Ah, a long weekend here in Smallville, with a quiet anniversary celebration and a day of yard work, followed by cool to getting downright cold temperatures, But, after all that, what better way to start the week than with some good news on the marriage march?
The big news on the marriage equality front is, of course, is New Jersey, where, at 12:01 AM this morning, same-sex couples will be allowed full marriage equality despite the attempts to stop it all by Governor Chris Christie.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed with a lower court's September 27th ruling and had denied the State's motion to postpone marriage equality:
"What is the public's interest in a case like this? Like Judge Jacobson, we can find no public interest in depriving a group of New Jersey residents of their constitutional right to equal protection while the appeals process unfolds."
This is a giant smackdown to Chris Christie, New Jersey Governor Christie, and possible 2016 presidential candidate, who wants the people to vote on the rights of other people. Christie is virulently anti-marriage equality, even going so far as to say this week, that if he had a gay child he‘d be very welcoming and accepting but he’d have no problem telling that child that he, or she, does not have the same rights as his over-indulged father.
Snap to that, Chrissy.
It has also been decided that the New Mexico Supreme Court will be considering marriage equality this Wednesday, and it’s quite possible that the justices could issue an immediate ruling. At issue is whether a state district judge in Albuquerque was correct in declaring it unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
See, nowhere in New Mexico law does it say that same-sex marriage is illegal.
It was just last month that the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New Mexico, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the law firm of Sutin, Thayer & Browne APC, and other New Mexico attorneys . Anti-equality lawmakers and groups followed with their own brief, .
We may know that answer in a couple of days.
And last Wednesday, In Michigan, a federal U.S. judge heard oral arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder, a federal lawsuit that challenges the 2004 law in Michigan that restricts marriage to opposite-sex couples. After hearing from the defendants and the plaintiffs in the case, Judge Bernard Friedman announced that he will issue a written opinion and that the case will proceed to trial, which is scheduled for February 25, 2014.
Judge Friedman said that he wished he could issue a ruling, and said he understands that time is of the essence, but added that he cannot grant the motions today, saying, "I'm in the middle. I have to decide this as a matter of law. I intend to do so."
The plaintiffs in the case are April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who filed the lawsuit in January 2012 seeking the freedom to jointly adopt their three children who they raised as foster moms since Michigan law prevents same-sex couples from jointly adopting children. In August 2012, the lawsuit was expanded to challenge Michigan’s anti-marriage law.
That could change come February ….
And out there in Oregon, state Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan sent a to all state agencies which states that any same-sex couples who wed in a state where same-sex marriage is legal will now be eligible for the same benefits as any other married couple in the state of Oregon:
"Oregon agencies must recognize all out-of-state marriages for the purposes of administering state programs. That includes legal, same sex marriages performed in other states and countries."
Changing Oregon's practices to recognize the union between couples of the same gender brings the state in line with the federal government, which began recognizing same-sex marriages after the US Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act.
However, the opinion from the state Department of Justice does not involve the legality of allowing same-sex couples to wed in Oregon, and that question is currently under two separate challenges: both a 2014 ballot initiative to overturn the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the state ban.
It’d be a hard case to win, saying that Oregon will recognize a same-sex marriage performed in another state, but won’t allow same-sex marriages of their own.
That’s an interesting question, no?
And finally, we have Nevada, where Lambda Legal filed their opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case challenging Nevada's constitutional amendment and other laws banning same-sex marriage.
The appeal comes after the initial case was and when the appeal with the Ninth Circuit was first filed last December it was held up while awaiting the Supreme Court’s rulings on Prop 8 and DOMA.
In their argument to the Ninth Circuit, Lambda Legal says that the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA makes it all the more necessary for the Ninth Circuit to act in their favor because same-sex couples in Nevada are being denied federal benefits that the Supreme Court ruled they ought to be afforded.
It’s on, y’all, the marriage equality march, and we could see some big changes in the next few months.
The march goes on ….