Bourke v. Beshear

A Matter of Appearances, and Other Notes

Huang reflects on a mission barely accomplished. (Darker Than Black, ep. 14)

Although my permission doesn’t matter, yes, you have my permission to enjoy the next three paragraphs.

A transgender man and his wife stepped forward Saturday with paperwork showing that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis apparently issued them a marriage license in February even though she has blocked forms for same-sex couples over the past two months.

Camryn Colen, who is transgender, and his wife Alexis, who identifies as pan sexual, said Davis’ office provided the license on Feb. 26 without asking to see Camryn’s birth certificate, which still identifies him as female. The couple married that night.

“She saw just a straight couple in love, and she should see everybody like that,” Camryn said. “She shouldn’t just see straight couples like that.”

(Wynn)

No, seriously. When petulant laughter―Ah! Ha! Ha ha! Hahaha! HaHahaHahHaHa!―is all we can think of, why not just go with it?

This moment of pure ironic bliss is brought to you by Kentucky, because why not and where the hell else? (more…)

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Justice

People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Today.

This is our honor.

• There is, of course, the decision itself: Obergefell v. Hodges (14-556)

• Or perhaps a headline: “Gay Marriage Supporters Win Supreme Court Victory”

• The author: “Kennedy: The Gay Marriage Justice”

• Another headline, this one somewhat overstated: “Texas Pastor Says He Will Set Himself On Fire In Protest Over Gay Marriage”

• Dissents or temper tantrums? “‘Ask the nearest hippie’: The conservative SCOTUS justices’ opinions on marriage equality are hilariously bitter”

• And why not ask a hippie? “We Asked the Nearest Hippie About Scalia: It Was David Crosby”

• Unfit for duty: “To avoid marrying gay couples, some Alabama counties have stopped marrying everyone”

• GOP presidential timber, part one: “Constitutional Remedies to a Lawless Supreme Court”

• Fifty-four years, cookie dough, and Stonewall celebrations: “From Ice Cream To Ian McKellen: Reactions To Same-Sex Marriage Ruling”

• GOP presidential timber, part two: “Jindal: ‘Let’s just get rid of the court'”

• GOP presidential timber, part three: “Scott Walker calls for Constitutional amendment to let states define marriage”

• What a real President of the United States sounds like: “Remarks by the President on the Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality”

I would at this time raise a glass to homophobic traditionalists from Sea to Shining Sea; without your dedicated, horrifying zeal, we might never have come this far. Indeed, your own cruelty and hatred shepherded this day.

Drink up, dreamers of hatred and supremacism; you’re running dry.

Then again, we also know you’re nowhere near finished, at least in your own minds. We’re here. We will hold the line. We know you’re targeting children, now, and we will hold the line.

____________________

Image note: People celebrate inside the Stonewall Inn, an iconic gay bar recently granted historic landmark status, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

The Transcript, Part Two

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

Transcript of oral arguments, second part, from marriage equality case before Supreme Court, 28 April 2015.

Obergefell v. Hodges #14-556

Tanco v. Haslam #14-562

DeBoer v. Snyder #14-571

Bourke v. Beshear #14-574

The Transcript, Part One

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

The first part of today’s oral arguments are already available via the Supreme Court website.

Obergefell v. Hodges #14-556

Tanco v. Haslam #14-562

DeBoer v. Snyder #14-571

Bourke v. Beshear #14-574

Showtime!

Contemplation of Justice

Yes, friends, the Big Show is underway. We’ll try to give Obergefell v. Hodges and its consolidated cohort appropriate consideration later in the day, but for now it is enough to point to SCOTUSblog’s live coverage.

Early analyses are available in the press, but transcripts will come later in the day.

That said, there are still two points worth noting. First, Justice Kennedy apparently brought the adoption question to bear; as the anti-gay argument has given so much focus to procreation, parenthood, and biological parentage, one wonders what they think of adoption.

