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Policy and Legal Update – February 24-March 2, 2014

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

24 February – 2 March, 2014


NATIONAL MAP


NATIONAL POLLS

  • On 26 February 2014, Public Religion Research Institute surveyed a demographically representative group of 4,509 American adults regarding same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 53% support it, 41% oppose it, 5% don’t know or don’t answer, with 1% unaccounted for.  Also, only 5.1% of the survey population identify themselves as LGBT, but the average American estimates that 20% of Americans are LGBT.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source
  • On 26 February 2014, the New York Times and CBS News surveyed 1,644 registered voters regarding whether same-gender civil marriage should be legal, and reported that 56% say yes, 39% say no, with 5% unaccounted for.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

NATIONAL LEGISLATION


LAWSUITS

VIRGINIA  •  On 24 February 2014, in Timothy Bostic, et al. vs. VA 4th Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, et al., a federal lawsuit challenging VA’s 2006 ban on same-gender marriage, two of the three government defendants (Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer and State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey) appealed the 13 February ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is likely to also hear similar cases this year from NC, SC, and WV.  VA Attorney General Mark Herring requested an expedited appeal schedule.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ILINOIS  •  On 26 February 2014, in Brenda Lee, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr, in which four same-gender couples filed a federal suit seeking to marry immediately instead of waiting for the 1 June start date, Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said that the 21 February 2014 federal ruling is based on a rationale that applies statewide, so Champaign County, like Cook County, now issues such licenses.  • MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

TEXAS  •  On 26 February 2014, in Cleopatra De Leon, et al., v. TX Governor Rick Perry et al.,a federal class action lawsuit for all TX couples challenging the 2003 law and the 2005 TX constitutional ban on marriage inside and outside TX, a judge declared that the TX 2003 law and 2005 ban on same-gender civil marriage both violate the U.S. Constitution, but stayed his decision until appeals are completed.  The next day, TX scheduled an appeal for May 2014.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

KENTUCKY  •  On 27 February 2014, in Timothy Love, et al. v. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (formerly Gregory Bourke & Michael De Leon, et al. v. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear), a federal lawsuit challenging KY’s ban on recognizing same-gender couples married elsewhere, a judge ordered KY to immediately start recognizing same-gender marriage licenses issued outside KY; whether KY must also issue such licenses is being decided separately.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ILLINOIS  •  On 28 February 2014, in Brenda Lee, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr, a federal suit seeking to marry immediately instead of waiting for the 1 June start date, McLean County, IL decided to join Cook and Champaign Counties, and began issuing same-gender civil marriage licenses immediately instead of waiting for the original start date of 1 June 2014.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

KENTUCKY  •  On 28 February 2014, in Timothy Love, et al. v. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (formerly Gregory Bourke & Michael De Leon, et al. v. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear), a federal lawsuit challenging KY’s ban on recognizing same-gender couples married elsewhere, the court denied KY’s request for a 90-day stay of the order requiring KY to recognize same-gender marriages performed elsewhere, and issued a 21-day stay instead.  The recently added plaintiffs (Timothy Love & Laurence Ysunza) seeking marriage within KY had requested an injunction allowing marriages immediately, but the court also denied that request.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

UTAH  •  On 28 February 2014, in Jonell Evans, et al. v. State of Utah, a state suit seeking recognition of the marriages of 2,600 people who were legally married as same-gender couples, UT argued that those marriages, made between 20 December 2013 and 6 January 2014, may get voided by the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in summer 2014, but the ACLU argued that those marriages would always remain fully legal no matter what the Appeals Court decides.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

WISCONSIN  •  On 28 February 2014, in Virginia Wolf & Carol Schumacher, et al., v. WI Governor Scott Walker, et al., a federal lawsuit challenging the 2006 WI ban on same-gender civil marriage or civil union, and WI’s unique ban on marrying elsewhere, for which each spouse faces up to $10,000 in fines and 9 months in prison, the ACLU added 4 more couples to the suit, bringing the total to 8 couples, and asked for an injunction against the WI same-gender civil marriage ban while the lawsuit is pending.  A hearing is scheduled for 27 March 2014.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

NEVADA  •  On 28 February 2014, in Beverly Sevcik, et al., v. Governor Brian Sandoval, et al., a lawsuit seeking full marriage equality, the anti-LGBT Coalition for Protection of Marriage (the only remaining defendant) argued that:  (1) only the U.S. Supreme Court can decide the constitutionality of banning civil marriage for same-gender couples; (2) there is no animosity in banning same-gender couples from civil marriage; (3) same-gender couples who marry have “gender-less” marriages; (4) same-gender couples make inferior parents; and (5) all the government defendants who withdrew from the case are still enforcing the voter-approved ban.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

PENNSYLVANIA #11 & OKLAHOMA #2  •  In March 2014, in Kathleen Sebelius, et al., v. Hobby Lobby Stores (PA), and in Contestoga Wood Specialties (OK) v. Kathleen Sebelius, et al., the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to decide: (1) whether a for-profit corporation can claim to hold a religious belief; and (2) whether that belief gives that corporation sweeping immunity from state and federal laws.  • MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

