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Anti-gay GOPer Aaron Schock locks down Instagram account as outing rumors swirl

Anti-gay GOP Cong. Aaron Schock locks down his Instagram account as gay rumors grow.


Conservative media picks up Aaron Schock gay rumor

WorldNetDaily reports on the rumors that anti-gay GOP Cong. Aaron Schock is gay, only helping to fuel the flames.


NYT kinda outs Aaron Schock

The NYT reported on Itay Hod's outing of an unnamed GOP congressman, then linked to multiple stories naming him.


Schock and Sinema take a selfie

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Anti-gay Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) walks along looking at his phone just before the State of the Union Address as bisexual Rep. Kyrsten Sinema digs through her bag. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay
Schock spots Sinema and stops to say hello. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema and Schock engage someone else in conversation. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade

Schock looks up. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Shock sits on Sinema‘s lap. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema grabs her phone. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Schock takes Sinema‘s phone and holds it out as the two pose for a selfie. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Aaron Schock, Republican Party, United States House of Representatives, Illinois, gay news, Washington Blade, Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona, Democratic Party, bisexual, anti-gay

Sinema and Schock admire their photo together. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)



Mary Tuckey Requa dies at 65

Mary Tuckey Requa, obituary, gay news, Washington Blade

Mary Tuckey Requa, 65.

Mary Tuckey Requa died Dec. 16, 2013 at her home, according to her cousin, Susan McMillan. She succumbed to rectal cancer at the age of 65 and had been a Phelps, Wis., resident.

Originally of Lake Forest, Ill., Requa (who always went by “Tuckey,” her middle name) attended Marjorie Webster Junior College in Washington and continued to reside in Maryland for 34 years. In the 1970s, she worked for VIVA (Voices in Vital America) and for the Close-Up Foundation, which brings high school students to D.C. to learn about democracy.

For 20 years, Requa worked in theater administration, for Harlequin Dinner Theatre and NETworks, a theatrical production company that produces national tours of Broadway shows. She specialized in box office management as well as becoming an IT specialist. Requa, a lesbian, regularly sang and played guitar in Friday night cabarets at the theaters.

Requa was proficient in Spanish and in American Sign Language. She performed as a “voice actor” in musical theater productions at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf at Gallaudet University in Washington, serving as the singing voice for deaf actors who performed the roles using ASL. She was a great slow pitch softball player and played for the Montgomery County Gold Diggers women’s team from 1982-‘90.

She also enjoyed singing and playing guitar. She was an original member of the D.C. Area Feminist Chorus. One of her proudest moments was the chorus’s performance with Margie Adam at the “On the Road for Women’s Rights” concert in 1980. Tuckey performed both as a soloist and with friends at D.C.-area restaurants and clubs and at events, including at the Other Side, D.C. Pride, and at D.C. landmark club Mr. Henry’s. She also performed at fundraisers for several organizations, including a women’s shelter, My Sister’s Place. Requa performed on Judy Reagan’s 1982 album “Old Friends.” She sang with the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington and the Not What You Think a cappella ensemble for many years, and also played with the band, the Tom Boys. She loved nothing more than singing harmonies with friends. Requa loved her many guitars and treasured one originally owned by Steve Goodman whom she had opened for in Chicago in the ‘70s.

In 2005, Requa left D.C. to return to the Northwoods where her family had spent summers for more than a century. Requa moved to Phelps, Wis., and became the computer technician for the Phelps School District. She designed websites for local businesses through her Nakapaglaja Web Design. From 2005-2011, she co-hosted a local afternoon music show on public radio called “Your Favorites,” with her father Charley. She was the vice-chair of the WXPR board of directors. She was devoted to the town and volunteered countless hours for the Long Lake of Phelps Lake Association and the Phelps Chamber of Commerce. Requa was also an avid darts and horseshoe competitor.

She is survived by a large extended family and many friends.

Memorials can be sent to Patrick Requa (22486 West Illinois Route 173, Antioch, IL 60002). Initially, to be used to establish an osprey nest on Long Lake, a second memorial with the Phelps School District will also be created. A service and celebration of a great life will be held on July 27 at Hazen’s Inn, Phelps, Wis.