Secondly, we might note that the question of sex discrimination arose. The issue has been staring at us the whole time, waiting to be summoned into the light, but such simple views of gay marriage and gay rights have generally been disdained for being so simple that they might settle the issue early, before politicians and advocates have had a chance to make some money trying to scare the hell out of people with fantasies about being forced to be gay and other such absurdity. Word is that Chief Justice Roberts asked the question.

Both these points have special significance in my outlook; I am gratified to hear they have a place in the discourse.

Additionally, a protester reportedly got close enough to the Justices to tell them they would burn in Hell, or some such.

Today sounds very much like a good day.

____________________

Goldstein, Tom, Eric Citron, and Tejinder Singh. “Live blog: Obergefell v. Hodges”. SCOTUSblog. 28 April 2015.

The Countdown (This Is Embarrassing Remix)

Well, yeah, that’s embarrassing. Somehow I looked at the calendar wrongly, thought today was the twenty-eighth, and never got my head straight. It is not exactly useful to point out that nobody corrected me; I did this to myself.

That said, oral arguments for marriage equality are tomorrow, which offers one last opportunity to wrap our heads around what is about to happen; I might recommend Lyle Denniston’s overview for SCOTUSblog.

(sigh)

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Denniston, Lyle. “Same-sex marriage: The decisive questions”. SCOTUSblog. 26 April 2015.

The Countdown: Weekend Edition

Contemplation of Justice

There are a few things here:

The Defense of Marriage Act decision overshadowed another 2013 case―Hollingsworth v. Perry―that could have determined whether states could ban same-sex marriage.

The case concerned a challenge to California’s Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment that barred same-sex couples from marriage. But Roberts, writing for the majority, dismissed the case, holding that the challengers did not have the legal standing to bring it to the court.

The ruling left in place a lower court decision that had invalidated Proposition 8 and thus paved the way for same-sex marriage in California. Roberts’ lesbian cousin, who lives in California, sat in the courtroom during arguments in the Prop 8 case.

Few people predicted that the issue would return so quickly to the Supreme Court, but waves of lower court judges―sometimes citing Windsor―struck down the state bans.

Ariane de Vogue is not wrong. It seemed strange at the time; the Hollingsworth outcome was one of my anti-prophet moments. When the case was selected, I actually told a friend it wouldn’t make sense for the Court to take the case and then punt. And, yet, here we are.

(more…)

The Value of Their Values

Lebanon ... and Hei (top), in thought (lower left), and mourning (lower right).  Details of frames from 'Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor'.

Speaking of incoherent, sputtering rage, because, well, nobody actually was, we do have this sort of sputtering, incoherent something to either amuse or distress or merely distract us:

The Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver is behind a new online petition asking supporters to reject a potential Supreme Court decision if justices vote in favor of making it unconstitutional for states to prohibit same-sex marriage.

“The Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage,” which Staver co-authored with Deacon Keith Fournier of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, defines marriage as “ontologically between one man and one woman” and “not based on religion or revelation alone, but on the Natural Law, written on the human heart and discernible through the exercise of reason.”

Although specifics of how the pledge will be enacted are scarce, the authors nonetheless ask supporters “to stand together to defend marriage for what it is, a bond between one man and one woman, intended for life, and open to the gift of children.”

(Wong)

Of course the specifics are scarce; they’re supposed to be when one is scratching around for straws to build a wall.

(more…)

The Countdown: One Week

The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

We should not let it pass unmentioned that there is one week left before oral arguments in Obergefell, when marriage equality has its day before the Supreme Court. Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog offers the press some advice on covering the case, but it’s pretty much worth a read for anyone who wants to know what’s about to happen.

About the briefs. There are a lot of them. Some amount of triage is essential to get ready for the oral argument. All of the briefs are housed here on the blog (organized for each case — Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky) and on the Supreme Court’s own website.

In each of the four cases, the parties’ briefs are generally the most important. There are briefs on the merits by the plaintiffs challenging the state laws; they are known as the “petitioners” because they “petitioned” the Court to review the lower court’s decision upholding the state laws. On the other side, each set of state officials defending the laws – known as the “respondents” – filed briefs in their respective cases. The petitioners also get to file reply briefs, which are due at the Court on the afternoon of April 17.

