Americans for Marriage Equality

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Welcome to A.M. Equality - March 3, 2015


HRC TO SUBMIT ‘PEOPLE’S BRIEF’ WITH 200,000+ SIGNATURES TO THE SUPREME COURT ON FRIDAY: HRC’s People’s Brief officially has more signatories than any other amicus brief in history, with a whopping 207,551 Americans signing on over the last 3 weeks in support of nationwide marriage equality. HRC will deliver the brief, which was authored by civil rights lawyer Robbie Kaplan and first signed by DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor, to the Supreme Court on Friday.

--HRC President Chad Griffin hopes that the unprecedented effort will help ‘tip the scales’ for marriage equality: “Each and every signature on this brief – more than 200,000 of them – is a piece of evidence that this country is ready for marriage equality. Through this historic document, the American people, LGBT and allies alike, are standing shoulder to shoulder to insist on fairness for all. Ultimately, this brief tells a simple truth – the Constitution cannot tolerate discrimination, and it's time for all couples to be treated equally under the law.”

--DOMA-defeating lawyer Robbie Kaplan (who can now add America’s largest amicus brief her resume) said,“The People’s Brief is yet further proof that the time is right for the Supreme Court to recognize the simple proposition that all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, and regardless of the state in which they live, are entitled to be treated the same under the law, including with respect to the right to marry the person who they love… The history of our country shows that ‘times truly can blind.’ Today, Americans in all 50 states can now understand that the families of their gay brothers, sisters, neighbors and friends have the same dignity and deserve the same recognition and respect as all other families.”

HOLDER ON MARRIAGE: In an op-ed in USA Today, outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder firmly advocates for a 50-state ruling on marriage equality from the Supreme Court when it takes up the issue this term. Holder writes, “As the court considers that momentous question, the Department of Justice will make clear that our answer is an unequivocal ‘yes.’” This week, DOJ will file its brief with SCOTUS advocating for this position, making it clear that state bans on marriage for same-sex couples violate the 14th Amendment. Holder details the harms that befall same-sex couples when they are excluded from marriage, including federal benefits and taxation complications. Holder also marvels at the quick tidal wave of support for the issue, noting that when he took office in 2009, only two states allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry -- Massachusetts and Connecticut. Read the full piece here:

MORE GOOD NEWS FROM HOLDER: When he is not writing poignant op-eds for USA Today, Attorney General Eric Holder is continuing the fight for LGBT equality at work, too: this week he announced that he is appointing out gay man Ben Mizer to be the head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. In a statement, Holder writes, “Ben Mizer’s unassailable integrity, sound judgment and steadfast commitment to the mission of this department are just a few of the reasons he’s been chosen to serve as the new Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division – a critical and demanding post, and one in which he will undoubtedly thrive.” More here, via Metro Weekly:

VP BIDEN HEADLINES HRC’S SPRING EQUALITY CONVENTION: HRC announced Vice President Joe Biden will deliver remarks at their annual Spring Equality Convention in Washington, DC on Friday. HRC President Chad Griffin said of the announcement: “[The Vice President] has played an integral role in the administration’s unprecedented legacy of progress for the LGBT community and continues to be an important voice internationally for equality. We are honored he’ll be joining us to speak at our Spring Equality Convention.”

YOUNG CONSERVATIVES SHUN MORAL LECTURING ON MARRIAGE: Fusion's Brett LoGiurato reports on the generational divide that occurred at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) between Millennial-aged conservatives and their older counterparts on marriage equality. "…[m]ore and more Republicans — especially the younger and youngish ones — long for candidates who are opening up the party’s umbrella. More Republicans than ever are saying that gay marriage should be a constitutionally protected right." Traditionally staunch opponents of marriage equality were somewhat muted in their criticism of LGBT rights during the annual conference. Rick Santorum focused his remarks on foreign policy, while Sen. Ted Cruz adopted language professing support for the notion of state sovereignty on marriage law.

