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Federal Judge in Boston Rules Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro in Boston has declared the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional in two cases. In one case, he found the statute violates the Tenth Amendment. In the other, he found it violates the equal protection guarantee in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

"The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid," Tauro wrote in a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley.

In the second case, (opinion here)he ruled:

As irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest, this court must hold that Section 3 of DOMA as applied to Plaintiffs violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

[More...]

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Prop 8 Goes to Court in San Francisco Today

A federal court in San Francisco today will hear gay marriage arguments in a first of a kind non-jury trial today:

The nation's first trial on same-sex couples' right to marry - and the voters' power to forbid those marriages - begins today in a San Francisco federal courtroom that will serve as a forum for two diametrically opposed worldviews.

The main issue:

whether Prop. 8 violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender, or whether it validly reserves marital status for those who can naturally conceive children.

The Judge is Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, a 1989 appointee of President George H.W. Bush. Barring a last minute intervention, you can watch the proceedings on a delayed basis on You Tube here.

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New York Senate Rejects Gay Marriage

The same sex marriage bill was defeated in the New York Senate today.

The bill was defeated by a decisive margin of 38 to 24. The Democrats, who have a bare, one-seat majority, did not have enough votes to pass the bill without some Republican support, but not a single Republican senator voted for the measure. Still, several key Democrats who were considered swing votes also opposed the bill.

The bill is effectively dead for the year. Newsweek: Is it time for federal action?

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Gay Rights Groups Outraged By Obama DOJ's DOMA Brief

The Justice Department filed a brief today (available here) in a federal case in California. Gay rights groups are outraged.

This week, the Obama administration is facing the ire of gay rights groups after it filed a brief in California federal court defending the Defense of Marriage Act and calling it a "valid exercise of Congress' power" that is saving taxpayers money.

The Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. It doesn't prohibit same-sex marriages; instead, it says that no state "shall be required" to honor same-sex marriages taking place elsewhere or any "right or claim arising from such relationship."

Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, the ACLU and other groups issued a joint statement today blasting the filing: [More...]

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California Supreme Court Refuses to Overturn Prop 8

Update: Here's the opinion (pdf. How Appealing has uploaded it here.

Update: "A divided California Supreme Court today let stand Proposition 8, continuing marriage discrimination in California. The Court refused to undo the 18,000 marriages that same-sex couples celebrated in 2008, so that those couples remain married even while other California couples are, for now, barred from joining in marriage." [More...]

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Prop 8 Ruling Due Today

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Vermont Legislators Override Governor's Gay Marriage Veto

The Vermont legislature today overrode the Governor's veto of the law allowing same-sex marriage.

Vermont is now the first state in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriages through legislation.

The New York Times has more here.

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Iowa Supreme Court : Can't Ban Gay Marriage

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

The Iowa Supreme Court says the state's same-sex marriage ban violates the constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples, making it the third state where gay marriage is legal.

In a unanimous ruling issued Friday, the court upheld a 2007 Polk County District Court judge's ruling that the law violated the state constitution.

How Appealing has more, including this link to the decision (pdf).

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Three Lawsuits Filed Challenging Proposition 8

Three lawsuits were filed today in California courts seeking to have Proposition 8, banning gay marriage, declared invalid.

The principal argument is that Proposition 8 is a constitutional revision that cannot be accomplished by constitutional amendment.

[One] suit filed with the high court in San Francisco this afternoon argues that the California Constitution´s equal protection provisions do not allow a bare majority of voters to use the amendment process to divest politically disfavored groups of constitutional rights. Such a sweeping redefinition of equal protection would require a constitutional revision rather than a mere amendment, the petition argues. Article XVIII of the California Constitution provides that a constitutional revision may only be accomplished by a constitutional convention and popular ratification, or by legislative submission to the electorate.

That lawuit was filed by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Santa Clara County Counsel Anne C, on behalf of San Francisco, Santa Clara County and the City of Los Angeles [More..]

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Obama Opposes Ban on Gay Marriage

Sen. Barack Obama today wrote a letter to stating he opposed a ban on gay marriage.

In a letter to San Francisco's Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club, the presumptive presidential nominee said he opposed "the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution" and similar efforts in other states.

Good on Obama. He's not afraid to change his mind.

Obama is skating gingerly past his previous position on the issue.

The Illinois senator has said repeatedly that he believes marriage should be only between man and a woman. When the California Supreme Court overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage in May, Obama released a carefully nuanced statement saying he respected the court's decision, believed states should make their own decisions on marriage and "will continue to fight for civil unions as president."

We're behind Obama on this one, all the way.

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Gay Marriages Begin in California

Despite the contrary opinion of the Bush adminstration and conservatives, gay marriage is now legal in California. The state began issuing licenses today.

CA, MA and 48 more to go.

Update: Picture swapped for a more cheery one, at the suggestion of ByTheFault.

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Reaction to CA Court's Overturning Gay Marriage Ban

As Big Tent wrote earlier ,the California Supreme Court Thursday overturned a law banning gay marriage (opinion here, pdf). Glenn Greenwald has some terrific analysis on what the decision means and doesn't mean. In a nutshell, from the Washington Post,

Marriage is a "basic civil right" guaranteed to all Californians, "whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples," Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote in a 121-page ruling. He repeatedly said the ruling was based on the California court's first-in-the-nation decision in 1948 to end the state's prohibition on interracial marriage, nearly 20 years before the U.S. Supreme Court took the same action.

The ruling becomes effective in 30 days unless a stay is granted.

Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama issued similar bland statements on today's decision: [More...]

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Elizabeth Edwards Affirms Support for Gay Marriage

In San Francisco today at the Gay Pride event, Elizabeth Edwards endorsed gay marriage:

"I don't know why someone else's marriage has anything to do with me," Mrs. Edwards said at a news conference before the parade started. "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage."

John Edwards supports civil unions but not gay marriage. Why? According to Elizabeth,

He has a deeply held belief against any form of discrimination, but that's up against his being raised in the 1950s in a rural southern town."

I don't like that excuse. He seems to have broken the chains of the rest of his southern taboos, why not this one?

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