In addition to the parties’ briefs, there are also over a hundred amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs filed by everyone from the Cleveland Choral Arts Association and Facebook – both of which filed briefs in support of the challengers – to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and an advocacy group founded by Mike Huckabee, which support the states that seek to uphold bans on same-sex marriage. The United States also filed an amicus brief supporting the challengers.

With the possible exception of the Justices’ law clerks, no one will read all of these amicus briefs – and you don’t really need to either. Each amicus brief is required to contain a “summary of argument,” which lays out the issues that the brief will cover and generally gives you enough information to decide whether you want to keep reading or instead move on to the next one. The only exception is the brief of the United States, which always receives considerable attention from the Court (and which will participate in the oral argument on the marriage question).

And that’s just part of what you need to know before the show gets started. It is worth noting that the Court is allowing a longer session for oral arguments, two and a half hours split into two parts. The first will see the Court spend ninety minutes on the basic marriage question, with Mary Bonauto arguing on behalf of the same-sex couples, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli representing the United States, and John Bursch of Michigan explaining the case for the states. Of the three, only Bonauto will have rebuttal time.

The second part will have to do with the recognition question, and in this case it really would seem rather quite clear. Nonetheless, Douglas Hallward-Driemeier will stand for the challengers; Joseph Whalen of Tennessee will represent the states.

For a look at what we’ve heard before, and perhaps a hint of what’s in store, Zack Ford of ThinkProgress offers up a serving of strangeness. And despite the absurdity of a certain amicus brief, which, it should be noted, was obsolete before it was submitted―the democratic process has already brought same-sex marriage to multiple states―the crown still goes to Paul D. Clement, arguing on behalf of House Republicans in Hollingsworth, that gay marriage was wrong because “Unintended children produced by opposite-sex relationships and raised out-of-wedlock would pose a burden on society”, and further reasoned that same-sex couples “don’t present a threat of irresponsible procreation”.

What a show.

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Howe, Amy. “A reporter’s guide to covering the same-sex marriage cases at the Supreme Court”. SCOTUSblog. 20 April 2015.

Ford, Zack. “Ten Novel, Absurd, And Irrelevant Arguments Made In Supreme Court Briefs Against Marriage Equality”. ThinkProgress. 17 April 2015.

Savage, David G. “Gay marriage opponents take unusual tack with Supreme Court”. Los Angeles Times. 26 January 2015.

The Countdown: Three Weeks

Jim Obergefell, left, and John Arthur, who suffered from ALS, are married by officiant Paulette Roberts, Arthur’s aunt, on a plane on the tarmac at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport on July 11, 2013. (Glenn Hartong/AP)

Three weeks.

It was not a long marriage, just three months and 11 days — the time it took his husband, John Arthur, to struggle to say, “I thee wed,” and then die from ALS. Now their union, and the 20-year relationship that preceded it, is at the center of Obergefell v. Hodges, the title case of four consolidated appeals the Supreme Court will hear this month to decide whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

(Rosenwald)

Perhaps it would be helpful to understand not only the importance of Mr. Obergefell’s marriage, but also the terrible depths to which two judges in the Sixth Circuit stooped in hopes of calling it off.

The right of Ohio to decide which marriages to honor or not depends in part on whether the marriage is illegal for other reasons. And that’s part of what is going before the Supreme Court in three weeks. You know, because marrying your gay partner is the equivalent of other prohibited behaviors like incest, or incompetence. (See Sutton and Cook, pp. 40, 59.)

That is how low Judges Jeffrey Sutton and Deborah Cook reached in order to unmarry a dead man.

Yes, there is a reason even Justice Thomas knows it’s over. And in three weeks, Mary Bonauto will do us the honor of driving the nails.

____________________

Rosenwald, Michael S. “How Jim Obergefell became the face of the Supreme Court gay marriage case”. The Washington Post. 6 April 2015.

Sutton, Jeffrey and Deborah Cook. “Opinion”. DeBoer v. Snyder. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. 6 November 2014.

Thomas, J. Clarence. “On Application for Stay”. Strange v. Searcy. Supreme Court of the United States. 9 February 2015.