LOUISIANA  •  25 February 2014, in Jonathan Robicheaux and Derek Pinton, et al. v. LA Attorney General James Caldwell, and in In Re Constanza and Brewer, and in Forum for Equality Louisiana v. Louisiana Revenue Secretary Tim Barfield, et al., the LA Attorney General hired Kyle Duncan (from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) as Special Attorney General to defend the LA ban on same-gender civil marriage.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

VIRGINIA  •  On 25 February 2014, in Timothy Bostic, et al. vs. VA 4th Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, et al., a federal lawsuit challenging VA’s 2006 ban on same-gender marriage and marriage recognition, Prince William County Court Clerk Michele McQuigg joined Prince Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk Schaefer and VA State Registrar Janet Rainey in filing a notice to appeal the federal court ruling declaring the ban unconstitutional.  All 3 defendants claim that same-gender couples make inferior parents.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

VIRGINIA  •  On 25 February 2014, Timothy Bostic, et al. vs. VA 4th Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, et al., a federal lawsuit challenging VA’s 2006 ban on same-gender marriage and marriage recognition, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals announced that defendants’ opening briefs are due 7 April 2014, the response brief is due 9 May 2014, and any reply brief is due 14 days after the response brief is delivered.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

VIRGINIA  •  On 26 February 2014, n Timothy Bostic, et al. vs. VA 4th Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, et al., a federal lawsuit challenging VA’s 2006 ban on same-gender marriage and marriage recognition, Lambda Legal, ACLU, and attorney Paul Smith requested permission to intervene in AFER’s case, while their own class action case, Harris v. Rainey, awaits a ruling.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

FLORIDA  •  On 26 February 2014, in Catherina Pareto, et al., v. Miami-Dade County Court Clerk Harvey Ruvin, a case challenging the 2008 FL constitutional ban on same-gender marriage, the anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel (author of the ban) requested permission to intervene in the case, along with PULSE (African-American churches), Florida Democratic League (right wing Cuban-Americans), and Florida Family Policy Council (anti-LGBT hate group).  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source


STATE LEGISLATION & POLLS

GEORGIA  •  On 24 February 2014, GA state representatives held a hearing on HB-1023, the “Preservation of Religious Freedom Act” (which would legalize discrimination whenever religious belief is claimed as the excuse).  On 25 February 2014, GA House Judiciary Committee Chair Wendell Willard said HB-1023 will fail this year.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

LLINOIS  •  On 25 February 2014, IL state Senator Kyle McCarter (R) withdrew SB-2637, which would have repealed the equal marriage law passed in November 2013.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

MISSOURI  •  On 24 February 2014, MO senator Wayne Wallingford proposed a law to legalize discrimination against customers whenever the proprietor uses religious belief as the excuse.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

OHIO  •  On 24 February 2014, one co-sponsor began rewriting SB-376, the Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which would legalize all discrimination whenever the discriminator claims it is based on personal religious beliefs, and which would force victims to pay their discriminators’ legal costs.  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.  The sponsors are revising the bill so that it does not resemble a similar bill proposed in AZ.  • MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

INDIANA  •  On 25 February 2014, the IN House Ways and Means Committee voted down a provision in SB-367 that would have let some state contractors discriminate against workers and use religious belief as the excuse.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

OKLAHOMA  •  On 25 February 2014, OK state Representative and pastor Tom Newell withdrew HB-2873 (which would have legalized discrimination whenever religious belief is the excuse), and said he will introduce a new version in the next session.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

GEORGIA  •  On 25 February 2014, GA Senator Josh McKoon sponsored SB-377, a religious excuse for violating federal health care laws.  The bill dies if not passed by 3 March 2014.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ARIZONA  •  On 28 February 2014, Republican-sponsored HB-2481 (which would legalize government workers’ refusals to conduct civil ceremonies) moved to awaiting debate in the AZ House.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

MISSISSIPPI  •  On 27 February 2014, MS lawmakers revised SB-2681 so that it would legalize discrimination by any person, government, or corporation claiming religious belief as an excuse, except when the discrimination is outlawed by a “government interest of the highest magnitude.”  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ARIZONA  •  On 27 February 2014, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB-1062, which would have legalized discrimination by any person, agency, business, or organization against anyone else, whenever the perpetrator says the discrimination is related to religious beliefs.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source


STATE BALLOTS & POLLS

OHIO  •  On 24 February 2014, Quinnipiac surveyed 1,370 registered OH voters regarding same-gender civil marriage, and reported that 50% favor it, 44% oppose it, 5% do not know or do not answer, with 1% unaccounted for.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

LOUISIANA POLLS  •  On 17 February 2014, Public Policy Polling surveyed 635 Louisiana voters regarding same-gender couples, and reported that 43% want all legal recognition banned, 28% support only civil union, 26% support full marriage, and 3% are unsure.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

ALASKA  •  On 24 February 2014, AK state Senator Hollis French proposed to repeal the 1998 constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, which requires 2/3 approval in both the House and Senate before appearing on a statewide ballot.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source

MICHIGAN POLLS  •  On 28 February 2014, MI State University surveyed 1,008 residents on the right of same-gender couples to legally marry, and reported that 54% agree, 36% disagree, and 10% are undecided.  •  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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