Americans for Marriage Equality

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Welcome to A.M. Equality - October 22, 2014

WYOMING BECOMES 32!: On Tuesday, Wyoming officially became the 32nd U.S. state (plus D.C.) to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Just minutes after Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael filed a notice in U.S. District Court announcing that he would not continue defending the state’s marriage ban as the result of a ruling overturning it, gay and lesbian couples around the state began lining up at court houses around the state to obtain licenses. See pictures of the overjoyed couples and read their stories today in the Wyoming News, Casper Star Tribune, and the Jackson Hole News & Guide.  

ADVOCATE EXCLUSIVE: JENNIFER HUDSON JOINS HRC & W HOTELS “TURN IT UP FOR CHANGE” CAMPAIGN: The Advocate exclusively reports that Jennifer Hudson is joining the new HRC & W Hotels Worldwide partnership“Turn It Up for Change,” which aims to raise the profile of the battle for LGBT rights nationwide, including employment protections and marriage equality in 18 states with lingering bans. From the Advocate: “In an effort to kick off the campaign on a high note, Hudson performed at the Turn It Up for Change launch event at W New York — Union Square last night. Over the course of the next year, Hudson will also make surprise performances at select Turn It Up for Change events around the country and she’ll donate a portion of the proceeds from downloads of her forthcoming ‘I Still Love You’ remix single to the HRC.” Find out where the tour is coming here:

AM MUST READ -- ROLLING STONE “5 SIGNS WE’VE REACHED THE MARRIAGE EQUALITY TIPPING POINT”: Nico Lang at Rolling Stone looks at the monumental progress marriage equality advocates have seen over the past few weeks, going from 19 to 32 states that now have marriage equality. In particular, he looks at five ways in which we’ve reached the tipping point. From noting that more states are expected to fall in line, striking down bans on marriage for same-sex couples to the fact that Republican opposition has “all but died,” the country looks like it’s finally on it’s way to national marriage equality and it’s not turning back. Read the full piece here:

FEDERAL JUDGE IN PUERTO RICO DENIES MARRIAGE EQUALITY: For just the second time since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA and returned marriage equality to California last summer, a U.S. federal judge has ruled against marriage equality. Last night, U.S. District Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez dismissed a lawsuit challenging Puerto Rico’s law “limiting marriage to one man and one woman,” denying marriage rights to gays and lesbians in the U.S. territory. In his decision, he quoted SCOTUS’ rejection of same-sex marriage claims in the 1972 case Baker v. Nelson -- a case which has been roundly dismissed by subsequent court rulings (including SCOTUS’ opinion in U.S. v. Windsor).Read more on the decision from HRC here:

PHL ARCHBISHOP ‘DISTURBED’ BY TALK OF ACCEPTANCE: Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput discussed his how “disturbed” he was over the recent conversation regarding gays and lesbians coming out of the Catholic Church from this month’s Vatican Summit. When some of the leaders in the Church, including Pope Francis, suggested being more inclusive regarding the LGBT community, Chaput said: “I was very disturbed by what happened. I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion.” Chaput better get used to the conversation, because it’s not going away. A recent Pew survey of Catholic youth found that 75 percent support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

METHODIST CHURCH TO HEAR APPEAL OVER SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Methodist pastor Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked after officiating his son’s wedding to his same-sex partner, will appear before an appeals panel organized by the church’s Judicial Council -- the highest judicial body for the United Methodist Church -- in order to decide if he is allowed to keep his pastoral credentials. The council is expected to hear arguments today in Memphis, and should release a decision after its meeting ends this Saturday. Schaefer has been a minister for more than 21 years.


-IDAHO GOV. DRAGS FEET IN NINTH CIRCUIT REQUEST: While AGs in Arizona and Wyoming this week dropped their defense of state marriage bans which have been ruled unconstitutional by higher courts, Idaho Governor Butch Otter is doing everything he can to drag his feet. Last night, Otter formally asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review its decision which brought marriage equality to Nevada and Idaho earlier this month. Otter is asking for an en banc hearing from the court -- which means a rehearing of a larger panel of the court -- after a smaller panel of three judges ruled unanimously in favor of marriage equality. In Otter’s filing, he says he believes the federal appeals court made “some critical errors in its decision.” Otter continues, saying, “I have repeatedly pointed out to the courts that unaccountable judges imposing their perception of social change on the law – rather than public policy being changed through the democratic process.” Read Otter’s full filing here, via Metro Weekly;

-ICYMI -- HAWAII CASE DECLARED MOOT BY NINTH CIRCUIT: A few weeks ago when the Ninth Circuit heard challenges to Idaho and Nevada’s marriage bans, they also heard a lawsuit regarding Hawaii’s former ban on marriage for same-sex couples. With all of the excitement in Idaho and Nevada where the state bans have since been struck down by the appellate court, Hawaii’s case got slightly lost in the mix. The case was brought by a same-sex couple back in 2011 before marriage equality was extended to the state. The couple tried to get the case dismissed once marriage for same-sex couples was signed into law, but opponents (the Alliance Defending Freedom) has other plans and tried to keep the lawsuit alive. The court issued an opinion and declared the case moot, meaning the couple’s marriage will be recognized by the state. Mahalo to all involved!

-SAME-SEX MARRIAGES HAVE BOOSTED NJ ECONOMY: Just yesterday, New Jersey celebrated it’s one-year anniversary of marriage equality in the state. In the first year alone, almost 4,000 same-sex couples were married, bringing around $60 million to the state’s economy. Find out some more details about weddings in the Garden State here:

-MARRIAGES COULD BEGIN IN FLORIDA THIS WEEK: This Friday, October 24th, is the deadline for the state of Florida to submit a response to a request for a stay to be lifted in Grimsley v. Scott, in which U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle found Florida’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples unconstitutional. If the state does not submit a compelling reason for the stay to continue by this date, the stay can be lifted in the case, and marriage for gays and lesbians could begin immediately across the state. You may remember that Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has been highly vocal about her desire to defend the state’s marriage ban, with LGBT-rights groups criticizing her choice as being a “waste of resources.” We’ll be keeping our eyes on the Sunshine State!

-FLORIDA CITIES FILE JOINT BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Miami Beach filed an amicus brief in support of marriage for same-sex couples in the Grimsley case mentioned above. Other cities to join in on the brief include Wilton Manors, Biscayne Park, and the government of Broward County. You can check out the filing here:

-TOMORROW IN GEORGIA: Georgia Equality and other marriage equality supporters in the state will gather tomorrow at Atlanta City Hall to urge Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens to drop his defense of the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. In a statement, Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality executive director, said: “It’s clearer now than ever that efforts to uphold and defend obviously discriminatory and exclusionary bans on marriage for same-sex couples will surely fail.” Lambda Legal and private attorneys filed a lawsuit, Inniss v. Aderhold, challenging the state’s marriage ban. Check out all of the details of Georgia Equality’s event here:

-CLERGY MEMBERS IN OHIO GATHER IN SUPPORT OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Yesterday, around four dozen clergy members gathered at the King Avenue United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio to support the efforts of Why Marriage Matters Ohio, and call for marriage equality in the state and nationwide. Currently, same-sex marriage remains outlawed in Ohio, after voters passed a constitutional amendment banning it in 2004. The leader of Why Marriage Matters Ohio, Michael Premo, made a religion-based argument for marriage equality, saying “There are so many people of faith that are speaking out and saying, ‘I believe in God, I’ve read my Scriptures, and I believe that God is love and God wants us to be happy and God wants us to treat others like we’d want to be treated.” Read more here, via the Columbus Dispatch:

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