“Paramour Provision” Not Needed in Custody Case With Lesbian Mother, Tennessee Court Rules

The Tennessean
September 21, 2009
A Tennessee Court of Appeals decision has removed a custody battle provision that said a child could not live with her mother and her mother's partner. The ACLU praised the decision, saying it was time the courts stopped viewing LGBT couples differently. [Link]

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US Lawyers Reluctantly Defend Letter of Marriage Equality Ban

The Boston Globe
September 19, 2009
Justice Department lawyers are reluctantly defending a law that bars the federal government from honoring gay and lesbian couples' marriages, making their legal arguments in a Boston court while pointing out that the Obama administration opposes the law. [Link]

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Justice Department Brief Gingerly Opposes Challenge to DOMA This Time

ABC News - Political Punch
September 18, 2009
Jake Tapper on the Justice Department brief opposing the GLAD challenge to section 3 of DOMA: "Unlike the administration's previous filing in June -- which upset gays and lesbians by seeming to compare the illegitimacy of same sex couples to incestuous couples -- this filing states right off the bat that the president opposes DOMA because it is "discriminatory." [Link]

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Justice Department Asks Court to Dismiss Challenge to DOMA

The Associated Press
September 19, 2009
The Justice Department on Friday asked a federal judge in Boston to dismiss GLAD's challenge to section 3 of the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act, calling the law "constitutionally permissible" but noting that the Obama administration desires the law's repeal. [Link]

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Op-Ed: Without marriage equality, there is no equality

Aurora Sentinel (Colorado)
September 16, 2009
After years of discrimination, the United States is ready to join the rest of the enlightened, democratic world and finally stand behind the country’s long withheld promise of equality. As Americans, we should be able to choose our companions regardless of their race, social status, income level, religious background or something as personal as sexual orientation. [Link]

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Wash. State Judge Shields Petition Signers for Anti-Equality Referendum

The Associated Press
September 9, 2009
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the state of Washington to keep shielding the identities of people who signed petitions to force a vote on expanded benefits for domestic partners. [Link]

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OP-ED: DOMA Do-Over - The Justice Department Gets It Right This Time

The Washington Post
August 31, 2009
The Justice Department's new brief in the recently dismissed Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer v. U.S. case fulfills its duty to "defend a federal law with which it doesn't agree [DOMA] without dabbling in noxious, outdated and irrelevant arguments." [Link]

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OP-ED: Gay Pride and Prejudice

The Los Angeles Times
August 30, 2009
The Times editorial board writes that, "The federal case on Prop. 8 could get ugly, with every canard about homosexuality being put on trial," but notes that when LGBT equality is achieved, "this painful process will have been worth it." [Link]

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Freedom to Marry in the Supreme Court: How to Make the Timing Right


New York Times Room for Debate Blog
August 18, 2009

In response to the question, "Is this the right time to go to a conservative Supreme Court [with the freedom to marry]?" Evan Wolfson writes:
If the question is “Should the Supreme Court strike down the cruel and discriminatory exclusion of committed same-sex couples from marriage, an exclusion that serves no legitimate government interest?,” the answer is yes — and as soon as possible for couples who are doing the work of marriage in their day-to-day lives and who share an equal need for the protections and responsibilities marriage brings.

If the question is “Is now the right time to rush a case to the Supreme Court?,” I would draw on my own experience as the attorney who argued before the court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and participated in many other gay rights and other civil rights cases, including the case that ended race-discrimination in jury selection.

The first rule of Supreme Court litigation, I learned, is count to 5. If you don’t have a pretty strong sense that you are likely to be able to persuade and empower five justices to rule right, then why rush to a result that could be harmful?

The reality is, there are several freedom to marry cases already making their way through the courts, in addition to the case against Proposition 8 brought by Ted Olson, and his adversary in Bush v. Gore, David Boies. These include the challenge to the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” brought by married couples represented by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), which won the Massachusetts and Connecticut freedom to marry cases. The Attorney General of Massachusetts also filed a suit on behalf of the state’s interest in not being forced to discriminate against its own married couples.

So in that sense, the question, “Is this the right time?” is no longer pertinent. The more important question is, “How can we assure that when a case reaches the Supreme Court, the court is ready to do right?”

The best way to maximize the chances for a just ruling by the court is not just by hiring good lawyers, writing smart briefs, or, even, being right. What’s needed is creating the climate that enables justices to do the right thing.

That means winning the freedom to marry in more states and winning over more hearts and minds. If the Supreme Court sees that the lived experience of gay couples marrying means families helped and no one hurt, that the rationales offered up to defend discrimination are false, and that the momentum in America is toward inclusion, then the timing may indeed prove right for the justices to do right. The opportunity to use the time between now and the day it’s turned over to the justices is very much in our control. Since that day may come soon, let’s start talking now to the people we need to persuade (see www.freedomtomarry.org), and make the timing right.
(Link)

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Commentary: Signs point to a gay-friendly Sotomayor

The Detroit News
August 12, 2009

Deb Price writes, "To gay Americans, Sonia Sotomayor isn't just any new justice: She will likely hold the balance on a Supreme Court believed to be evenly divided over gay Americans' basic constitutional rights...Progress at the Supreme Court level "is not just about the lawyers and briefs and cases," notes Evan Wolfson, head of Freedom to Marry, who argued Eagle Scout James Dale's case in 2000. "It is about getting more states (to open marriage to gay couples), and changing more hearts and minds to create the climate in which the judges, including Sotomayor, make a decision," Wolfson said." (Link)

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