Campaign: Summer of Conversations
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Americans for Marriage Equality
A.M. Equality- 7TH CIRCUIT BRIEFS FILED; J-STEW INTERVIEWS GEORGE TAKEI; PROFILES IN COURAGE: REV. BECKY GUNN; DEPARTMENT OF LABOR SEEKING COMMENT ON FMLA AMENDMENT; CONNOR BARWIN NAMED "BEST OF PHILLY" ATHLETE
BRIEFS FILED AT 7TH CIRCUIT: More than 20 amicus briefs, mostly in defense of banning marriage equality, have been filed at the U.S. 7th Circuit Court, where cases striking down same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are currently on appeal. The briefs included one by the attorney generals of ten states, and another filed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and others. “If pursued consistently, a policy of voiding laws when they reflect controversial religious or moral judgments would mean the end of representative government as we know it,” the churches claimed.
DESSERT FOR BREAKFAST! JON STEWART INTERVIEWS GEORGE TAKEI: Don’t miss Jon Stewart’s interview with George Takei on last night’s Daily Show, where the actor and LGBT civil rights icon discussed the new documentary “To Be Takei.” The film captures Takei’s unusual personal journey from WWII internment camps as a child through his storied career, from Star Trek to Howard Stern. In a brief (and adorable) clip, Takei and his husband, Brad, also give the viewer a personal look into the day-to-day reality of their nearly 30-year relationship. Check out George’s full segment here: http://on.cc.com/1kf39JJ
PROFILES IN COURAGE -- REV. BECKY GUNN, BANGOR, MAINE: When Unitarian Universalist Minister Becky Gunn became the pastor of a church in Bangor, Maine six years ago, she took a stand for marriage equality by proclaiming that she would not perform weddings for straight couples until she could perform weddings for gay couples, too. She also led her congregants to speak up during a 2009 campaign effort to enact marriage equality legislation in the state. She was a stalwart advocate again in 2012, when Maine became one of the first states in the nation to approve marriage equality by popular vote. “Those were intense times, and I think my leadership was important,” Gunn told the Bangor Daily News. “When we ultimately passed the law — to be able to have all people marry — it was so wonderful for me.”
Rev. Gunn retired from her post at the end of June and will be exiting on a high note. BDN reports that, “[h]er only disappointment was that since voters approved same-sex marriage in November 2012, she only performed about a dozen weddings. ‘Not as many as I’d hoped,’ she said.” Read BDN’s full profile here: http://bit.ly/1rE0f3q, and a heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Rev. Becky Gunn!
LABOR TAKING COMMENT ON AMENDING FMLA LANGUAGE TO INCLUDE SAME-SEX COUPLES: The Family and Medical Leave Act presently contains no spousal leave protections for legally married same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize their marriages. The U.S. Department of Labor is soliciting public comment as part of a rulemaking to amend the current language to include legally married gay couples -- no matter where they live. HRC is facilitating submissions to DOL in support marriage equality, and you can weigh in here: http://bit.ly/1tJFykq
SUPERLATIVES: EAGLES LINEBACKER & MARRIAGE EQUALITY SUPPORTER CONNOR BARWIN VOTED BEST ATHLETE: Philly Mag’s “Best of Philly” issue names Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin as the best athlete of 2014 for his work on and off the field. Barwin, whose older brother Joe is gay, has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality, encouraging others to “Embrace who people love and how they love.” Congrats to @ConnorBarwin98!
-ARIZONA ATTORNEYS DEFEND BAN: Attorneys for Arizona are defending the state’s same-sex marriage ban on grounds there is no “compelling state interest” in striking down the ban because same-sex couples cannot reproduce without help of a third party. “Only man-woman couples are capable of furthering the state’s interest in linking children to both of their biological parents,” the attorneys claimed. Arizona could stand to be reminded of a June study finding that children of same-sex couples are actually healthier and happier than most kids. The case Connelly v. Roche was brought to a U.S. District Court in Phoenix by private counsel in February and is one of two federal lawsuits currently challenging Arizona’s ban on marriage equality.
-COLORADO COUNTY CLERK STILL ISSUING MARRIAGE LICENSES: Tomorrow is the one-month anniversary of Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall’s continued issuance of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in Colorado. The state’s Attorney General, John Suthers, has been attempting to block Hall from issuing licenses over the past four weeks, but two lower court rulings and a new decision from the Colorado Court of Appeals have allowed Hall to continue this practice as long as she “informs them that their marriages may be deemed invalid if challenges to Colorado’s ban ultimately fail to overturn it” (h/t Zack Ford, ThinkProgress). The total number of marriage licenses issued by Boulder County now stands at 183.
-SPECIAL DELIVERY FOR PAM BONDI: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is currently leading the state’s legal charge to keep marriage equality illegal in the Sunshine State. Yesterday, however, six gay and lesbian couples decided to send Bondi a message by hand-delivering 7,000 petitions to her office signed by Floridians who are urging the Attorney General to “stop wasting taxpayer resources defending the state’s discriminatory exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage.” The case in question, Huntsman v. Heavilin was brought by private lawyers on behalf of a gay couple looking to marry in Florida.
-JOLLY AN EXAMPLE FOR FLORIDA REPUBLICANS: Rep. David Jolly's stance on personal liberty and individual rights should serve as "a model for other Florida Republicans," noted the Tampa Bay Times in a Thursday editorial praising the congressman for his recent announcement in support of marriage equality. "That coherent philosophy should be embraced by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Rick Scott and Jolly's other colleagues who continue to cling to a rigid, discriminatory position that is being rejected by the courts." The Times also dedicated column inches to chiding Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi for their overt attempt to defy the will of public opinion, the courts and political winds with what they described as "government-sponsored discrimination."
-MARRIAGE DENIED IN NORTH CAROLINA: On Tuesday, Dericka and Keisha Hollifield, a lesbian couple from North Carolina, visited the McDowell County Register of Deeds’ office to request a marriage license. As they approached the building in Marion, NC, they were met by a large gathering of anti-equality protesters who were there specifically to rally against the couple’s right to marry. Dericka and Keisha were denied a license by the county clerk and forced to leave empty-handed. The couple plans to travel to Washington, D.C. to be legally wed this weekend. This is what true discrimination looks like.
-SUPPORT GROWS IN WISCONSIN: Gov. Scott Walker has been backing off his opposition to marriage equality and new polling sheds light on why that’s a smart move. Fifty-six percent of Wisconsin voters now support repealing the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the latest Marquette University Law School poll shows. The poll of 801 registered voters was conducted between July 17 and July 20. Wisconsin’s ban was overturned last month in the case Wolf v. Walker, brought by the ACLU and Mayer Brown, LLP, and is now pending at U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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