John M. Becker

Marriage Suits Move Forward in LA, MO, OH, TX

Filed By John M. Becker | February 12, 2014 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: ACLU, gay marriage, lawsuits, Louisiana, marriage equality, Missouri, Ohio, same-sex marriage, Texas

bigstock-Wedding-Rings-1182182.jpgIt's an exhilarating time in the fight for marriage equality. Almost every day, or so it seems, another set of plaintiffs files a lawsuit challenging a discriminatory state-level marriage ban or an existing suit moves forward. It's truly head-spinning, in the best possible sense of the phrase.

Since we last checked in, there's been progress on at least three lawsuits -- in Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Texas. Here's a brief update on each.

Louisiana

Today, statewide LGBT group Forum for Equality Louisiana filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of four same-sex couples challenging the Louisiana's ban on recognizing valid, legal same-sex marriages performed out of state.

Executive Director SarahJane E. Brady writes: "This is as basic as the Golden Rule. Treating others as one would want to be treated includes extending all the rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples who are truly committed to each other. This lawsuit would uphold this very basic principle of freedom for all Louisianans."

Click here to meet the plaintiffs in the Louisiana case.

Missouri

Yesterday, the ACLU announced that it will file suit in state court this week seeking to overturn Missouri's constitutional marriage discrimination amendment. The Springfield News-Leader reports:

Stephanie Perkins, deputy director for PROMO, a Missouri gay and lesbian advocacy group, said the litigation seeks to overturn Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage. Couples from Kansas City, St. Louis, mid-Missouri and Springfield are included in the suit, which will be filed in state court in Kansas City.

Charles Abernathy, spokesman for the GLO Center in Springfield, said a news conference involving the ACLU litigation has been scheduled at the GLO Center for Wednesday. Abernathy said that while GLO will be the venue, PROMO is taking the lead on the event.

The litigation comes less than a month after a federal judge struck down Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage. The ban is similar to Missouri's prohibition on same-sex marriage.

Missouri's marriage ban was approved in 2004 by a whopping 71% of voters. This week's suit will be the state's first challenging the constitutionality of the measure.

Updates on Ohio and Texas are after the jump.

Ohio

Four same-sex couples, legally married in other states but unrecognized in Ohio, filed suit in federal court this week in an attempt to end the state's practice of listing only one same-sex parent on a child's birth certificate. From the AP:

The plaintiffs include three lesbian couples living in the Cincinnati area who were recently married in states that have legalized gay marriage. One woman in each of those marriages is pregnant through artificial insemination, and their babies all are due to be born this summer in Cincinnati hospitals. The fourth couple lives in New York, where gay marriage is legal, and last year adopted a boy who was born in Ohio.

The couples' attorney is the same one who represented two gay married couples in their lawsuit last year that successfully sought a court order forcing Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates. The state is appealing the ruling, issued in December by federal Judge Timothy Black.

"At both ends of our lifespans, a marriage is a marriage," said Cincinnati civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein. "Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages and the families founded on those marriages throughout life."

Texas

This morning, a federal judge in San Antonio, Texas is hearing arguments in a challenge to that state's marriage discrimination amendment. Judge Orlando Garcia could issue a ruling from the bench today or a written opinion at a later date. The AP reports:

Wednesday's hearing combines two cases, one from Mark Phariss and Victor Holmes who filed a federal civil rights lawsuit complaining that Texas' ban unconstitutionally denies them the fundamental right to marry because of their sexual orientation. The other lawsuit was filed by Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman, who argue that Texas officials are violating their rights and those of their 2-year-old child by not recognizing their marriage license from Massachusetts. Holmes and De Leon are both U.S. Air Force veterans who served in San Antonio, though both couples have since moved away.

The AP article also notes that this is the first marriage equality lawsuit in the "southern and deeply conservative" 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Lone Star Q adds, "If Garcia grants the injunction, it's likely his decision will be stayed and immediately appealed... by Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott. Experts say it's unlikely there would be any window for same-sex marriages to occur."

Here's hoping that all of these lawsuits are successful!

If you'd like a video update on the marriage equality push in other states across the country (Virginia, Utah, Wisconsin, and Indiana), check out this week's Marriage News Watch from AFER's Matt Baume:


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