D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Releases Memorandum Opinion and Order on Marriage Initiative of 2

District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics
November 17, 2009
The Board concluded that the "Marriage Initiative of 2009" would, if passed, strip same-sex couples who have previously entered into marriages of rights afforded to them by that recognition. Accordingly, the Board ordered that the Initiative be received but not accepted under D.C. Code section 1-1001.16(b)(2), which prohibits the Board from accepting an initiative that authorizes discrimination prohibited under the District of Columbia Human Rights Act. [Link]

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Buenos Aires Grants First Marriage License to Same-Sex Couple

The Associated Press
November 16, 2009
Jose Maria Di Bello and his partner, Alex Freyre, were granted a marriage license in Buenos Aires on Monday after a judge ruled that a ban on marriage equality violates Argentina's constitution. Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri said the city will not appeal -- "in effect inviting other same-sex couples to pursue their rights in court as well." [Link]

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Get Marriage Equality Off the Ballot

The Daily Beast
November 6, 2009
In the wake of the passage of Maine's Question 1, Linda Hirshman discusses how the framers of the U.S. Constitution intended the federal judiciary -- rather than voter referendums -- to decide civil liberties issues such as marriage equality, and how "the last thing the [Supreme Court] should do, in deciding that question, is follow the election returns." [Link]

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Wisconsin State Supreme Court Won’t Take Case on Domestic Partnerships

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
November 4, 2009
The Wisconsin state Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to take an anti-gay case asking the court to strike down the state's new domestic partnership law for same-sex couples. [Link]

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LGBT Groups Say Loss Won’t Alter Strategy

The Washington Post
November 5, 2009
LGBT equality advocates across the nation are regrouping after the disappointment of Question 1's passage in Maine, "pledging to continue their state-by-state effort to promote marriage equality and to turn their attention to a federal court case in California" that aims to repeal Prop. "I think the reality is that we came very close but didn't succeed in dispelling the distractions and fears that are keeping a small slice of people from treating others fairly," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry. [Link]

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Wisconsin Supreme Court to Hear Marriage Equality Case

Fox11Online.com (Madison, WI)
November 2, 2009

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Tuesday morning a Northeast Wisconsin man’s appeal of a judge's ruling that the man did not have standing to challenge the constitutionality of a state amendment banning marriage equality. [Link]

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Privacy Looms Over Wash. State Gay Rights Vote

The New York Times
November 1, 2009
The legal debate over whether the names of donors to the campaign to repeal Wash. state's expanded domestic partnership law should be disclosed (according to state campaign finance laws) is likely to continue well past Tuesday's election and raise national questions about privacy and voter petitions. [Link]

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U.S. Justice Department: Mass. Can’t Force Federal Marriage Benefits

The Associated Press
October 30, 2009
The U.S. Justice Department on Friday argued in court papers in a lawsuit filed by the state of Massachusetts that states honoring the marriages of same-sex couples cannot force the federal government to provide protections to those couples because the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) remains law. [Link]

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Advancing the Freedom to Marry in America

American Bar Association's Human Rights Magazine
Summer 2009 Edition

As the nation celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Stonewall, leading advocates, Mary L. Bonauto and Evan Wolfson, examine how the freedom to marry movement began; what work and events have shaped its progress, especially in the last year; and action steps for future progress. (Link to pdf, article on p.11)

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NY Times Letter to the Editor by Evan Wolfson

The New York Times
October 28, 2009
To the Editor:

Re “In Battle Over Gay Marriage, Timing May Be Key,” by Adam Liptak (Sidebar column, Oct. 27):

The pivotal exchange in one of the lawsuits now challenging the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage shows that the opponents of gay people’s freedom to marry still can’t give a real answer to the key question posed in yet another court by yet another judge: “What would be the harm of permitting gay men and lesbians to marry?”

The anti-gay forces’ lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, replied, “Your Honor, my answer is: I don’t know ... I don’t know.” Mr. Cooper eventually told the judge that the government should be able to exclude gay couples from marriage in order “to channel naturally procreative sexual activity between men and women into stable, enduring unions.”

But even Justice Antonin Scalia, no friend of equality for gay people, wrote in Lawrence v. Texas: “What justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising ‘[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution’? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry.”

The reason smart lawyers like Mr. Cooper don’t give a better answer to why marriage discrimination should be allowed to continue is that there isn’t one.

Evan Wolfson
Executive Director
Freedom to Marry
New York, Oct. 27, 2009
[Link]

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