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
December 16 – 22, 2013
• On 19 & 20 December 2013, MEUSA’s National Marriage Map was updated to reflect the results of the rulings from both the NM Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court for UT: (1) Over 39% of Americans live in 19 states that have adopted full, state-level equality: CA, CT, DC, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, RI, UT, VT, WA); (2) and more live cities, counties, or states with partial equality (mainly CO, NV, OR, WI), but 50% live in 33 jurisdictions that still ban all types of unions except one-man-one-woman couples. • Map
COLORADO • On 6 December 2013, in Charlie Craig & David Mullins v. Masterpiece Cakeshop et al.,a CO judge ruled that: (1) a baker violated the CO Public Accommodation Law by refusing to sell a cake to a same-gender couple, and (2) having to sell all products to all couples does not violate any baker’s free speech rights, or anyone’s rights to free exercise of religion. Equality opponents cite this famous case frequently when they argue that marriage equality ends religious freedom and free speech. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
ILLINOIS • On 16 December 2013, in Darby v. Orr, a federal judge agreed with Lambda Legal attorneys, and ordered that all IL couples in which a partner suffers a life-threatening illness can marry prior to the 1 June 2014 start of same-gender civil marriages. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
ILLINOIS • On 6 December 2013, in Brenda Lee, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr, four same-gender couples filed a federal suit seeking to marry immediately instead of waiting for the 1 June start date. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
PENNSYLVANIA • On 17 December 2013, in Deb & Susan Whitewood v. PA Governor Tom Corbett et al., in which 23 people are challenging the 1996 PA law that bans same-gender marriage for residents, and that ignores out-of-state same-gender marriages, U.S. District Judge John Jones rejected the argument of PA lawyers (whose team charges at least $725 each hour) that this court lacks authority to decide the case, and then he blocked any higher court review at this time. The trial starts on 9 June 2014. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
TEXAS • On 17 December 2013, in Jack Pidegon & Larry Hicks vs. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, et al., with plaintiffs represented by Harris County GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill, a TX district judge temporarily prohibited Houston, TX from offering partner benefits to same-gender couples. A hearing is set for 6 January 2014. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
ILLINOIS • On 17 December 2013, in Darby v. Orr, the court dismissed the case since the relief that the plaintiffs were seeking occurred when IL enacted a same-gender civil marriage law on 5 November 2013. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
NEW MEXICO • On 19 December 2013, in Rose Griego, et al., v. NM Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Oliver, the NM Supreme Court unanimously ruled that same-gender and mixed-gender couples, and their civil marriages, are guaranteed equal rights, protection, and responsibilities under the law, effective immediately. The court rejected 3 arguments put forth by the opponents of equality: (1) mixed-gender marriages benefit when same-gender marriages are banned and mixed-gender marriages suffer when same-gender marriages are allowed; (2) marriage requires procreation and procreation requires marriage; and (3) same-gender couples don’t raise children from prior marriage, fertilization, surrogacy, foster care, and/or adoption. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
WEST VIRGINIA • On 17 December 2013, in Casie Jo McGee, et al. v. Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole, et al., the WV attorney general asked a federal judge to dismiss the suit challenging WV’s law banning same-gender civil marriage, arguing that the plaintiffs, who are not now legally married anywhere, are suffering no harm. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
ARKANSAS • On 19 December 2013, in Kendall Wright et al. v. AR Governor Michael Beebe, et al., in which 21 same-gender couples seek to overturn the 2004 AR constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, the statutory ban, and the federal law allowing states to ignore same-gender marriages from other states, the judge decided not to dismiss the suit, and also decided that couples may not marry while the case is pending. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
UTAH • On 20 December 2013, in Kitchen, et al. v. Utah Attorney General John Swallow, et al., the court rejected UT’s arguments that: (1) marriage is not a right; (2) states can deny marriage to certain citizens; (3) “responsible procreation” is a reason to exclude same-gender couples, and (4) same-gender parents raising children is harmful, and then declared the UT same-gender civil marriage ban an irrational, unconstitutional denial of a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution, and allowed marriages to begin the same day. Hours later, UT appealed the decision, and filed a motion seeking to halt marriages during the appeal case. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
TEXAS • On 20 December 2013, in Jack Pidegon & Larry Hicks vs. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, et al., the city of Houston said it will appeal the 17 December court order barring domestic partner benefits for same-gender spouses of city employees. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
UTAH • On 22 December 2013, in Kitchen, et al. v. Utah Attorney General John Swallow, et al., in which 3 couples challenged UT’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied UT’s request to suspend the district court ruling while the district court decides whether to suspend its own ruling during the time that the case is on appeal; consequently, marriages legalized by the 20 December ruling may continue throughout the appeal process, unless the district court reverses its earlier decision. On 23 December or later, Federal District Judge Robert Shelby will decide whether to halt marriages while UT appeals the case. His decision about halting marriages during the appeal could also be appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court, as well as to the U.S. Supreme Court, where Justice Sotomayor would grant the halt, deny the halt, or ask the full Court to decide. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
NORTH CAROLINA • On 20 December 2012, in Marcie Fisher-Borne, et al. v. John Smith, et al., in which the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued several state judges in federal court on behalf of 6 same-gender couples and their children seeking adoption and marriage rights, Republican lawmakers engaged free legal help from Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT law firm, to defend the state’s constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
OREGON • On 19 December 2013, in Paul Rummell, et al. v. OR Governor John Kitzhaber, et al.,two Portland couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging OR’s ban on same-gender civil marriage. They hope to combine their suit into Deanna Geiger, et al. v. OR Governor John Kitzhaber, et al., which was filed on 15 October. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
NEW JERSEY • On 9 December 2013, the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee began considering S-3109, Marriage Equality Act, a new version which reduces some of the freedom of the current law, which was imposed after a NJ Supreme Court ruling on 21 October 2013, and which is the strongest in the nation. On 16 December 2013, state Senator Loretta Weinberg withdrew S-3109 from discussion. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
NEW MEXICO • On 19 December 2013, NM state Senator Bill Sharer (R) proposed to amend the NM constitution to ban same-gender civil marriage based on his assumption that same-gender couples have no children. The change would have to pass both chambers of the NM legislature, before appearing on a statewide voter ballot. Similar proposals in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013 all failed in the legislature. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
FLORIDA • On 18 December 2013, FL state Representative Linda Stewart (D) filed HB-439, which would legalize domestic partners, but give them only a few of the rights and protections available to married people. A similar bill, SB-196, filed in the Senate on 9 January 2013, died in the Judiciary Committee in May 2013. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
OHIO • On 8 December 2013, FreedomOhio surveyed 1,011 reigstered voters on same-gender civil marriage with protection for religions, and reported that 56% support it, 34% oppose it, and 10% are unsure. Separately, 44% believe it is inevitable, 37% do not, and 19% are unsure. • MEUSA Summary • News Source
Send questions and comments to: NFlaherty@MarriageEquality.org.