UK Supreme Court Gives Survivors’ Pensions to Bereaved Same-Sex Spouses

by Lib Dem FoP – In a landmark ruling today, the UK Supreme Court gave important rights to a full spouse’s pension from their late spouse’s company pension scheme to a surviving partner. The case concerned John Walker who was claiming against his former employer, Innospec. In the course of the appeals to the Supreme Court, the government employment department (“and others”) had joined the company side. The press release (.pdf) gives the full background together with the legal impediment that John Walker’s husband would face and the effect if John were to die. John Walker, the appellant in these proceedings worked for the respondent, Innospec Ltd, from 1980 until  his  retirement  in  2003.    Throughout  that  time  he  made  regular  contributions  to  the  firm’s occupational pension scheme. Mr Walker is gay and has lived with his male partner since 1993. They entered into a civil partnership on 23 January 2006...

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Tennessee Judge Ignores Supreme Court, Rules Parental Rights Apply Only To ‘Husbands’

by JOSH ISRAEL – Last June, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its historic Obergefell ruling, bringing marriage equality to every part of the nation. But on Friday, a Tennessee judge decided that the protections need not apply in his courtroom, refusing to recognize the parental rights of a mother in a same-sex divorce case because she is not the biological parent. Though Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion held that no state may discriminate against same-sex couples in the licensing and recognition of marriage — and the rights and responsibilities that accompany it — the case included a specific challenge to Tennessee’s same-sex marriage ban. “Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry,” Kennedy wrote. “Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant...

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Alabama Supreme Court SHOCKS Conservatives With This Latest Ruling

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is so pissed right now. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in their Obergefell v. Hodges ruling last summer, Alabama has resisted following it. Almost immediately, Moore ordered county clerks and judges to refuse to help same-sex couples get married, claiming that the nation’s high court has no power to overturn a state ban on same-sex marriage. Despite Moore’s efforts to keep defying the Supreme Court, his colleagues on the state bench made the opposite decision on Friday. In a single sentence, the Alabama Supreme Court chose to not defy the high court by rejecting an anti-same-sex marriage case brought by the Alabama Citizens Action Program and the Alabama Policy Institute. “It is ordered that all pending motions and petitions are dismissed,” the majority of the court ruled, thus ending the fight against federal authorities...

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State Bar Will Investigate AG Paxton for Conduct After Marriage Ruling

by Jordan Rudner, The Texas Tribune – The list of investigations into Attorney General Ken Paxton’s conduct just got a little bit longer. The Texas State Bar was ordered last week to launch a disciplinary probe into Paxton’s conduct in the days following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage — an investigation that could end with Paxton getting disbarred. In a Feb. 2 letter, the state Board of Disciplinary Appeals told lawyers who filed a complaint against Paxton that it was directing the State Bar to investigate Paxton’s “possible violation” of its rules of professional conduct. The legal saga began last summer, after the Supreme Court announced same-sex marriage had been legalized nationwide. Two days later, Paxton issued an opinion telling county clerks they could opt out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples if the clerks had religious objections to doing so. Paxton clarified that clerks might face fines...

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New York Wedding Venue Loses Appeal To Refuse Serving Same-Sex Couples

by ZACK FORD – Liberty Ridge Farm in upstate New York just lost an appeal in its effort to justify discrimination against same-sex couples. An appeals court unanimously affirmed the State Division of Human Rights’ determination that the couple who owned the wedding venue, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, violated the state’s nondiscrimination law when they refused to host a wedding for Melissa and Jennifer McCarthy back in 2012. Represented by the conservative legal juggernaut the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the Giffords argued that because their farm is private property, they should not be considered a public accommodation. They also argued that they did not actually engage in discrimination based on sexual orientation, and that being compelled to host a same-sex wedding violated their freedoms of religion and speech. The court rejected these claims outright. Because Liberty Ridge is open to the public as a venue for wedding ceremonies and receptions,...

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Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Orders End To All Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

by ZACK FORD – In a notably provocative legal order Wednesday, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an order directing Alabama probate judges to not issue any marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore, himself an ardent opponent of marriage equality who has previously promised to resist the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling, explained in his order that it remains unclear if Obergefell applies beyond the four states directly involved in that case. He noted that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and a district court of Kansas have both ruled that Obergefell did “not directly strike down the provisions” of other states’ bans on same-sex marriage, and thus a case brought by the Alabama Policy Institute (API) seeking to uphold Alabama’s ban remains unsettled. Neither of these cases, however, support Moore’s suggestion that Obergefell is non-binding. The Eighth Circuit’s opinion does state that Obergefell does not directly apply to Nebraska,...

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8 Major Battles Obama And The Left Won In 2015

by OLIVER WILLIS – If you listened to the mainstream media and the conservative right, you could be forgiven for coming away with the impression that President Obama and the left were “losers” in the language of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump. But in reality, the President and the left won several major battles over the last year. While they didn’t win every clash, and the big fights are far from over on several key topics – there were several advances that were made. Here are the 8 biggest battles Obama and the left won in 2015: Same-Sex Marriage Legal. In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, same-sex marriage is now legal. The fight over same-sex rights has been the biggest civil rights cause of the last thirty years, and the most significant hurdle has now been cleared, just three years after President Obama became the first major...

