Connect with us

National

Judge orders Ohio to recognize gay couple’s marriage

James Obergefell and John Arthur married at a Maryland airport on July 11

Published

on

gavel3

A federal judge in Ohio has issued a temporary order requiring the state to recognize a gay couple’s marriage.

 

A federal judge in Ohio has issued a temporary order requiring the state to recognize the union of a gay couple who legally married in Maryland while one of the spouses in the relationship dies from an incurable disease.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black placed an order temporarily restraining state officials from enforcing the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage for — and only for — a Cincinnati, Ohio, gay couple suing the state to recognize their marriage.

Black issued the two-page decision on the basis that the couple’s case is likely to succeed because Ohio’s same-sex marriage ban — passed by Ohio voters in 2004 — violates the couple’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. The judge also said the couple will suffer “irreparable harm” without an injunction.

“On this record, there is insufficient evidence of a legitimate state interest to justify this singling out of same sex married couples given the severe and irreparable harm it imposes on these Plaintiffs,” Black concludes.

The judge takes special note that Ohio recognizes out-of-state marriages for straight couples that can’t be legally performed within the state — such as opposite-sex marriages entered into by first cousins or minors — yet still won’t recognize out-of-state marriages for gay couples.

The couple in case is James Obergefell and John Arthur, who after being together more than 20 years married in Maryland following the U.S. Supreme Court decision last month striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.

Arthur suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS,) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which has no known cure and is fatal. He’s currently a hospice patient.

The couple flew to Maryland on July 11 in a special jet equipped with medical equipment and a medical staff to serve Arthur’s needs. They married in the plane as it sat on the tarmac and returned to Cincinnati the next day. They filed their lawsuit — known as Obergefell et al v. Kasich et at — on Friday.

Black’s order bars Gov. John Kasich and other state officials from enforcing Ohio’s ban on same-sex marriage with respect to this couple. Additionally, the order prohibits the local registrar from accepting a death certificate for Arthur if it doesn’t recognize him as married at the time of his death and doesn’t designate Obergefell as his surviving spouse. The order expires on Aug. 5, unless it is extended by the parties and the court.

State officials have the option of appealing the decision to a higher court. Connie Wehrkamp, a Kasich spokesperson, had a little to say about the order after it was issued.

“I can’t comment on the pending litigation except to say that the governor believes marriage is between a man and a woman,” Wehrkamp said.

Nan Hunter, a lesbian law professor at Georgetown University, was optimistic the order would stand on appeal because it’s narrowly crafted.

“I think it is likely to stand,” Hunter said. “The facts are extraordinarily sympathetic, and the judge’s order is quite narrow and limited. This is the kind of case that probably has much greater potential for changing public opinion than for making any rapid changes in Ohio state law.”

Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, said he expects proceedings in the case to go forward and state defendants to put up a fight to protect the marriage ban, but predicted the couple would succeed.

“I am optimistic that the judge ultimately will issue a final ruling in the couple’s favor,” Davidson said. “I think he is correct that the state has no adequate justification for refusing to respect marriages same-sex couples have validly entered in other states while it, at the same time, respects other marriages that couples cannot enter in Ohio, such as those entered by first cousins or by minors.”

Davidson said what happens with this case if it reaches the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is less clear because it’s is known as being conservative. However, he said the compelling story of the plaintiff couple may convince judges to issue a favorable ruling toward them.

“While the Sixth Circuit historically has been among the most conservative federal courts of appeal in the country, many conservatives are coming to question arguments that have been used to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry and the speed at which attitudes are changing is dramatic,” Davidson said. “And, were this to be the next case to reach the Supreme Court, I think some of the crucial justices could well be touched by the devotion and commitment of this brave couple.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

National

Florida House committee passes “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Equality Florida quickly condemned the measure

Published

on

The Florida State Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Yariel Valdés González)

The Republican majority Florida House Education and Employment Committee on Thursday passed House Bill 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill advancing the measure to the full House.

HB 1557 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 1834, would ban classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, erasing LGBTQ identity, history, and culture — as well as LGBTQ students themselves.

The bill also has provisions that appear to undermine LGBTQ support in schools and include vague parental notification requirements which could effectively “out” LGBTQ-identifying students to their parents without their consent.

“The Trevor Project’s research has found that LGBTQ youth who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in classes at school had 23 percent lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past year. This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida, forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project. “LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”

In an email to the Los Angeles Blade, Brandon J. Wolf, the press secretary for Equality Florida noted; “Governor DeSantis’ march toward his own personal surveillance state continues. Today, the Don’t Say Gay bill, a piece of legislation to erase discussion of LGBTQ people from schools in Florida, passed its first committee and became another component of an agenda designed to police us in our classrooms, doctor’s offices, and workplaces. Make no mistake — LGBTQ people are your neighbors, family members, and friends. We are a normal, healthy part of society and we will not be erased.”

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than 42 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth.

According to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of The Trevor Project, 85 percent of transgender and non-binary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66 percent) — say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health.

When asked about proposed legislation that would require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun or if they identify as LGBTQ at school, 56 percent of transgender and non-binary youth said it made them feel angry, 47 percent felt nervous and/or scared, 45 percent felt stressed, and more than 1 in 3 felt sad.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, the Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

Continue Reading

National

NCAA adopts new policy amid fervor over transgender athletes

Sport-by-sport approach requires certain levels of testosterone

Published

on

NCAA, gay news, Washington Blade
The NCAA has adopted new policy amid a fervor over transgender athletes.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has announced it has adopted new procedures on competition of transgender athletes, creating a “sport-by-sport” approach that also requires documentation of testosterone levels across the board amid a fervor of recently transitioned swimmers breaking records in women’s athletics.

