Issue:  Vol. 45 / No. 27 / 2 July 2015
 

Local, state politicos get in the Warriors spirit with friendly wagers

Political leaders from Oakland and California got into the spirit of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers being in the NBA finals by making friendly wagers with their Ohio counterparts.

(Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf)

(Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf)

The Warriors, with the best record in the league and MVP Stephen Curry and All-Star Klay Thompson in the starting lineup, take on LaBron James and the Cavaliers beginning Thursday (June 4) at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Tip-off is at 6 p.m.

It’s the Warriors’ first appearance in the finals in 40 years.

Mixing it up from her earlier bets with fellow mayors in the playoff series, in lieu of a friendly wager with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has joined the Oakland-based Alameda County Community Food Bank and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank to promote a friendly fundraising competition supporting families in need.

Each food bank has set a goal of $5,000 for the challenge, although there is no limit. The fan base that raises the most funds for its food bank by the end of the series will be declared the winner. The executive director of the food bank that has raised less money has promised to don the opposing team’s apparel and post a congratulatory video on Facebook.

“I’m excited to join the Alameda County Community Food Bank and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in a spirited competition designed to bring awareness to the struggle faced by low-income residents in our respective cities,” Schaaf said in a statement.

Officials noted that Oakland and Cleveland both share proud blue-collar roots and passionate sports fans to match.

To donate to Alameda County Community Food Bank (Warriors), visit www.accfb.org/foodbankfinals.

To donate to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank (Cavaliers), visit www.greaterclevelandfoodbank.org/foodbankfinals.

Every dollar raised will remain local. For every $1 donated, the Alameda food bank can provide $6 worth of food. In Cleveland, the same donation to its food bank provides four meals.

Other political leaders are taking the more traditional approach.

(Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

(Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) has a friendly wager with Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland). If the Warriors win, Fudge will offer Lee chocolates, peanuts, and pastries made in the heart of Cleveland. If the Cavaliers win, Lee will offer Fudge local favorites: Clif bars, Ghirardelli chocolates, Peet’s coffee, and an autographed photo of Curry in an Oaklandish tote bag.

On the Senate side, both of California’s senators have placed friendly wagers with their Ohio colleagues.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) has a bet with Senator Rob Portman (R) – fine California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon against Ohio’s Great Lakes beers ride on the outcome of the seven-game series.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D) has a bet with Sherrod Brown (D). Boxer is wagering Peet’s “Warriors Grounds” coffee and a case of Linden Street Brewery’s “New Oakland Glow” pilsner against beer that Brown will provide from Hoppin’ Frog Brewery.

A news release added that the loser will deliver the bounty to the winner’s office while wearing a jersey from the victor’s team.

— Cynthia Laird, June 3, 2015 @ 7:58 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics,Sports


Obama calls for end to conversion therapy for minors

Responding to a White House petition, President Barack Obama this week called for an end to the widely discredited practice of conversion therapy for minors.

Writing on the White House blog Wednesday, April 8, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

(President Barack Obama)

(President Barack Obama)

Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It is opposed by most major medical and mental health organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association.

“Tonight, somewhere in America, a young person, let’s say a young man, will struggle to fall to sleep, wrestling alone with a secret he’s held as long as he can remember,” Obama wrote on the blog. “Soon, perhaps, he will decide it’s time to let that secret out. What happens next depends on him, his family, as well as his friends and his teachers and his community. But it also depends on us – on the kind of society we engender, the kind of future we build.”

In her comments, Jarrett said it’s important for people to get advice from qualified health professionals.

“When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that seek to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is as imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts,” Jarrett wrote. “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.”

Local LGBT organizations praised the president’s announcement.

“Equality California applauds and commends President Obama for his statement calling for an end to ‘conversion therapy,’ the damaging psychological abuse practiced by some mental health professionals who falsely claim that they can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender expression,” EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur said in a statement.

Zbur pointed to a California law signed by Governor Jerry Brown that bans licensed therapists in the state from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender expression of patients under the age of 18. The Golden State became the first in the nation to enact such a law, which was used as a model in New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Several other states are considering similar action this year, EQCA noted.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights also applauded the White House announcement.

