Friday, February 14, 2014

Virginia is for all lovers

Yes, on this Valentine's Day we can say Virginia is for lovers. Well, almost. Federal District Judge Arenda Wright Allen declared that Virginia's constitutional ban on same-sex marriages violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the federal constitution. Alas, she also issued a stay -- though if she didn't, the Supremes would.

Allen did something unusual. On the cover page of the ruling she put a quote from Mildred Loving, of Loving v. Virginia fame. Then in the conclusion she quotes Abraham Lincoln:
It can not have failed to strike you that these men ask for just. . . the same thing–fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.

Mother Jones has a beautiful excerpt from the ruling and also the whole 41 pages.

Law professor Ari Ezra Waldman summarizes what it means. No, this isn't a new right. We only want to exercise an existing right -- like everyone else. Children don't need a mother and father, they need loving parents and studies have shown this. Tradition is not more important than rights. Yes, states may make their own laws, but cannot contradict the federal constitution.

The core of the judge's argument, as Waldman tells us, is this:
We see clearly where Judge Wright Allen's true sympathies lie: marriage is a fundamental right and bans on same-sex marriage interfere with that right. Period.
The case goes on to the 4th Circuit Court. Then the Supremes? There is now speculation the Supremes may ignore the issue as long as circuit courts keep coming down on the side of equality. However, marriage equality cases have been filed in Texas and Louisiana, which will eventually go before the "deeply conservative 5th Circuit." And with some Circuits approving marriage equality and one denying it, only then will the Supremes have to step in.

Sigh. And then there is Wyoming. Rep. Cathy Connolly of Laramie is lesbian and wants to marry her partner in her home state. So she introduced a marriage equality bill. Alas, the state House rejected it 41-17. Is there a marriage equality lawsuit in the works there?

There is also a lawsuit filed in a district under the 11th Circuit. Paul Hard married David Fancher in Massachusetts. They lived in Montgomery, Alabama. Alas, Fancher died in an auto accident. Hard is suing the trucking companies involved in the wreck. Though Fancher died with a will giving everything to Hard, Alabama state law says any money from a wrongful death suit are disbursed according to the rules that are normally used when there is no will. Because Alabama doesn't recognize their marriage, if the suit is successful, Hard would get nothing. That's the reason for the suit.

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