Thursday, November 20, 2014

Where is same-sex marriage legal?

Updated November 20, 2014

For a month, it looked like the U.S. might arrive at same-sex marriage in all 50 states without the U.S. Supreme Court making the call.

Of the 11 federal appeals-court circuits, three had already achieved same-sex marriage in every state therein via one route or another, and four more had recently seen appeals-court rulings come into force covering all states therein.

That left only four circuits to go, encompassing the final 15 states where same-sex marriage isn't legal.

But that all changed Nov. 6 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

A day later, the lawyers for the gay side in all four states decided to skip asking the 6th Circuit to reconsider the matter with a larger panel of judges and instead go directly to SCOTUS for a ruling that would have national effect. The appeals arrived at the Supreme Court on Nov. 14 and 17.

Because a "split" now exists among the circuits on the question of whether it's unconstitutional for states to ban gay marriage, the Supreme Court is likely to take the case, with a ruling most likely to come next spring.

And the Supreme Court may have tipped its hand Nov. 12, when it refused to stop same-sex marriages from starting in Kansas, its first move on marriage after the 6th Circuit ruling. (Justices Scalia and Thomas said they would have granted the stay request.) It did the same thing again Nov. 20, allowing same-sex marriage to go ahead in South Carolina.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE is legal in the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Argentina (2010), Iceland (2010), Portugal (2010), Denmark (2012), France (2013), Brazil (2013), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013), England and Wales (2014), Scotland (starting Dec. 31) and Luxembourg (starting early 2015).

Same-sex marriages also have taken place on the Caribbean islands of Saba, a municipality of the Netherlands (2012), and Martinique, an overseas region of France (2013).

In Mexico, same-sex marriage is available in the Federal District (Mexico City) and the states of Coahuila and Quintana Roo -- and, for some couples who filed legal cases, in the states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Colima, Jalisco, Oaxaca and Yucatán. The marriages are recognized nationwide by Supreme Court order. Mexico has 31 states.

In Colombia, a handful of same-sex couples have managed to get married since September 2013, but the situation remains fluid. Latest here.

In Australia, same-sex couples were able to marry in the Australian Capital Territory from Dec. 7, 2013, to Dec. 12, 2013, under a special "same-sex marriage" law the territory enacted. On Dec. 12, Australia's High Court invalidated the law and the marriages, pointing out that marriage is a matter of federal law in Australia.

IN THE UNITED STATES, same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts (2004), California (2008 for four months, then 2013 for good), Connecticut (2008), Vermont (2009), Iowa (2009), New Hampshire (2010), Washington, D.C. (2010), New York (2011), Maine (2012), Maryland (2012), Washington (2012), Delaware (2013), Rhode Island (2013), Minnesota (2013), New Jersey (2013), Hawaii (2013), New Mexico (2013), Oregon (2014), Pennsylvania (2014), Illinois (2014), Colorado (Oct. 6, 2014), Indiana (Oct. 6, 2014), Oklahoma (Oct. 6, 2014), Utah (Oct. 6, 2014), Virginia (Oct. 6, 2014), Wisconsin (Oct. 6, 2014), West Virginia (Oct. 9, 2014), Nevada (Oct. 9, 2014), North Carolina (Oct. 10, 2014), Idaho (Oct. 15, 2014), Arizona (Oct. 17, 2014), Alaska (Oct. 17, 2014), Wyoming (Oct. 21, 2014), Kansas (Nov. 12, 2014), Montana (Nov. 19, 2014) and South Carolina (Nov. 20, 2014). It also is legal in the independent city of St. Louis, Missouri (Nov. 5, 2014), the separate county of St. Louis (Nov. 5, 2014) and Jackson County, Missouri, which includes Kansas City (Nov. 7, 2014). That's 35 states, the District of Columbia and places in Missouri.

