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March 6, 2015

Marriage briefs filed with Supreme Court

Federal judge also rules against Nebraska ban

Washington, D.C.--The attorneys for couples in four states filed briefs with the Supreme Court, which will hear appeals from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling against same-sex marriage.

The same-sex couples in Ohio and Tennessee, as well as some from Kentucky, argue that their states are required by the United States Constitution to recognize their marriages legally performed in other states; the rest of the Kentucky couples, as well as those from Michigan, told the court that their home states are constitutionally required to allow them to marry.

The Supreme Court in January agreed to hear the appeals of the Sixth Circuit ruling, the only appellate court decision to go against the constitutional right to marriage equality for same-sex couples. It is slated to hear oral arguments next month, with a decision expected by the end of June.

The Supreme Court three days later let stand a lower court ruling requiring that and the National Organization for Marriage and other organizations release the names of donors on campaign finance reports. The groups argued that their donors faced the threat of harassment for their anti-gay giving.

However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them, partially because the names have been available to the public for half a decade. The Supreme Court let that ruling stand on March 2.

California election law requires political organizations to identify donors who give more than $100 during or post-campaign, including their address, job and employer.

Also on March 2, U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon issued a preliminary injunction against Nebraska’s equal marriage ban. Bataillon wrote, “Nebraska's ‘Defense of Marriage’ Constitutional Amendment, Section 29, is an unabashedly gender-specific infringement of the equal rights of its citizens.”

“The State primarily offers as its rational basis for this gender-specific discrimination the encouragement of biological family units,” he continued. “The essence of this rationale has been rejected by most courts and by no less than the Supreme Court. With the advent of modern science and modern adoption laws, same sex couples can and do responsibly raise children. Unfortunately, this law inhibits their commendable efforts.”

“For the majority of married couples, those without children in the home, marriage is a legal and emotional commitment to the welfare of their partner,” he concluded. “The State clearly has the right to encourage couples to marry and provide support for one another. However, those laws must be enforced equally and without respect to gender.”

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, has been quietly dropping its enforcement of a 20-year old rule barring the state from allowing people who identify as gay or lesbian from fostering children or adopting.

While the department’s rule still exists statutorily, a spokesperson for Gov. Pete Ricketts said that the state no longer considers sexual orientation when placing children who are wards of the state. The spokesman said that the policy is being reexamined, and it was removed in February from the department’s website. However, the government is still defending it in court.











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