbian Rights attorneys representing 4 legally married, same-gender couples asked a federal court for immediate protection of their families while their lawsuit challenging the TN marriage ban proceeds.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

HAWAII  •  On 15 November 2013, in McDermott v. Abercrombie, a state judge denied Republican state Representative Bob McDermott’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order, allowed same-gender civil marriages to start on 2 December 2013, and did not rule on the underlying case about the meaning of a 15-year old, marriage-related constitutional amendment, which is proceeding.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ARKANSAS  •  On 7 November 2013, in John Moix v. Libby Moix, the AR Supreme Court considered reversing a county judge’s restriction barring John Moix, represented by ACLU Arkansas, from letting his gay partner stay overnight when John’s son is visiting.  On 21 November 2013, the AR Supreme Court ruled in favor of John Moix, and halted the statewide policy of always banning child visitation with any parent who lives with an unmarried partner, regardless of individual circumstances.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

TEXAS  •  On 22 November 2013, Army National Guard Bureau General Frank Grass, under orders from Secretary of Defene Chuck Hagel, met with state generals and notified them that all service members and spouses must receive 100% of the federally funded ID cards and federally funded benefits that they have earned, regardless of any state-level bans on same-gender civil marriage.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

PENNSYLVANIA  •  On 22 November 2013, in Deb & Susan Whitewood v. PA Governor Tom Corbett et al., a federal lawsuit by 23 people challenging the 1996 PA law that bans same-gender marriage for residents, and that ignores out-of-state same-gender marriages, the judge rejected a request to delay the case, and set a trial date of 9 June 2014, but the former state Supreme Court justice defending the state said he is appealing the district court’s refusal to dismiss the case to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

WEST VIRGINIA  •  On 22 November 2013, in Casie Jo McGee, et al. v. Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole, et al., a federal lawsuit for three couples challenging the state law that bans marriage equality, the WV Attorney General announced that he will defend the WV ban on same-gender civil marriage.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

FLORIDA  •  On 22 November 2013, in John Becker v. University of Central Florida, FL hired former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Wells to fight the release of over 50,000 public records related to the publication of a widely discredited, anti-LGBT parenting study.  Also, Judge Donald Grincewicz who had handled the case since its start in spring 2013, inexplicably recused himself from further involvement, and an appellate court granted a stay in the case until a replacement judge is appointed.  The study is cited more often than any other by anti-LGBT groups worldwide, and the author is scheduled to testify in February that children of same-gender parents are less successful than children of mixed-gender parents inApril DeBoer & Jayne Rowse v. MI Governor Rick Snyder, et al.   •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

TEXAS  •  On 22 November 2013, in Cleopatra De Leon et al. v. TX Governor Rick Perry et al., the two same-gender couples in a Lambda Legal federal class action suit challenging the state marriage ban asked that the court halt the ban at the start of the case, instead of at the end, so that marriages may take place while the case proceeds.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

MICHIGAN  •  On 24 November 2013, in DeBoer, et al. v. MI Governor Richard Snyder, et al., a lesbian couple that is challenging the constitutionality of MI marriage and adoption laws asked that their trial be split into 2 parts:  (1) constitutionality of marriage/adoption laws; and (2) deciding what scrutiny level is required when judging laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation.   •  MEUSA Summary  • News Source

TEXAS  •  On 7 November 2013, OK ceased processing benefits for all Army National Guard personnel, thereby ending its discrimination against personnel with same-gender spouses.  On 26 November 2013, TX Military Forces (TX Army National Guard) agreed to process benefits applications for military personnel with same-gender spouses in TX, but only if the U.S. Department of Defense provides all funding, personnel, and systems.  FL, IN, OK, TX, and WV are now accepting same-gender spouse benefit applications, but GA, LA, MS, and SC are still unlawfully refusing them.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ILLINOIS  •  On 25 November 2013, in Vernita Gray, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr, a federal judge ruled that terminally ill Vernita Gray (represented by Lambda Legal) is legally allowed to marry her lesbian partner Patricia Ewert immediately, instead of waiting until 1 June 2014 when IL begins issuing same-gender civil marriage licenses, and the license was delivered a few hours later.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

OREGON  •  On 25 November 2013, in an internal federal employee Employment Dispute (but not a lawsuit) brought by former federal clerk Margaret Fonberg, an administrative panel of 3 federal judges ordered back pay of $6,000 plus interest to compensate for discrimination faced when Fonberg’s domestic partner was denied federal health insurance.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

HAWAII  •  On 26 November 2013, in McDermott v. Abercrombie, Republican state Representative Bob McDermott filed a motion in state court seeking to invalidate the new marriage equality law, in addition to the case itself, which seeks to reinterpret a 15-year old amendment to the state constitution.  A hearing is scheduled for 13 January 2014.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

LOUISIANA  •  On 27 November 2013, in Jonathan Robicheaux and Derek Penton, et al. v. LA Attorney General James Caldwell, a federal lawsuit challenging the LA constitutional amendment and state law banning same-gender civil marriage in LA and elsewhere, the court dismissed the case because it named only the LA attorney general and it omitted the LA Department of Revenue.  On 2 December 2013, plaintiffs are expected to amend the suit and add the DoR Secretary.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

LOUISIANA  •  In 2013, In Re Constanza and Brewer, a same-gender couple (Angla Marie Costanza and Chastity Shanelle Brewer) sought LA recognition of their CA marriage and a joint adoption.  On 26 July 2013, a state judge ruled against them.  On 25 September 2013, they appealed that decision.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source


STATE LEGISLATION & POLLS

MINNESOTA  •  On 15 November 2013, the eighth federally recognized Native American tribe began marrying same-gender couples, as the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, witnessed its first such marriage, between native American Arnold Dahl and his new husband Matthew Wooley.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ILLINOIS  •  On 20 November 2013, in Chicago, IL, at a desk once used by President Abraham Lincoln, Governor Quinn signed a bill that upgrades the civil union law to a full marriage equality law, while at a cathedral in Springfield, IL, Bishop Thomas Paprocki condemned equality, called same-gender marriage a grave, demonic, evil sin, and publicly performed an official Roman Catholic Exorcism (2004 Latin Edition) to cast Satan out of Illinois.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

TEXAS  •  On 20 November 2013, Houston, TX began issuing life/health insurance to legally married same-gender spouses of municipal employees, per the city attorney’s legal opinion that it is unconstitutional to deny equal protection under the law.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

GEORGIA  •  On 4 August 2013, Public Policy Polling surveyed 520 Georgia voters on same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 32% support it, 60% oppose it, and 9% are unsure.  Separately, 28% of voters support full marriage, 29% support civil unions only, 39% oppose all legal recognition, and 3% are unsure.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

GEORGIA  •  On 23 September 2013, Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper surveyed 801 Georgia adults about same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 48% favor it, 43% oppose it, and 9% don’t know or do not answer.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

KENTUCKY  •  On 21 November 2013, Lexington, KY joined Berea, Louisville, and Covington when the Urban County Council voted unanimously to offer domestic partner benefits to city employees.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

VIRGINIA  •  On 26 November 2013, VA state Senator Adam Ebbin and VA state Delegate Joseph Morrissey introduced a bill to repeal the VA constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage.  The bill would have to pass the current General Assembly in 2014, then pass again with many new lawmakers in 2016, then be passed by voters via the 2016 general election ballot.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

OHIO  •  In December 2013, Representatives Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) and Timothy Derickson (R-Hanover Township) are introducing the Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which would legalize all discrimination whenever the discriminator claims it is based on personal religious beliefs.  The bill is promoted by numerous anti-LGBT hate groups, including:  CCV (Citizens for Community Values), AFA (American Family Association), FotF (Focus on the Family), FRC (Family Research Council), Liberty University, Liberty Counsel, COAST (Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending & Taxes), and the Ohio Republican Party.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source


STATE BALLOTS & POLLS

VRGINIA  •  On 18 November 2013, VA state Senator Adam Ebbin and VA state Delegate Joseph Morrissey introduced bills to repeal the 2006 constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage.  If lawmakers approve both bills during the 2014 and the 2016 sessions, a voter referendum would occur in November 2016.  • MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

OREGON  •  On 19 November 2013, Nike created the Nike Equality Political Action Committee, a foundation that raises funds to help Oregon United For Marriage upgrade civil unions to full equality at the ballot box in November 2014.  The company and its executives already donated $280,000.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

OREGON  •  On 21 November 2013, two anti-LGBT organizations (Friends of Religious Freedom, Oregon Family Council) filed a ballot measure to legalize discrimination against same-gender couples seeking commercial wedding services whenever the discriminators use religion as their excuse.  If the wording is approved by state officials, the sponsors would have to gather 87,213 valid signatures to get the measure on the November 2014 ballot.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source


Send questions and comments to:  NFlaherty@MarriageEquality.org.

About Marriage Equality USA

Marriage Equality USA is a volunteer-driven national grassroots organization whose mission is: "To secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all, without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity, at the state and federal level through grassroots organizing, education, action and partnerships". We are a registered 501(c)3.

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