Ill. Republicans who backed gay nuptials triumph in primaries

Republican Party, Illinois, Illinois General Assembly, Ron Sandack, Ed Sullivan Jr., Tom Cross, Judy Baar Topinka, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, Ill. state Representatives Ron Sandack (R-Bolingbrook), Ed Sullivan, Jr. (R-Libertyville), Tom Cross (R-Plainfield) and Ill. state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka each won their Republican primaries. (Photos public domain)

Republican officials in Illinois who supported marriage equality won their primaries across the board this week — a development that LGBT rights supporters say demonstrates growing support for marriage equality even within the Republican Party.

Jeff Cook-McCormac, senior adviser to the pro-LGBT American Unity Fund, counted four victories on Tuesday night among Republicans who supported marriage equality and said they represent a “turning point” for the party.

“These victories in Illinois demonstrate that we really are reaching a turning point, not only on the issue nationally, but we’re reaching a turning point within the Republican Party,” Cook-McCormac said. “It’s becoming safer and safer for Republican elected officials to follow their conscience, do the right thing and advance the freedom to marry.”

Each of the three Republicans who voted for marriage equality when it came before the Illinois State House in November — State Reps. Tom Cross, Ed Sullivan and Ron Sandack — faced primary challengers, but came out on top to keep their party’s nomination going into the general election.

Cross and Sullivan beat their competitors by double-digit points in the primary. Sandack scored a narrower win, defeating his opponent by 153 votes.

Additionally, Illinois State Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, who voiced support for marriage equality, didn’t face a primary challenge. She spoke at rallies in favor of marriage equality, including the ceremony in which Gov. Pat Quinn signed the marriage legislation into law.

Pat Brady, former head of the Illinois Republican Party who helped lobby for the marriage equality legislation for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the result “puts the issue to rest” over whether Republicans can be politically viable if they support same-sex marriage.

“The people that so loudly proclaimed that they were going to take out anybody in the Republican primary — or Democratic primary, for that matter — that voted for marriage equality turned out to be just what I thought they’d be: a bunch of paper tigers,” Brady said.

Brady, who resigned his position as party chair shortly after he announced his personal support for marriage equality, said the election results demonstrate a shift in the “political reality” of the Republican Party.

“It is a shift,” Brady said. “You can be pro-marriage equality, still be a good Republican and still win. And in a state like Illinois, to win the general election, I think it helps candidates.”

The results of the primary reflect the growing support for marriage equality nationwide — even within the Republican Party. A Washington Post/ABC News poll published earlier this month found record support for same-sex marriage and 40 percent of Republicans favor gay nuptials.

Support is particularly strong among young Republicans. A Pew Research Center poll published March 10 found 61 percent of Republicans under age 30 support same-sex marriage.

But one anti-gay group that worked to oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage in Illinois is disputing the notion the wins for Republican who voted for it represents change.

David Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, said the results are “absolutely not” a shift and instead the result of Republicans enlisting the help of Democrats to win primaries.

“It’s a very well-established fact that a lot of Democrats crossed over to vote in the Republican primary because there wasn’t a significant race for governor and for Senate on the Democratic ballot,” Smith said. “There was a quite a lot of union-plus-Democrat crossover.”

Smith also denied that wins for Republicans who voted for same-sex marriage had any wider implication of growing support for same-sex marriage within the GOP.

“I would point to the fact that the two social conservatives running for governor in a Republican primary got 59 percent of the vote together, allowing a more moderate Republican to win,” Smith said. “Obviously, social issues do matter to the majority — 60 percent or more — of Republican voters.”

But Cook-McCormac pushed back against the assertion that wins for Republicans who voted for marriage equality has no meaning, saying anti-gay groups are “running out of excuses.”

“They can create whatever excuses and draw whatever explanations that they like,” Cook-McCormac said. “The bottom line is they were out campaigned, out worked and they were out-appealed-to. Americans, and Republican voters in particular, are done with the anti-gay politics of the past and they’re ready to move forward based on the issues that unite all of us.”

The two sides nonetheless agree that marriage equality was the major issue for why these Republicans faced primary challenges. For Sandack, the candidate who came the closest to losing, anti-gay groups circulated a flier and aired TV ads displaying two men kissing (much to the consternation of Windy City Times, which has accused the groups of unlawfully stealing a photo of Sandack taken by the gay newspaper for the material).

The wins arguably represent a change from what happened with Republicans in New York who voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011. According to The New York Times, one faced a difficult re-election and decided not to run again, another was defeated in a primary, and the other was defeated by a Democrat in the general election because a conservative in the race drew away votes.

“It’s demonstrated that our side has got a lot better at defending our kind,” Cook-McCormac said. “As we’ve seen in Illinois, there are very smart, sophisticated strategies being put in place independently in addition to bundling direct contributions to candidates that are helping to ensure that these legislators who show courage are well-positioned to win re-election.”

The pro-gay Illinois Unity PAC raised $155,000 to assist with independent expenditure efforts on behalf of Ed Sullivan and Ron Sandack, which primarily focused on public opinion research, multiple rounds of direct mail, live operator ID and get-out-the-vote calls, a source familiar with the PAC said. On the other side, the main anti-gay independent expenditure committee, Liberty Principles PAC, spent about $220,000 just attacking Sandack, the source said.

But the wins for pro-gay Republican weren’t across the board. In a bid for the Republican nomination to represent the state’s 9th congressional district in the U.S. House, Susanne Atanus, who has blamed tornadoes and autism on gay rights and abortion, beat out her more moderate competitor, David Earl Williams III, even though the state party called on her to drop out of the race.

“God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said during a debate. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”

Cook-McCormac downplayed the significance of Atanus’ win, saying she has “zero chance” in her bid against Rep. Jan Schakowsky in the heavily Democratic district.

“It’s always embarrassing whether it’s Democrats putting up far-left candidates or Republicans putting up far-right to see those people on the ballot,” Cook-McCormac said. “But I hardly believe a candidate like that is really representative of where Republicans are.”

Wins for Illinois Republicans who supported same-sex marriage raises the question of viability in the other two states that legalized same-sex marriage through the legislative process in 2013: Minnesota and Hawaii. Both of the primaries in those states will take place in August.

State Rep. Cynthia Thielen in Hawaii is facing the threat of a primary challenger on Aug. 9, while State Rep. Jenifer Loon in Minnesota is facing the threat of a primary challenger on Aug. 12. The challengers to these lawmakers, who have no political experience, are running single-issue campaigns against the marriage equality votes.

Cook-McCormac spoke generally about the progress made on LGBT issues in the GOP when asked whether the Illinois primary results will predict the outcome of Republican primaries in Hawaii and Minnesota.

“I think that what you’re going to see is that other Republican candidates across the country who are being challenged by an increasingly small group of opponents on this issue, they’re going to have the resources they need to win, as well as the broad-based political support of Republicans who may have a diversity of opinions on the marriage issue, but who recognize that these public servants’ focus on lower taxes, smaller government, and creating more jobs is why they chose them to represent them in the first place,” Cook-McCormac said.


Cerebral jazz

Patricia Barber, jazz, music, gay news, Washington Blade

Patricia Barber wondered early on if coming out would affect her career. She says in the jazz clubs of her native Chicago, it was a non-issue. (Photo by Jimmy Katz)

Patricia Barber Trio
Blues Alley
1073 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.
Friday 8 and 10 p.m.
Saturday 8 and 10 p.m.
Sunday 8 and 10 p.m.

Jazz iconoclast Patricia Barber has a six-show run at Blues Alley slated for this weekend. She’s touring behind her newest album “Smash” (Concord), which was released in January. We spoke with the 57-year-old Chicago resident (and native) by phone last week from her summer home in Michigan. Her comments have been slightly edited for length.

WASHINGTON BLADE: The iPad seems to be increasingly replacing printed scores and lead sheets and I know you use one when you perform. Have you ever had it freeze up or die on you when you’re playing?

PATRICIA BARBER: No, it never has. I always carry a back-up flash drive with all my sheet music on it so at any hotel I could print out anything I needed, but I’ve never had any problem. It saves me a lot of weight. I don’t have to carry all those charts around.


BLADE: Jazz is, of course, more improvisatory than pop. To what degree do you think through your vocal inflections or piano variations before you go on stage versus what happens in the moment?

BARBER: I’ve never given any thought to that. It’s just part of improv. I never give any thought to trying to make it sound like the record. That’s for pop musicians to do. I just have a good sense of harmony and good technique. I practice a lot.


BLADE: Do you spend a lot of time in Michigan?

BARBER: Well, a lot in the summer. I stopped touring in the summer quite a few years ago. It’s just too hot and crowded. I have a big organic garden here. So we feed people, swim in the lake. It’s just wonderful. (Partner) Martha (Feldman) is an academic so she has summers off.


BLADE: Do you hate to leave for your upcoming dates?

BARBER: I get nostalgic but not right now. I’m feeling pretty good. Things have slowed down so it’s not the usual sense of dread I usually feel this time of year.

BLADE: Do you tour with your own piano?

BARBER: No. Most jazz musicians don’t unless it’s some kind of electronic.


BLADE: How do you ensure the quality is going to be where you need it to be?

BARBER: It’s all in the contracts. It’s all very finicky, that it has to be a certain quality type and tuning.


BLADE: How many of the players who travel with you played on “Smash”?

BARBER: Two out of the four. We’re sort of mixing it up. It doesn’t mean they weren’t good.


BLADE: Obviously you love music but I also sense some ambivalence about your musical career in other interviews you’ve given. Is that fair to say? You seem to have a love-hate relationship with the whole thing.

BARBER: My recording career, no. That’s fun and easy. Touring is very difficult so yeah, I think you hit it right on the head. Well, let me re-phrase that. Certainly not this sweet little tour to D.C. or a 10-day tour to Europe. But I’m pretty much done with the grueling 12-hour spans getting to a city.


BLADE: Now that “Smash” has been out for a while and had time to gestate, how do you feel about it? Is it hard to assess how well something worked when you’re still close to it? Has it been hard to find a way for it to live in a live setting?

BARBER: I still love it. I don’t know that my feelings have changed at all. I’m still finding ways to transpose, as you put it, to the stage. With jazz, you can’t stick to one performance so I’m purposefully trying not to sound like the recording. It’s interesting what you can do with a quartet vs. a trio. It’s slightly different each time. But I’m still in love with it.


BLADE: Is “Devil’s Food” a political statement?

BARBER: It’s my first gay song … It’s definitely coming from the DOMA political situation. That whole court case was coming up and my feelings about it. It isn’t obviously gay until you’re listening to it. It’s fun to watch people’s faces because it turns into a disco song. Jazz is usually very serious but this is just gay fun.


BLADE: Do you feel the press has focused too much on your sexual orientation throughout your career?

BARBER: Yes. It’s the first thing on Wikipedia. I’m a lesbian jazz musician. To me, that’s not a category but OK. I’m hoping as we’ve all grown older that being gay continues becoming just part of the normal fabric of everything and people will focus on the music more but you have to remember years ago, we weren’t anywhere close to where we are now on that.


BLADE: You were out pretty early on though. Were you just pretty much organically out or was it a conscious decision at some point to be out?

BARBER: I had a whole issue with that. I was working at a pretty famous club in Chicago that was very popular. We had lines around the block and I worked there six nights a week with a trio. And yeah, at the beginning — this was many, many years ago — I wondered if they would have hired me if I’d been out. It was such a hetero scene there so I definitely worried about it but then I came out to my boss and … he thought it was sexy and kind of cool in a sort of perverted way. But it hasn’t ended up affecting my audience at all. They’ve always been mixed — straight, gay, black, white, young, old.


BLADE: You’re playing six shows in D.C. Is it designed to be something people can see over a few nights or is it pretty much the same show?

BARBER: I don’t expect that people would see it twice. That would be unusual. It will pretty much be the same set.


BLADE: Do jazz fans bring expectations with them the way people expect pop acts to always do certain hits?

BARBER: I think they want to hear stuff from “Smash” and they sometimes have old favorites they want to hear. Sometimes they send me notes. If it’s easy to do, sure, I’ll do it. I have a huge repertoire by now. I’m happy to try it if I can or if I just want to sit and play “Autumn Leaves” for an hour and a half, I’ll do that.


Henry Gerber: Ahead of his time

Henry Gerber, Society for Human Rights, gay news, Washington Blade

Henry Gerber started a gay rights group in Chicago in 1924.




On May 15, 1871, the German Criminal Code was revised to include Paragraph 175, a law making sexual acts between males illegal. The first challenge to the law came in 1897 when Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld founded the gay organization Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee). Its first action was to draft a petition against Paragraph 175 with 6,000 signatures of prominent people in the arts, politics and the medical profession; it failed to have any effect.

One American inspired by the work of Hirschfeld was Henry Gerber, who in 1924 was granted an official charter by the state of Illinois for the Society for Human Rights, the first gay-rights organization in the United States, which he ran from his home on Crilly Court in Chicago.

Gerber was born Josef Henry Dittmar on June 29, 1892, in Passau, Bavaria, Germany. On Oct. 27, 1913, Gerber (still called Dittmar at the time) arrived at New York’s Ellis Island on the SS George Washington and then traveled west to Chicago, where he worked briefly for Montgomery Ward’s mail-order house. His first known address in the United States was 507 Stone St., Joliet, Ill., from where he enlisted in the Army on Jan. 26, 1914. In his military documents, he described himself as 5-foot-7 and one-half, 180 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair. He changed his name to Gerber afterward — though he was still using the name Joseph Henry Dittmar on his June 5, 1917, draft registration card, which described him as 5-foot-8, slender, with blue eyes and blond hair. On it, he mentioned prior military service but now claimed exemption on grounds of conscientious objection to war.

On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany, and the newspapers became filled with lurid tales of German spies. As a result, the United States opened internment camps; 50,000 unnaturalized aliens of German birth were now “alien enemies,” and 8,000 were detained using presidential arrest warrants. Gerber was “offered internment,” which he accepted, as it guaranteed three meals a day. After the war, he re-enlisted in the Army on Oct. 2, 1919, at Jefferson Barracks, near Lemay, Mo., a training and recruitment center for soldiers being sent to fight in Europe, or, in Gerber’s case, to join a regiment of the American Forces in Germany, where he was part of a company engaged in publishing the daily AMAROC News for troops.

It was while serving in Koblenz that Gerber found Hirschfeld’s Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. He wrote later: “In Coblenz on the Rhine, I had subscribed to German homophile magazines and made several trips to Berlin, which was then not occupied by American forces. I had always bitterly felt the injustice with which my own American society accused the homosexual of ‘immoral acts.’

“What could be done about it, I thought. Unlike Germany, where the homosexual was partially organized and where sex legislation was uniform for the whole country, the United States was in a condition of chaos and misunderstanding concerning its sex laws, and no one was trying to unravel the tangle and bring relief to the abused.”

Gerber returned to Chicago, took up residence at 1710 N. Crilly Ct. and began work for the Post Office Department. In the spring of 1924, he formed SHR with a handful of friends. Gerber’s strategy was to network and gain support from other “sex reform” leaders, including Margaret Sanger, the American birth-control advocate, but nobody seemed interested. Undeterred, he decided to go it alone. Through a lawyer, SHR applied for and received a charter from the state of Illinois on Dec. 10, 1924. It is thought the group never had more than 10 members. Gerber elected himself secretary; president was the Rev. John T. Graves, “a preacher who preached brotherly love to small groups of Negroes”; vice president was Al Meininger, an “indigent laundry queen”; and treasurer was Ralph Ellsworth Booher, whose job with a railroad was threatened when his homosexuality became known. Throughout the rest of his life, Gerber lamented that SHR failed to attract “men of good reputation.” In Germany, the homophile movement included enlightened politicians, doctors and scientists, as well as those in the arts, but in the United States nobody was willing to stick a neck out for homosexuals.

Gerber produced two issues of the SHR newsletter Friendship and Freedom, of which no known copies exist, although in “Paris Gay 1925” (1981), a French book co-written by Gilles Barbedette and Michel Carassou, is reprinted a review of Friendship and Freedom, written by Clarens and published in the magazine L’amitié in 1925. (See this author’s “Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago Before Stonewall” for translation.)

The SHR was short-lived. In July 1925, the group was raided and the headline in the Chicago Examiner read “Strange Sex Cult Exposed.” Even though the case was thrown out of court, Gerber was suspended from the post office.

After the demise of SHR, Gerber became despondent about homosexuals. He later wrote, “I have absolutely no confidence in the Dorian crowd, mostly a bunch of selfish, uncultured, ignorant egoists who have nothing for the ideal side of life.” Gerber re-enlisted in the Army, serving another 17 years; in 1945, he retired with an honorable discharge and a $100-a-month pension. As late as 1942, his primary World War II draft registration was still under the name Joseph H. Dittmar, though the records also contain a cross-reference from the name Henry Gerber; by then, “Gerber” appears to have been how he was known to the military.

Gerber spent his twilight years in the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home in Washington, D.C., where he died from pneumonia on Dec. 31, 1972, age 80.

Gerber was posthumously inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Henry Gerber House, located at 1710 N. Crilly Ct., was designated a Chicago Landmark on June 1, 2001.

The above article is an abbreviated version of the chapter “Henry Gerber and the German Sex Reformers” in St. Sukie de la Croix’s book “Chicago Whispers: A History of LGBT Chicago Before Stonewall,” published in 2012 by the University of Wisconsin Press.


Another ‘marriage moment’ before year’s end?

Chris Christie, New Jersey, Republican Party, Republican National Convention, gay news, Washington Blade, Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii, Democratic Party, Democratic National Convention, Greg Harris, Illinois, marriage,

Marriage equality has come to New Jersey under Gov. Chris Christie as Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris and Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie seek passage of legislation. (Washington Blade photos of Christie and Abercrombie by Michael Key; photo of Greg Harris via Livestream).

The month of October 2013 could go down in history as a milestone in the marriage equality movement.

In addition to New Jersey becoming the 14th state in the country to make same-sex marriage legal, states across the country in recent days saw developments in the legislatures and the courts on marriage equality that could expand that roster of equality states by the end of the month.

James Esseks, director of the LGBT project for the American Civil Liberties Union, predicted during a conference call with reporters last week the activity on same-sex marriage this month could create another “marriage moment.”

“I think we are approaching another marriage moment this fall with potential developments in three to four states coming soon,” Esseks said.

The action on marriage comes on the heels of the filing of new litigation both in federal and state courts as well as new legislative efforts seeking marriage equality initiated after the Supreme Court ruled on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 in June.

Dan Pinello, a political scientist at the City University of New York, said the activity on marriage equality at this time is in part the result of the Supreme Court’s actions.

“The high court’s decision unleashed a floodgate of pent-up demand in the LGBT community that is finding true expression in a tidal wave of federal litigation,” Pinello said. “The ruling also prompted an increased awareness of newly recognized constitutional rights among federal judges in the lower courts. The outcomes of all this legal activity will emerge over the next several years.”

The Washington Blade has already provided coverage of developments on marriage equality in New Jersey and Michigan. Here are details on other states in recent weeks.

New Mexico

The New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday in a case brought by all 33 New Mexico clerks, state district courts and a group of same-sex couples seeking a determination on whether state law permits same-sex marriage.

The arguments in the case, Griego v. Oliver, were divided into two portions. The first examined whether the current statutory scheme for marriage under New Mexico law already allows same-sex marriage because portions of it are gender-neutral. In the second, attorneys made their case on whether same-sex couples have a guaranteed right under the state constitution to marry regardless of what the statute says.

Representing Republican lawmakers seeking to prohibit same-sex marriage in New Mexico was attorney James Campbell, who argued that only the legislature has authority to legalize marriage rights for gay couples. Campbell maintained marriage under New Mexico law is reserved for opposite-sex couples because “those unions, unlike same-sex unions, have a natural ability to procreate.”

Campbell also argued that the court shouldn’t determine gay people should be considered a suspect class because they enjoy political power. The legalization of same-sex marriage through state legislatures as well as the Democratic Party and President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, Campbell said, is evidence of this political power.

Representing the views in court of District Judge Alan Mallot, who had previously ruled that same-sex couples can marry because of the gender-neutral language in the marriage law, was attorney Daniel Ivey-Soto.

Attorney General Gary King sent two attorneys to argue a more middle-ground argument. Assistant Attorney General Scott Fuqua argued that the current gender-neutral statute doesn’t permit same-sex marriage, but Assistant Attorney General Sean Cunniff maintained gay couples should be allowed to marry under the equal protection provisions under the state constitution.

Same-sex couples were represented by attorney Maureen Sanders, who articulated a similar view. She argued the gender-neutral law doesn’t allow gay couples to marry in New Mexico, but said “denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a violation of the New Mexico Constitution.”

Sanders also argued gay people should be considered a suspect class. The court shouldn’t look to the recent advancement in LGBT equality, she said, but the long history of discrimination the LGBT community has experienced.

Justices appeared skeptical of the idea of continuing to ban same-sex couples from marrying in New Mexico. In response to Campbell’s argument that marriage is for procreation, Chief Justice Charles Daniels noted many benefits related to marriage aren’t given to couples based on whether they’ve had children.

Despite hopes that the court would issue a ruling on marriage equality at the conclusion of the arguments, justices signaled as they began they would need more time. It’s unclear when a decision could come down, although it could be a matter of weeks.


The federal marriage equality case that is closest to the Supreme Court is also seeing movement as proponents of marriage equality — following the lead of Lambda Legal, which is responsible for the lawsuit — were set to weigh in on bringing marriage equality to Nevada.

On Oct. 18, Lambda Legal filed a 100-page brief before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Sevcik v. Sandoval, a lawsuit the organization filed last year. Because the case is now before an appellate court, it’s the most advanced lawsuit that’s pending before federal courts.

The opening brief makes use of the U.S. Supreme Court decision against the Defense of Marriage Act by arguing that Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage deprives gay couples of the crucial benefits just as the anti-gay federal law had done.

“By foreclosing same-sex couples from marriage, Nevada inflicts virtually the same collection of federal harms and deprivations on unmarried same-sex couples as DOMA previously did, since nearly all federal benefits are unavailable to unmarried couples, regardless of whether they are registered domestic partners,” the brief states.

A major component of the argument that Lambda makes against the ban on same-sex marriage is the state’s domestic partnership system is inadequate for gay couples even though it provides them the legal equivalent of marriage.

“Relegating same-sex couples to registered domestic partnership is no remedy,” the brief states. “That novel, inferior status qualifies unmarried same-sex couples for virtually no federal benefits, and instead designates same-sex couples as second-class citizens and subjects them to a host of practical difficulties and vulnerabilities.”

Accompanying the opening brief is a motion to the court for permission to file another brief no longer than 26,500 words for “an adequate exposition of the plaintiff couple’s claims.”

Friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of marriage equality were also due in the case on Wednesday. That marks the opportunity for the Obama administration to weigh in on the lawsuit by filing its own friend-of-the-court brief in the case. Lambda has previously said it would “welcome” a brief from the U.S. Justice Department in the case, but as of Tuesday had no information on whether one would be forthcoming.


All eyes will be on the Illinois Legislature in the coming days as lawmakers return for a “veto session” that will likely include a vote in the State House on marriage equality.

On Tuesday, the first day of the veto session, supporters held a “March on Springfield” to urge passage of the marriage equality legislation. Speakers at a rally held near the State Capitol Building included Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.).

According to Buzzfeed, Durbin invoked the Supreme Court decision against DOMA while speaking before the estimated 2,300 attendees about passing marriage equality legislation.

“Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, I say to members of the Illinois House of Representatives, you have an awesome and historic decision,” Durbin said. “Will you offer to everyone married in our state — regardless if straight, gay, lesbian, whatever — will you offer them the same federal benefits, or will you discriminate against some.”

The regular session of the legislature concluded in May, to the dismay of supporters of same-sex marriage, without a vote on same-sex marriage legislation in the House that was earlier passed in the Senate. Gay State Rep. Greg Harris declined to bring the legislation to a vote because he believed it lacked sufficient support for passage.

Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, expressed confidence that lawmakers would act during the veto session to pass the legislation based on recent polling data from Fako & Associates in Lisle, IL, showing a 12-point margin in support of marriage equality.

“Amongst key constituencies like African Americans, there’s a 20-point spread, amongst Latino voters, there’s a 30-point spread, amongst American Catholics, there’s a 30-point spread,” Cherkasov said. “There’s strong business support. Illinoians expect lawmakers will do their job and the pass the bill.”

Because the legislature in is in a veto session, different rules apply to passing legislation. A bill that would go into effect immediately, as the Senate-passed marriage equality legislation does, would require a supermajority of 71 votes in the House for passage. But bills that go into effect at a later date need only a simple majority of 60 votes for passage. The veto session consisted of two days this week, followed by a break, and another three days when lawmakers return on Nov. 5.