“There are few things more powerful to our children’s self-worth than having the president of the United States say you matter,” NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell said in a statement. “These powerful statements from President Obama and Valerie Jarrett not only affirm the lives of our transgender brothers and sisters, but the lives of all LGBT people.

“Today, our president made clear that we can and must do better,” Kendell continued. “Every LGBT child deserves to live with full dignity, free from shame, embraced for who they are. Today brings us one step closer to that moment.”

The petition seeking to ban conversion therapy was started after the December 2014 suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender youth. In a note she left behind, Alcorn explained how her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy, pulled her out of school, and isolated her in an attempt to change her gender identity.

The petition received 120,958 signatures, enough to have the White House respond.

— Cynthia Laird, April 9, 2015 @ 11:04 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Gay Castro man meets with Obama on how ACA helped him

A gay San Francisco man was one of 10 people who were recently invited to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama to talk about the Affordable Care Act and how it has helped them.

Derrick C. (DC) Benn, 47, who lives in the Castro, told the Bay Area Reporter in an email that he was the only black gay man from California who was part of the experience.

All of the participants had written emails to the president expressing their support for the ACA. The White House put the video on YouTube in an effort to promote the fact that Sunday, February 15 is the deadline to sign up for health insurance for this year. Benn signed up for health insurance last year, and renewed this year, he said.

“All I did was write a brief email to the White House and by February 6 I received a call from the White House that I was invited to tell President Obama how ACA has improved my life,” Benn told the B.A.R.. The White House paid for his trip, he said.

In the three-minute video, Benn, who is a math, chemistry, and physics tutor for a private company, said that “everyone in my family is so proud of me,” for writing to the president.

“It will improve your life if you give it a chance,” Benn says in the video, referring to the ACA.

Among the others in the group were a cancer survivor and a doctor who told Obama that she got “riled up” after Congress tried for the umpteenth time to repeal the ACA. She didn’t think the president would actually read her email.

Benn said in his email to the B.A.R. that he encourages people to write to their representatives, senators, and the president “if you want to praise or criticize a policy that is of concern to you.”

While he was at the White House Benn also got to pet Bo, one of the first family’s dogs.

To sign up for the ACA, people in California can go to www.coveredca.com.

Here’s the video:

— Cynthia Laird, February 13, 2015 @ 1:45 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Oakland Pride to have parade this year

Festivalgoers enjoy themselves at Oakland Pride. (Photo: Courtesy Oakland Pride)

Festivalgoers enjoy themselves at Oakland Pride. (Photo: Courtesy Oakland Pride)

Oakland’s fifth annual LGBT Pride celebration is just over a month away and this week, organizers announced that for the first time, there will be a parade to start the day.

The event bills itself as northern California’s second largest Pride festival and it’s one of the most diverse in the country. This year’s parade and festival take place Sunday, August 31, over Labor Day weekend.

According to an e-newsletter from Oakland Pride, the parade will start downtown at 14th and Broadway and head to the festival site five blocks away at 20th and Broadway, in the city’s Uptown neighborhood. To join a contingent or to register your own, visit http://www.oaklandpride.org/parade_map.

There is no cost to watch the parade, although there will be a VIP grandstand at Latham Square where advance tickets are $5 ($10 the day of the event). Access is free for persons with disabilities.

Admission to the festival, which runs 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and under. For more information, visit www.oaklandpride.org.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more coverage of Oakland Pride in coming weeks.

— Cynthia Laird, July 29, 2014 @ 11:24 am PST
Filed under: News


Perez drops controller recount effort

Gay former Assembly Speaker John A. Perez on Friday dropped a partial recount in the state controller’s race, conceding that Board of Equalization member Betty Yee came in second and will face Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin in November.

John Perez (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

John Perez (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

According to KQED, the move came after Perez picked up only a handful of votes in Kern and Imperial counties, two parts of the state where he thought he would get more votes in a recount.

Yee beat Perez by only a few hundred votes in the June 3 primary, coming in second place.

In a statement, Perez said, “There is simply not enough time to see this process through to the end, given the fact that counties must begin printing ballots in the next few weeks in order to ensure that overseas and military voters can receive their ballots in a timely manner.”

[Updated: In a brief interview late Friday afternoon, Yee told the Bay Area Reporter that she was “relieved” the recount had been stopped.

“I’m relieved and thankful and we can begin work on party unity and the November election,” Yee said.

Yee said that Perez was “gracious” in a call to her.

“I did get a call from Speaker emeritus Perez,” she said. “He was very gracious and he offered support.”

As for next steps, Yee said she will continue to gather endorsements and raise money. She said that according to the secretary of state’s website, Swearengin is not accepting campaign spending limits, meaning it is likely the Republican Party will pour money into the race. [End of update.]

California Democrats had been pressuring Perez to end his bid, media outlets reported this week. The state party donated $50,000 to Yee’s campaign earlier this week and endorsed her.

— Cynthia Laird, July 18, 2014 @ 4:44 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics


SF archbishop to speak at anti-gay march

(San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is a featured speaker for NOM's March for Marriage. Photo: Courtesy NOM)

(San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is a featured speaker for NOM’s March for Marriage. Photo: Courtesy NOM)

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, is scheduled to speak at the National Organization for Marriage’s march and rally next week in Washington, D.C.

According to NOM’s website, the June 19 March for Marriage lists Cordileone as a featured speaker, along with several well-known anti-gay leaders. On Tuesday the archbishop’s name and photo were briefly removed from the website, but by late Tuesday Cordileone’s photo was back on the site.

On Tuesday, June 10, 87 LGBT leaders and allies signed an open letter to the archbishop, asking that he cancel his participation in the march and rally. Signers of the letter include a who’s who of LGBT leadership: state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco); Assemblymen Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park); and Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos. Business leaders also signed on, including Selisse Berry, executive director of Out and Equal Workplace Advocates.

Allies include Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco’s former mayor, and Eva Paterson of the Equal Justice Society.

The letter, also signed by dozens of religious and faith leaders, makes mention of Pope Francis’s comment from last year, when he said, “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

“We respect freedom of religion and understand that you oppose civil marriage for same-sex couples,” the letter states. “But the actions and rhetoric of NOM, and those of the event’s speakers and co-sponsors, fundamentally contradict Christian belief in the fundamental dignity of all people.”

The letter goes on to explain NOM’s well-documented history of publishing material that “connects homosexuality with pedophilia and incest…” It also points out that march co-sponsor the Family Research Council has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Religious leaders signing the letter include the Right Reverend Wendell N. Gibbs Jr., 10th Episcopal bishop of Michigan; the Reverend Cedric A. Harmon, co-director of Many Voices: A Black church Movement for Gay and Transgender Justice; and the Reverend Elder Nancy Wilson, moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

LGBT community center directors also signed the letter, including Rebecca Rolfe from San Francisco, Leslie Ewing from the Pacific Center in Berkeley, Ben-David Barr from the Rainbow Community Center in Concord; and Lorri Jean from the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Calls to the San Francisco Archdiocese seeking comment on Cordileone’s participation in the march were not immediately returned.

— Cynthia Laird, June 11, 2014 @ 10:39 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Kaplan jumps into Oakland mayor’s race

(Rebecca Kaplan announces her bid for Oakland mayor on a street corner in East Oakland Thursday, June 5. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

(Rebecca Kaplan announces her bid for Oakland mayor on a street corner in East Oakland Thursday, June 5. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)

Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan jumped into the crowded mayoral race this week, releasing a professional looking 30-second video in which she declares “Oakland isn’t ungovernable – it’s just ungoverned.”

Kaplan formally announced her candidacy at a 1 p.m. news conference Thursday (June 5) in East Oakland. She is currently the at-large representative on the City Council and easily won re-election two years ago. She does not need to give up her council seat to seek the mayor’s office.

The only out LGBT candidate in the 17-person field, Kaplan, 43, who once said she would not run against incumbent Mayor Jean Quan, has changed her mind and will seek the city’s top office in November.