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Six GOP Candidates Pledge To Sign Anti-Gay Discrimination Into Law

by KIRA LERNER – Six of the Republican candidates vying for the presidency have signed a pledge promising to support legislation during their first 100 days in the White House that would use the guise of “religious liberty” to give individuals and businesses the right to openly discriminate against LGBT people. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee vowed to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), legislation that would prohibit the federal government from stopping discrimination by people or businesses that believe “marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman” or that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” The pledge is supported by three conservative groups: the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America, and Family Research Council Action. “It has become clear that the First Amendment Defense Act...

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Marco Rubio Vows To Destroy Same-Sex Marriage (VIDEO)

by OLIVER WILLIS – Same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and while that is unlikely to change, Senator Marco Rubio has promised to try if he is elected president. In an interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Rubio explained that he opposes the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage: CHUCK TODD: So are you accepting the idea of same-sex marriage in perpetuity? MARCO RUBIO: It is the current law. I don’t believe any case law is settled law. Any future Supreme Court can change it. And ultimately, I will appoint Supreme Court justices that will interpret the Constitution as originally constructed. What Rubio is advocating actually goes against the grain of previous conservative arguments on the law and the Supreme Court. Conservatives have often argued that for all intents and purposes, the Constitution is set in stone,...

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Controversial Judge Orders Baby Removed from Same-Sex Parents and Placed with Heterosexual Family

by Jen Hayden – April Hoagland and Beckie Pierce have been fostering a Utah infant for three months. With the approval of the infant’s biological mother and a recommendation of the foster care caseworker, they were seeking to permanently adopt the child. Instead, a Utah judge ordered the baby removed from their home and placed in a home with heterosexual parents: The women, who are legally married and were approved as foster parents in Utah earlier this year after passing home inspections, background checks and interviews from DCFS, said the judge told them there was a lot of research that indicated children who are raised in same-sex parent homes do not do as well as children who are raised by heterosexual parents. “It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong,” said April. Worse yet, when Judge Scott Johansen was asked in court to share the studies he was referencing, he refused: Attorney...

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The Extreme Positions Of Kentucky’s New Tea Party Governor

by JOSH ISRAEL – In a result that contradicted most polling, Republican Matt Bevin was easily elected the next governor of Kentucky on Tuesday, besting Attorney General Jack Conway (D) by a 52.5 percent to 43.8 percent margin (with about 30 percent voter turnout). In doing so, Bluegrass State voters have elected a Tea Party millionaire who has vowed to dismantle Obamacare’s undeniable success story. Bevin, who mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge last year to Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, ran this time with the endorsement and financial support of the Senate Republican Leader. Here’s a rundown of some of Bevin’s extreme stances that could play a key role in his governorship: He strongly opposes LGBT rights, warning that same-sex marriage could lead to parents marrying their children. After the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling, he proposed changing Kentucky’s marriage laws to get government “out of the marriage business altogether,” to spare...

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Justice Kennedy Suggests That Kim Davis Should Resign

by IAN MILLHISER – Justice Anthony Kennedy, a member of the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc who nevertheless has authored several important gay rights opinions, suggested during an event at Harvard Law School last week that public officials who do not wish to follow the Court’s marriage equality decision should resign. Kennedy’s remarks came in response to a question from a student who described himself as someone who thinks “that rational norms guide the exercise of sexual autonomy.” The student asked whether public officials who disagree with the Court’s decisions on marriage equality or abortion have “authority to act according to her own judgment” of whether the Court’s legal reasoning was sound. The justice did acknowledge the “difficult moral questions” presented when a public official is asked to “enforce a law that they believe is morally corrupt.” He also steered away from explicitly stating that officials such as Kim Davis, who...

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Why Mike Huckabee’s Defense Of Kim Davis Makes Him Unfit To Be President (VIDEO)

by WES WILLIAMS – No Republican presidential candidate has come out more strongly in support of jailed Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis than Mike Huckabee. It’s not clear yet whether Huckabee’s defense of Davis will give him a boost in the polls, but he’s certainly getting plenty of airtime to talk about the case. When Huckabee appeared on Fox and Friends on September 7, he not only proved that he is off base on the matter of Kim Davis, he also may have proved that he doesn’t know enough about the Constitution to be president. Huckabee talked to guest host Ed Henry about the case during a segment that Fox titled “The Fight For Faith.” Throughout the conversation, the “fair and balanced” network runs a series of “fair and balanced” captions, such as “Faith Under Fire” and “Christianity Criminalized” as Huckabee talks about how poor Kim Davis has been persecuted....

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Kim Davis Freed, as Long as She Doesn’t Interfere with Clerks Giving Out Marriage Licenses

by Scott Shackford – It’s not actually clear if she will cooperate with judge’s order U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning, having been shown that marriage licenses are being handed out again in Rowan County, Kentucky, has ordered the release of Clerk Kim Davis. Davis, an elected official, had been held in contempt for refusing to allow any marriage licenses to be distributed because of her objection to the Supreme Court’s decision ordering all states and the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages. In her absence, her deputy clerks have agreed to hand out marriage licenses. The order from Bunning releasing Davis states, “Davis shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples” (bold in original). If she attempts to stop her clerks from handing out licenses, he will consider new “sanctions.” Furthermore, he ordered...

