You Missed a Spot, Your Honor

Last week, Arkansas Judge Chris Piazza found the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution.  Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who has said that he personally supports marriage equality, but still defends the ban against it, subsequently began filing as many appeals and motions to stay the ruling pending appeal as he could possibly lay his hands on.  Meanwhile, five Arkansas counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while the rest decided to wait until the Supreme Court weighed in.  I’m assuming the Mississippi River didn’t turn into blood or anything because both Piazza and the Arkansas Supreme Court denied the motions to stay, and the Supreme Court denied the appeal because it was filed before Piazza issued his final order.  My supervisor is standing over me with a spiked club at the moment, so I won’t be making any jokes about being premature at this point.  I apologize.

Surely it’s wedded bliss for these couples during the forthcoming appeal process, yes?  They don’t have to carry around those documents proving they’re their husband’s husband in case of an emergency any more, right?  Well, maybe.  I think?  When the Arkansas Supreme Court denied the motion to stay, they also pointed out that Piazza’s ruling didn’t mention a state law prohibiting county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Attorneys for the plaintiff couples will likely ask Piazza to address this issue in his final order.

Since the Supreme Court pointed out the remaining law, county clerks have stopped issuing licenses.  456 couples have received licenses and can still get married.  Everyone else has to wait at least until Piazza issues his final order and McDaniel files an appeal when he’s supposed to.

I just saved you from going through a million links that read “Gay Marriage in Arkansas!’ “No Gay Marriage in Arkansas!”  “Arkansas Supreme Court Denies Appeal in Gay Marriage Case!” “You Can Get Married!” “No, You Can’t!” You’re welcome.

We’re Pretty Sure You’ll Be Able to Wed in Idaho on Friday

Unless an appellate court grants a stay in the ruling, Idaho’s marriage ban has been struck down, and couples will be able to get married on Friday, May 16.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled that Idaho’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.  Idaho Governor Butch Otter, who seriously has the BEST name of any politician out there, filed a contingent motion to stay pending appeal before Dale even issued her ruling.  Responses to the motion from the lawyers for the plaintiffs are due by June 5.

Ellen-Rosenblum

Here’s to the Most Terrifying Attorney General in America!

Oh, Ellen Rosenblum, people can find some lawyers to be terrifying, and you are certainly no exception.  You announced that you wouldn’t defend Oregon’s ban on marriage equality back in February, and that mere statement had members of NOM so terrified that they had to wait until 48 hours before an April hearing to file a motion to intervene in the case.  Now that their big, exciting day of being able to stand in front of Judge Michael McShane has arrived, they can’t find anyone willing to testify that they have been or could be harmed by the repeal of Oregon’s anti-equality laws, citing “grave concerns about possible threats, harassment, and retaliation should they do so.” In their brief, NOM claims to be the only person or organization willing to stand up for Oregonians who feel their voting rights are being trampled on.  They claim that the Attorney General’s refusal to defend the law in court has created a climate in Oregon that will result in any of these county clerks, voters, or local business owners being tarred and feathered if they stand up for the discriminatory laws or something.

This Week in Marriage Equality

Arkansas Gay Marriage Ban Found Unconstitutional in Court

On Friday, Judge Chris Piazza struck down Arkansas’s voter approved ban on same-sex marriage, telling everybody what they already knew, that “The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.”

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has announced his intent to appeal Piazza’s ruling, but has not yet filed an appeal in the case.  Fifteen same-sex couples had been issued marriage licenses when McDaniel made his announcement.  One of my favorite conservatives Mike Huckabee was so enraged by the ruling that he decided to ignore that whole checks and balances thing the rest of us learned about in elementary school and call for Piazza to be impeached.

Alaska Moves from 49th to 47th!

On Monday, Alaska became the 47th state… to get a lawsuit challenging its same-sex marriage ban!  Five couples have sued the state, seeking to bar enforcement of Alaska’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and any state laws prohibiting the recognition of marriage performed in other states or countries or that prevent unmarried same-sex couples from getting married.  This means that the only states that have unchallenged bans to marriage equality are Montana and the Dakotas.

Final Briefs Filed in Pennsylvania Case

The state of Pennsylvania filed the last of its briefs in one of the cases challenging its ban on same-sex marriage on May 12.  Pennsylvania’s Attorney General declined to defend the ban, saying she could not ethically defend its constitutionality, so the state hired an outside law firm that argued that “plaintiffs rely primarily on speculation and conjecture with regard to harm that may occur in the future.”  Maybe someone should ask one of the plaintiffs, which consist of ten couples, two teenage children of same-sex parents, and a widow, if any harm came to them because of this law already?  I mean, who wants the pension your husband worked for most of his life anyway?  You have fond memories!  Both sides of this case have agreed that there is no need for a trial, and the judge can rule at any time now, or he can decide he wants to go ahead with a trial that is scheduled for June 9.

Judge to Florida Family Association: “I Don’t Like It” Doesn’t Make You an Honorary Defendant

District court Judge Robert Hinkle rejected a motion to intervene as a defendant from the Florida Family Association, saying “FFA’s generalized interest in opposing same-sex marriage does not entitle FFA to intervene.”  The judge also found that the FFA’s lawyers had failed to cite a federal statute entitling them to intervene.

Hinkle also consolidated two challenges to Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage into a single case.

Florida Family Association Will Not Be Allowed to Intervene in Gay Marriage Cases – Gay Star News

New Poll Shows 56 Percent of Voters Approve Marriage Equality

A new poll released by Quinnipiac University found that 56 percent of Florida voters support allowing same-sex couples to marry.  The only age group that did not support marriage equality was voters over the age of 65, who were divided with 45 percent in favor and 49 percent opposed.  Support was slightly higher among women.

The poll also showed Charlie Crist having a 48 to 38 percent lead over incumbent Governor Rick Scott.

Quinnipiac Poll: Crist Leads Scott, Florida Voters Back Gay Marriage – Bay News 9

Tennessee Is Back to Pretending Those Marriages Didn’t Happen

On Friday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put a U.S. District Court judge’s temporary injunction that forced Tennessee to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples on hold.  This means that the plaintiffs are back to having marriages that are recognized by the federal government, but not the state of Tennessee.

The 6th Circuit Court cited the fact that “the law in this area is so unsettled,” referring to the fact that all four states in the 6th Circuit are facing lawsuits related to their laws regarding same-sex marriage.

Same-Sex Marriages in Tenn. Case Again Invalid – ABC News

North Carolina ministers’ faith-based challenge to marriage laws

Christian conservatives aren’t the only people who have First Amendment rights.  A group of ministers from the United Church of Christ have sued the state of North Carolina, claiming that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage stop them from practicing their religion.

United Church of Christ Sues over NC Ban on Same-Sex Marriage – Charlotte Observer