Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recent news and commentary

Recognition of out-of-state marriages - Maryland

I posted yesterday on the advisory opinion (94 Op. Att'y. Gen. 3, Feb. 23, 2010) by Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler. Law professor Nancy Polikoff observed yesterday that the law is not "self-executing." (The Daily Record). But she probably commented before a press conference by Gansler, at which he said that "[s]tate agencies in Maryland will recognize out-of-state gay marriages as of right now." (Washington Post) Governor Martin O'Malley has announced that he expects all state agencies to follow Gansler's interpretation of the law. "Unlike some attorney general opinions that last for years and decades, I would anticipate that this particular opinion will be addressed by litigants," Gansler said. "This will be resolved in the courts." (Baltimore Sun) See The Daily Record for comments by ACLU of Maryland staff attorney David Rocah and University of Baltimore law professor Barbara A. Babb.

Marriage equality law - D.C.

Marriage equality in D.C. has been the subject of three lawsuits. The latest one concerns a referendum on the District's marriage equality law that Rev. Harry Jackson and others sought to qualify for an election. (Catholic News Agency) The D.C. Election Board decided to disqualify the referendum because it violates the Human Rights Act. [In re Referendum on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, (DCBOEE, Feb. 4, 2010)] (Religion Clause) Representing Jackson and his supporters, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) - joined by attorneys for Stand4MarriageDC. -appealed the decision to D.C. Superior Court. [Jackson v. D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, No. 740-10 (D.C. Super. Ct., filed Feb. 4, 2009)] They filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to keep the marriage equality law from taking effect on March 3rd, pending a final Court ruling. The Court tentatively denied the motion last week, and, on February 20th, issued a written order denying the motion. ADF and allied attorneys have appealed this order to the D.C. Court of Appeals. (ADF press release) Absent a stay by this court or unlikely action by Congress, the law will take effect. "While couples will be able to apply next Wednesday, the three-day waiting period in the District means that couples will not be able to formally marry until the following Tuesday, March 9." (Washington Post)

Marriage equality legislation - Maryland

On March 3rd and March 4th, two legislative committees in Maryland have scheduled hearings to consider marriage equality legislation. (SB 582 / HB 808). (Equality Maryland) HB 808 would require support from State House Speaker Michael Busch, who favors civil unions instead. (Baltimore Sun)

Super-DOMA amendments - Maryland, West Virginia and Indiana

Maryland's state House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a March 4th hearing on a proposed super-DOMA amendment (SB 1079). (Equality Maryland)

State Republican legislators in West Virginia have failed to advance a proposed super-DOMA amendment (HJR 5) out of committee. (HRC Back Story / Charleston Gazette) The Family Policy Council of West Virginia (FPCWV) will hold a rally today at the state capitol to support continued efforts to bring to HJR 5 a floor vote. "The event will feature Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage; Randy Wilson, national field director for Family Research Council, and Jeremy Dys, president and general counsel of the Family Policy Council of West Virginia." (; for more on the rally, read the Herald Dispatch.) FPCWV has been circulating a petition whose signers threaten to vote against state legislators for opposing a "marriage protection" amendment. (FOCWV)

Although the Indiana state Senate approved a proposed super-DOMA amendment (SJR 13), it has died in the state House. (Indiana Equality)

Custody - Vermont

A family court judge in Vermont Tuesday issued a warrant for the arrest of former lesbian Lisa Miller who disappeared with the child she once shared with her former civil union partner, Janet Jenkins ... Just last week, Judge Louis Harrison, a family court judge in Bedford, Virginia, said he could not issue an arrest warrant for Miller because he could not be sure Miller was aware of the Vermont judge’s order. Miller’s attorney, Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of the right-wing Liberty Counsel litigation group, has told reporters he does not know where Miller is." (Keen News Service)

Developments abroad - Australia and Argentina

The Australian Senate has voted against the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill of 2009, introduced in September by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young. (

"A judge on Tuesday authorized two men to marry in Buenos Aires in what would be the country's second same-sex marriage." (AFP)

Other news

"The Future of Same-Sex Marriage" is the topic of tomorrow's University of San Francisco Law Review's Spring Symposium. (ADF Alliance Alert)

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