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Demon Spawn Franklin Graham Begs ‘Real’ Americans To Support Kim Davis

by RIKA CHRISTENSEN – Like all the other nutjobs on the religious right, Rev. Franklin Graham is railing in righteous anger over Kim Davis’ jailing. He believes that she was jailed over her beliefs, and not because she broke the law. In a Facebook post on Sept. 2, the day before Judge David Bunning found Davis in contempt and sentenced her to jail, he said the following: “We need more Americans who are willing to take a stand for religious freedoms and biblical values in our communities. If we don’t, we won’t even recognize the America that our children and our grandchildren will be left with.” Actually, we won’t recognize the America that our children and grandchildren will be left with if religious nutballs like Kim Davis actually get their way. They want a Christian theocracy, not religious freedom. The issue at hand is not freedom of religion, or religious...

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Kim Davis Held In Contempt Of Court, Now In U.S. Marshals’ Custody

by IAN MILLHISER – Federal District Judge David Bunning held Kim Davis, the county clerk who has become a national symbol of anti-gay animus for her resistance to marriage equality, in contempt of court on Thursday. According to Dan Griffin, a reporter for local news station WSAZ, she was led out by U.S. Marshals. The judge reportedly said that financial sanctions were not enough to ensure her compliance with the law. Davis, who claims that she is acting “under God’s authority,” refuses to issue marriage licenses due to her opposition to marriage equality. Bunning ordered her to comply with the Constitution, regardless, and a federal appeals court and the Supreme Court both denied her requests for a stay of Bunning’s decision. As Bunning conducted the hearing, the sidewalk outside of the courthouse filled with protesters on both sides of the issue. Davis’s opponents chanted that she’s “got to go,” while...

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Republicans Just Endorsed A Jim Crow Law For Gays

by OLIVER WILLIS – The Republican National Committee gave its backing to a law designed to treat gay Americans as second class citizens. After the Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, which made same-sex marriage legal in the entire United States, the Committee recently passed a resolution urging Congress to pass the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA). It isn’t every day that the national party gets behind a specific law in Congress. So what is FADA? You probably remember the national controversy over the Indiana law that allowed businesses to discriminate against gay people. FADA is that sort of law, but nationally. The bill’s supporters hide behind the fig leaf of religious freedom, arguing that the law would prevent supposed discrimination in how the government awards contracts, stipulating that if someone is opposed to same-sex marriages, they could still get federal dollars. But groups like the ACLU see through the...

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Ku Klux Klan Sends Out Directive To Members To Execute Gays (VIDEO)

by SHANNON BARBER – If there was ever a domestic terrorist organization, it is the Ku Klux Klan. Anyone who knows anything about the terrible, horrific history of America’s Jim Crow era in deep south knows the way they lynched, raped, burned, and terrorized black people for sport, all because of the color of their skin. Well, this disgusting organization now has a new target: the LGBTQ community. A Louisiana chapter of the KKK has decided that the only way to get rid of HIV and AIDS is to kill all gay people. They aren’t just thinking about it, or sitting around and talking about it, either. They have actually printed up fliers urging people to “save our land, join the Klan.” The fliers end with the ever-present supremacist chant, “white power.” All of the fliers end with the signature of the “Loyal White Knights of the KKK.” Pink News reports...

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Why Ohio Shut Down Judges Who Want To Get Out Of Performing Same-Sex Marriages

by ZACK FORD – Since the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling (Obergefell), states have wrestled with whether officials are required to officiate same-sex couples’ marriages. This week, the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Professional Conduct took a definitive position: judges must perform same-sex marriages. “A judge’s refusal to marry same-sex couples, while continuing to marry opposite-sex couples, is contrary to the holding in Obergefell, and thus not in accord with the judge’s obligation to comply with the law,” the opinion reads. “Public confidence in the independence of the judiciary is undermined when a judge allows his or her beliefs concerning the societal or religious acceptance or validity of same-sex marriage to affect the performance of a judicial function or duty.” The opinion actually goes a step further than just telling judges that they can’t pick and choose who they marry based on sexual orientation. It also says that judges...

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Kentucky Clerk Sues Governor For Making Her Do Her Job And Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

By ZACK FORD, ThinkProgress – In Rowan County, Kentucky, clerk Kim Davis, who has been married four times, has been under fire for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs. Two different couples have sued her, but in addition to seeking a dismissal of those cases, she filed a suit of her own this week against Gov. Steve Beshear (D), claiming that he violated her rights by instructing her to do her job. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling that brought marriage equality to all 50 states, Beshear has been adamant that county clerks, as elected officials, have a sworn obligation to serve all citizens equally. In July, he remarked, “When you voluntarily decide to run for office, and you win, and you raise your hand and you take the oath… that oath doesn’t say, ‘I will uphold the parts of the Constitution that I...

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