What's the deal in Missouri? Since Oct. 6, 2014, when Attorney General Chris Koster opted not to appeal a marriage-recognition ruling from a state court in Kansas City, Missouri has recognized same-sex marriages from anywhere in the world. Then, on Nov. 5, 2014, a state judge in St. Louis struck down Missouri's marriage ban and weddings began in St. Louis and St. Louis County (the city of St. Louis is independent and not located in any county). Koster, who supports same-sex marriage, appealed the decision but did not seek a stay to stop the St. Louis marriages. Then, on Nov. 7, a federal judge in Kansas City struck down the state's ban and marriages began in Jackson County. It is possible same-sex marriages could begin elsewhere in Missouri if officials decide either court ruling has statewide effect.

Bans on same-sex marriage in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana and Texas have been struck down by federal and/or state judges, but the rulings were stayed while on appeal. In Louisiana and Puerto Rico (one of the United States' five inhabited territories), federal judges have upheld bans. The rulings are being appealed.

As for the other four inhabited U.S. territories: Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are in the 9th Circuit and would likely see same-sex marriage legalized if they were sued. The U.S. Virgin Islands is in the 3rd Circuit and likely would see same-sex marriage legalized if it were sued. All states in the 1st Circuit (which includes Puerto Rico) and 3rd Circuit achieved marriage equality via pathways that did not involve federal appeals-court rulings. American Samoa is a case unto itself. It does not have federal courts. If it is sued, the matter might start in local court or in federal court in D.C. It may not be possible to sue American Samoa for marriage in federal court. The reason is complex, but if you're interested, you can start here.

INDIAN TRIBES: Same-sex marriage also has been explicitly legalized within the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon (2009), The Suquamish Tribe in Washington state (2011), the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan (2013), The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington state (2013), the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians in Michigan (2013), the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel in California (2013), the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma (2013), the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota (2013), and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians in Washington (2014).

HISTORICAL NOTES: In Utah, 1,259 same-sex couples married between Dec. 20, 2013, and Jan. 6, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court stayed a Salt Lake City federal judge's strikedown of the state's gay-marriage ban. The stay was lifted Oct. 6, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review pro-same-sex-marriage rulings from appeals courts in three federal circuits. In Michigan, 315 same-sex couples married in four counties on Saturday, March 22, 2014, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued a stay. In Arkansas, 541 same-sex couples received marriage licenses before the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay a week after the May 9, 2014, strikedown. In Wisconsin, more than 500 same-sex couples married June 6-13, 2014, before a federal judge finalized her paperwork and issued a stay -- which was lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court action on Oct. 6, 2014. In Indiana, some 800 same-sex couples married June 25-27, 2014, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit issued a stay -- which was lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court action on Oct. 6, 2014. In Colorado, more than 300 same-sex couples married in Boulder, Denver and Pueblo counties in June and July 2014 after various legal developments, including the state's marriage ban being struck down in both state and federal court. The three counties eventually were forced to stop issuing gay licenses by the state Supreme Court or Attorney General John Suthers, with Boulder being the final county shut down on July 29, 2014. Colorado resumed issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Oct. 6, 2014, following the U.S. Supreme Court rejection of the 10th Circuit appeals from Utah and Oklahoma.

In U.S. states that do not allow or recognize same-sex marriage, married same-sex couples who live there are still recognized as married for many federal purposes, including income tax, immigration, military benefits and likely scores of other matters that always have been tied to whether a couple entered into a legal marriage anywhere in the world rather than to a state's marriage rules.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Mexico's Coahuila state legalizes same-sex marriage

[Second draft. Sources: 1 2 3 4 5]

For the first time, a Mexican state legislature has voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Sept. 1 vote by the Congress of the state of Coahuila was 19-1.

The new law, which alters more than 40 parts of the state's Civil Code, takes effect in one week.

According to reports, the law says, "Marriage is the free union with full consent of two people, which has as its objective to realize community life where both [people] seek respect, equality and mutual aid, and make in a free, responsible, voluntary and informed way reproductive decisions that fit their life project, including the possibility of procreation or adoption."

("El matrimonio es la unión libre y con el pleno consentimiento de dos personas, que tiene como objeto realizar la comunidad de vida en donde ambas se procuran respeto, igualdad y ayuda mutua, y toman de manera libre, responsable, voluntaria e informada las decisiones reproductivas que se ajustan a su proyecto de vida, incluida la posibilidad de procrear o adoptar.")

The law's "exposition of motives" says it "puts an end to the restrictions and limitations imposed on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, travesti, transgender and intersex community, which constitute a constitutional and international violation."

The 19 'yes' votes came from members of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and local parties. The 'no' vote came from a member of the Democratic Unity Party.

Coahuila borders the U.S. state of Texas. It's capital, Saltillo, is 191 miles (307 km) south of Laredo, Texas.

Full marriage for same-sex couples is legal two other places in Mexico -- the Federal District (Mexico City), where it was passed by legislators, and the state of Quintana Roo, where the secretary of state determined in 2012 that the state's Civil Code did not specify sex or gender requirements for marriage.

Mexico has 31 states.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Illinois governor signs marriage-equality bill into law


Sitting at the desk on which Abraham Lincoln wrote his first inaugural address, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn today signed the marriage-equality bill into law. When the law comes into force, Illinois will be the 16th U.S. state (along with D.C.) where same-sex couples can marry. [Screen cap: Illinois.gov live feed]
Photo by Hal Baim/Windy City Times

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Marriage equality arrives in Hawaii

The bill legalizing same-sex marriage has just cleared the Hawaii Legislature and is en route to strong supporter Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The final Senate vote was 19-4. Abercrombie will sign the bill tomorrow morning (Nov. 13) at 10 a.m. HST. Same-sex couples should be able to marry beginning Dec. 2.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

San Diego LGBT Pride today

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Prop 8 dies, plaintiff couples marry

Prop 8 federal case plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier were married yesterday afternoon at San Francisco City Hall by California Attorney General Kamala Harris. Plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo were married last evening (video) at Los Angeles City Hall by Mayor Antontio Villaraigosa.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gays march through San Diego as Prop 8 dies

More than 1,000 people took to the streets of San Diego Tuesday evening in celebration of the demise of Prop 8 and DOMA. The impromptu march closed down about seven blocks of major thoroughfare University Avenue in the heavily gay Hillcrest district. The peaceful crowd eventually crammed itself into the LGBT Community Center for drinks, hors d'oeuvres and more partying.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Rex Wockner

Rex Wockner reported news for the gay press from the 1980s until 2011. His work appeared in hundreds of publications.

He has a B.A. in journalism, started his career as a radio reporter, and wrote for the mainstream press as well, including the Chicago Tribune and The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Highlights of Wockner's career include:

Going to Denmark in 1989 to cover the world's first registered partnerships granting gay couples the rights of marriage.

Covering the world's first full gay marriages in the Netherlands in 2001.

Reporting from the first gay-pride events in Moscow and Leningrad in 1991.

Reporting from world conferences of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and the international AIDS conferences.

Making early contact with gay movements in the former East Bloc and developing nations.

And filing stories in the U.S. from the Democratic and Republican conventions, Creating Change, NLGJA conferences, the GLAAD Awards, Equality Begins At Home, the National Gay Men's Health Summit, the LGBT marches on Washington, ACT UP demonstrations, the National Equality March, the Maine same-sex marriage battle, the trial in the federal Prop 8 case, and New Orleans after Katrina.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DOMA's day at the Supreme Court

My photos from outside the U.S. Supreme Court this morning. It is quite likely the justices will strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, finding it unconstitutional for equal-protection reasons.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Prop 8 at the U.S. Supreme Court

Outside the U.S. Supreme Court today. Listen to the audio of the arguments or read the transcript here.
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