At the news conference, held at the trash strewn corner of 92nd Avenue and International Boulevard, Kaplan pointed out that the city had approved money in the budget for blight clean-up but that the jobs had not been filled. She said she is different from the other candidates but acknowledged that some people may have already made commitments to others running for mayor. She said if that’s the case she understood, but asked that she be given consideration as their second choice in Oakland’s ranked choice system.

That sentiment was similar to her mayoral bid in 2010 when she and Quan each asked the other’s supporters for their number two vote on Oakland’s ranked choice ballot. The strategy turned out to be a successful effort to block candidate Don Perata, although Kaplan came up short in that race.

Kaplan also faced questions at the news conference that she is too nice, a criticism echoed in other news accounts. Kaplan said that she would be able to make the “tough decisions” as mayor and has voted on difficult issues before, such as her vote to keep police officers during a city budget battle a few years ago.

Regarding Oakland’s troubled police department. Kaplan said that officers who are over-worked and stressed out are more likely to make mistakes than those working at a fully staffed precinct. She would make proper staffing at OPD a high priority.

In the video, Kaplan says that the city “needs strong, stable leadership – for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs, and for a fresh start for our city.”

It remains to be seen how Kaplan’s entry into the race will be received by the city’s large LGBT community. Gay Oakland Port Commissioner Michael Colbruno, who supported Kaplan four years ago, is backing Quan this time. But judging from Kaplan’s Facebook page, a number of LGBT people have “liked” her announcement.

Kaplan enjoys high name recognition in Oakland, something that many of the mayoral candidates lack. A poll last November by the pro-business Jobs and Housing Coalition showed Kaplan leading the field with 26 percent – 6 points ahead of Quan and roughly 10 points ahead of San Francisco State professor Joe Tuman and Councilwoman Libby Schaaf.

Other mayoral candidates include city Auditor Courtney Ruby, Oakland Port Commissioner Bryan Parker, and civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, who used to be an ally of Quan’s but broke with her over the mayor’s handling of Occupy protesters three years ago.

Last month, Kaplan became engaged to her partner, Pamela Rosin, owner of Awakening Presence Somatic Counseling in San Francisco’s Castro district. Kaplan’s spokesman, Jason Overman, said a July 26 wedding is planned.

— Cynthia Laird, June 5, 2014 @ 10:37 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Judge strikes down Virginia marriage ban

A federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia, struck down the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying but stayed the execution of her order that it stop enforcing the law, pending appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Arenda Wright Allen (an Obama appointee) opened her 41-page decision with a quote from a book by Mildred Loving, the African American woman who won a lawsuit striking down bans against interracial couples marrying.

“We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is?” wrote Loving in Loving for All.

In an eloquent, history-laden opinion, Allen acknowledged that a “spirited and controversial debate is under way” regarding same-sex couples marrying, but added, “Our Constitution declares that ‘all men’ are created equal. Surely this means all of us.” She said the ban violates the rights to due process and equal protection and deprives same-sex couples of the fundamental freedom to choose to marry.

“Although steeped in a rich, tradition- and faith-based legacy, Virginia’s marriage laws are an exercise of governmental power,” wrote Allen. “For those who choose to marry, and for their children, Virginia’s laws ensure that marriage provides profound legal, financial, and social benefits, and exacts serious legal, financial, and social obligations. The government’s involvement in defining marriage, and in attaching benefits that accompany the institution, must withstand constitutional scrutiny. Laws that fail that scrutiny must fall despite the depth and legitimacy of the laws’ religious heritage.”

The case, Bostic v. Virginia, was argued by Ted Olson, David Boies, and a team supported by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the same group that pressed the successful challenge against California’s statewide ban, Proposition 8.

– Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, February 14, 2014 @ 9:14 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Virginia AG won’t defend marriage ban

The attorney general of Virginia announced Thursday (January 23) that his office will no longer defend the constitutionality of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

At a news conference, Attorney General Mark Herring told reporters his legal analysis of the state’s constitutional ban has determined the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and due process and that it discriminates against gay people on the basis of sexual orientation.

(Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Photo: Reuters)

(Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Photo: Reuters)

Addressing critics who say he should defend all state laws, regardless of whether he believes they are unconstitutional. Herring said that would be violating his oath and noted that his predecessors, including Republican Ken Cuccinelli, refused to defend other state laws they believed to be unconstitutional.

“Having determined after thorough and rigorous analysis that this unconstitutional law infringes on Virginia families,” said Herring, “I have a duty and authority to protect them and their rights. It does not mean the case will end or that the ban will go undefended or unenforced. Until the courts can rule on the matter, state registrar Janet Rainey will continue to enforce the current ban, but neither she nor I will defend its constitutionality.”

The announcement comes less than three weeks after Herring was sworn in and just one week before a federal judge in Norfolk is set to hear arguments in the first of two lawsuits challenging the ban in federal court in Virginia.

A spokeswoman for Herring told the Richmond Times Dispatch, “We will file a brief that will change the commonwealth’s legal position and we will argue along with the plaintiffs.” The state’s solicitor general is expected to present Herring’s position when the court hears oral arguments.

Supporters of marriage equality were elated.

“It is a critical and important development when the attorney general – the keeper of the federal and state constitution in the commonwealth – joins us in arguing that barring same-sex couples from marriage is clearly unconstitutional,” said Greg Nevins, counsel in Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund’s southern regional office based in Atlanta. Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union are representing same-sex couples in one of two lawsuits currently challenging the Virginia ban in federal district courts.

“This is a great day for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Theodore Olson, who is leading the other Virginia lawsuit. “Attorney General Herring’s actions today have brought Virginia that much closer to the quintessential American ideals of equality under the law and the freedom to pursue happiness. We are grateful for his leadership and look forward to working with him to strike down Virginia’s odious marriage ban.”

In another dramatic development, plaintiffs’ attorneys on Wednesday submitted the recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in SmithKline v. Abbott that found heightened scrutiny is required for cases involving disparate treatment based on sexual orientation. They ask the judge to apply that reasoning in the summary judgment hearing “or, in the alternative,” grant a preliminary injunction against enforcement of Virginia’s ban against the two plaintiff couples in this case.

Herring’s announcement Thursday represents a climax in an intense political drama over same-sex marriage in Virginia in recent months. Democrat Herring, who voted for the ban when he served as state senator in 2006, won election last November against Republican Mark Obershain, who opposes same-sex marriage, by fewer than 200 votes. In fact, Herring only last August shifted his position on allowing same-sex couples to marry, telling the Dispatch, “I would not want the state to tell my son or my daughter who they can and cannot marry.”

Just one day before Herring took office, Cuccinelli issued an official advisory opinion that the governor “may not direct or require any agency of state government to allow same-sex couples to receive joint marital status for Virginia income tax returns.”

Herring’s spokeswoman, Ellen Qualls, told the Dispatch, “The attorney general has a strong interest in the courts adjudicating this matter, which will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court.”

On January 30, Judge Arenda Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia is scheduled to hear arguments at a summary judgment hearing in Bostic v. Virginia. Famed attorneys Olson and David Boies, who led the American Foundation for Equal Rights’ successful challenge against California’s Proposition 8, are heading the Norfolk legal team. It is not yet known whether Thursday’s announcement might require postponement of next week’s hearing.

The initial named defendants in Bostic are now State Registrar of Vital Records Janet Rainey and Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer.

The amended brief submitted by Herring under Rainey’s signature states that “marriage is a fundamental right protected by the federal Constitution” and that current Virginia law “improperly denies same-sex couples access to” that fundamental right, “without legal justification, and therefore violates the federal constitution guarantees of due process of law and the equal protection of the laws.”

The court also granted intervenor status to Prince William County Circuit Court Clerk Michele McQuigg on January 17, noting that plaintiffs did not object.