The NCAA said in a statement its board of governors voted on Wednesday in support of the “sport-by-sport” approach, which the organization says “preserves opportunity for transgender student-athletes while balancing fairness, inclusion and safety for all who compete.”

Although the policy defers to the national governing bodies for individual sports, it also requires transgender athletes to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections. The new policy, which consistent with rules for the U.S. Olympics, is effective 2022, although implementation is set to begin with the 2023-24 academic year, the organization says.

John DeGioia, chair of the NCAA board and Georgetown president, said in a statement the organization is “steadfast in our support of transgender student-athletes and the fostering of fairness across college sports.”

“It is important that NCAA member schools, conferences and college athletes compete in an inclusive, fair, safe and respectful environment and can move forward with a clear understanding of the new policy,” DeGioia said.

More specifically, starting with the 2022-23 academic year, transgender athletes will need to document sport-specific testosterone levels beginning four weeks before their sport’s championship selections, the organizational. These athletes, according to the NCAA, are also required to document testosterone levels four weeks before championship selections.

In terms of jurisdiction, the national governing bodies for individual sports are charged determines policies, which would be under ongoing review and recommendation by the NCAA, the organizational says. If there is no policy for a sport, that sport’s international federation policy or previously established International Olympics Committee policy criteria would be followed.

The NCAA adopts the policy amid controversy over University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas smashing records in women’s swimming. Thomas, which once competed as a man, smashed two national records and in the 1,650-yard freestyle placed 38 seconds ahead of closest competition. The new NCAA policy appears effectively to sideline Thomas, who has recently transitioned and unable to show consistent levels of testosterone.

Prior to the NCAA announcement, a coalition of 16 LGBTQ groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and Athlete Ally, this week sent to a letter to the collegiate organization, urging the organizations strengthen non-discrimination protections as opposed to weakening them. The new policy, however, appears to head in other direction, which the LGBTQ groups rejected in the letter.

“While decentralizing the NCAA and giving power to conferences and schools has its benefits, we are concerned that leaving the enforcement of non-discrimination protections to schools will create a patchwork of protections rather than a comprehensive policy that would protect all athletes, no matter where they play,” the letter says. “This would be similar to the patchwork of non-discrimination policies in states, where marginalized groups in some states or cities are protected while others are left behind by localities that opt not to enact inclusive policies.”

JoDee Winterhof, vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement after the NCAA announcement the new policy was effectively passing the buck.

“If the NCAA is committed to ensuring an environment of competition that is safe, healthy, and free from discrimination, they cannot dodge the question of how to ensure transgender athletes can participate safely,” Winterhof said. “That is precisely why we and a number of organizations across a wide spectrum of advocates are urging them to readopt and strengthen non-discrimination language in their constitution to ensure the Association is committed to enforcing the level playing field and inclusive policies they say their values require. Any policy language is only as effective as it is enforceable, and with states passing anti-transgender sports bans, any inclusive policy is under immediate threat. We are still reviewing the NCAA’s new policy on transgender inclusion and how it will impact each and every transgender athlete.”

Continue Reading

National

Transgender rights group’s Los Angeles office receives bomb threat

[email protected] Coalition evacuated

Published

on

(Public domain photo)

A bomb threat was phoned in Wednesday afternoon to the Wilshire Boulevard Koreatown offices of the [email protected] Coalition, Bamby Salcedo, the president and CEO of the non-profit organization told the Los Angeles Blade.

According to Salcedo, an unidentified male caller told the staff person who answered at approximately 3 p.m., while delivering the threat said; “You’re all going to die.” The staff immediately evacuated everyone from their offices and then contacted the Los Angeles Police Department for assistance.

Officers, specialists and detectives from the Rampart Division of the LAPD responded and swept the building. A spokesperson for the LAPD confirmed that the incident is under active investigation but would make no further comment.

On a Facebook post immediately after the incident the non-profit wrote; “To ensure the safety of our clients and staff members, we ask that you please NOT come to our office.”

In a follow-up post, Salcedo notified the organization and its clientele that the LAPD had given the all-clear and that their offices would resume normal operations Thursday at 9:00 a.m. PT.

“Thank you for your messages and concern for our staff and community,” Salcedo said.

“No amount of threats can stop us from our commitment to the TGI community,” she added.

The [email protected] Coalition was founded in 2009 by a group of transgender and gender non-conforming and intersex (TGI) immigrant women in Los Angeles as a grassroots response to address the specific needs of TGI Latino immigrants who live in the U.S.

Since then, the agency has become a nationally recognized organization with representation in 10 different states across the U.S. and provides direct services to TGI individuals in Los Angeles.

In 2015, the [email protected] Coalition identified the urgent need to provide direct services to empower TGI people in response to structural, institutional, and interpersonal violence, and the Center for Violence Prevention and Transgender Wellness was born.

Since then, the organization has secured funding from the state and local government sources as well as several private foundations and organizations to provide direct services to all TGI individuals in Los Angeles County.

The [email protected] Coalition’s primary focus is to change the landscape of access to services for TGI people and provide access to comprehensive resource and services that will improve the quality of life of TGI people.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular