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Appeals court halts Michigan same-sex marriages

In a 2-1 decision, judges rule they must follow guidance on Utah gay nuptials

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Regnerus, gay juror, National LGBT Bar Association, Gay News, Washington Blade

The Sixth Circuit has stayed same-sex marriages in Michigan pending appeal (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals announced late Tuesday it has placed a hold on same-sex marriages in Michigan pending appeal — dashing the hopes of those who wanted the weddings to continue as litigation moved forward.

In a 2-1 decision, the majority ruled it must place a stay on ruling from U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman striking down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage in case of DeBoer v. Snyder to conform to an earlier stay decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“There is no apparent basis to distinguish this case or to balance the equities any differently than the Supreme Court did in Kitchen,” the majority writes. “Furthermore, several district courts that have struck down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage similar to the Michigan amendment at issue here have also granted requests for stays made by state defendants.”

The U.S. Supreme Court had issued a stay on same-sex marriages in Utah pending the outcome of litigation, Kitchen v. Herbert, after a district judge struck down the state’s marriage ban and the Utah Gov. Gary Herbert sought to halt the weddings by filing a stay request.

The two judges in the majority for the stay decision were U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell, sitting by designation on the appeals court, and U.S. Circuit Judge John Rogers. U.S. Circuit Judge Helene White was sole dissent in the stay decision. Each of the judges were appointed and confirmed by former President George W. Bush during his administration.

In her dissent, White writes the stay in the Utah case isn’t controlling for the Michigan marriages and says the state didn’t make a sufficient argument that it would succeed in the case on appeal.

“Michigan has not made the requisite showing,” White writes. “Although the Supreme Court stayed the permanent injunction issued by the Utah District Court in Kitchen v. Herbert pending final disposition by the Tenth Circuit, it did so without a statement of reasons, and therefore the order provides little guidance. I would therefore apply the traditional four-factor test, which leads me to conclude that a stay is not warranted.”

Although Friedman didn’t include a stay as part of his ruling, the Sixth Circuit instituted a temporary stay on the weddings after an estimated 315 marriage licenses were distributed to same-sex couples in Ingham, Washtenaw, Muskegon and Oakland counties.

Legal experts who spoke with the Washington Blade over the weekend say they didn’t think the Sixth Circuit needed to place a stay on Michigan same-sex marriages because the Supreme Court’s stay on same-sex marriages in Utah wasn’t controlling and numerous courts have ruled in favor of marriage equality since the stay decision in that case.

In a filing before the Sixth Circuit on Tuesday, attorneys for the plaintiff same-sex couples in the case, April DeBoer and Jane Rowse, made similar arguments to make the case that the court should allow the same-sex weddings to continue pending the outcome of the litigation.

“Permitting loving same-sex couples to marry pending the outcome of this appeal will not harm the state in any way; permitting the children of loving same-sex couples to have two legally recognized parents will not harm the state in any way; permitting the children of loving same-sex couples to have two legally recognized parents will better protect these children and will keep the state from continuing to ‘impair the rights of’ these children,'” the attorneys write.

Attorneys for Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, who assisted as a defendant in litigation against Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban, argued in a separate filing the court should reject a stay because it would harm same-sex couples living in the state.

“Couples and their families who want the legal protection and recognition of marriage will experience real harm if a stay is granted by this Court,” the attorneys write. “Defendant Brown will be forced to discriminate against couples and their families if a stay is granted. The State risks losing residents who can no longer live in a State that treats them and their families like second class citizens. They can no longer stay in a State that leaves them and their children legally vulnerable.”

But Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who’s been defending Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, argued before the Sixth Circuit that the court must followed precedent by the Supreme Court, noting other federal judges instituted stays when striking down bans on same-sex marriage.

“As to the merits of the stay itself, none of the plaintiffs’ arguments overcome a simple fact: the Supreme Court has already addressed precisely this situation — a federal district court striking down a state marriage amendment — and concluded that a stay pending appeal was necessary,” Schuette writes.

In the event that the Sixth Circuit denied the stay pending appeal, Schuette requested a two-day temporary stay from the court so it could seek a stay from Supreme Court without same-sex marriages taking place in Michigan.

Plaintiffs in the case charged the state never formally asked for a stay from the district court, saying that was appropriate venue to ask for a stay. But in its filing, the state asserts it orally requested a stay during arguments.

Now that the Sixth Circuit has issued a stay, plaintiffs could appeal the stay decision the Supreme Court, but observers say a different outcome is unlikely.

Dana Nessel, one the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the lawsuit, said plaintiffs “have no plans to appeal” the stay decision at this time.

One lingering question is whether the state and the federal government will recognized the same-sex marriages already performed in Michigan over the weekend. In Utah, the results were split: the state elected not to recognize its marriage, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would recognize the unions.

Neither Michigan nor the federal government has definitively weighed on in the issue. The Associated Press quoted a spokesperson for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder as saying the state won’t yet recognize the marriages until a decision was made on the stay pending appeal, and the Justice Department told the Blade situation remains under review.

Via Twitter, Brown called on the Snyder to recognize the same-sex marriages performed in the state, suggesting if he refused to do so, voters should elect the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the 2014 election.

“When will Gov Snyder act like a leader and recognize the hundreds of MI citizens who married on Sat?” Brown tweeted. “MI needs true leadership.”

CORRECTION: An initial version of this article incorrectly reported Judge White was a Clinton appointee. She was initially named by Clinton, but wasn’t confirmed by the Senate under his administration. George W. Bush renamed her and the Senate confirmed her under his watch. The Blade regrets the error.

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Comings & Goings

Jarvis lands lead consultant role at Meridian

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Ted Jarvis

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, gotten an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success.

Congratulations to Ted Jarvis on his new position as Lead Consultant with Meridian Compensation Partners, in D.C. He will work on executive compensation, governance research and development. When asked for a response to news of his new role, Jarvis told this story: “I was on the prowl for a new job, I contacted the CEO of Meridian, who worked closely with me during our years at Towers Perrin. After half an hour on the phone, he asked: ‘Send me a list of things you really like to do.’ I followed up with a list of activities that continually engage my interest. Within a few days he mailed me a job description that reiterated my list almost word-for-word. I feel truly blessed to have a job so aligned with what I enjoy doing. This is going to be great.”

Prior to working for Meridian, Jarvis worked as Managing Director with Main Data Group in D.C. and Wilton Manors, Fla. He has also worked as Global Director of Executive Compensation Data, Research & Publications, Mercer, in D.C.; principal with Willis Towers Watson; and as a research consultant with McKinsey & Company. Jarvis is a member of the Lotos Club (New York); a benefactor at Drew University (Morristown, N.J.). He funded two undergraduate prizes (Wettstein Drama Prize; Norton Wettstein and Jane Brown Memorial Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement); a benefactor, Woodmere Art Museum (Philadelphia): funded William Joseph Coverley-Smith Prize, awarded annually at the Juried Art Competition; and a benefactor, St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church (Rochester, N.Y.).

Jarvis earned his MBA from The University of Chicago, Booth School of Business; his bachelor’s (cum laude); his Ph.D. (ABD) major in music history, literature and theory from NYU. He earned a Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Vienna.

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Las iglesias en Cuba están más preocupadas por la educación sexual que por el Código de las Familias

Los adventistas publicaron una carta dirigida al presidente

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Una iglesia de la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día en Santa Clara, Cuba. (Foto de Michael K. Lavers por el Washington Blade)

Tremenda Nota es el medio socio del Washington Blade. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 16 de junio.

CÁRDENAS, Cuba — Una declaración oficial de la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día confirma que la preocupación de algunas iglesias cristianas contrarias a los derechos LGBTI+, está más motivada por el programa de educación sexual integral aprobado por el Ministerio de Educación (Mined) que por el Código de las Familias.

Los adventistas, en una carta pública dirigida al presidente cubano Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, manifestaron estar “preocupadas” por la Resolución No. 16/2021, aprobada por el Mined el pasado 26 de febrero con el propósito de establecer un programa educativo con enfoque de género que promueve la inclusión de personas LGBTI+, entre otros temas.

La declaración adventista, aunque dice estar en “desacuerdo” con “los ajustes que se quieren hacer al Código de Familia”, solicitó puntualmente al gobierno “no exponer a nuestros niños, niñas y adolescentes a la ideología de género en las escuelas”.

“Finalmente, en caso de implementarse el programa de ideología de género en nuestras escuelas que este sea opcional, ya que no existen escuelas cristianas”, insistieron los adventistas.

La resolución aprobada por el Mined declara: “El respeto a la diversidad sexual, como fundamento ético y de protección de los derechos de las personas y de rechazo a prácticas y comportamientos homofóbicos, transfóbicos e inhumanos”.

La solicitud principal de la declaración adventista coincide con lo manifestado por otras denominaciones cristianas en sus recientes posiciones públicas. La Convención Bautista de Cuba Occidental, por ejemplo, también recomendó que la educación sexual sea ofrecida como una opción no obligatoria, bajo supervisión del Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual (Cenesex).

“Sería doloroso que muchos ciudadanos dignos se vean en la disyuntiva de no llevar a sus hijos a la escuela (asumiendo las consecuencias de ese acto de desobediencia civil) o entregarlos mansamente al bombardeo sectario de una ideología que rechazamos”, dijeron los bautistas.

La Liga Evangélica de Cuba, en su declaración publicada este 10 de junio, enfatizó en que se garantice la libertad religiosa y expresó que personas LGBTI+ “tienen derecho a luchas por sus demandas y pedir igualdad ante la ley”.

Los adventistas, en la misma línea que los metodistas, quienes solicitaron al gobierno una Ley de Cultos que refuerce la libertad religiosa, dijeron en su carta que si las autoridades finalmente legislan a favor de la igualdad LGBTI+, también proteja a quienes defienden “el punto de vista contrario a la ideología de género”, para evitar que sean acusados de homofobia “por proclamar y vivir los principios bíblicos”.

Los metodistas advirtieron sobre el peligro de “criminalizar nuestra defensa del diseño original de la familia, el matrimonio y la identidad humana”.

Las últimas declaraciones de las iglesias cristianas parecen dar como un hecho inevitable que el Código de las Familias adoptará el matrimonio LGBTI+ y se han enfocado en defender el derecho de los cristianos a profesar la fe que deseen sin ser molestados y la facultad de los padres para elegir la educación de los hijos menores de edad.

La resolución del Mined que han criticado estas iglesias, ya está en vigor. El Código de las Familias, la ley que debe resolver si el matrimonio será un derecho de las parejas LGBTI+, será presentado al parlamento en julio próximo. Después de ser aprobado por la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular, será sometido a referendo.

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US condemns murder of prominent transgender activist in Guatemala

Andrea González murdered days after vice president visited country

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Andrea González (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

The U.S. has condemned the murder of a prominent transgender activist in Guatemala.

Reports indicate Andrea González, executive director of Organización Trans Reinas de la Noche, a trans advocacy group, was shot to death in broad daylight on June 11 near her home in Guatemala City. Las Reinas de la Noche in a statement posted to its Twitter page mourned González.

“Reinas de la Noche is in mourning over the irreparable loss of Andrea González, a leader and activist for the human rights of trans people,” said Reinas de la Noche. “Her legacy will endure in each one of us, and her light will never be extinguished.”

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala noted González participated in the State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program that invites human rights activists, journalists and civil society members to the U.S. to meet with their counterparts and American officials.

Andrea González in D.C. (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

González also worked with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala mourns the death of Andrea González,” said the embassy in a statement.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power and U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala William Popp on Wednesday visited Reina de las Noche’s headquarters to express their condolences over González’s murder.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung in a statement noted González was killed days after Cecy Ixpata, who was also affiliated with Reinas de la Noche, was killed in Salamá, the capital of Guatemala’s Baja Verapaz department.

Salamá is roughly three hours northeast of Guatemala City.

“We condemn the outrageous murders of two transgender women in Guatemala,” said Chung. “We believe all such violence must be investigated and the perpetrators held accountable.” 

Chung added the murders are “particularly saddening as we celebrate the contributions of LGBTQI+ activists around the world during Pride month.”

Violence and discrimination based on gender identity remains widespread in Guatemala.

Two activists who work with LGBTQ Guatemalans and Guatemalans with HIV/AIDS are among the 18 members of Guatemala civil society who participated in a roundtable with Vice President Kamala Harris in Guatemala City on June 7. 

Harris has previously noted that violence based on gender identity is one of the “root causes” of migration from Guatemala and other Central American countries. State Department spokesperson Ned Price last month noted to the Blade during an interview ahead of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia that protecting LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers is one of the Biden administration’s global LGBTQ rights priorities.  

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