A second lawsuit, Harris v. Virginia, led by Lambda Legal and the ACLU, is pending before a U.S. District Court for the Western District.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia has too often argued on the wrong side,” said Herring, referring to historic cases on desegregation in 1954, on interracial marriage in 1967, and on women entering the Virginia Military Institute in 1996.

“The same legal principles that applied in those cases apply in this case today,” he added.

Referring to his 2006 vote in favor of the ban on same-sex marriage, Herring was blunt.

“I was wrong to stop short of marriage equality,” said Herring, but he added his decision now “is not based on my policy preferences” but “based on my thorough analysis of applicable law and the constitutional questions raised by this case.”

“Virginia is, in many ways, the cradle of democracy,” said Herring, noting that many of the nation’s early presidents and authors of key government documents, including the Constitution, were written by Virginians.

“Too many times in our history our citizens have had to lead the way on civil rights while our leaders have stood against them,” said Herring. “It is time for the commonwealth to be on the right side of history and the right side of law.”

– Reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, January 23, 2014 @ 12:38 pm PST
Filed under: News,Politics


Supreme Court halts Utah marriages

After two weeks of same-sex couples receiving marriage licenses in Utah, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, January 6 ordered a halt to the nuptials, granting the state a stay while the court case is appealed.

The court issued its stay Monday morning, apparently after Justice Sonia Sotomayor referred the matter to the full court. Sotomayor is the justice designated to administer requests for emergency stays for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but had the option to ask the full court to weigh in on the request.

It takes at least five justices to grant such a stay. The order issued today does not indicate that any justice was in dissent. It states simply that the stay is granted and that the December 20 order by U.S. District Court that prohibited Utah from enforcing its ban is “stayed pending final disposition” of the appeal of that decision to the 10th Circuit. Given the 10th Circuit’s briefing schedule for the appeal, that means the ban will be in force for at least three months and likely longer, given anticipated appeals of whatever the 10th Circuit decides.

Peggy Tomsic and James Magleby, with the private law firm of Magleby and Greenwood that is representing same-sex couples in the case, issued a statement following the Supreme Court’s announcement, noting that it is “not unusual” for the court to stay a decision declaring a state law unconstitutional pending appeal and has “no bearing on who will win on appeal.”

LGBT legal activists agreed.

“No one should draw any negative inferences about where the court is leaning. This is an unprecedented situation,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which has several marriage equality lawsuits pending. “Never before has a federal court struck down a state marriage law and then declined to stay it, and never before has a Court of Appeals also declined to issue a stay. For those reasons, the chances that the Supreme Court would issue a stay until the appeal is resolved were always quite high, so the real news here is that so many marriages were able to take place. And it is significant that the court did not rush to act. There is nothing unusual about the issuance of a stay when a federal court strikes down a state law on federal grounds.

“Bottom line,” said Minter, “[is] the prospects for this case still look very bright. And there will never be any going back in Utah.”

The challenge to Utah’s ban (the state constitutional Amendment 3 and related statutes), Kitchen v. Herbert, now proceeds as Herbert v. Kitchen on an expedited schedule before the 10th Circuit. The next briefing date, according to Tomsic, is January 27. The last brief due before oral argument is February 25. The court date has not yet been announced but the next argument session after that deadline is March 17-21.

The Deseret News reports that more than 900 same-sex couples married since December 20, when District Judge Robert Shelby, an Obama appointee, issued a 53-page opinion, striking down Utah’s ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. Shelby immediately enjoined the state from enforcing its ban, then denied the state’s request for a stay of his decision pending appeal. The state took its request for an emergency stay to the 10th Circuit, where it also filed an appeal of Shelby’s decision. Two judges of the 10th Circuit – one an appointee of President George W. Bush, the other an appointee of Obama – denied the request for a stay on December 24 but put the appeal on an expedited schedule.

“This stay is obviously disappointing for the families in Utah who need the protection of marriage and now have to wait to get married until the appeal is over,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Magleby. “Every day that goes by, same-sex couples and their children are being harmed by not being able to marry and be treated equally.”

– reported by Lisa Keen

— Cynthia Laird, January 6, 2014 @ 9:24 am PST
Filed under: News


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