Today the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously declined Gov. Chris Christie’s request for a stay of a lower court’s ruling that civil marriage licenses be granted to same-sex couples beginning Monday, October 21st.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin issued the following statement in response to today’s decision:
"The New Jersey Supreme Court has sent a momentous and vital message to the entire country," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "No government should stand in the way of committed and loving couples seeking to marry. And I have no doubt that when this case is resolved on the merits, marriage equality will come to the Garden State permanently.”
The unanimous ruling from the Court explained that this is a matter of equality:
“The State has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today. The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”
The New Jersey Supreme Court will hear arguments in early January on the merits of the case, which was brought forth by Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal on behalf of seven New Jersey same-sex couples.
How will this DOMA ruling affect real lives?
A coalition of LGBT advocacy groups have put together a series of fact sheets describing the practical application of the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling. It explains how lesbian, gay, and bisexual citizens can expect to be impacted by the decision.
The post-DOMA landscape affects over a 1,000 policies, which touch the lives of many LGB citizens through taxation, medicaid, social security, and more.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and nine other organizations are making the information available via the web. You can find the information on GLAD's web site at http://www.glad.org/current/post/after-doma-fact-sheets.
The other organizations that have joined forces to create this useful resource are American Civil Liberties Union, Center for American Progress, Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and OutServe-SLDN.
We are posting statements on the U.S. Supreme Court gay marriage rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 from local (New England) LGBT rights advocates and politicians as we receive them.
Briefly, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) today. The ruling means that same-sex couples who are legally married in states such as Massachusetts, Vermont and New York will have their marriages recognized by federal law. No more having to file single tax forms at the federal level and couples' forms with the state for married same-sex couples.
Regarding Prop 8, the Supreme Court ruled that the petitioners for the case had no standing. The case goes back to California.
Here are some statements (most recent statements come first):
From Abbie E. Goldberg, associate professor of psychology at Clark University:
“This is a historic day in history, with profound implications for couples and families throughout the US. Today’s ruling sends a message not only to the children being raised by lesbian and gay couples and parents, but to their classmates, neighbors, and community members. In ruling DOMA unconstitutional, the SCOTUS has communicated a powerful message about equality for all families.”
From Peter F. Zupcofska, partner and Burns & Levinson:
The US Supreme Court DOMA ruling means that gay and lesbian married couples in same sex marriage states will now be able to file as married 1040 tax returns. In addition divorcing couples will have the right to significant tax benefits that run to divorcing straight couples, specifically, alimony tax treatment and the ability to make property transfer without incurring capital gains taxes.
On the death of a spouse the surviving gay or lesbian spouse will not have to pay the federal taxes just as a surviving straight spouse has not had to pay such taxes.
Query?- What if a Massachusetts gay couple married for 5 years moves to Florida or a whole host of other states that do not recognize marriage between same sex partners- would that mean that those federal benefits received by the gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts would be erased because they moved to these other states? This dichotomy creates significant and rarely discussed complications. Since individual states can refuse to follow federal law, couples who are married in a state where gay marriage is recognized and then live in a state that does not recognize gay marriage can encounter difficulties in many aspects of normal life.
From openly gay Candidate for Boston City Council At-Large Jeff Ross:
“The Supreme Court did the right thing today by striking down DOMA and finally recognizing that gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts are fully equal under the law. We led the way when it comes to marriage equality here in Massachusetts over 9 years ago and I am proud that today, Boston’s gay and lesbian couples will be fully recognized under federal law” said Ross. “While I’m not running just to make history as the first openly gay city councilor ever elected city-wide, I’m proud of how far our country has come and I am energized about the work ahead. Bostonians believes in a truly equal, diverse city and I hope to add to that history by becoming Boston’s first openly gay at-large city councilor and continuing the movement for true equality.”FULL ENTRY
Rally or Vigil? Cambridge City Hall to host gay marriage event on Wednesday—no matter how the Supreme Court rules
No matter what the Supreme Court decides tomorrow concerning the DOMA cases before it, hundreds are expected to gather in support of marriage equality on Wednesday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Cambridge City Hall, site of the first legal marriages between same-sex couples in the United States.
The event is being hosted by several groups that advocate for LGBT concerns, including MassEquality, ACLU of MA, GLAD, HRC, Family Equality Council, MGLPC, the Boston Pride Committee, and the Cambridge GLBT Commission.
"In the case of good news," says the press release from MassEquality, "we'll be continuing the celebration afterwards at Club Cafe in Boston at 8pm."
For more information, visit the event's "DOMA Decision Day" page on Facebook.
What is it with all the red equal symbols flooding Facebook and other social media?
The Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) popular logo, which features a yellow equals sign in a blue box, was redesigned in red. HRC Director of Marketing Anastasia Khoo explained the significance of the color choice in a press release. “By harnessing the passion that equality supporters feel for the freedom of loving and committed couples to marry, the internet is awash in a sea of red – the color of love,” said Khoo.
The symbol caught on quickly and has been spottedon many notables' Facebook pages. According to HRC, "U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., announced his support of marriage equality for the first time by changing his Facebook profile image to HRC’s red equal sign and many other public officials have followed suit."
Others featuring the symbol in their social media communications include U.S. Senators Chris Coons, Al Franken, Mazie Hirono, Frank Lautenberg, Bob Menendez, Chris Murphy, Patty Murray, Bernie Sanders, Brian Schatz, Jean Shaheen, Jon Tester, Mark Warner and Elizabeth Warren, as well as celebrities like Sophia Bush, George Takei, Tegan & Sara and Lance Bass, according to HRC.
HRC released a statement about the symbol that included information about its provenance and its rapid distribution:
As part of HRC’s robust social media efforts around the two cases before the Supreme Court, the red logo launched on the HRC Facebook page at 1:00pm ET Monday and the original image has been shared more than 100,000 times and created upwards of 10 million impressions in all 50 states – not including countless user-created versions. ...
Many variants have popped up as a meme all over the web, such as images of the symbol with the Statue of Liberty kissing Justice, Lantern, Ernie and Bert, the first landing on the moon, Mark Rothko, Fenway Health, Yoda, Peanuts, Les Miserables, and a thank you.
Below are a few.FULL ENTRY
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenging California’s Proposition 8 that revoked same-sex couples’ ability to marry in the state.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defender’s (GLAD) Civil Rights Project Director Mary Bonauto, who successfully argued for the right of same-sex couples to marry in Massachusetts, had this to say in an e-mail to supporters:
Today I had the privilege to sit in the nation's highest court and hear the clearly articulated argument that there is no justification for a state to exclude gay and lesbian Americans from the respect and dignity of marriage. ...
Attorney Ted Olson keenly made the case for equality on behalf of the California plaintiffs and gay and lesbian people everywhere - and the Justices engaged the question fairly and respectfully.
We know, and the Court has heard, that momentum - and the basic fairness and commitment to equality of the American people - are on our side. Poll after poll shows that a growing majority of Americans support the right of everyone to marry the person they love.
It is not a question of if, but when, this right will be extended to all gay and lesbian people across the country.
Tomorrow [Wednesday], the Court will hear about thousands of already married loving, committed same-sex couples - couples whose marriages are respected and celebrated by their families, friends, faith communities and the states they call home. Couples like those I'm so proud to represent in our two cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Gill v. OPM and Pedersen v. OPM.
My friend and colleague Robbie Kaplan will show the Court - on behalf of her client Edie Windsor, and all of us - that there is no justifiable reason for the federal government to discriminate against these marriages as it now does with DOMA.
I look forward to sharing with you my thoughts after yet another historic day.
We truly have much to celebrate, and much work to continue.
GLAD's Executive Director Lee Swislow released this statement:FULL ENTRY
Rally for marriage equality at the Massachusetts State House on June 14, 2007 (photo: James Lopata)
The United States Supreme Court begins hearing arguments concerning marriage rights for same-sex couples tomorrow, Tuesday, morning.
Massachusetts, the birthplace of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the U.S., is rising to the occasion with rallies and other activities.
Tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, a rally in favor of marriage equality is scheduled at 3 p.m. near the Government Center T stop at City Hall Plaza. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is scheduled to speak along with Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality; Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD); Tim Coco, a Haverhill businessman who cannot sponsor his Brazilian spouse for residency under DOMA; State Rep. Carl Sciortino; and others. Already, several hundred have indicated on the rally's Facebook page that they will attend.FULL ENTRY
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) successfully fought to allow a high school student in Connecticut to wear a shirt that included anti-gay imagery.
Wolcott High School initially banned student Seth Groody from sporting a t-shirt with an illustration of a rainbow with a slash through it and a man and a woman holding hands with the words "Excessive Speech Day" on it. The school changed its position after ACLU intervention.
"The First Amendment was written to protect unpopular speech, which is naturally the kind of speech that will always need protection," Sandra Staub, legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut, told WFSB of CBS. "The ACLU has fought hard for same-sex marriage and we couldn't agree with Seth less on that issue, but he is absolutely correct about his right to express his opinion."
A group of at least 75 prominent Republicans have signed a brief in support of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples that is being submitted to the Supreme Court, according to The New York Times.
The New York Times notes:
The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers — 75 as of Monday evening — who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who have changed their previous positions.
Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.
While briefs of this kind — called amicus, or friend-of-the court briefs — do not often sway Supreme Court justices, there is a sense that this brief may be an exception. More from the Times:
Tom Goldstein, publisher of Scotusblog, a Web site that analyzes Supreme Court cases, said the amicus filing “has the potential to break through and make a real difference.”
He added: “The person who is going to decide this case, if it’s going to be close, is going to be a conservative justice who respects traditional marriage but nonetheless is sympathetic to the claims that this is just another form of hatred. If you’re trying to persuade someone like that, you can’t persuade them from the perspective of gay rights advocacy.”
President Barack Obama announced the nomination of two people to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, including an openly gay lawyer, Todd Hughes.
If confirmed, Hughes would be the first out gay judge on a federal circuit court.
Todd Hughes, a lawyer in the Department of Justice's civil division, was nominated for the Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He would be the first openly gay circuit judge in the country if confirmed.
The Federal Circuit hears patent appeals from around the country, including high stakes cases like Apple Inc's smartphone battle against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. Its docket also includes trademark cases and some claims against the federal government.
The administration previously nominated Edward DuMont for the Federal Circuit in 2010. He would have been the first openly gay circuit judge had he been confirmed. However, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee did not hold a hearing and DuMont ultimately withdrew, saying some Republican committee members opposed his bid. DuMont did not identify those senators.
Hughes graduated from Harvard College in 1989, according to a biography provided by the White House:
Todd M. Hughes is Deputy Director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice, a position he has held since 2007. He also has served as an adjunct lecturer in law with the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and as an instructor for Duke University’s writing program.
Hughes received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1989 and completed a joint degree program with Duke University, earning both his J.D. with honors and his M.A. in English in 1992. After graduating from law school, Hughes clerked for the Honorable Robert B. Krupansky of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. In 1994, he joined the Commercial Litigation Branch as a trial attorney. Five years later, he was appointed to be Assistant Director for Commercial Litigation, a role he held until assuming the title of Deputy Director in 2007. Throughout his career with the Department of Justice, Hughes’s practice has been devoted to matters of federal personnel law, veterans’ benefits, international trade, government contracts, and jurisdictional issues regarding the United States Court of Federal Claims. He has extensive experience before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the United States Court of International Trade, and the United States Court of Federal Claims, and he has garnered a number of special commendations from the Department of Justice and a special contribution award from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
On November 28, 1998, two men followed transgender woman Rita Hester to her apartment in Boston and fatally stabbed her inside.
One year later, transgender activists in San Francisco remembered the event with a candlelight vigil, which has become an annual, globally commemorated observance known as the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Recently, organizations like the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) inaugurated Transgender Awareness Week.
This year, MTPC is working with Fenway Health to provide an array of events, including launching of a new video. Other organizations, including local colleges and towns, have also scheduled activities.
Here’s some of what is being offered:FULL ENTRY
By James Lopata
Is this the year the Supreme Court takes on marriage?
The consensus seems to be, yes.
On Monday, September 24, the Supreme Court has scheduled a closed meeting, with marriage cases involving same-sex couples on the agenda. The Court could announce its intentions regarding these cases as early as Tuesday, September 25.
And Massachusetts could figure prominently—in fact, more prominently, than the much hyped, though still important, Prop 8 case from California.
One of the most promising cases is Gill v. Office of Personnel Management. And the lead counsel on that case is New England-based Mary Bonauto.FULL ENTRY