AMPA FILES BRIEF WITH SCOTUS: The American Military Partners Association filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court today saying that the patchwork of current marriage equality laws in the country are harmful to military families who depend upon benefits provided by the armed services. AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack writes in a press release, “LGBT service members, veterans, and their families are being cut off from important federal benefits that they earned serving our nation because they live -- or are stationed in -- a state that refuses to recognize their marriage. All service members, veterans, and their families deserve access to the benefits they've earned, and it's time for the Supreme Court of the United States to settle this issue nationwide. A military family in California should not be treated differently from a military family in Texas.” See the brief here:

TENNESSEE SCOTUS PLAINTIFFS SPEAK IN PALM SPRINGS: The Desert Sun has a profile of Matthew Mansell and Johno Espejo, two of the plaintiffs in the marriage equality case set to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court this spring. The couple, who married in California in 2008, moved to Tennessee with their two young children for Mansell’s job in 2012 only to return to California after Tennessee refused to recognize their marriage. “We come from a long history of stable relationships,” said Mansell, whose parents were married for 55 years. “We should have the same rights and recognition they had.” The NCLR filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mansell and Espejo in 2013 alongside two other couples living in Tennessee at the time. “It’s momentous in the sense that we can be involved in something that could give other people a voice,” Mansell told an audience at a Palm Springs, California event this weekend. “If we can, why not speak for and help others?” More on the couple:


-NEBRASKA GOVERNOR OPPOSES MARRIAGE RULING: Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts spoke out yesterday against a federal judge’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on marriage equality. The governor, a Republican, suggested that the issue should be left up to Nebraskans to decide and not an “activist judge”, and promised to work with state Attorney General Doug Peterson to uphold Nebraska’s ban. U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon blocked the state’s marriage ban yesterday morning in the case Waters et. al. v. Rickets, brought by the ACLU. That ruling was immediately appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

-ARKANSAS AG ASKS JUDGE NOT TO LIFT STAY: Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Monday asked a federal judge who overturned the state’s marriage ban not to lift a stay placed on marriages while the ruling is on appeal. U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker put her ruling on hold while the state appeals, but Arkansas couples are asking her to lift that stay and allow marriages to begin. Rutledge and the state argue that it is too late for Baker to lift her stay, because the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has already scheduled arguments in the Arkansas case for May alongside cases from Missouri and South Dakota. The Arkansas state Supreme Court is also considering a second state appeal of a Pulaski County court’s ruling last May that also overturned the state’s ban on marriage equality.

-OHIO REP. BOB LATTA PUSHES TO INCLUDE MARRIAGE BAN IN U.S. CONSTITUTION: Ohio’s Bowling Green Sentinel Tribune reports on Rep. Bob Latta’s effort to advance a Constitutional amendment banning marriage rights for same-sex couples -- an effort which some Ohioans find ‘embarrassing’ and “frustrating.”


-SLOVENIA TO VOTE ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY TODAY: Today, Slovenia will vote on a bill in parliament that could legalize marriage for same-sex couples -- which would make it the first Central European country to do so. The opposition party, United Left, proposed the bill, saying “Slovenia's constitution calls for all members of society to be provided with equal rights, and the bill will extend those to rights to all groups,” according to Gay Star News. In a poll last month, it was found that 59 percent of Slovenians support marriage equality.

-RUSSIA ATTEMPTING TO STOP PARTNER BENEFITS FOR UN EMPLOYEES: Last year, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued an order to provide benefits to same-sex partners of UN employees, regardless of where in the world they are working. Now, the Russian Government is attempting to intervene, urging Ki-moon to immediately withdraw the order, saying that it “violates the sovereign rights of member states to determine the legal framework of [the] life of their citizens.” More here:

Make sure to follow @AM_Equality for any marriage equality developments. And as always, thanks for reading! Please keep the tips, ideas, and feedback

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