Cherkasov said the bill is “definitely within striking distance” in the House for votes to passage under the lower 60-vote threshold, which he said could be arranged by amending the House bill to go into effect on June 1 and passing that bill in the Senate.

Asked whether he wants the bill to come up for a vote during the veto session regardless of whether supporters think it has the necessary votes, Cherkasov said, “I do believe that if it came to the floor that it would pass.”

Advocates are pursuing same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois as a state lawsuit seeking marriage equality in the state, Darby v. Orr, is pending in Cook County Circuit Court.


Efforts to pass same-sex marriage legislation are also underway in Hawaii, where Gov. Neil Abercrombie has called for a special session of the legislature starting Oct. 28 for the purpose of debate and passage of marriage equality.

Donald Bentz, executive director of Equality Hawaii, said he’s “optimistic” the session will lead to marriage equality in the Aloha State because of stories of “love and commitment” heard by legislators.

“Polls indicate that the majority of Hawaii’s residents support marriage equality and are buoyed by the growing list of business, faith, political and nonprofit leaders who are standing up in support of the freedom to marry,” Bentz said.

Depending upon the length of time the legislature chooses to debate the marriage bill, the special session could go as quickly as five working days or take two full weeks.

Bentz said the marriage equality legislation enjoys “a wide margin” of support in the Senate, but not so much in House. A vote tally conducted by the Honolulu Civil Beat last month found that 26 House members support the legislation. Passage of the bill in that chamber requires 27 votes.

Since the time that article was published, Bentz said State Rep. Karen Awana has gone on record as a “no” vote, but State Rep. Mark Takai has come out as a “yes” vote. That would give the bill the 27 votes necessary for passage.

Advocates are pursuing same-sex marriage legislation in Hawaii as litigation seeking marriage equality in the state, Jackson v. Abercrombie, is pending alongside the Nevada lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit.


The most recent lawsuit seeking marriage equality in the federal court system was filed on Tuesday by the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of four legally married same-sex couples seeking recognition of their unions.

The lawsuit, known as Tanco v. Haslam, was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private attorneys Abby Rubenfeld, Maureen Holland, Regina Lambert along with the firm of Sherrard & Roe and is pending before the U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Tennessee.

Shannon Minter, NCLR’s legal director, said the lawsuit is a useful addition to other cases pending in 19 other states because it helps draw attention to the lack of LGBT rights in the South.

“We think it is important to bring cases that highlight the damage that is being caused by discriminatory state marriage bans across the country, including especially in southern states,” Minter said. “I am very hopeful we will obtain a positive result in this case, which would be hugely beneficial to LGBT people in Tennessee, and also be a huge boost to creating even more positive national momentum.”

One couple in the lawsuit, Dr. Valeria Tanco and Dr. Sophy Jesty, is expecting their first child this spring and is worried state law won’t recognize them both as legal parents. Another couple, Sgt. Ijpe DeKoe and Thom Kostura, married just before DeKoe was deployed for a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The litigation is one of two cases seeking marriage equality in federal courts lying within the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The other case is the federal litigation pending before the district court in Michigan.


Gay couple sues taxi company

Steven White, Matthew McCrea, kiss, discrimination, gay news, Washington Blade

Steven White and Matthew McCrea (Image via YouTube)

CHICAGO—Lambda Legal on Oct. 28 filed a lawsuit on behalf of a gay couple who said a cab driver forced them to leave his car after they kissed.

The LGBT advocacy group said in a press release that Steven White and Matthew McCrea on May 30 entered a Sun Taxi cab at O’Hare International Airport. The men claim the driver pulled over onto the shoulder of a Chicago expressway after they “exchanged a brief kiss” and demanded they get out of the taxi in spite of heavy traffic and rain.

Lambda Legal said the driver pulled over on a Chicago expressway after the couple “exchanged a brief kiss” and demanded they get out, even though it was raining.

White and McCrea said they refused to leave the cab. The lawsuit says the driver then drove to the nearest exit, stopped at a parking lot and once again demanded they get out of the cab.

White and McCrea said the 311 operator with whom they were initially speaking transferred them to 911 – and a responding police officer waited with them until another taxi picked them up.

“When the driver demanded that we get out of the cab, I was afraid,” McCrea said.

Christopher Clark, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal, said the alleged incident is a violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodation.