Trditional Marriage News

Date:
Monday, August 12, 2013
Bay City News Service
POSTED:   08/12/2013 06:09:45 AM PDT 

Two same-sex marriage experts told lawyers at an American Bar Association meeting in San Francisco today that they expect an "explosion of litigation" around the country in the wake of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay nuptials.

But Chief Deputy San Francisco City Attorney Therese Stewart and National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter said they think litigation in California may be close to an end.

"It's hard to predict whether they'll continue to fight," said Stewart, referring to gay marriage opponents, "but we're not terribly anxious about it."

Elsewhere, however, Minter said, "there are cases all over the country" challenging state bans on same-sex marriage.

The two attorneys spoke at a panel during the ABA's annual meeting, which continues in the city through Tuesday.

The session was entitled "More Than an Equal Sign: the Defense of Marriage Act, Proposition 8, the Supreme Court and Your Practice."

In one of its two rulings on June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8, California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, had no standing to appeal a lower court ruling striking down the ban.

That decision left in place a federal trial court judge's injunction blocking enforcement of Proposition 8, and gay and lesbian weddings resumed in California two days later.

In the second ruling, made in the case of New York widow Edith Windsor, the court struck down a key provision of the federal DOMA law that barred the U.S. government from giving federal benefits and tax advantages to legally married gay and lesbian couples.

The court did not rule directly in either case on whether a state prohibition on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

But Minter said the Windsor decision's reliance on constitutional equal protection and due process doctrines appears to provide a foundation for state law challenges.

"There's almost nothing in the Windsor decision that wouldn't apply to state marriage laws," he told the audience.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriages.

States where lawsuits contesting gay marriage bans are pending include Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia and New Mexico, among others.

The Hawaii and Nevada cases are now on appeal before the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco and are being considered together, Minter said.

In those two cases, federal trial judges upheld a Hawaii law and Nevada state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

The 9th Circuit put the two cases on hold until the Supreme Court ruled on Proposition 8 and DOMA, and has now resumed receiving briefs in the two appeals. A hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Minter said that another type of litigation pending in a number of states is lawsuits seeking recognition of marriages of couples who were legally wed in one state but moved to another state.

"I think people are saying, 'We're not going to sit back any more,'" Minter said.

Stewart said litigation in California appears to be nearing an end after the Proposition 8 sponsors and San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg lost bids to the California Supreme Court for an immediate stay that would have reinstated Proposition 8.

The Proposition 8 backers still have a petition pending before the state court seeking review of their claim that the federal injunction protects only two couples who sued for the right to marry.

Stewart, who represented the city in the federal Proposition 8 case, predicted, "It's very likely we will see a denial of the petition very soon."

Dronenburg withdrew a similar petition on Monday.

Earlier, the Proposition 8 sponsors asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy for an emergency stay on June 29, and were turned down by Kennedy without comment the next day.

Stewart and Minter noted that in the two rulings in June, the U.S. Supreme Court followed a judicial tradition of avoiding a broad decision in situations in which a case can be resolved on narrow grounds.

But both forecast that the court will eventually rule on state marriage laws and that a majority of the justices will find the bans unconstitutional.

"They may postpone it as long as they can, but I do think that at the end of the day we'll get there in the Supreme Court," Stewart predicted.

 

Date:
Thursday, August 8, 2013

By: Rebecca Elliott
August 8, 2013 05:10 AM EDT

Defending a divisive gay marriage ban is probably not the fight Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett would have chosen 15 months ahead of an election he’s widely expected to lose. A majority of Pennsylvanians now support same-sex marriage, a dramatic shift from just a few years ago.

But the issue has been thrust in the first-term Republican’s lap — and the politics may not be all bad for him.

Corbett’s decision to stand by the state’s 1996 ban will help shore up his shaky support among Republicans and all but eliminates the possibility of a primary challenge from the right, strategists said.

But the conflict between Corbett and Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, also prolongs a conversation about an increasingly unpopular law when the governor is struggling to pick up every vote he can. A June poll out of Quinnipiac University said that Corbett, who is in his first term, has a dismal 30 percent favorability rating among Pennsylvania voters.

The legal debate over same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania was renewed two weeks after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s gay marriage ban, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and specifies that Pennsylvania will not recognize same-sex couples’ out-of-state marriages.

Although the defense of such challenges ordinarily falls under the purview of the state attorney general, Kane made the rare decision to not to back the law, saying she believes it to be “wholly unconstitutional.”

That put Corbett, one of the least popular governors in the country, in a tough spot: defend a law that a growing number of voters disagree with; or side with Kane and anger the GOP base.

On July 30, he chose the former.

Corbett’s decision adds gay marriage to the list of issues he must juggle ahead of what’s expected to be a vicious reelection fight. His tanking popularity and struggles to push his agenda through a legislature controlled by his own party — privatizing liquor stores, public pension reform and transportation funding — have prompted several Democrats to jump into next year’s race.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) announced her candidacy in April and State Treasurer Rob McCord launched a “McCord for Governor” political action committee in June. They lead Corbett by 10 and 8 points, respectively, according to the Quinnipiac poll.

Pennsylvania political analysts said Corbett had little choice but to defend the gay marriage ban.

“If he had chosen to accept the decision by Attorney General Kane, I think that would have put him in serious difficulty with his base” — namely, the most conservative voters in the state — said Franklin and Marshall pollster Terry Madonna.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said that he agrees with Kane that the Pennsylvania gay marriage law is unconstitutional but that Corbett “would look like a hypocrite” had he not defended it, given his stance on the issue.

Although the decision angered Democrats and could alienate moderate Republicans from the must-win Philadelphia suburbs, analysts said that in defending the law, Corbett all but guaranteed himself a straight shot at the Republican nomination, which had looked to be in jeopardy.

 

“I think if he didn’t defend it, the chances of someone from the party on the right using this as a moment to throw their hat in the ring would be much higher,” said Muhlenberg College pollster Chris Borick.

No Republicans have stepped up to run against Corbett since Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor took a pass in May.

Nevertheless, strategists said the debate over gay marriage will remain at the forefront of Pennsylvania politics in the coming months. The fact that the state’s attorney general and governor are at odds on the legality of a law passed by the state legislature will provide ample fodder for the media.

“It promises to have a protracted life in terms of Pennsylvania news,” said T.J. Rooney, a former state representative who served as chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party through 2010. “By its very nature it tends to draw people one way or the other.” Rooney is serving as the chair of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie McGinty’s campaign.

For Corbett, the extended coverage is less than welcome news. In 2006, a decade after the marriage law in question was passed, just 33 percent of Pennsylvanian voters approved of gay marriage. That number shot up by about 20 percentage points in the past seven years.

A February Franklin and Marshall poll found that 52 percent of Pennsylvania voters approve of gay marriage, the first time a public poll registered majority support. This number increased to 54 percent by May. However, a March poll from Public Policy Polling found that voters in the state were more divided on the issue, with 45 percent in favor of gay marriage as opposed to 47 percent against.

“In his optimal situation he would not have to talk about this issue at all, all the way to Election Day,” Borick said, adding that he thought Corbett would lose were an election to be held today.

However, what matters now may or may not be at the forefront of voters’ minds come November of next year.

“I think it has some potential to sort of replace abortion as the high-profile cultural issue,” Madonna said of gay marriage.

The ACLU lawsuit isn’t all that’s fueling the gay marriage controversy. The Corbett administration recently sued Montgomery County register of wills D. Bruce Hanes after he began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. And the mayor of Braddock, a Pittsburgh suburb, officiated a gay marriage on Monday in defiance of the law.

Still, “I don’t necessarily think Democrats are going to lead with this issue in 2014 against the governor,” Borick said. While Democrats will be perfectly happy to let Corbett deal with fallout arising from his defense of the ACLU’s suit, they will probably tread lightly given that a significant number of Democrats are uneasy with same-sex marriage.

“In terms of electing the next governor, it will be a non-issue,” Rendell said.

Republican strategist Charlie Gerow agreed that gay marriage will not be the deciding factor — or even a major factor — in the 2014 election.

“I think that it’s a significant shift,” Gerow said of the state’s changing opinions on gay marriage. “But it’s not yet so overwhelming that it’s going to cause a political problem for somebody who supports a law passed by the general assembly supporting or upholding traditional marriage.”

 

Date:
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center Morris Dees said his group’s “Hate Map” “doesn’t cause anybody to attack,” despite Floyd Lee Corkins’ admission that he targeted the Family Research Council (FRC) after going to the center’s website.

