Saturday, October 18, 2014

Arizona and Wyoming!

Another round of the status of same-sex marriage...

A judge in Wyoming said he would issue a ruling on Monday. It came out yesterday. The judge wrote that "Wyoming cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples." The ruling is stayed until the four defendants say whether they will appeal. So far Gov. Matthew Mead says he will not, nor will Debra Lathrup, Laramie County Clerk. The other two are members of Mead's administration and should follow the boss's lead. Lifting the stay likely won't happen before Monday.

The 9th Circuit had put a temporary stay on the ruling in Alaska to permit time to appeal to the Supremes. The Supremes did not receive an appeal request so declined to extend the stay.

Magistrates in North Carolina were ordered to perform same-sex marriages as part of their duties. John Kallam, Magistrate of Rockingham County decided to resign instead.

The AG of Arizona admits all those court rulings that strike down same-sex marriage bans probably applies to his state too. But he won't allow marriages to happen until all the legal details are properly in place. But a district judge said there is no reason for delay because appeals to the 9th Circuit "would be futile." So get cracking. Marriages supposedly began yesterday.

I had an interesting thought today, though have no evidence to back it up. Suppose you were a judge on the 6th Circuit and really didn't like same-sex marriage. How could you prevent it, or at least slow it down? If you rule that bans are permissible those for equality will dash to the Supremes and would likely be heard. But what if you didn't rule at all? What if you just let the case sit on your desk? Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee can't do anything about equality until you act. So you accomplish your goal by not acting.

Ian Millhiser of Think Progress says there is a way the Supremes could rule against same-sex marriage. Before he gets to that he agrees the current set of justices have been very clear they won't stand in the way of marriage equality. There was that original refusal to hear cases at the start of the month (sheesh, only 11 days ago!) and consistent rulings since then to not continue stays and not hear appeals. Then Millhiser reminds us that rulings on same-sex marriage have a basis in the Constitution while that nasty Hobby Lobby case does not. So why haven't the justices ruled? Millhiser says that if these nine justices don't hand down a definitive decision then a later court could rule in the opposite way. We have three progressive justices age 76 and older and it is quite possible when any of them leave the court a conservative White House or Congress would push for a conservative justice. And our gains could be overruled.

Paul Waldman of The American Prospect says same-sex marriage could lead to major headaches for the GOP leading up to the 2016 elections. I like when the GOP has headaches. I've reported before that most members of the GOP have been mighty quiet about the Supreme Court ruling that started this month's flurry of activity (Ted Cruz the noisy exception).

But the first three GOP primaries are in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. There are likely no issues in NH, but the Iowa GOP still has a strong and active anti-gay component. I don't have to say much about SC. A candidate looking for an edge could proclaim his anti-gay credentials to make it an issue in the race. And if the party leaders try to change the subject the religious and Tea Party base might feel betrayed by elites "who are perfectly happy consorting with sodomites." Get out the popcorn. This could be an entertaining show (alas, damaging too).

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