Gay What ?
Rest of site back up shortly!

U.S. groups file briefs in Colombia marriage case

Colombia Diversa, Mauricio Albarracín Caballero, gay news, Washington Blade

Colombia Diversa Executive Director Mauricio Albarracín Caballero. (Photo by Andrés de la Cuadra)

Two U.S. legal groups on Thursday filed briefs with Colombia’s high court that urge it to recognize two same-sex couples’ right to marry.

The New York City Bar Association cites last year’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 in a brief filed with the country’s Constitutional Court on behalf of Luis Felipe Rodríguez Rodas and Edward Soto of Cali and Julio Albeyro Cantor Borbón and William Alberto Castro of Bogotá who challenged Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado’s efforts to nullify their unions. It also notes that no federal court has ruled in support of state gay nuptials bans since the landmark decisions.

“The evolution of the cases that challenge legislation against marriage in the United States have made the great weight of scientific, legal and historic authority that is in favor of allowing same-sex marriages clear,” writes Hunter T. Carter. “The cases also demonstrate that the arguments against marriage between people of the same sex are easy to refute. And that they are often based on refuted science, animus or religious beliefs that should not be taken into account in the determination of public policy.”

The brief the Impact Litigation Project at American University Washington College of Law in D.C. filed with the Constitutional Court also cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s DOMA and Prop 8 rulings. It additionally refers to marriage decisions in Massachusetts, South Africa, Brazil and Spain that upheld the “human dignity” of same-sex couples.

“Marriage provides dignity to married couples, dignity that unmarried couples cannot access,” reads the brief. “This reasoning is even more clear when the decision appeals to the humiliation that children of same-sex couples whose marriages are not recognized suffer.”

The Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled same-sex couples could legally register their relationships in two years if Colombian lawmakers did not pass a bill that would extend to them the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage.

The Colombian Senate last April overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have allowed gays and lesbians to tie the knot.

A handful of same-sex couples have exchanged vows in the country since the Constitutional Court’s deadline passed last June. Ordóñez has petitioned the tribunal to overturn rulings that allowed them to marry.

Rodríguez and Soto last June applied for a marriage license in Cali, but a notary rejected it on the grounds he did not have the authority to allow same-sex couples to marry. A judge subsequently ruled in favor of the men, but Ordóñez challenged the decision.

A Bogotá judge last July married Cantor and Castro after a court in the Colombian capital granted them a marriage license. Ordóñez two months later petitioned the Constitutional Court to block the union.

Cantor and Castro and Rodríguez and Soto specifically referenced the Constitutional Court’s 2011 ruling in their petitions that urge it to recognize their right to marry.

The Constitutional Court on April 1 announced it would consider couples’ cases.

It specifically asked government agencies to state whether they allow same-sex couples to marry or prevent them from doing so. The Constitutional Court also said it would accept amicus briefs and other submissions.

“The role of the constitution is to not force people to confirm to the wishes of the majority,” says the Impact Litigation Project in its brief. “Precisely, one of the roles of the constitution is to protect people from the wishes of their own majorities when they have resulted in the discrimination of minorities.”

Mauricio Albarracín Caballero, executive director of Colombia Diversa, a Colombian LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Thursday the DOMA decision is a “very important point of reference” for the Constitutional Court.

“[It] can learn a lot from the Windsor case,” he said.

Neighboring Brazil is among the more than dozen countries that have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Mexican Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of 39 people who challenged the constitutionality of a Oaxacan law that bans gay marriage. The same tribunal in 2012 ruled in favor of three same-sex couples who separately sought legal recourse — known as an “amparo” in the Mexican judicial system — that would allow them to marry in the state.

Gays and lesbians have been able to marry in Mexico City since 2010. Same-sex couples have also exchanged vows in Jalisco, Coloma, Chihuahua, Quintana Roo and other Mexican states as the issue gains additional traction in the country.

Chilean lawmakers continue to consider a bill that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions. President Michelle Bachelet last year publicly backed marriage rights for gays and lesbians during her presidential campaign.

Lawmakers in neighboring Perú on Tuesday are scheduled to consider a civil unions bill.

Carter — whose husband is Colombian — testified before the Colombian Senate last year in support of the same-sex marriage bill that lawmakers struck down.

He noted in the brief he filed with the Constitutional Court on behalf of the New York City Bar Association that 64 percent of the population of North and South America live in jurisdictions that have extended marriage and other forms of legal recognition to same-sex couples. They include Canada, Uruguay, Argentina and 18 U.S. states and D.C.