As Corkins told the FBI after his arrest, he learned of the FRC online, “It was a, uh, Southern Poverty Law, lists, anti-gay groups. I found them online. I did a little bit of research, went to the website, stuff like that.”

Corkins attempted a mass shooting on Aug. 15, 2012, opening fire at the Family Research Council and  wounding Security Guard Leo Johnson.

Armed with more than 95 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-a sandwiches, Corkins told the FBI that he chose the FRC as his first target after looking at a list of “anti-gay” groups on the SPLC’s website.

The Family Research Council is still listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hate Map” as “anti-gay.”

CNSNews.com questioned Dees about the Hate Map when he was in Washington, D.C.,  last week, asking whether his group has ever considered removing the FRC since the revelation from Corkins.

“Well, first of all, having a group on our Hate Map doesn’t cause anybody to attack them anymore than they attacked us for one thing or another,” Dees said.  “This group that says gay people—statements attributed to their people said that gay people caused the Holocaust.  Demonstrably false things they say about gay people.

“It’s not on our Hate Map because they’re against gay people—and many, the Catholic Church is against people who are gay, so as others—it’s because of the demonstrably false things they say about people that are just total lies that demean gay people, they cause people to attack gay people,” he said.

“They claim that somebody attacks them because they say hateful things, think about how many gay people get bashed because these people say that gay men are pedophiles, which is demonstrably false,” Dees said.

In a statement to CNSNews.com, the Catholic League took umbrage with Dees’s remarks.

“Morris Dees is a man in search of people and institutions to hate,” Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said.  “Branding the Family Research Council a hate group is not only irresponsible, it trivializes the status of hate-ridden groups that have claimed real victims.”

Floyd Corkins is taken into custody outside the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 15, 2012. (AP Photo)

“Now Dees is casting the Catholic Church as the enemy by misstating its teachings,” he said.  “Nothing the Catholic Church has ever said about the moral status of homosexuals—which is as irrelevant as the moral status of heterosexuals—could possibly be construed as hateful.”

“Quite frankly, no amount of remedial education can help someone who can’t tell the difference between sexual orientation and sexual behavior,” Donohue said.

“Stupid or malicious, either way the guy [Dees] is a disgrace,” he said.

FRC Executive Vice President Gen. Jerry Boykin (ret.) told CNSNews.com, "The Southern Poverty Law Center’s reckless labeling has led to devastating consequences.  Next week will be the one year anniversary of a terrorist shooting on our building that resulted in the shooting of our building manager.  The Judge determined that it was an act of domestic terrorism after the shooter viewed the SPLC's hate map.  Our team is still dealing with the fallout of the attack, that was intended to have a chilling effect on organizations that are simply fighting for their values."

"We are very disturbed that the Southern Poverty Law Center is now expanding its reckless attacks against the Catholic Church," said Boykin.  "The SPLC has made false and inaccurate claims against the Family Research Council for years.   The SPLC should fact check their own statements before making reckless accusations."

"Hate labeling is dangerous enough but outright misrepresentation of the facts further increases the likelihood of an attack on an organization similar to FRC," said the general.

CNSNews.com also tried to ask Dees about a double standard after former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s rhetoric was blamed for the shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords in Tuscon, Ariz.  Dees said he was not familiar with the case.

CNSNews.com asked: “Do you see any double standard about how Sarah Palin was used—they said the Tuscon shooting was because she had a target of that district—and they blame her for violence—“

“I’m not familiar with it, I’m not familiar with what you’re talking about there,” Dees said.  “You’re way off my base there.”

“You’re not familiar with that at all?” CNSNews.com asked.

“No ma’am, I really am not,” he said.

In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center featured a post on its website on Jan. 21, 2011, entitled, "Expert: Political Rhetoric Likely a Factor in Arizona Shooting."

President Barack Obama speaks at a memorial service for the victims of the Tucson shootings at the University of Arizona on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“In Tucson, Giffords was Loughner’s primary target, the first to be shot,” the group wrote. “As Giffords recognized and acknowledged, she had been targeted in a particularly toxic re-election campaign. For example, in addition to being placed in Sarah Palin’s ‘crosshairs,’ her Tea Party-backed opponent ran the following invitation on his campaign website: ‘Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.’”

“It’s easy to see how the threats and rancor of that time could have provided a facilitating context for an angry, depressed person to act out – someone like Jared Loughner, intent on violence, who had easy access to an exceedingly deadly weapon,” the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

The shooting of Gabby Giffords and the other victims in Tucson received extensive national and international news coverage. President Barack Obama traveled to Tucson and gave a nationally televised speech on Jan. 12, 2011, during primetime, about the crime.

On Aug. 16, 2012, the day after Corkins shot up the FRC and wounded its security guard, FRC President Tony Perkins held a press conference and said:  “Let me be clear, that Floyd Corkins was responsible for firing the shot yesterday that wounded one of our colleagues and our friend Leo Johnson.  But Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.”

“And I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology that is leading to the intimidation and what the FBI here has categorized as an act of domestic terrorism,” he said.  “There’s no room for that in a society such as ours that works through differences that we have on issues in public policy through a peaceful means.”

- See more at: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/southern-poverty-law-center-our-hate...

Date:
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Huffington Post  |  By  Posted:   |  Updated: 08/05/2013 12:54 pm EDT

Don't expect Wisconsin to take any steps toward marriage equality in the near future, Gov. Scott Walker (R) said at a weekend conference in Milwaukee.

"To change anything in the constitution ... it requires two consecutive sessions of the legislature, and ultimately, a vote of the people,” Walker said, noting that Wisconsin voters adopted a gay marriage ban to the state constitution in a 2006 vote. “I just don't see that as being anything that's going to be addressed anytime soon."

Walker previously faced pressure on the issue from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) at the National Governors Association meeting. Quinn suggested that Walker should help ensure that same-sex couples have equal rights throughout the region. Minnesota began conducting same-sex weddings last week, and Quinn has said he'd sign a same-sex marriage bill that recently stalled in the state legislature.

Walker has previously expressed his support for gay marriage rights being left up to the discretion of states and their voters, though he's also noted that general opposition appears to be a losing issue for the GOP.

Wisconsin's views on gay marriage have changed since the passage of its 2006 gay marriage ban with 59 percent support. Recent polling has showed 46 percent of the state is now in favor of same-sex marriage, but that figure is short of the majority that would be needed to overturn the amendment with a statewide ballot initiative.

The Supreme Court ruled narrowly against California's gay marriage ban earlier this year. While the ruling didn't apply to all state restrictions on such unions, same-sex marriage advocates in Wisconsin and other states were encouraged by the move.

 

Date:
Monday, August 5, 2013

BY BEN JOHNSON

Fri Aug 02, 2013 20:32 EST

HARRISONBURG, PA, August 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has followed the lead of Barack Obama and Jerry Brown by refusing to uphold the state's law protecting marriage between one man and one woman. At least one legislator thinks it is time she paid for violating her oath of office.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, has said Kane's actions merit impeachment, because they spread “lawlessness.”

“I think breaking the law is worthy of impeachment,” Metcalfe told local media. “Her duty is to defend the law.

Shortly after her announcement, Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, despite the fact that state law forbids such unions. As of Friday afternoon, Hanes had issued 62 marriage licenses to homosexual couples, and 13 of their recipients have completed wedding ceremonies.

“By her example, this Montgomery County official felt emboldened to violate the law also,” Metcalfe said.

He believes Hanes should be impeached, as well. By the laws of the state, Hanes is “charged with carrying out the law of Pennsylvania and this individual breaks the law.”

“Ultimately, I think there might be an impeachment procedure,” he said. “The legislature could remove this individual from office for violating the law.”

Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, instead filed suit to stop the illegal issuing of marriage certificates on Tuesday. His general sounsel, James Schultz, wrote that Attorney General Kathleen Kane's refusal to defend the law "establishes a very troubling precedent" that "will create chaos and uncertainty.”

AG Kane's chief of staff, Adrian King, sent a letter Tuesday to Schultz calling Kane's defiance “a watershed moment” refusing to enact “discriminatory laws.”

Montgomery County Solicitor Ray McGarry, who is defending Hanes, said the registrar is merely following Kane's opinionnot to implement a statute that “she believed was unconstitutional.”

The decision to defend marriage delighted the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, which praised Corbett's action.

“I am encouraged by Governor Corbett’s decision to use his authority to stop the intentional breaking of law by a local elected official,” said Sam Rohrer PPN president. “When two elected officials (Kane and Hanes) or any other, think that they can act above the law, demonstrate political tyranny, and encourage lawlessness, it is critical that the citizens know that they will be held accountable to the law by others in elected office who share the responsibility to ensure that law is upheld by all in public office.”

Already, others have said they are willing to act in violation of settled law. State College, Pennsylvania, Mayor Elizabeth Goreham has said she will perform “marriage” ceremonies for homosexuals, if the couples already have a marriage license.

However, at the moment Hanes is the only clerk issuing the certificates. The annual conference of the Registers of Wills and Clerks of Orphans' Court Association of Pennsylvania adopted a resolution this month agreeing to abide by the law. 

 

Date:
Friday, August 2, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman has attracted bipartisan support from a pro-life Democrat in the House of Representatives.

Congressman Nick Rahall, D-WV, has joined as a co-sponsor of Tim Huelskamp's motion to protect marriage.

 

Rahall, who has a 92 percent lifetime voting record from National Right to Life, is the only Democrat to support the legislation to date.

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage said the West Virginia Congressman is the first “hopefully of many” Democratic representatives to support traditional marriage.

“Rep. Rahall's support proves once again that marriage is an issue that cuts past partisan politics and special interests, speaking universally to our shared common sense principles, such as every child's right to have both a mom and a dad,” Brown said.

Approximately one-third of Democrats do not believe in same-sex “marriage,” according to a recent Gallup poll. Nearly one-in-four believe redefining marriage would cause society to “change for the worse.”

That little impressed members of the homosexual lobby, who are a key constituency of the Democratic Party. “He apparently has a fondness for being on the wrong side of history,” a Human Rights Campaign spokesman said of Rahall.

The National Organization for Marriage is asking citizens to e-mail Congressman Rahall with messages of support – and to encourage their own representatives to sign on to the measure.

The “Marriage Protection Amendment” (H. J. Res. 51) now 49 co-sponsors. As yet, no co-sponsors are from Rep. Huelskamp's Kansas.

Among its co-sponsors are such pro-life stalwarts as Trent Franks, R-AZ; Louie Gohmert, R-TX; Duncan Hunter, R-CA; Steve Stockman, R-TX; and Tim Walberg, R-MI.

Congressman Tom Latham, R-IA, withdrew as a co-sponsor one day after signing on, with spokesman Chris Deaton attributing his temporary sponsorship of the bill as “a staff member's mistake.”

A similar amendment came up for a House vote in July 2006, when it failed 236-187. Some 34 Democrats, including Rahall, voted for the measure. Latham voted for the 2006 amendment.

To pass, a constitutional amendment must receive two-thirds support from both chambers of Congress and then has to be ratified by 38 states.

Currently, 37 states ban same-sex “marriage,” while 13 states have redefined marriage – four of them (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and California) by judicial decree. Only three states – Washington, Maine, and Maryland – enacted the redefinition of marriage by voter referendum. 

Date:
Thursday, July 25, 2013


By Georgetown/ On Faith, Published: July 23 at 5:31 pm


Anti-gay marriage protesters lost in Maryland in 2012. (Patrick Semansky/Associated Press)

QUOTE OF THE DAY |

 

“I do believe, and I still will tell you that our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Our party believes that life begins at conception. I think those are foundational issues that aren’t going anywhere but what I have said, which I don’t think should be controversy at all and I would think that Christians and pastors and everyone in between should agree that our principles have to be draped in the concepts of grace, love and respect and that’s not code language. That’s the New Testament so I don’t think there should be any problem with that thinking in our party. If you’re looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics. ”

-Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on continued support for the  party’s principles on same-sex marriage and abortion.

 

 Read more on religion, culture and politics at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs at Georgetown University

 

Date:
Wednesday, July 24, 2013

CHICAGO

On Tuesday, an official in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County made a decision that he said would put him "on the right side of history and the law." He decided that he would issue a same-sex marriage license to anyone who wanted it.

In Pennsylvania, same-sex marriage is illegal, but Register of Wills Bruce Hanes said in a press release that he made his "own analysis of the law." He also noted that the state's attorney general announced on July 11 that she would not defend that state's gay marriage ban against a legal challenge by theAmerican Civil Liberties Union. At least one same-sex couple has already been married in Montgomery County.

In the end, little may change in Pennsylvania. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) is likely to make sure the state's gay-marriage ban is defended in court, and Mr. Hanes's protest might not survive legal scrutiny. But the ferment in Pennsylvania is indicative of a brewing fight in gay marriage's "battleground states." With Delaware, Minnesota, and Rhode Island all legalizing same-sex marriage this year, advocates on both sides of the issue are preparing to spend millions of dollars in a handful of states that could follow their lead.

Hawaii, IllinoisNew Jersey, and Oregon are at the top of the list, legal experts say. But there is unlikely to be a stampede toward the acceptance of gay marriage, despite the Supreme Court's two landmark rulings this summer.

"It is unlikely that all states will adopt same-sex marriage in the foreseeable future," says Jack Tweedie, director of children and families program at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver. "The political solution is a state-by-state one, and it will be slow."

Currently, 13 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage, while 37 states ban or do not recognize same-sex marriage. No one expects to see any movement in the South or parts of the Great Plains or inland West. However, a switch may be more realistic in states that already have civil unions for same-sex couples, or have ballot initiatives for legalizing same-sex marriage moving forward

 

 
  • Before adjourning in May, the Hawaii Legislature failed to vote on several same-sex marriage bills and is expected to reconvene for a vote in January.
  • Gay-marriage proponents in New Jersey see an opportunity for overturning last year’s veto of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage by Gov. Chris Christie (R); the override would require 27 Senate and 54 House votes, where Democrats rule 24 to 16 and 48 to 32, respectively.
  • A gay marriage bill passed the Illinois Senate in February and had the backing of Gov. Pat Quinn (D), but was voted down in the House in May. In addition, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the gay rights group Lambda Legal filed a motion in Cook County Circuit Court earlier this month, arguing the state's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.
  • In Oregon, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is on the books, but a referendum to overturn it will take place in November 2014 if it can collect 116,000 signatures. If it is successful, it will come the first state to overturn such a ban.

Intensifying the debate is the fact that, in all four states, polling shows that the majority of residents support some form of same-sex marriage.

Freedom to Marry, a gay-rights group based in Washington, is spending more than $6 million to push same-sex marriage in all four states by 2014, and it plans to raise an additional $2 million by the end of the year. The organization then plans to turn its efforts to six more states by 2016. Possible contenders, the organization says, are Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

For its part, the American Civil Liberties Union hired Republican political strategist Steve Schmidt, who worked for President George W. Bush and was a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, to lead an effort to gain Republican support in these states. The organization says it will spend nearly $10 million on such efforts during the next four years.

Proponents of traditional marriage say efforts to turn back these bans will fail because voters have spoken.

Gay advocates are “hugely overplaying their hand. These are states where gay marriage advocates have been saying for months, if not years, that gay marriage is inevitable and they’ve made no progress,” Thomas Peters, a spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), based in Washington, told Reuters earlier this month.

 

In April, NOM said it would spend $250,000 to defeat any Republican legislator in Illinois or New York who voted to support same-sex marriage bills. 

 

Date:
Tuesday, July 23, 2013


By Juliet Eilperin, Published: July 23 at 11:37 amE-mail the writer


Hundreds of people gather outside the Supreme Court building in Washington on June 26, 2013 in anticipation of it gay marriage rulings. {Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)

A federal judge on Monday recognized the out-of-state marriage of a gay Ohio couple, granting a temporary restraining order as one of the men nears death.

Ohio has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage; James Obergefell and John Arthur have been together for two decades and got married earlier this month in Maryland because Arthur has Lou Gehrig’s disease, and is expected to die within weeks.

U.S. District judge Timothy Black issued a temporary restraining order Monday,  recognizing Obergefell as Arthur’s spouse, and suggested that failing to recognize the couple’s out-of-state union violated their rights to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

“This is not a complicated case,” Black wrote. “The issue is whether the State of Ohio can discriminate against same sex marriages lawfully solemnized out of state, when Ohio law has historically and unambiguously provided that the validity of a marriage is determined by whether it complies with the law of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated.”

While the ruling is temporary and limited to Obergefell and Arthur, the case could ultimately have broader implications. The court will hold a more extensive briefing on the issue in the future, noted Camilla Taylor, Lambda Legal’s marriage project director, and any final ruling could be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is particularly tragic and compelling case and it shows to all of us in the country, not just those of us who are gay or those of us who are in the judiciary, but to all Americans, the degree of commitment shown by many gay couples and their desire to take care of each other in the worst time of life that any of us can imagine,” Taylor said.

The case not only sends a powerful message, Taylor said, but she said Black’s “reasoning is sound” and could form the basis for a broader challenge to state bans on same-sex marriage: “This decision foreshadows what will happen to marriage bans across the country.”

In practical terms, the ruling will allow Obergefell’s name to be added to the death certificate as Arthur’s surviving spouse, give him access to federal and state benefits, and allow him to be buried next to Arthur in his family cemetery where the plot is restricted to direct descendants and spouses.

“This is yet another example of an activist federal judge substituting his views for those of the people. The people of Ohio have determined through overwhelmingly enacting their state marriage amendment that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and the federal government must respect that decision,” said Frank Schubert, national political director for the National Organization for Marriage.

 

Date:
Friday, July 19, 2013

The IRS's Gay-Marriage Tax Problem

 

During the runup to the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, one number kept recurring: The government’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages meant gay couples were denied more than 1,000 federal benefits that straight couples enjoy. Now that the justices have struck down DOMA, gays can look forward to equality under U.S. tax laws. That is, just as soon as the Internal Revenue Service can figure out how to make equality happen. The tax agency has promised to “move swiftly” to recognize gay unions, but for many couples it won’t be as simple as checking the “married” box on their 1040.

Those living in Washington, D.C., or the 13 states that allow same-sex marriages can file a federal tax return next April just like other married couples. Not so for the thousands of gay couples who took their vows in one of those states but who live in one of the 37 others where same-sex marriage isn’t recognized. It’s not yet clear whose definition of marriage the IRS is supposed to follow in evaluating their taxes—the state where the couple got married, or the one in which they reside. And will the federal government recognize gay couples in civil unions who file a joint return?

To avoid confusion, a single nationwide rule makes the most sense, says Patricia Cain, a tax law professor at Santa Clara University in California. “The IRS has the power to construe the Internal Revenue Code,” she says. “So for them it’s, ‘What does the word spouse mean?’ ” President Obama has weighed in, saying it’s his “personal belief” that same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as married couples regardless of where they live. He’s asked federal agencies to research legal issues that might stand in the way. Such a ruling, though, could cause headaches for the IRS, which until now has typically followed states’ definitions of marriage, says David Herzig, a tax law professor at Valparaiso University. “You may solve this problem,” he says, “but you may open up another.”

Many gay couples might not like what marriage equality looks like on a tax form. Until now, they’ve been able to take advantage of their separate status to maximize tax savings—claiming multiple capital-loss deductions unavailable to opposite-sex married couples or multiple tax credits for adopting children. Straight married spouses with roughly equal incomes typically pay a marriage penalty under the tax code, because more of their income is subject to higher marginal tax rates. Gay couples would get hit with the same penalty. And unless the IRS exempts them from paying back taxes, some same-sex married couples could owe penalties for underwithholding during the time they’ve been married, even though the federal government didn’t recognize their unions until now.

On the other hand, gay couples with unequal incomes would get the same marriage bonus as straight couples and could seek a refund for the extra taxes they paid in recent years. Typically the IRS allows taxpayers three years to redo their tax returns. “One of the biggest issues is what to do retroactively,” says Elda Di Re, a partner at Ernst & Young in New York. “One would think that the IRS will allow there to be filing refunds—but not mandate filing to pay additional tax.”

Another potential mess: what to do about payroll taxes workers paid on employer-provided health insurance for their same-sex spouses, which isn’t taxable for married couples. The IRS could allow refunds, and then businesses would have to figure out how to distribute them to employees and ex-employees. Some companies pay married gay employees extra to cover their health-care tax burdens; they would have to decide whether to seek reimbursements from workers who get income tax refunds. And the IRS has to figure out whether or how to tax alimony payments from gay marriages that end in divorce, and money inherited from the retirement account of a same-sex spouse.

All these decisions will be made with a skeptical—and sometimes hostile—Congress ready to call foul. The IRS is already under scrutiny for its clumsy probes of political groups, and its efforts to formalize gay marriage in the tax code are likely to provoke congressional hearings and lawsuits. “No matter what they do,” says Herzig, “it’s such a volatile issue they’ll end up getting a challenge.”

 

The bottom line: The IRS, which usually follows states’ definitions of marriage, must find a way to give gay couples nationwide equal treatment.

 

Rubin is a reporter for Bloomberg News in Washington.

 

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