Monday, May 10, 2010

Recent legal news and commentary

Lewis v. Harris II

Garden State Equality and five other organizations have filed an amicus brief in Lewis v. Harris II to document the nature and extent of harm children suffer because their same-sex parents cannot marry. They also maintain that "no legitimate state purpose" for continued marriage inequality under New Jersey's civil union law can justify such pervasive and profound harm to children. (Garden State Equality press release /

Religious liberty exemption - Canada

On May 13th, "the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in Regina will consider whether marriage commissioners are within their Charter rights to refuse to conduct ceremonies that offend their religious beliefs. While some other provinces have allowed for exemptions since same-sex marriage became legal, this will be the first time that a court will evaluate if that refusal meets the standards of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so it could have ramifications for the rest of the country." (National Post / cross-posted by ADF Alliance Alert)

Perry v. Schwarzenneger

Equality Forum gave law professor John Culhane five minutes for an interview last week with David Boies, one of the attorneys representing the Perry plaintiffs. Boies told Culhane that he expects to "win under rational basis." That is, he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that no legitimate state interest provides a reason for same-sex marriage bans. In Boies' view, the Court can find no legitimate state interest for bans that significantly harm same-sex couples and their children, when lifting them would not in any way harm married, opposite-sex couples and their children. ( LGBT advocacy groups, if allowed to intervene, would have limited the "rational basis" test to the unique circumstances of Prop. 8's adoption - increasing odds that the 9th Circuit could issue a narrow ruling on just Prop. 8. (Prop. 8 and the Right to Marry)

Gill v. OPM

"According to two sources who covered the argument in Gill v. OPM, GLAD's challenge to Section 3 of DoMA (the section barring federal government recognition of same-sex marriages), Judge Joseph Tauro seemed from his questions to be applying a rational basis standard for evaluating DoMA's constitutionality." (hunter of justice)

Out-of-state recognition / adoption

[T]he federal government doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, nor do the vast majority of states, including Pennsylvania. Even with a valid out-of-state marriage license, gay and lesbian couples in those states face uncertainty, extra legal bills and inevitable rebuffs that straight couples avoid ... For some couples, among the most galling problems is trying ensure that both are legally recognized as parents of their children. Many states allow second-parent adoption for same-sex couples, which addresses this situation, but many other states do not." (The Daily Transcript)

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