“I’m a family member, a neighbor, and an investor; I’m a stakeholder,” Carter told the Blade. “Today we were able to present from the most auspicious and authoritative bar association in the United States a thorough review of the very considered legal judgment in U.S. courts, in every corner of the country from local to national, that marriage discrimination does not stand up to scrutiny as supported anything other than myths and harmful stereotypes.”

25
Apr
2014

Prop 8 plaintiff speaks at Education Dept. Pride event

Kris Perry, Arne Duncan, gay news, Washington Blade

Proposition 8 plaintiff Kris Perry spoke Thursday with U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan played the role of talk show host on Thursday when he interviewed famed Proposition 8 plaintiff Kris Perry on the dual topics of LGBT equality and early childhood education.

The interview took place before an audience of about 150 people assembled at the department’s headquarters in Southwest Washington as part of an LGBT Pride Month event sponsored by the department’s LGBT employees group.

“This is a really meaningful day,” Duncan told the Blade after the event. “We try to do whatever we can just to celebrate the wealth of talent and the wealth of diversity we have here,” he said in referring to the department’s employees.

Perry became a nationally recognized figure as the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, a ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state.

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Prop 8 last year Perry and her partner of more than 10 years, Sandy Stier, married in their home state, with LGBT activists joining them and their four sons in celebrating the victory.

Although the spotlight on Perry has focused on her marriage equality efforts her career has long involved advocacy for early childhood education programs. She currently serves as executive director of the First Five Years Fund, a national advocacy organization that lobbies for federal funding for early childhood education programs.

In response to a question from Duncan at Thursday’s Pride event, Perry pointed to what she sees as similarities in the impact of marriage equality and early childhood education programs on the lives of children.

“There are so many similarities in terms of why high-quality early education is the same as kids feeling like they have a family that is equal,” she said. “When you are told by your government that your family isn’t equal it changes your self-image, your self-esteem and it creates a ceiling for you that is very hard to push through,” Perry said.

“When you aren’t allowed to get a high-quality early education a similar ceiling is placed on top of you,” she said. “It is very hard to reach your full potential. It’s very hard to compete … And I really believe that family diversity and the early education opportunity – you create opportunities or you take them away,” she said.

“And those are life-changing, life-altering decisions that we make in the society that limit potential.”

After asking Perry several questions, Duncan opened the discussion to questions from the audience of mostly DOE employees. The questions were divided almost equally between LGBT equality issues and education issues, including early childhood education.

06
Jun
2014

Hobby Lobby ruling assailed

Hobby Lobby, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by DangApricot; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case on Monday brought criticism from LGBT rights supporters for restricting access to contraception, but advocates acknowledge the narrow scope of the ruling shouldn’t lead to companies invoking it to justify anti-LGBT workplace discrimination.

In a 5-4 decision penned by U.S. Associate Justice Samuel Alito, justices ruled in the case of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act enables closely held for-profit corporations whose owners oppose contraception to continue to deny it for religious reasons, despite the mandate requiring employers to provide this coverage under Obamacare.

“We hold that the regulations that impose this obligation violate RFRA, which prohibits the Federal Government from taking any action that substantially burdens the exercise of religion unless that action constitutes the least restrictive means of serving a compelling government interest,” Alito writes.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said the decision represents a “dangerous precedent” and that allowing employers to restrict access to contraception leaves women “in limbo.”

“Under the ruling, some corporations will be treated like religious institutions and these so-called ‘religious corporations’ will not have to pay for health care that they disagree with,” Carey said. “So what happens if a woman needs birth control and their employers won’t pay? What happens if a trans woman needs hormones and their bosses won’t pay? What happens if a couple needs fertility treatments and the ‘religious corporation’ they work for won’t pay? Yet again, another barrier put in the way of vital and affordable health care.”

But Alito suggests in his ruling that the Obama administration can set up for employees who seek contraception coverage and work for closely held for-profit corporations the same system already in place under Obamacare for employees who work at religious organization and seek contraception.

Moreover, Alito emphasizes the ruling is limited to contraception and doesn’t allow  closely held for-profit corporations to opt out of any law they choose.

“The principled dissent raises the possibility that discrimination in hiring, for example on the basis of race, might be cloaked as religious practice to escape legal sanction,” Alito writes. “Our decision today provides no such shield.”

