Sunday, February 28, 2010

Recent news and commentary

Perry v. Schwarzenneger

Just before midnight on February 26th, attorneys on opposing sides have submitted briefs about the pre-trial evidence and trial testimony, to help Judge Walker better prepare for closing arguments that he is expected to schedule soon. (SF Chronicle / San Jose Mercury News / AFER press release / LGBT POV) Attorneys for the plaintiffs filed Proposed Findings of Fact and Law (at just under 300 pages!); attorneys for the Prop. 8 proponents filed a Trial Brief and Proposed Findings of Fact.

Michelle Quinn of the New York Times asked law professor David Levine to identify different types of rulings Judge Walker might make.

Bill Moyers featured a discussion of the case with Theodore Olson and David Boies. Olson and Boies answered familiar objections to marriage equality. They responded to claims that the constitution provides no right of same-sex couples to marry; that judges should refrain from "judicial activism"; that voters and legislators, rather than courts, should decide the question; that traditional marriage protects child welfare and sustains procreation; and that allowing same-sex marriage violates tenets of some religious faiths. The attorneys relied on the constitution, history and the trial to explain how the right to marry is a fundamental, constitutional right; how equal protection of the laws applies to all citizens; how banning same-sex marriage harms same-sex couples who would otherwise marry; and how allowing it would not harm married, opposite-sex couples. They also tried to justify bringing the federal lawsuit now, rather than deferring to a state-by-state strategy of legal advocacy groups that lately succeeded in Iowa. Michael Winship of the Bill Moyers Journal comments on the program.

Gazettes Town-News of Long Beach, California, interviews litigator Christopher Fowler, who married his husband in May 2008. He talks about the Perry case and describes his reaction to adoption of Prop. 8. “As a new father, I want my son to be able to describe his parents and family with confidence,” Fowler said. “When I heard that Prop. 8 had passed, I felt that something was taken away from me. When I used to read about things that happened to gay people that didn’t have rights, it inspired me to become a lawyer. To see that people who were my neighbors voted to tell me that I was not able to have the same family they do was a tremendous disappointment.”

Marriage equality - D.C.

"It's all over now, baby blue." Whether or not the Dylan lyrics apply, the Alliance Defense Fund and allied attorneys have failed in their last-ditch effort to keep D.C.'s marriage-equality law from taking effect later this week. D.C. Superior Court denied their motion for a preliminary injunction in the last of three lawsuits related to recognition of same-sex marriages. Jackson v. D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, No. 740-10 (D.C. Super. Ct., Feb. 4, 2009). Plaintiffs appealed. On February 26th, the D.C. Court of Appeals rejected their motion for emergency appeal and injunctive relief . Thanks to an astute reader for alerting me to the news ( / Washington Times / HRC Back Story) and to the appellate court's order.

Out-of-state recognition - Maryland

The Carroll County Times profiles a Maryland couple with plans to marry in Connecticut. The reporter acknowledges "a debate on whether their marriage will be recognized by the state in which they live," without also referencing the state Attorney General's recent opinion allowing recognition of same-sex marriages. In its editorial, the Washington Post supports the opinion, and Maryland Equality is circulating a petition to show public support. The Washington Post also reports on local reaction by same-sex couples.

"Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot and his staff are trying to work same-sex couples into the state's tax equation without violating federal law ... 'You are going to find people that are married out of state -- that can file here jointly -- come and take advantage of our taxes,' said Stanley H. Block, a Baltimore tax lawyer." (Washington Examiner)

Developments abroad

On February 25th, "the European Court of Human Rights, has its first hearing on a case regarding same-sex marriage. The Court’s hearing was on the admissibility and merits in the case of Schalk and Kopf v. Austria (application no. 30141/04)." (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association)

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