Gay Primary Source

Thursday, February 27, 2014

AZ Gov Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill

“... Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific and present concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one example in Arizona where a business owner’s religious liberty has been violated . The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago. To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want. Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value, so is non-discrimination. Going forward, let’s turn the ugliness of the debate over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among ALL Arizonans and Americans. Thank you."   Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, February 26, 2014.

Federal Court Strikes Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in Texas

"... The issue before this Court is whether Texas' current definition of marriage is permissible under the United States Constitution. After careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, this Court holds that Texas' prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due >process. Texas' current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason. Accordingly, the Court finds these laws are unconstitutional and hereby grants a preliminary injunction enjoining Defendants from enforcing Texas' ban on same-sex marriage ...

The role of the judiciary is to resolve disputes by applying the law to the facts of a particular controversy, independently and impartially. One of the court's main responsibilities is to ensure that individuals are treated equally under the law. Equal treatment of all individuals under the law is not merely an aspiration it is a constitutional mandate. Consequently, equal protection is at the heart of our legal system and is essential for the existence of a free society.

Today's Court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the United States Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution. Furthermore, Supreme Court precedent prohibits states from passing legislation born out of animosity against homosexuals (Romer), has extended constitutional protection to the moral and sexual choices of homosexuals (Lawrence), and prohibits the federal government from treating state-sanctioned opposite-sex marriages and same-sex marriages differently (Windsor).

Applying the United States Constitution and the legal principles binding on this Court by Supreme Court precedent, the Court finds that Article I, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution and corresponding provisions of the Texas Family Code are unconstitutional. These Texas laws deny Plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex. The Court finds this denial violates Plaintiffs' equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ..."

Judge Orlando Garcia, US District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, February 26, 2014.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

US AG Urges State AGs Not to Defend Marriage Inequality

"This... is the essential duty to which all of us – as attorneys general – have been sworn: not just to win cases, but to see that justice is done. This is the cause that brings us together in Washington this week – working to confront the threats and seize the opportunities before us. And this is the extraordinary task with which the American people have entrusted the leaders in this room – and the challenge that all justice professionals are called to address: not merely to use our legal system to settle disputes and punish those who have done wrong, but to answer the kinds of fundamental questions – about fairness and equality – that have always determined who we are and who we aspire to be, both as a nation and as a people.

These are the questions that drove President Obama and me to decide, in early 2011, that Justice Department attorneys would no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. As I’ve said before, this decision was not taken lightly. Our actions were motivated by the strong belief that all measures that distinguish among people based on their sexual orientation must be subjected to a heightened standard of scrutiny – and, therefore, that this measure was unconstitutional discrimination. Last summer, the Supreme Court issued a historic decision – United States v. Windsor – striking down the federal government’s ban on recognizing gay and lesbian couples who are legally married. This marked a critical step forward, and a resounding victory for equal treatment and equal protection under the law.

More recently – and partly in response to the Windsor decision – a number of state attorneys general, including those in Pennsylvania, Nevada, Virginia – and, just last week, Oregon – have reached similar determinations after applying heightened scrutiny to laws in their states concerning same-sex marriage. Any decisions – at any level – not to defend individual laws must be exceedingly rare.  They must be reserved only for exceptional circumstances. And they must never stem merely from policy or political disagreements – hinging instead on firm constitutional grounds. But in general, I believe we must be suspicious of legal classifications based solely on sexual orientation. And we must endeavor – in all of our efforts – to uphold and advance the values that once led our forebears to declare unequivocally that all are created equal and entitled to equal opportunity.

This bedrock principle is immutable. It is timeless. And it goes to the very heart of what this country has always stood for – even though, as centuries of advancement in the cause of civil rights have shown, our understanding of it evolves over time. As I said just after the Administration’s decision on DOMA was announced, America’s most treasured ideals were not put into action or given the full force of law in a single instant. On the contrary: our ideals are continually advanced as our justice systems – and our Union – are strengthened; and as social science, human experience, legislation, and judicial decisions expand the circle of those who are entitled to the protections and rights enumerated by the Constitution.

As we gather here in Washington today, I believe that our highest ideals – realized in the form of landmark Supreme Court rulings, from Brown to Zablocki, from Romer to Lawrence, from Loving to Windsor – light a clear path forward. They have impelled us, in some instances, to extraordinary action. And the progress we’ve seen has been consistent with the finest traditions of our legal system, the central tenets of our Constitution, and the “fundamental truth” that, as President Obama once said, “when all Americans are treated as equal... we are all more free."

As we come together this week to renew our commitment to the work we share, to steel our resolve to combat crime – and to pledge our continued fidelity to the values that guide us, and the Constitution we’ve sworn to uphold – we must strive to move our country forward. We must keep fighting against violence, safeguarding civil rights, and working to bring our justice system in line with our highest ideals. We must keep refusing to accept a status quo that falls short of that which our Constitution demands – and the American people deserve. And we must keep standing up and speaking out – no matter the challenges we face – to eradicate victimization and end injustice in all its forms.

This won’t always be easy – and, occasionally, but inevitably, our tactical paths will diverge. But as long as we are dedicated to working in common cause, determined to disagree with mutual respect, and devoted to our shared pursuit of a more just and more perfect Union – I am confident in where our collective efforts, and your steadfast leadership, will take us. I know, as this organization proves every day, that vigorous debate need not be subsumed by partisanship. As attorneys general, we are called to serve. We are expected to lead.

Thank you, once again, for your work, for your partnership – and for the opportunity to take part in this important dialogue. I look forward to all that we’ll do and achieve together in the critical days ahead."

US Attorney General Eric Holder, February 25, 2014; remarks as prepared for delivery at the National Association of Attorneys General Winter Meeting.

Monday, February 24, 2014

AZ Congressman Slams Anti-Gay Law

The far right of the conservative movement has been using our state as a petri dish for their anti-immigrant, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-women, anti-education, anti-gun safety, anti-gay agenda for years now, and it needs to stop. Arizonans did not ask for this bill or any other form of state-sanctioned discrimination. It doesn’t help our economy, create any jobs, attract any talented people to our state or provide a more welcome environment for visitors. Our unemployment rate is too high. Our schools need more funding. What this has to do with the real-world concerns of average Arizonans is beyond me.

US Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), February 24, 2014.

McCain Urges Veto of AZ Anti-Gay Law

"I hope Governor Brewer will veto SB1062."  Tweet by US Senator John McCain (AZ -Rep), February 24, 2014; on statute legalizing state-sanctioned LGBT discrimination passed by Arizona legislature, awaiting signature or veto by Arizona governor.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Illinois Gov Lauds Same-Sex Marriage Move-Up

Many couples in Illinois have waited long enough for marriage equality, and today’s ruling means thousands of Illinois couples no longer have to wait. Our law is a victory for equal rights in America, and shows that citizens and lawmakers can come together on issues of fairness and human rights. I applaud U.S. District Court Judge Sharon J. Coleman for her stance in recognizing that ‘there is no reason to delay further’ giving all couples the right to marry in Cook County. Every county across the state should enjoy the same freedom without having to wait until June."

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, February 21, 2014; state marriage equality law to go into effect June 1, 2014, is made effective immediately in Cook County (Chicago) as result of Federal court ruling.

[good luck finding primary source for court decision - hidden behind layers of access security]

Monday, February 17, 2014

Federal Court - Kentucky Must Recognize Legal Out-Of-State Same-Sex Marriages

"... [T]he Court concludes that Kentucky’s denial of recognition for valid same-sex marriages violates the United States Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, even under the most deferential standard of review. Accordingly, Kentucky’s statutes and constitutional amendment that mandate this denial are unconstitutional. ...

... to date, all federal courts that have considered same-sex marriage rights post-Windsor have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage rights. This Court joins in general agreement with their analyses. ...

Our religious beliefs and societal traditions are vital to the fabric of society. Though each faith, minister, and individual can define marriage for themselves, at issue here are laws that act outside that protected sphere. Once the government defines marriage and attaches benefits to that definition, it must do so constitutionally. It cannot impose a traditional or faith-based limitation upon a public right without a sufficient justification for it. Assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law, does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons.

The beauty of our Constitution is that it accommodates our individual faith’s definition of marriage while preventing the government from unlawfully treating us differently. This is hardly surprising since it was written by people who came to America to find both freedom of religion and freedom from it. ...

What this opinion does, however, is make real the promise of equal protection under the law. It will profoundly affect validly married same-sex couples’ experience of living in the Commonwealth and elevate their marriage to an equal status in the eyes of state law. ...

For many others, this decision could raise basic questions about our Constitution. For instance, are courts creating new rights? Are judges changing the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment or our Constitution? Why is all this happening so suddenly?

The answer is that the right to equal protection of the laws is not new. History has already shown us that, while the Constitution itself does not change, our understanding of the meaning of its protections and structure evolves. If this were not so, many practices that we now abhor would still exist. ...

... [T]he Supreme Court has moved interstitially, as Holmes said it should, establishing the framework of cases from which district judges now draw wisdom and inspiration. Each of these small steps has led to this place and this time, where the right of same-sex spouses to the state-conferred benefits of marriage is virtually compelled."

Judge John G. Heyburn II, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky at Louisville, February 12, 2014.

      click here to read entire decision

Pres. Obama on Uganda Anti-Gay Law

"As a country and a people, the United States has consistently stood for the protection of fundamental freedoms and universal human rights. We believe that people everywhere should be treated equally, with dignity and respect, and that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, no matter who they are or whom they love.

That is why I am so deeply disappointed that Uganda will shortly enact legislation that would criminalize homosexuality. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda. It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice and equal rights.

As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda. At a time when, tragically, we are seeing an increase in reports of violence and harassment targeting members of the LGBT community from Russia to Nigeria, I salute all those in Uganda and around the world who remain committed to respecting the human rights and fundamental human dignity of all persons."

President Barack Obama, February 16, 2014.

Pres. Clinton on Uganda Anti-Gay Law

"I have been honored to work with and support the government and people of Uganda both when I was president and through the Clinton Foundation. But I am strongly opposed to its move to criminalize homosexuality. It is a setback for personal freedom and equal rights and a rebuke to Uganda's own commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. I want to salute and encourage the brave Ugandans committed to the fundamental dignity of all people and urge the government to reverse this decision."

Former President Bill Clinton, February 16, 2014.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Virginia Gov Applauds Court Decision

"I applaud the federal district court's decision to ensure all Virginians are treated equally under the law, no matter what their backgrounds are or whom they love. In order to grow our economy and attract the best businesses, entrepreneurs, and families to Virginia, we must be open and welcoming to all who call our Commonwealth home. As this case continues through the judicial process, I will enforce the laws currently on the books, but this decision is a significant step forward in achieving greater equality for all of our citizens."  Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, February 14, 2014.

Virginia AG Lauds Court Decision

"This decision is a victory for the Constitution and for treating everyone equally under the law. It is the latest step in a journey towards equality for all Virginians, no matter who they are or whom they love. But Judge Wright Allen's eloquent decision is only one step in what I suspect will be an extended legal process to definitively answer the questions raised in this case. When we announced the decision to change Virginia's legal position in Bostic v. Rainey, I said that the case presented fundamental questions that need to be decided by a court, and may ultimately need to be decided by the Supreme Court. That remains true today. The legal process will continue to play out in the months to come, but this decision shows that Virginia, like America, is coming to a better place in recognizing that every Virginian deserves to be treated equally and fairly."  Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Feb. 14, 2014.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Federal Court Strikes Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage in Virginia

A spirited and controversial debate is underway regarding who may enjoy the right to marry in the United States of America. America has pursued a journey to make and keep our citizens free. This journey has never been easy, and at times has been painful and poignant. The ultimate exercise of our freedom is choice. Our Constitution declares that "all men" are created equal. Surely this means all of us. While ever-vigilant for the wisdom that can come from the voices of our voting public, our courts have never long tolerated the perpetuation of laws rooted in unlawful prejudice. One of the judiciary's noblest endeavors is to scrutinize laws that emerge from such roots. Before this Court are challenges to Virginia's legislated prohibition on same-sex marriage. Plaintiffs assert that the restriction on their freedom to choose to marry the person they love infringes on the rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed to them under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. These challenges are well-taken ...

Gay and lesbian individuals share the same capacity as heterosexual individuals to form, preserve and celebrate loving, intimate and lasting relationships. Such relationships are created through the exercise of sacred, personal choices - choices, like the choices made by every other citizen, that must be free from unwarranted government interference ...

Tradition is revered in the Commonwealth, and often rightly so. However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia's ban on interracial marriage ...

... the "for-the-children" rationale fails to justify denying an individual the benefits and dignity and value of celebrating marriage simply because of the gender of the person whom that individual loves. The state's compelling interests in protecting and supporting our children are not furthered by a prohibition against same-sex marriage ...

Virginia's Marriage Laws fail to display a rational relationship to a legitimate purpose, and so must be viewed as constitutionally infirm under even the least onerous level of scrutiny ...

The legitimate purposes proffered by the Proponents for the challenged laws - to promote conformity to the traditions and heritage of a majority of Virginia's citizens, to perpetuate a generally-recognized deference to the state's will pertaining to domestic relations laws, and, finally, to endorse "responsible procreation" - share no rational link with Virginia Marriage Laws being challenged. The goal and the result of this legislation is to deprive Virginia's gay and lesbian citizens of the opportunity and right to choose to celebrate, in marriage, a loving, rewarding, monogamous relationship with a partner to whom they are committed for life. These results occur without furthering any legitimate state purpose ...

The Court is compelled to conclude that Virginia's Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia's gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry. Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country's cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family ...

Justice has often been forged from fires of indignities and prejudices suffered. Our triumphs that celebrate the freedom of choice are hallowed. We have arrived upon another moment in history when We the People becomes more inclusive, and our freedom more perfect.

Almost one hundred and fifty four years ago, as Abraham Lincoln approached the cataclysmic rending of our nation over a struggle for other freedoms, a rending that would take his life and the lives of hundreds of thousands of others, he wrote these words: "It can not have failed to strike you that these men ask for just... the same thing - fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have. " The men and women, and the children too, whose voices join in noble harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it is in this Court's power, they and all others shall have.

The Court finds Va. Const. Art. I, § 15-A, Va. Code §§ 20-45.2, 20-45.3, and any other Virginia law that bars same-sex marriage or prohibits Virginia's recognition of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional. These laws deny Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution."

Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, February 13, 2014.

    click here to read entire decision

(and it's a little less primary as the court is not posting the  decision on their website, except by sign-on and pay, so this is from the website of the Virginia Attorney General)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

NFL Commish Praises Openly Gay Footballer

Good for him. He’s proud of who he is and had the courage to say it. Now he wants to play football. We have a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. We will have further training and make sure that everyone understands our commitment. We truly believe in diversity and this is an opportunity to demonstrate it.

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, February 12, 2014; on openly gay college football star and NFL prospect Michael Sam.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

AG Expands Fed Same-Sex Bennnies

"... We come together this evening at an exciting moment in history – one that is defined by challenge as well as opportunity. As President Obama has said, “The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: that when all Americans are treated as equal…we are all more free.

Tonight, I am proud to announce that the Justice Department is taking additional steps to further advance this “fundamental truth” – and to give real meaning to the Windsor decision. On Monday, I will issue a new policy memorandum that will – for the first time in history – formally instruct all Justice Department employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law.

This means that, in every courthouse, in every proceeding, and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States – they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law. And this policy has important, real-world implications for same-sex married couples that interact with the criminal justice system. For instance, as a result of this policy:

• The Department will recognize that same-sex spouses of individuals involved in civil and criminal cases should have the same legal rights as all other married couples – including the right to decline to give testimony that might violate the marital privilege. Under this policy, even in states where same-sex marriages are not recognized, the federal government will not use state views as a basis to object to someone in a same-sex marriage invoking this right.

• In bankruptcy cases, the United States Trustee Program will take the position that same-sex married couples should be treated in the same manner as opposite-sex married couples. This means that, among other things, same-sex married couples should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly, that certain debts to same-sex spouses or former spouses should be excepted from discharge, and that domestic support obligations should include debts, such as alimony, owed to a former same-sex spouse.

• Federal inmates in same-sex marriages will also be entitled to the same rights and privileges as inmates in opposite-sex marriages. This includes visitation by a spouse, inmate furloughs to be present during a crisis involving a spouse, escorted trips to attend a spouse’s funeral, correspondence with a spouse, and compassionate release or reduction in sentence based on the incapacitation of an inmate’s spouse ..."

US Attorney General Eric Holder, February 10, 2014; Remarks at the Human Rights Campaign Greater New York Gala.

   click here to read full speech