In other news from the Supreme Court on Monday, justices announced they will decline to hear litigation known as Pickup v. Brown, which challenges California’s ban on “ex-gay” therapy for minors. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last year upheld the constitutionality of the law, which was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

30
Jun
2014

Kennedy Library showcases Kameny letters to JFK

Frank Kameny, gay news, Washington Blade, letters

‘In 1961, it has, ironically, become necessary for me to fight my own government, with words,’ Frank Kameny wrote to President Kennedy. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston is taking steps this month to publicize the dozens of letters, pamphlets and press releases that D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny sent to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963.

In a prominent write-up on the Kennedy Library website, library official Stacey Chandler, a reference archives specialist, said the letters poignantly document Kameny’s role as one of the nation’s first advocates for the rights of gay people before the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Chandler said the letters and other documents from Kameny are part of the library’s archives and are available for viewing online. Kameny died at the age of 86 in 2011.

“In World War II, I willingly fought the Germans, with bullets, in order to preserve and secure my rights, freedoms, and liberties, and those of my fellow citizens,” Kameny told Kennedy in a letter dated May 15, 1961 that’s part of the archive collection.

“In 1961, it has, ironically, become necessary for me to fight my own government, with words, in order to achieve some of the very same rights, freedoms, and liberties for which I placed my life in jeopardy in 1945,” wrote Kameny. “This letter is part of that fight.”

In a letter dated Aug. 28, 1962 Kameny told Kennedy, “You have said: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ We know what we can do for our country; we wish to do it; we ask only that our country allow us to do it.”

Kameny wrote the letters in his role as president of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., the city’s first gay rights organization that Kameny co-founded in 1961 and led through the 1960s and early 1970s.

Chandler noted in her article that the Mattachine Society of Washington came into being shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case of a legal challenge that Kameny filed against the then U.S. Civil Service Commission.

In a first-of-its-kind action, Kameny contested the Civil Service Commission’s decision in 1958 to fire him from his job as an astronomer with the Army Map Service in Washington following an investigation into alleged homosexual activity by Kameny.

Among other things, the Commission cited a 1953 executive order by President Dwight Eisenhower that barred from the federal workforce anyone with a history of “sexual perversion” and other “immoral or notoriously disgraceful conduct.” Homosexual acts between consenting adults were considered among the prohibited conduct.

“Kameny wrote an astounding number of letters throughout his lifetime of advocacy, most of which are now in the Library of Congress,” Chandler wrote in her Kennedy Library article. “The huge volume of his correspondence makes the personal nature of his letters to President Kennedy especially surprising for archivists here,” she said.

“In these letters, he tenaciously argued for the right of gay Americans to work as civil servants,” she said.

In the same May 15, 1961 letter in which he told of his combat service in World War II, Kameny told Kennedy, “Yours is an administration that has openly disavowed blind conformity…You yourself have said, in your recent address at George Washington University, “…that (people) desire to develop their own personalities and their own potential, that democracy permits them to do so.’

“But your government, by its policies certainly does not permit the homosexual to develop his personality and his potential,” Kameny wrote.

In a Feb. 28, 1963 letter, Kameny told Kennedy about his fledgling effort to persuade the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

“Homosexuality is neither a sickness, disease, neurosis, psychosis, disorder, defect, nor other disturbance, but merely a matter of the predisposition of a significantly large minority of our citizens.”

Chandler said the Kennedy Library’s archivists could find no response from Kennedy or anyone else at the White House to Kameny’s letters.

“In fact, the only response we’ve found in our archives is a brief note from John W. Macy, Chairman of the U.S. Civil Service Commission, to Bruce Schuyler, Secretary of the Mattachine Society, who requested a meeting,” Chandler wrote.

In his note to Schuyler, Macy said, “It is the established policy of the Civil Service Commission that homosexuals are not suitable for appointment to or retention in positions in the Federal service. There would be no useful purpose served in meeting with representatives of your Society.”

Chandler said that in a March 6, 1963 letter to Kennedy, Kameny appeared to be referring to the government’s lack of response to his and the Mattachine Society of Washington’s overtures to the Kennedy administration.

“We wish to cooperate in any way possible, if the chance for friendly, constructive cooperation is offered to us by you,” Kameny wrote, “but if it continues to be refused us, then we will have to seek out and to use any lawful means whatever, which seem to us appropriate, in order to achieve our lawful ends, just as the Negro has done in the South when he was refused cooperation.”

In 1975, after several court rulings against the Civil Service ban on gay employees that Kameny played a role in organizing, the Civil Service Commission ended its prohibition on gay federal workers. In 2009, John Berry, the gay director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the successor to the Civil Service Commission, presented Kameny with an official government apology for his 1958 firing.

“Things have changed,” Chandler quoted Kameny as saying around the time Berry issued the apology with the full backing of President Obama. “How they have changed. I am honored and proud that it is so.”

The Kennedy Library, which is part of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, highlighted its collection of Kameny correspondence this month as a follow-up to a video that the NARA released in support of the It Gets Better Project, Chandler said.

LGBT rights advocates led by gay author and syndicated columnist Dan Savage created the It Gets Better Project to draw attention to bullying targeting LGBT youth. With President Obama among the political leaders and celebrities who have spoken in an “It Gets Better” video, organizers say the project has helped lift the spirits of many LGBT youth that have suffered from taunts and physical violence.

NARA director David S. Ferriero, who holds the title of Archivist of the United States, recorded a recent “It Gets Better” video that is available for viewing on the NARA website.

“It is so exciting that the Kennedy Library is highlighting Kameny’s letters to President Kennedy,” said Charles Francis, founder of the Kameny Papers Project, which arranged for Kameny’s voluminous correspondence and writings to be given to the Library of Congress.

Francis noted that copies of the Kameny letters to President Kennedy are among the collection at the Library of Congress but that the letters at the Kennedy Library are the originals.

“This was done on Frank’s typewriter from Frank’s living room,” Francis said.

“It’s progress. It’s real progress,” he said of the prominent treatment the Kennedy Library is giving to the Kameny letters.

See the Kennedy Library article on Kameny letters here.

 

20
Jan
2014

At last, signs of progress in Michigan

Chris Johnson, gay news, Washington Blade, Michigan

Washington Blade political reporter Chris Johnson. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

It was finally my turn: After years of covering LGBT politics at the Washington Blade and the advancement of marriage equality across the nation, my home state of Michigan became the latest place (albeit briefly) to grant same-sex couples the right to marry.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman’s ruling striking down Michigan’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage last week is on hold as the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case, but the ruling marks the first time I’m aware of that gay people in Michigan, which doesn’t have a single major pro-LGBT law, were told they’re equal to their fellow Michiganders.

Without a doubt, I was beaming with pride for Michigan, where I was born and raised in Lansing and attended college at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. My home state became the latest ember the torch of marriage equality lit up in anticipation of a nationwide U.S. Supreme Court ruling next year. The ruling was a signal that when I return to the place where I grew up to see my parents and friends, I should expect to bring with me equal protection under the law for my (eventual) family.

That view is in line with a majority of Michigan residents. According to a poll last year from the Michigan firm Epic MRA, 55 percent of Michigan voters are behind same-sex marriage, and that number inches up to 57 percent when respondents were told a change in law wouldn’t mean religious organizations would have to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

But my excitement is tempered because Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette are appealing the decision and ensured no gay couple can marry in the state as the litigation moves forward by obtaining a stay from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In an op-ed for the Detroit Free Press, Schuette writes that it’s “fundamentally wrong” to treat people differently based on the color of skin, gender, race or ethnicity, but apparently has a different view on sexual orientation.

“The notion that marriage would be anything else has only emerged in the last few decades,” Schuette writes. “It is not irrational for voters to support the belief that a mom and a dad are not interchangeable.”

It’s the latest in a string of anti-gay actions from an administration that bills itself as moderate in nature. I suppose we must give Snyder some credit for distancing himself from the anti-gay views spewing from Republican National Committee member Dave Agema, but the governor also signed into law a bill stripping Michigan public employees of same-sex partner benefits — an action that was eventually overturned by the courts.

That hostility toward gay people, unfortunately, is much of the Michigan I remember growing up — at least in school. Just recently, I saw a study on the bullying of youth that found body type and sexual orientation are two of the most common reasons why kids are harassed at school. I had both going for me.

As a teen short of stature growing up in a blue-collar area who, for some reason, was not into girls like my classmates, I would often cry in my dad’s car before being dropped off for middle school in the morning and not want to go. Thankfully, I was never physically assaulted, but my fellow students intimidated me, excluded me from activities and spewed vitriolic comments about me (sometimes cloaked in religious proselytization) that made me and my education suffer.

But, as I and so many others who had a similar experience found, it gets better. That kid grew up to move to D.C. and join the White House press corps as political reporter for the Washington Blade. Someone who’d want to psychoanalyze me might see a link between my troubled youth and why I question sources so fiercely when the administration isn’t doing enough on LGBT rights.

I look forward to the day when the lawsuit is settled and marriage equality is the law in my home state. Until then, my feelings about the situation are as conflicted as I feel about Michigan, which, even though I had troubled experience growing up, is the place in many ways I consider still home.

27
Mar
2014

Baldwin joins ‘Night Out’ at Nationals Stadium

Tammy Baldwin, Night Out at the Washington Nationals LGBT event

Joined by Team D.C.’s Les Johnson (left), U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin greets fans as she prepares to proclaim ‘Play Ball!’ at the 9th annual Night Out at the Washington Nationals Stadium LGBT event. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the nation’s first openly gay senator, delivered the ceremonial announcement to “play ball” at the start of the 9th Annual LGBT Night Out at Washington Nationals Stadium Tuesday night.

Just under 4,000 people from the LGBT community bought tickets to attend the game, according to Brent Minor, executive director of Team D.C., the local LGBT sports group that organizes the ‘Night Out’ event.

The Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-5.

Prior to the start of the game, Alan Gendreau, a gay Division I football player who has hopes of becoming the first out player in the National Football League, threw the ceremonial first pitch of the game.

Gautham Raghavan, the White House Associate Director of Public Engagement for LGBT issues, joined Nationals manager Davey Johnson in bringing the official lineup card of Nationals players to the umpires. Participating in this ceremonial task has been considered a tradition of Major League Baseball used to honor a public official or community leader.

For the eighth year in a row, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington sang the National Anthem at the ‘Night Out’ game, drawing enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

Among those attending the event was gay rights attorney Paul Smith, who argued the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas in which the court overturned state sodomy laws exactly 10 years ago.

Smith joined many of the LGBT activists attending the ‘Night Out’ game in expressing optimism that the Supreme Court would issue favorable rulings the next day in two more landmark gay rights cases dealing with same-sex marriage.

26
Jun
2013

Married gay Md. pastor celebrates Court rulings

Rob Apgar-Taylor, Maryland, DOMA, Supreme Court, Marriage, Gay News, Washington Blade

Rev. Apgar-Taylor married his partner, Rob Apgar in Massachusetts in 2004 and praised last week’s supreme court rulings. (Photo by Corey Clarke)

Rev. Rob Apgar-Taylor of Grace United Church of Christ in Frederick, Md., was an unlikely same-sex marriage advocate to some who gathered alongside him at the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26.

The gay pastor who married his husband in Massachusetts in June 2004 received a number of questions from LGBT rights activists, journalists and passersby about whether he was “for us or against us” as they waited for the justices to issue their decisions in the two cases that challenged a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 that banned same-sex marriage in the state. Apgar-Taylor told the Washington Blade he hoped their rulings would be “bold.”

“I hope that they’re willing to take a stand in this issue,” he said.

His wish came true less than an hour later when the justices announced their decisions that found DOMA unconstitutional and struck down Prop 8.

“They did the right thing,” Apgar-Taylor told the Blade in a follow-up interview. “They were able to work on the side of justice and on the side of compassion for families who need it the most.”

Born and raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, Apgar-Taylor said he wanted to become a pastor for as long as he could remember.

“I was three years old and when all the other little kids wanted to be policemen and firemen and cowboys and Indians, I wanted to be a minister,” he said. “It’s just always been there.”

Apgar-Taylor became a pastor in Pennsylvania after he received his master’s of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in D.C. and his doctorate of Ministry in Spiritual Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.

He and his now ex-wife to whom he was married for 20 years had five children.

They divorced after Apgar-Taylor came out to her in the early 2000s, but they remain “good friends.”

Apgar-Taylor met his future spouse, Rob Apgar, at a Harrisburg, Pa., karaoke bar shortly after his divorce.

“We started talking to each other and we were singing karaoke,” he recalled. “By the end of the evening about four hours afterwards we exchanged phone numbers. And the next day we got together for dinner and had our first date.”

The couple tied the knot in Cambridge, Mass., on June 13, 2004 — a month after Massachusetts’ same-sex marriage law took effect after the state’s Supreme Judicial Court’s landmark 2003 decision that struck down the commonwealth’s ban on gay nuptials took effect — while Apgar-Taylor took a summer course at the Episcopal Divinity School.

“There’s something sacred in the nature of marriage,” he said. “It’s about covenant; it’s about choosing to be in someone’s corner whether it feels good or not. It’s about loving someone whether or not you feel loving or whether they even act loving.”

Apgar-Taylor, who is also a pastor at Veritas United Church of Christ in Hagerstown, Md., in February became the first openly gay minister of a mainline Protestant church in western Maryland when Grace United Church of Christ installed him.

The Frederick congregation in the spring of 2012 became the first mainline church in the area to host a same-sex wedding when a gay couple that married in D.C. renewed their vows during a ceremony that Apgar-Taylor officiated. Grace United Church of Christ also served as the headquarters for the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ’s efforts in support of the referendum on Maryland’s same-sex marriage law that voters approved last November.

Apgar-Taylor said he has received what he described as hate mail from the Army of God, a group that advocates for violence against abortion providers and gays. A same-sex marriage opponent outside the Supreme Court described him as “a disgrace” and said he “was going to hell” before the justices issued their DOMA and Prop 8 rulings.

“That’s what you’re going to get when you’re in my line of work,” Apgar-Taylor said, while noting the majority of people whom he meets are what he described as supportive. “You’re going to have enemies on the conservative Christian side.”

As he discussed the Supreme Court decisions with the Blade, Apgar-Taylor referenced a person he knows whom he said was unable to make end of life decisions for his partner and receive “all the rights we should have as married couples.”

“It’s degrading and dehumanizing to tell somebody you could spend 16, 18, 20 years loving someone and sharing your life with them, but at the moment at your life at your life when you’re the most devastated [say] sorry you were just a friend,” he said. “It’s humiliating to devalue someone’s relationship that way.”

Apgar-Taylor described the Supreme Court rulings as “incredibly important” for him and his husband on a both a legal and a financial level. He told the Blade he went to bed after the justices issued their decisions knowing that they were protected “for the first time in my marriage.”

“There’s nothing anyone can do to come in and tell me that I can’t make end of life decisions for him and make sure his wishes are known,” Apgar-Taylor said. “There’s nothing anybody can do to come in and take away stuff that we have earned and gotten together. There’s nothing anybody can do to come in and tell him that I was not his husband, that we were legal strangers. That’s incredibly important.”

04
Jul
2013

BREAKING: SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN DOMA, PROP 8

Proposition 8, Prop 8, DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act, Supreme Court, gay rights, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Activists held signs and a flag in front of the Supreme Court in hopes of a decision on the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act cases. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

On Tuesday the Supreme Court struck down two key anti-gay laws: a provision of the Defense of Marriage Act preventing the Federal Government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal, and California’s voter-approved Proposition 8, which ended same-sex marriage rights in that state.

In a 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan, writing the opinion striking down a key provision in DOMA in the case of Windsor v. the United States, calling the law a “deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment,” According to SCOTUSblog.com.

“DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled ot recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty,” the decision reads.

The move could open the door to federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples who have wed in states where such nuptials are legal. Immigration rights experts hope the decision also means that American citizens will be able to sponsor their same-sex spouses for citizenship, something currently against the law.

The second gay marriage decision of the day struck down California’s Proposition 8 based on standing, vacating the 9th Circuit Court’s opinion, and upholding the U.S. District Court of California’s ruling, authored by Vaughn Walker.

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to,” read the majority opinion in Hollingsworth v. Perry authored by Chief Justice John Roberts. “We decline to do so for the first time here.”

In the Hollingsworth opinion, Roberts was joined by Justices Scalia, Ginsberg, Breyer and Kagan.

Justices Scalia was joined by Justice Thomas in his dissent to the Windsor decision, with Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito both writing his own dissent, agreeing with Thomas in part.

In his dissent in Windsor, Scalia questions the level of scrutiny the majority applied to the law, where Alito’s dissent revolves around the question of standing, according to legal experts.

This story is developing, come back to the Blade for more throughout the day.

26
Jun
2013

Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson on WJLA News Talk

Washington Blade politics reporter, Chris Johnson, discusses the Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage with WJLA in Washington D.C.

11
Jul
2013

Watch members of Congress’ LGBT Equality Caucus react to Supreme Court rulings

Watch as members of the LGBT Caucus in the U.S. Congress react to today’s Supreme Court rulings.

Representatives Polis, Cicilline, Malone and more share their feelings immediately after marriage decisions come down.

26
Jun
2013