Updated 10 December 2013
- ALASKA • On 24 September 2012, in Debra Harris v. Millennium Hotel, et al., Lambda Legal filed suit because Alaska denies survivor benefits to same-gender couples, for whom marriage is banned by AK’s law and its constitution. On 14 October 2013, Lambda Legal appealed to the AK Supreme Court.
- ARKANSAS #1 • On 2 July 2013, in Kendall Wright et al. v. AR Governor Michael Beebe, et al., 11 same-gender couples filed suit in a Pulaski County court. Amendments were filed on 21 July, 5 August, and 15 August. The plaintiffs seek to overturn the 2004 AR constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, the state law banning same-gender civil marriage, and the federal law allowing states to ignore same-gender marriages from other states, and they also seek parental rights, birth certificate names, insurance, and other benefits. On 12 December 2013, the plaintiffs will request a preliminary injunction and a declaratory judgment.
- ARKANSAS #2 • On 15 July 2013, in Rita & Pam Jernigan et al. v. Crane et al., a federal lawsuit was filed for 2 unmarried female couples and 1 already married male couple who seek same-gender civil marriages in AR.
- ARKANSAS #3 • On 7 November 2013, in John Moix v. Libby Moix, the AR Supreme Court considered reversing a county judge’s restriction barring John Moix, represented by ACLU Arkansas, from letting his gay partner stay overnight when John’s son is visiting. On 21 November 2013, the AR Supreme Court ruled in favor of John Moix, and halted the statewide policy of always banning child visitation with any parent who lives with an unmarried partner, regardless of individual circumstances.
- ARIZONA • On 20 July 2010, in Joseph Diaz, et al., v. Janice Brewer, et al., a federal judge barred enforcement of an AZ law that would withhold health benefits from LGBT employees, their partners, and children. On 6 September 2011, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed. On 2 July 2012, AZ asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. On 27 June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Arizona’s appeal of a preliminary injunction suspending the voter-approved benefits ban, so the benefits will remain in effect while the case proceeds in the 9th Circuit. Motions for summary judgment are expected by 15 September 2014. The trial is expected to take 4 days, but no start date has been proposed.
- CALIFORNIA #1 • On 4 August 2010, in Dennis Hollingsworth, et al. v. Kristin Perry, et al., California’s Proposition 8, which limited marriage only to mixed-gender couples, was declared unconstitutional. On 7 February 2012, that ruling was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On 5 June 2012, the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court refused to re-hear its prior decision. On 26 June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit ruling because the Proposition 8 authors had no standing to appeal. The Supreme Court decision left the original federal district court decision intact. On 15 July 2013, in Hollingsworth v. O’Connell, the CA Supreme Court declined a request from Proposition 8 authors to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-gender couples, but did agree to consider whether the governor and attorney general correctly told county clerks that Proposition 8 had become invalid statewide. The Proposition’s authors had argued: (a) that the federal district court mandate declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional applies only in the 2 counties where the 4 plaintiffs reside; and (b) that state law requires upholding Proposition 8 because the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule directly on its constitutionality, but instead ruled only on whether the authors had standing to appeal. On 19 July 2013, in San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg v. Governor Jerry Brown, San Diego County petitioned the CA Supreme Court to halt all same-gender marriages, arguing that: (a) the U.S. Supreme Court decision on 26 June 2013 applies only to two couples and two counties; and (b) county clerks are not under the control of state officials. On 2 August 2013, Clerk Dronenburg withdrew his petition, leaving only the petition of the Proposition 8 authors to be reviewed by the CA Supreme Court. On 14 August 2013, the CA Supreme Court dismissed the new 15 July 2013 suit from the Proposition 8 authors, finally closing this state/federal case for once and for all, 4.5 years after it began.
- CALIFORNIA #2 • On 22 February 2012, in Karen Golinski v. U.S. OPM (Office of Personnel Management), the federal district court ruled that the federal DOMA (Defense-of-Marriage Act) is unconstitutional, after which opponents of equality appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On 3 July 2012, the Obama Department of Justice asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case immediately, which would skip the appeals court review. This was one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the Defense-of-Marriage Act, and charged taxpayers for the cost. On 27 June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review this case, thereby leaving the 22 February 2012 ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in effect, and ensuring the plaintiff’s victory. On 11 July 2013, the Circuit Court asked both parties to file letter briefs by 25 July about disposing of this case. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one. On 23 July 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.
- CALIFORNIA #3 • On 12 July 2012, in Aranas/DeLeon, et al. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, et. al., the first class action lawsuit against the federal Defense-of-Marriage Act was filed by a Philippine immigrant married to an American of the same gender. She seeks to avoid deportation of herself and her son, and to win the same right for all LGBT bi-national families. On 19 April 2013, a federal judge ruled that DOMA is “irrational” and “unconstitutional,” that lesbian couple Jane DeLeon and Irma Rodriguez can challenge DOMA in federal court, and as a nationwide class action representing all immigrants in lawful, same-gender marriages who have been (or will be) denied status or benefits solely under DOMA Section 3. This was one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the DOMA, and charged taxpayers for the cost. On 12 July 2013, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group withdrew from the case, the court ordered that all additional briefs be filed by 5 August 2013, and a hearing was set for 19 August 2013. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one.
- CALIFORNIA #4 • On 1 February 2012, in Tracy and Maggie Cooper-Harris v. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, et al., a soldier and her wife filed suit to obtain the same pay and benefits as other legally married, same-gender soldiers. This was one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the Defense-of-Marriage Act, and charged taxpayers for the cost. On 26 February 2013, the Court refused DOJ’s request to dismiss the case, and set a hearing date of 1 April 2013. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one. On 29 August 2013, the court ordered that a veteran can’t be denied benefits just because of having a spouse of the same gender. On 4 September 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had ceased enforcing U.S. Code, Title 38.
- CALIFORNIA #5 • On 24 May 2012, in Michael Dragovich v. U.S. Treasury, U.S. IRS and CalPERS, the federal DOMA was ruled unconstitutional in this case about long-term health care. On 23 July 2012, the government filed an appeal. This is one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the Defense-of-Marriage Act, and charged taxpayers for the cost. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled BLAG (Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group) had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one. On 22 July 2013, BLAG’s appeal was dismissed, and it withdrew from the case, leavin the United States as the only defendant. On 4 November 2013, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated part of the earlier decision, and sent the case back to U.S. district court to reconsider the effect of recent legal changes upon same-gender domestic couples who: live out of CA, can’t marry because of impairment, can’t marry because one partner died, delay marriage, choose not to marry, or who want remedies because they were denied marriage in the past.
- CALIFORNIA #6 • On 10 February 2011, in Handi Lui, et al., v. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, et al., a binational couple sued for immigration rights. On 28 September 2011, the federal district court dismissed the case, because of its similarity to a 1982 case in Colorado (Adams v. Howerton). On 29 November 2011, they appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On 12 July 2012, the court scheduled a conference for 25 October 2012. This was one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the Defense-of-Marriage Act, and charged taxpayers for the cost. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one.
- CALIFORNIA #7 • In April 2012, U.S. District court ruled that DOJ must reimburse employees for spousal insurance coverage denied by the federal DOMA (Defense-of-Marriage Act). In November 2012, the Judicial Council of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a 3-judge panel, ordered San Francisco’s federal court to pay within 10 days the plaintiff/employee’s costs of insuring his husband.
- CALIFORNIA #8 • In 2008, the authors of CA Proposition 8 (NOM, Protect Marriage.com) filed a federal lawsuit claiming that because they suffered boycotts, hate mail, phone calls, and unreported “death threats” they should be forever exempt from compliance with CA campaign disclosure laws, and their donors should stay secret. The U.S. Supreme Court does make exceptions for small, persecuted groups who need anonymity to survive, but the Proposition 8 authors don’t qualify because they raised over $43 million and got 52% of the votes cast. On 20 October 2011, the district court ruled against them. On 11 October 2013, they argued their case in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
- COLORADO • On 30 October 2013, in Rebecca Brinkman and Margaret Burd v. Colorado, a same-gender couple represented by attorney Ralph Ogden, sued in state court to challenge CO’s 2006 constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage and statutory ban offering only civil union.
- CONNECTICUT • In October 2011, in Carmen Cardona v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, a sailor filed suit over denial of spouse disability benefits. On 19 April 2012, she filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. On 2 August 2013, the Republican-controlled BLAG (Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group) ceased being a defendant in the case, leaving the United States as the only defedant. VA Secretary Shinseki says he will recognize same-gender civil spouses of military personnel only after direction from the U.S. Department of Justice or President Obama. A favorable ruling in this case would affect every military veteran.
- DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA • On 15 August 2013, in James Spellman v. Washington DC, a surviving same-gender partner sued to get his relationship with Michael Kelly recognized as a common-law marriage for purposes of settling Kelly’s estate. States recognize common-law marriages fully (AL, CO, DC, IA, KS, MT, OK, RI, SC, TX), if established before a certain date (GA, ID, OH, OK, PA, and a few others), for probate only (NH), or if validated by court order (UT). The U.S. Labor Department recognizes common-law same-gender marriages as defined by state law where the employee resides, but other agencies differ.
- FLORIDA #1 • On 7 November 2013, in D.M.T. v. T.M.H., the FL Supreme Court ruled that a woman who donated an egg to her lesbian partner now has parental rights regarding the 8-year old child, including custody and visitation.
- FLORIDA #2 • On 7 November 2013, in John Becker v. University of Central Florida, a state judge ruled that FL must disclose records showing who approved Associate Professor Mark Regnerus’ anti-LGBT parenting study, how it got published immediately, and why no qualified peers reviewed it. The Regnerus study is cited more often than any other by anti-LGBT groups worldwide, and Regnerus is scheduled to testify in February that children of same-gender parents are less successful than children of mixed-gender parents in April DeBoer & Jayne Rowse v. MI Governor Rick Snyder, et al. On 22 November 2013, FL hired former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Wells to fight the release of over 50,000 public records related to the publication of the widely discredited Regnerus study. Also, Judge Donald Grincewicz who had handled the case since its start in spring 2013, inexplicably recused himself from further involvement, and an appellate court granted a stay in the case until a replacement judge is appointed.
- HAWAII #1 • On 11 December 2011, in Emmanuel Temple, the House of Praise, et al., v. Governor Neil Abercrombie, et al., two Oahu, HI churches sued to repeal the 2011 civil union law because that law exempts churches that only perform marriage ceremonies for their members, but that exemption doesn’t apply to churches that are open to the public and rent out their facilities. As requested by the state, on 2 October 2012, the suit was dismissed.
- HAWAII #2 • On 8 August 2012, in Natasha Jackson, et al., v. Governor Neil Abercrombie, et al., a federal judge in Honolulu ruled against LGBT couples seeking to marry. The plaintiffs had argued that Hawaii’s 2011 civil union law is unconstitutional because it provides full state benefits but prevents couples from receiving any federal benefits. The plaintiffs appealed to the 9th Ciruit Court of Appeals. On 26 September 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the plaintiffs’ request to extend deadlines, since the legislature may legalize same-gender civil marriage in a special session starting 28 October 2013. Plaintiffs’ opening briefs are due 22 November 2013, defendants’ brief is due 23 December, and reply briefs are due 6 January 2014. On 25 October 2013, 12 of the first 15 states with marriage equality (CA, CT, DC, DE, IA, MA, MD, ME, NH, NY, VT, WA) plus IL, NM, and OR filed a brief urging the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down gay marriage bans in HI and NV. Tentative schedule is: Senate Judiciary Committee hearings start (28 October); Senate votes (30 October); House Judiciary Committee hearings start (31 October); House votes (4 November).
- HAWAII #3 • On 31 October 2013, in McDermott v. Abercrombie, Republican state Representative Bob McDermott filed a lawsuit in state circuit court to get a judge to: (1) declare that a 1998 constitutional amendment restricted marriage to mixed-gender couples only, and (2) halt the special legislative session ordered by the governor for the purpose of passing a marriage equality bill. On 14 November 2013, the court ruled that the HI same-gender civil marriage law is legal, dismissed the case, and rejected the new claim of some voters who now say that they misunderstood the constitutional amendment passed by voters 15 years ago. On 15 November 2013, a state judge denied the request for a temporary restraining order, allowed same-gender civil marriages to start on 2 December 2013, and did not rule on the underlying case about the meaning of a 15-year old, marriage-related constitutional amendment, which is proceeding. On 26 November 2013, McDermott filed a new motion in that case, seeking to invalidate the new marriage equality law. A hearing is scheduled for 13 January 2014.
- IDAHO • On 7 November 2013, in Sue Latta, et al. v. ID Governor C. L. Butch Otter, four lesbian couples, represented by National Center for Lesbian Rights and Boise attorneys Deborah Ferguson and Craig Durham, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the 2006 state constitutional amendment, and Idaho laws, banning same-gender civil marriage and civil union.
ILLINOIS #1 & #2 • On 30 May 2012, ACLU and Lambda Legal filed two lawsuits for 25 same-gender couples. (The Tanya Lazaro, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr case was later consolidated into the other case, Darby v. Orr). The plaintiffs argued that the IL civil union law is unconstitutional because it denies them the freedom to marry. The couples’ arguments are supported by Cook County Clerk David Orr (the IL official named as defendant), Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, IL Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Governor Quinn. Madigan filed arguments the week of 24 June 2012 supporting the plaintiffs in both cases. The court permitted two Illinois county clerks (Tazewell County Clerk Christie Webb and Effingham County Clerk Kerry Hirtzel), represented by the anti-LGBT Thomas More Society, to defend the marriage ban. Those opponents of equality filed a motion to dismiss the case. Two anti-LGBT organizations (Illinois Family Institute and Alliance Defending Freedom) and two churches (Grace-Gospel Fellowship church and Church of Christian Liberty) attempted to join the defendants in the case. On 30 November 2012, the Cook County Circuit Court denied the 4 outside parties’ requests to intervene. On 13 February 2013, the Circuit Court denied the request of the anti-LGBT Thomas More Society to suspend these cases until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on 2 other marriage cases. On 10 July 2013, plaintiffs filed a Motion for Summary Judgment based on their IL civil unions depriving them of federal marriage benefits. On 11 July 2013, over 200 religious leaders asked the IL court to overturn the ban on same-gender civil marriages, arguing that religious doctrine has no place in public laws. On 27 September 2013, IL circuit court judge Sophia Hall ruled that the lawsuit may proceed. On 8 October 2013, opponents of marriage equality challenged the county judge’s decision (to allow the case to proceed) by appealing to a higher court, where arguments are scheduled to be heard on 14 November 2013. On 14 November 2013, a county judge postponed action in the case until 2 June 2014 (one day after same-gender civil marriages are slated to begin), at which point the case is expected to be dismissed.
ILLINOIS #3 • On 5 January 2012, in Demos Revelis, et al. v. Janet Napolitano, et. al., the U.S. District Court ruled that despite the federal DOMA (Defense-of-Marriage Act), LGBT couples must be treated the same as other married couples. On 20 September 2012, the case was dismissed for a technicality not related to DOMA. This is one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is defending the Defense-of-Marriage Act, and charging taxpayers for the cost.
ILLINOIS #4 • On 25 November 2013, in Vernita Gray, et al. v. Cook County Clerk David Orr, a federal judge ruled that terminally ill Vernita Gray (represented by Lambda Legal) is legally allowed to marry her lesbian partner Patricia Ewert immediately, instead of waiting until 1 June 2014 when IL begins issuing same-gender civil marriage licenses.
INDIANA • On 31 October 2013, in A.C. vs. N.J., the IN Court of Appeals classified non-biological mothers the same as former stepparents/grandparents, and repeated a 2004 recommendation that new child custody laws are needed, because over 75% of IN families are non-traditional, but the law does not recognize their existence, and it bans same-gender couples.
IOWA #1 • On 8 August 2013, the IA Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted to investigate NOM (National Organization for Marriage) for unlawfully concealing donors. NOM spent about $735,000 in 2010 and 2012 trying to unseat 4 of the 9 Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled unanimously for same-gender civil marriage in 2009. On 21 August 2013, the Board voted unanimously to retain its current executive director and staff attorney during the investigation.
IOWA #2 • On 7 October 2013, in Betty Ann & Richard Odgaard v. Iowa Civil Rights Commission al., bistro owners (the Odgaards) sued IA, claiming that: (1) their religious beliefs compel them to discriminate against same-gender couples, (2) the IA anti-discrimination law violates their religious beliefs by forbidding discrimination, and (3) their bistro business qualifies as a religious institution.
KENTUCKY #1 • On 26 July 2013, in Gregory Bourke & Michael Deleon v. Kentucky, a gay couple filed a federal lawsuit challenging KY’s constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, and the ban on recognizing same-gender couples married elsewhere. On 1 October 2013, KY Attorney General Clay Barkley asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming that the plaintiffs have no standing to bring this lawsuit.
KENTUCKY #2 • On 30 July 2013, in Kentucky v. Bobbie Jo Clary, prosecutors want Geneva Case to testify against her own wife, Ms. Clary, in a murder trial, and KY is refusing to recognize their 2004 VT civil union, which in 2009 was automatically converted to a VT marriage. On 23 September 2013, a judge ruled that Ms. Case must testify against her own spouse, because KY does not recognize their VT marriage.
KENTUCKY #3 • On 10 September 2013, in Kentucky Equality Federation v. KY Governor Steve Beshear, et al., a state lawsuit was filed challenging the 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-gender civil marriage.
LOUISIANA #1 • On 16 July 2013, in Jonathan Robicheaux and Derek Pinton, et al. v. LA Attorney General James Caldwell, two couples represented by attorney Scott Spivey filed a federal lawsuit challenging the LA constitutional amendment and state law banning same-gender civil marriage, and sought LA recognition for same-gender couples married elsewhere. On 27 November 2013, the court dismissed the case because it named as defendants only the LA attorney general and omitted the LA Department of Revenue. On 2 December 2013, plaintiffs asked the court to reconsider its dismissal, and to allow the addition of another defendant.
LOUISIANA #2 • In 2013, In Re Constanza and Brewer, a same-gender couple (Angla Marie Costanza and Chastity Shanelle Brewer) sought LA recognition of their CA marriage and a joint adoption. On 26 July 2013, a state judge ruled against them. On 25 September 2013, they appealed that decision.
- MAINE #1 • Maine law requires donors and expenditures that influence a campaign to be disclosed, but NOM has refused to disclose the donors of $1.93 million to NOM’s 2009 effort that repealed Maine’s same-gender marriage law in 2009, as well as donors to campaign to defeat marriage equality in Maine in 2012. On 31 January 2012, in National Organization for Marriage, et. al., v. Walter McKee, et. al., the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals rejected all claims by NOM that Maine’s registration and campaign finance disclosure laws are unconstitutional. NOM’s first appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was refused on 27 February 2012, and its second appeal was refused on 2 October 2012, leaving the lower court decision intact.
- MAINE #2 • Maine law requires donors and expenditures that influence a campaign to be disclosed, but NOM has refused to disclose that data since 2009. On 27 June 2012, in NOM, et al. v. Maine, the Superior Court affirmed the decision of the Commission on Government Ethics and Election Practices to uphold the subpoenas issued on 28 January 2010, thus requiring NOM to identify and testify about 2009 revenue sources, expenditures, and funds transfers to Stand For Marriage Maine. NOM appealed that decision to the Maine Supreme Court, which will decide the case in 2013.
- MASSACHUSETTS #1 & #2 • On 31 May 2012, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals found the federal DOMA (Defense-of-Marriage Act) unconstitutional in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. U.S. HHS (Department of Health and Human Services), et al., and Nancy Gill, et al. v. U.S. OPM (Office of Personnel Management), et al. These were two of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the DOMA, and charged taxpayers for the cost. On 29 June 2012, House Republicans asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse that decision, and on 24 July, MA Attorney General Martha Coakley asked the U.S. Supreme Court uphold that decision. The U.S. Justice Department filed historic legal briefs in support of both plaintiffs, and argued for both plaintiffs before the U.S. Supreme Court, which on 27 June 2013 declined to review these cases, leaving both Appeals Court victories intact. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one.
- MASSACHUSETTS #3 • On 9 July 2010, in Joanne Pedersen, et al. v. U.S. OPM (Office of Personnel Management), et al., the U.S. district court found the federal DOMA (Defense-of-Marriage Act) unconstitutional in a case filed by GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders). (This was one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the Defense-of-Marriage Act, and charged taxpayers for the cost.) That ruling was appealed by the U.S. Justice Department to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, on 17 August 2012, GLAD also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, and on 11 September 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice also asked the Court to review the case. Back in the appeals court, on 28 August 2012, the court denied Pedersen’s request to expedite her appeal and to assign the case to the same panel that is hearing Windsor v. U.S. IRS. On 31 August 2012, the appeals court also ruled that the Republican-controlled Legal Advisory Group is one of the losing defendants in the district court, and thus can file its own appeal by 1 October 2012. On 28 November 2012, the appeals court suspended the case schedule, pending outcome of one or more U.S. Supreme Court decisions. On 27 June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review this case. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one.
- MASSACHUSETTS #4 • On 27 October 2011, in Shannon McLaughlin, et al. v. Chuck Hagel, et al., 8 plaintiff same-gender couples filed a Federal district court suit seeking equal pay/benefits for active/veteran military personnel. The suit challenged the U.S. Code (Titles 10, 32, 38) and the federal DOMA (Defense-of-Marriage Act). On 17 February 2012, the U.S. DOJ announced that it would not defend either law in this case, although it will remain a party in the case. The case was suspended pending decisions in Gill v. U.S. OPM and in Massachusetts v. U.S. HHS. This was one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the Defense-of-Marriage Act, and charged taxpayers for the cost. On 27 June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review this case, allowing it to continue in the Court of Appeals. On 18 July 2013, the U.S. DoJ notified the court that based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 26 June 2013 Windsor decision, all other statutes in this case apply equally to same-gender and mixed-gender couples, and this court should not enter a judgment favoring the plaintiffs. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one. On 4 September 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had ceased enforcing U.S. Code, Title 38. On 2 October 2013, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the 8 same-gender married couples.
- MASSACHUSETTS #5 • On 31 May 2012, in Dean Hara v. U.S. OPM (Office of Personnel Management), the DOMA was ruled unconstitutional. A 1st Circuit Court of Appeals decision is on hold pending resolution of Gill v. U.S. OPM.
- MICHIGAN #1 • On 23 January 2012, in April DeBoer & Jayne Rowse v. MI Governor Rick Snyder, et al., a lesbian couple went to federal court to challenge MI laws that deny adoption to certified foster parents when they are not married. On 7 September 2012, as suggested by the judge, they amended their suit to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s 2004 ban on same-gender marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, and joint adoption. On 19 February 2013, Oakland County, MI clerk Lisa Brown withdrew her request to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that she agrees with the plaintiffs and wants their suit to succeed. On 7 March 2013, a U.S. District judge heard arguments challenging the constitutionality of the state same-gender marriage ban, and heard the state’s request to dismiss the suit. The judge decided not to dismiss, and to postpone making a ruling until after the U.S. Supreme Court decides two other marriage-related cases about the DOMA and California Proposition 8. On 1 July 2013, the court denied state’s request to dismiss the suit. On 10 July, the judge set a trial date of 1 October 2013. On 22 July 2013, the MI Governor and Attorney General claimed that same-gender civil marriage is not guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, that denying the plaintiffs their marriage license does no harm, and that the state constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage is necessary to “promote responsible procreation” and to ensure that every child has mixed-gender parents. On 10 September 2013, the trial date was re-scheduled for 16 October 2013. On 16 October 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman denied both sides’ petitions for summary judgment, saying that he will expedite completion of the case, witness lists will be exchanged in October 2013, and expert testimony will be heard during a trial starting 25 February 2014. On 15 November 2013, the state confirmed that sociology Associate Professor Mark Regnerus and three other witnesses will testify that: children of same-gender parents are less successful than children of mixed-gender parents, that lesbian parents produce violent boys, that children raised by same-gender couples are 35% less likely to progress normally in school, and that there is no scientific evidence showing that children of same-gender parents do as well as children of mixed-gender parents. On 24 November 2013, the plaintiffs asked that their trial be split into 2 parts: (1) constitutionality of marriage/adoption laws; and (2) deciding what scrutiny level is required when judging laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation.
- MICHIGAN #2 • In Theresa Bassett, et al., v. MI Governor Richard Snyder, five same-gender couples challenged the constitutionality of MI’s Public Act 297 which denies fringe benefits to same-gender partners of government employees. On 28 June 2013, the U.S. District Court issued an injunction that temporarily prevents the law from taking effect until the entire case is decided.
- MINNESOTA #1 • On 27 February 2012, In re: the estate of Thomas Proehl, surviving spouse James Morrison petitioned the court for permission to inherit his deceased husband’s estate. On 1 August 2012, a judge ruled that same-gender couples legally married elsewhere can inherit each other’s property in MN, even though MN itself does not recognize same-gender marriages. MN law prohibits same-gender couples from having contractual rights, but not statutory (legal, economic, employment, health care, spouse privilege, confidential marriage communication, inheritance) rights.
- MINNESOTA #2 • In 2010, in Douglas Benson, et al. v. Hennepin County Local Registrar Jill Alverson, et al., three same-gender couples filed suit challenging the MN Defense-of-Marriage Act. A trial court dismissed the suit, but on 10 July 2011, the couples appealed. On 23 January 2012, a MN appeals court overturned the dismissal, and ordered a full trial back in district court. Plaintiffs’ request for a summary judgment is pending, after which either they will win their case or else it will go to trial. In February 2013, both parties agreed to put the proceedings on hold until at least 1 June 2013.
- MISSISSIPPI • On 11 September 2013, in Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham v. Dana Ann Melcon, Ms. Czekala-Chatham asked MS to first recognize their CA marriage, and then grant a MS divorce involving property, alimony, children, and inheritance. On 2 December 2013, the judge refused to grant a divorce because MS doesn’t recognize the marriage. Czekala-Chatham said she is appealing the ruling.
- MISSOURI • On 27 February 2013, in Kelly Glossip v. MO Highway Patrol, the MO Supreme Court heard arguments in an equal protection case filed by ACLU on behalf of Glossip, who was denied survivor benefits when his same-gender partner of 15 years, MO Highway Patrolman Dennis Engelhard, was killed while on duty. The state constitution bans same-gender marriage, but not domestic partner benefits. On 29 October 2013, in a 5-to-2 ruling, the MO Supreme Court decided that partner Kelly Glossip is ineligible for spouse survivor benefits because MO’s constitution and laws ban same-gender spouses.
- MONTANA • On 17 December 2012, in Donaldson & Guggenheim v. Montana, in a 4-3 decision based on the state constitutional marriage ban of 2004, the MT Supreme Court rejected the claim for equal benefits for inheritance, burial, worker compensation, death benefits, taxation, health care decision-making, divorce, custody, and child support. But the court also wrote that the plaintiffs did not specify which laws discriminate against them, thereby inviting the couples and ACLU Montana to submit a modified request. On 15 July 2013, ACLU of Montana amended its complaint for 7 gay couples and now seeks all of the benefits of marriage, other than marriage itself.
- NEBRASKA #1 • On 27 August 2013, in Greg Stewart and Stillman Stewart, et al. v. NE Governor Dave Heineman et al., ACLU Nebraska filed a suit challenging NE’s constitutional 1995 ban on unmarried, cohabiting, unrelated adults serving as foster parents, as well as gays or lesbians serving as foster parents.
- NEBRASKA #2 • On 22 April 2013, in Harold Wilson & Gracy Sedlak v. State of Nebraska Correctional Services Department, et al., prison inmate Harold Wilson and his transgender partner and ex-prisoner Gracy Sedlak sued for visitation and marriage rights despite the 2000 NE constitutional ban on same-gender marriage. On 7 November, a federal district court dismissed the suit.
- NEVADA • In 2002, NV amended the state constitution to ban same-gender marriage. In 2009, the legislature created domestic partnership. On 10 April 2012, in Beverly Sevcik, et al., v. Governor Brian Sandoval, et al., a lawsuit seeking full marriage equality was filed in federal district court by Lambda Legal on behalf of 8 same-gender couples. On 26 November 2012, a Mormon judge ruled that same-gender couples have no constitutional right to marry: (1) because they usually do not procreate; and (2) because if same-gender couples start marrying, then opposite-gender couples might marry less often. The judge also ruled that laws related to sexual orientation should not be tested under heightened scrutiny (a greater assumption that they’re unconstitutional) because gays and lesbians now have substantial political power, and thus no longer qualify as a minority class. On 5 December 2012, the anti-LGBT group Coalition For the Protection of Marriage from Boise, ID asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. Simultaneously, Lambda Legal appealed the November 2012 ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and on 7 January 2013, that court set June 2013 deadlines for filing briefs. On 27 June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review this case, and returned it to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Briefs are expected in October 2013, with arguments and a decision in 2014, in tandem with a HI same-gender marriage appeal (see Hawaii for details). If the Supreme Court issues a decision, that would not occur until 2015. On 25 October 2013, 12 of the first 15 states with marriage equality (CA, CT, DC, DE, IA, MA, MD, ME, NH, NY, VT, WA) plus IL, NM, and OR filed a brief urging the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down gay marriage bans in HI and NV.
- NEW JERSEY #1 & #2 • On 29 June 2011, in Garden State Equality, et al. v. NJ Attorney General Paula Dow, et al., Lambda Legal filed a suit for 7 same-gender couples claiming that civil unions are inferior to full marriage, and that civil unions violate both the state and federal constitutions. (This case is a continuation of Mark Lewis, et. al. v. NJ Department of Human Services Commissioner Gwendolyn Harris, a 2002 case in which the state Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that it is unconstitutional to deny full marriage to same-gender couples.) In February 2012, the court reinstated a federal equal protection claim. On 3 July 2013, 6 same-gender couples and their children requested a summary judgment for the right to marry immediately, without a trial, so that they may be eligible for the 1,138 federal marriage-related benefits which now are available to all legally married same-gender couples but not to civil union couples. On 2 August 2013, NJ argued that the issue of same-gender civil marriage is not ready to be decided yet, and asked for additional time to gather more facts (same-gender civil marriage has been a NJ DoJ issue since March 2004). On 27 September 2013, NJ Superior Court ruled in favor of marriage equality statewide, effective 21 October 2013. On 1 October 2013, NJ Acting Attorney General John Hoffman appealed directly to the NJ Supreme Court (bypassing the NJ appeals court), and asked for expedited review, and also asked the Superior Court to delay implementation of its ruling until after the Supreme Court review. On 10 October 2013, Justice Jacobson denied NJ’s request to delay marriage licensing until Governor Christie’s appeal is concluded in 2014. On 18 October 2013, the NJ Supreme Court ended a 12-year legal battle and unanimously decided that, despite the governor’s appeal which will get decided in 2014, marriages may begin on 21 October 2013, because it benefits the couples and does not harm the state. On 21 October 2013, Governor Christie withdrew his appeal of the Superior Court decision, thereby removing the last possible obstacle to marriage equality in NJ.
- NEW JERSEY #3 • On 23 October 2012, in the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association case, the NJ State Division of Civil Rights upheld a famous decision from January 2012 issued by a NJ Office of Administrative Law judge, who said that the Association unlawfully discriminated against a lesbian couple in 2007 when it denied their request to hold a civil union ceremony at its boardwalk pavilion, which it had promised to make available to the public in exchange for a state tax break.
- NEW MEXICO #1 • On 17 August 2012, the state Supreme Court agreed to hear a photographer’s religion-based appeal, in Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock. In 2006, a photography business was fined $6,638 by the state Civil Rights Commission for refusing to photograph a lesbian civil commitment ceremony. The photographer lost her case at the Commission, in the trial court, and in the appeals court on 31 May 2012, and in the NM Supreme Court on 22 August 2013. The NM Supreme Court unanimously confirmed both of the lower court decisions, and ruled for the 3rd time in favor of the plaintiff, stating that (1) denying photography service to a same-gender couple customer was unlawfully discriminatory, (2) requiring businesses to serve all customers equally does not violate free speech guarantees, and (3) the religious freedom law does not apply in a suit between private parties. The court rejected the photographer’s excuses about free speech and freedom of religion, and also affirmed that photographers and other creative/expressive vendors are never exempt from the anti-discrimination laws. Equality opponents cite this case more than any other when arguing that marriage equality eliminates religious freedom. On 11 September 2013, lawyers from Alliance Defending Freedom announced that they are seeking U.S. Supreme Court permission to discriminate against same-gender couples as a religious practice. On 8 November 2013, the photographer asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the prior decisions holding her responsible for violating the NM Human Rights Act by refusing to photograph the lesbian wedding.
- NEW MEXICO #2 • On 21 March 2013, in Rose Griego, et al., v. NM Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Oliver, the ACLU, NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights), and local attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of 5 same-gender couples who applied for civil marriage licenses and were denied by Bernalillo County. They also applied for a license, along with 63 other same-gender couples, in 2004. Those 64 licenses were issued, but licenses for same-gender couples were halted soon thereafter. On 28 August 2013, Attorney General Gary King confirmed that those 64 marriages, as well as recent marriages, are all valid unless voided by a court. The 64 couples, however, often aren’t treated equally. On 2 July 2013, they asked the NM Supreme Court to rule immediately. On 15 August 2013, the state Supreme Court returned the suit to a lower court, noting that the plaintiffs could request expedited review. On 16 August 2013, Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins began issuing same-gender civil marriage licenses, noting that NM Attorney General Gary King has said NM’s practice of banning same-gender marriage is probably unconstitutional, and he has refused to defend the law in court cases now underway. On 19 August 2013, Alexander Hanna & Yon Hudson, a same-gender couple in another marriage lawsuit, asked the NM Supreme Court to consolidate and streamline, both in the lower courts, and in the NM Supreme Court, all lawsuits regarding same-gender civil marriage. On 21 August 2013, an emergency request was filed for Jen Roper, who has a life-threatening form of brain cancer, to legally marry Angelique Neuman immediately, so that their 3 children are protected in the event of Jen’s death. That request was granted, and a marriage ceremony was performed at a hospital. On 26 August 2013, NM District Court Judge ruled that denying same-gender civil marriage licenses is blatantly unconstitutional and unenforceable, and that licenses start being issued immediately. On 30 August 2013, the NM Association of Counties and the clerks of 31 counties were granted permission to intervene in the suit, which they hope will encourage a quick ruling from the NM Supreme Court.
- NEW MEXICO #3 • On 6 June 2013, in Alexander Hanna & Yon Hudson v. Santa Fe County, a couple sued to obtain a same-gender civil marriage license. On 27 June 2013, the plaintiffs withdrew their lawsuit from district court and shifted it to the NM Supreme Court to get a faster decision. NM is the only state that neither allows nor prohibits same-gender civil marriage. On 2 July 2013, the NM Supreme Court asked the state attorney general and the Santa Fe county clerk to respond to the lawsuit by 22 July 2013. On 22 July 2013, NM Attorney General Gary King notified the NM Supreme Court that prohibiting same-gender civil marriage is unconstitutional. On 15 August 2013, the state Supreme Court returned the suit to a lower court, noting that the plaintiffs could request expedited review. On 16 August 2013, Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins began issuing same-gender civil marriage licenses, noting that NM Attorney General Gary King has said NM’s practice of banning same-gender marriage is probably unconstitutional, and he has refused to defend the law in court cases now underway. On 19 August 2013, the couple asked the NM Supreme Court to consolidate and streamline, both in the lower courts, and in the NM Supreme Court, all lawsuits regarding same-gender civil marriage. On 23 August 2013, Santa Fe, NM County Clerk Geraldine Salazar began issuing 45 same-gender civil marriage licenses, in response to the first NM court order to do so issued on 22 August. On 28 August 2013, Attorney General Gary King confirmed that all licensed marriages remain valid unless voided by a court. On 29 August 2013, the NM Supreme Court denied the couple’s request asking the high court to consolidate several marriage equality cases and place them on an expedited track.
- NEW MEXICO #4 • On 29 August 2013, in Janet Newton and Maria Thibodeau v. Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover, the lesbian couple sued to obtain a same-gender civil marriage license which the clerk had refused to issue to them. The same day, a judge ordered the county to issue same-gender civil marriage licenses. The clerk initially defied the order, but subsequently complied with it.
- NEW MEXICO #5 • On 28 August 2013, the New Mexico Association of Counties and all 33 county clerks voted unanimously to seek a NM Supreme Court ruling on the legality of same-gender civil marriage. On 5 September 2013, they requested the NM Supreme Court to: (1) temporarily halt all district court lawsuits regarding same-gender civil marriage, and (2) issue a special order confirming whether such marriages are legal. Since 21 August 2013, over 900 such licenses were issued by 8 of the 33 counties (Bernalillo, Doña Ana, Grant, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, San Miguel, Taos, Valencia), covering 58% of the state population. On 6 September 2013, the NM Supreme Court scheduled a hearing on 23 October 2013. By 18 October 2013, NM county clerks had issued over 1,000 civil marriage licenses to same-gender couples.
- NEW MEXICO #6 • On 29 August 2013, in Carolyn VanHousen and Gail Gering v. Sandoval County Clerk Eileen Garbagni, a lesbian couple sued after being denied a marriage license.
- NEW MEXICO #7 • On 30 August 2013, a suit to stop Doña Ana County from issuing civil marriage licenses to same-gender couples was filed by 7 NM state lawmakers (Sen.s Sharer and Neville, and Rep.s Gallegos, Hall, Herrell, Roch, and Strickler), who represent only 15% of all NM Republican lawmakers, and only 6% of all NM lawmakers. Since 21 August 2013, over 900 same-gender civil marriage licenses were issued by 8 of the 33 counties (Bernalillo, Doña Ana, Grant, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, San Miguel, Taos, Valencia), covering 58% of the state population. On 3 September 2013, another 8 Republican lawmakers joined the lawsuit.
- NEW MEXICO #8 • On 4 September 2013, Grant County Clerk Robert Zamarripa decided to comply with a judge’s 2 September 2013 ruling that same-gender civil marriage licenses must be issued.
- NEW YORK #1 • On 6 June 2012, in Edith Windsor v. U.S. IRS (Internal Revenue Service), the federal District Court held that the federal DOMA (Defense-of-Marriage Act) is unconstitutional in a case filed by the ACLU. (This is one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the DOMA, and charged taxpayers for the cost.) On 18 October 2012, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court ruling and again declared DOMA unconstitutional. This appeals court was the first appeals court to apply heightened scrutiny (a stronger assumption that the law is unconstitutional) in reaching its ruling. On 26 June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court declared DOMA §3 unconstitutional because (1) the law’s purpose was to injure and disparage legally married couples, and (2) it violated the Fifth Amendment’s equal liberty clause.
- NEW YORK #2 • On 6 July 2012, in New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms v. New York, a NY state appeals court unanimously ruled against this challenge to the 2011 same-gender marriage equality law. On 6 August 2012, the plaintiffs appealed that ruling to the state’s highest court. On 23 October 2012, that court declined to review the case, leaving the earlier dismissal intact.
- NEW YORK #3 • On 19 June 2012, in Jane Roe & Jane Doe v. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield & St. Joseph's Medical Center, a class action suit for LGBT spouse health benefits was filed in U.S. district court. Additional filings are due 1 November, 3 December, and 17 December 2012. Being self-insured, St. Joseph’s is exempt from federal regulation.
- NEW YORK #4 • On 2 April 2012, in Edwin Blesch, et al. v. Eric Holder, et al., 5 binational couples filed suit for immigration rights. On 25 July 2012, the court put the case on hold pending the resolution of Windsor v. U.S. This was one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the Defense-of-Marriage Act, and charging taxpayers for the cost. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one.
- NORTH CAROLINA #1 • On 13 June 2012, in Marcie Fisher-Borne, et al. v. John Smith, et al., the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued several state judges in federal court on behalf of 6 same-gender couples and their children seeking adoption rights. On 12 July 2013, the ACLU amended the suit to add a demand that the plaintiffs are entitled to marriage.
- NORTH CAROLINA #2 • On 15 October 2013, Buncombe County, NC Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger began accepting civil marriage license applications from same-gender couples, and when they applied for their fifth time, Brenda Clark and Carol McCrory became the first such couple in any southern state to be allowed to file an application. The Register said he would ask NC Attorney General Roy Cooper to decide whether the NC statutory and constitutional bans on same-gender civil marriage violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, and whether a license can be issued.
- OHIO #1 • In 2011, in James Koren v. Ohio Bell Telephone, the plaintiff sued his employer in federal court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for firing him because he took his husband’s last name, for gender discrimination, for disability discrimination, and for firing him because he is gay. The court ruled that Title VII includes sexual orientation, even though it does not mention it specifically. On 14 August 2012, the court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.
- OHIO #2 • On 19 July 2013, in Jim Obergefell & John Arthur v. Ohio, a gay male couple filed a federal lawsuit to have their MD marriage recognized in OH (despite OH’s 2004 constitutional ban on same-gender marriage) before John, who is fatally ill, passes away. On 22 July 2013, the federal court ordered OH to recognize their marriage on any Death Certificate via a temporary injunction while the case proceeds. On 23 July, Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) announced that he will defend OH for the right to discriminate against all other same-gender couples. On 13 August 2013, a federal judge extended the previous temporary restraining order through 31 December 2013. The judge will hear oral arguments on 18 December. On 3 September 2013, the court allowed David Michener to join the lawsuit as an additional plaintiff so that he could be listed as spouse on the Death Certificate of his spouse, William Ives, who died unexpectedly on 22 July 2013. On 24 September 2013, a federal lawsuit to get same-gender couples recognized on Death Certificates was expanded to include all such couples, and Cincinnati, OH funeral director Robert Grunn joined the lawsuit. On 22 October 2013, John Arthur passed away, after winning a temporary order from a federal judge which forced OH to recognize their out-of-state marriage on Mr. Arthur’s death certificate. On 1 November 2013, a federal judge ruled that the suit can proceed, and that OH funeral director Robert Grunn can remain one of the plaintiffs, which will ensure that the outcome (expected in December 2013) applies to every OH same-gender couple married outside of OH.
- OKLAHOMA • The 2004 federal case of Mary Bishop, et al. v. United States and Tulsa County Court Clerk, et al. challenges the state constitution for denying the right to marry the person of one’s own choice, for refusing to recognize same-gender marriages performed in other states, and for other aspects of the federal Defense-of-Marriage Act. (This is one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives defended the DOMA, and charged taxpayers for the cost.) On 28 September 2011, the four plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment. As of 30 March 2012, the court suspended all deadlines, so no trial date has been set. The Tulsa, County OK district attorney hired 3 anti-LGBT groups (Alliance Defense Fund, Alliance Defending Freedom, Oklahomans for Protection of Marriage) to defend the state law, and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives was defending the federal law (both laws being defended at taxpayer expense). On 16 July 2013, the plaintiffs requested permission to file a supplemental brief. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one. On 26 July 2013, plaintiffs asked for final judgment in their favor regarding DOMA §3, based upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s Windsor decision (26 June 2013). On 2 August 2013, BLAG withdrew from the case, leaving the United States as the only defendant.
- OREGON #1 • On 24 April 2013, in a matter regarding Alison Clark (Case 13-80100), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a non-published, administrative ruling based on 3 major marriage-related rationales: (1) Oregon’s 2004 ban on same-gender marriage is unconstitutional; (2) the federal 1996 DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) is unconstitutional; and (3) anti-LGBT laws have to be examined under the strict scrutiny standard used for other minorities such as race and sex. The ruling doesn’t affect enforcement of the Oregon marriage ban or the federal DOMA, or hold precedential weight in future litigation. Alison Clark is an employee of the U.S. Courts, and had filed an employee sexual orientation discrimination complaint (but not a federal lawsuit) with her employer (the U.S. Courts), because her employer refused to recognize her legal marriage to Anna Campbell, and refused to issue health care benefits to Campbell as Clark’s spouse.
- OREGON #2 • On 15 October 2013, in Deanna Geiger et al. v. OR Governor John Kitzhaber et al., two couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging OR’s constitutional ban on same-gender civil marriage, and OR’s refusal to recognize legal marriages from other jurisdictions.
- OREGON #3 • On 25 November 2013, in an internal federal employee Employment Dispute (but not a lawsuit) brought by former federal clerk Margaret Fonberg, a 3-judge administrative panel at the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered back pay of $6,000 plus interest to compensate for discrimination faced when Fonberg’s domestic partner was denied federal health insurance. The panel ruled that in states where same-gender couples may not marry, the federal government must treat domestic partners as if they are married.
- PENNSYLVANIA #1 • On 10 May 2012, in Marie Himmelberger v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., a 3-judge panel of the PA intermediate appellate court upheld a lower court ruling that a woman who inherited her deceased civil union partner’s home in 2010 still must pay PA $108,538.83 in inheritance taxes because her partner is not her spouse, because their 2007 New Jersey civil union, obtained when they lived in NJ, carries no weight in PA, where they lived at the time that the first partner died.
- PENNSYLVANIA #2 • On 4 January 2011, in Cozen O’Connor v. Jennifer Tobits, et al., a surviving wife sued to obtain death benefits denied by DOMA. The most recent hearing was on 12 March 2012. This is one of 14 cases in which the Republican-controlled House of Representatives was defending the Defense-of-Marriage Act, and charging taxpayers for the cost. On 18 July 2013, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner announced that the Republican-controlled Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group had ceased defending DOMA in all 14 of the federal lawsuits on which it wasted $3 million in taxpayer funds, including this one. On 29 July 2013, the U.S. district court ruled that Jennifer Tobits is entitled to her deceased spouse’s pension benefits because in Canada they had gotten married and in Illinois (where they lived) they had a civil union.
- PENNSYLVANIA #3 • On 9 July 2013, in Deb & Susan Whitewood v. PA Governor Tom Corbett et al.,23 people (a widow, 10 same-gender couples, 4 of which were legally married in other states, and 2 of their teenage daughters) filed a federal lawsuit challenging the 1996 PA law that bans same-gender marriage for residents, and that ignores out-of-state same-gender marriages. On 1 November 2013, Washington County, PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane, and PA Governor Tom Corbett all were dismissed as defendants, and Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser and Health Secretary Michael Wolf were added to join the two county officials who are already defendants. On 15 November 2013, the judge rejected two separate efforts to dismiss the suit. On 22 November 2013, the judge rejected a request to delay the case, and set a trial date of 9 June 2014, but the former state Supreme Court justice defending the state (whose team charges at least $725 each hour) said he is appealing the district court’s refusal to dismiss the case to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
- PENNSYLVANIA #4 • On 22 July 2013, in Tim Hare & Earl Ball v. Pennsylvania, a gay male couple challenged the PA ban on same-gender marriage, and requested an immediate injunction allowing them to marry.
- PENNSYLVANIA #5 • On 9 July 2013, in Ed Hill & David Palmer v. Pennsylvania, a retired gay couple, together for over 25 years, sued to have their ME marriage recognized in PA.
- PENNSYLVANIA #6 • On 30 July 2013, in Pennsylvania Health Department v. Montgomery County Court Clerk Bruce Hanes, PA sued a county clerk who eventually issued 174 same-gender civil marriage licenses. Clerk Bruce Hanes and Attorney General Kathleen Kane both say that the state marriage ban is unconstitutional. On 2 August 2013, county attorneys asked the state court to transfer the case to the state Supreme Court. On 19 August 2013, 32 same-gender couples who received licenses from Hanes asked the court for permission to join Hanes as defendants. On 11 September 2013, a state court ruled in favor of the PA Health Department, and ordered the clerk to stop issuing civil marriage licenses to same-gender couples. On 1 October 2013, the county appealed to the PA Supreme Court. On 2 December 2013, lawyers for Hanes urged the PA Supreme Court to overturn the order that stopped Hanes from issuing any more same-gender civil marriage licenses.
- PENNSYLVANIA #7 • On 25 September 2013, PA Governor Corbett was sued in state court by 21 couples claiming that (1) the PA same-gender civil marriage ban violates both the PA and the U.S. constitutions, and (2) the legality of the plaintiffs’ marriages should be affirmed.
- PENNSYLVANIA #8 • On 26 September 2013, in Cara Palladino & Isabelle Barker v. PA Governor Corbett et al., a couple filed a federal suit to force PA to recognize their 2005 MA marriage. The Equality Forum suit raises two new federal constitutional questions (whether states must respect laws from other states, and whether citizens can travel between states without losing rights). On 9 December 2013, PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane sought to be dismissed as a defendant because her office was not involved in violating the plaintiffs’ rights.
- PENNSYLVANIA #9 • On 25 October 2013, in Barbara Baus v. Pennsylvania, Ms. Baus objected to paying a 15% tax of about $11,000 for inheriting the estate of her wife Catherine Burgi-Rios.
- PENNSYLVANIA #10 • On 30 October 2013, in Nancy Nixon v. PA Department of Revenue, Ms. Nixon sought to overturn a $21,000 inheritance tax bill on the estate of her partner Jeanne Schwartz.
- SOUTH CAROLINA • On 28 August 2013, in Katherine Bradacs & Tracie Goodwin v. SC Governor Nimrata Haley, et al., a lesbian couple filed a federal lawsuit challenging the SC Defense-of-Marriage Law and the SC 2007 constitutional amendment banning same-gender civil marriage. On 14 November 2013, Judge Joe Anderson of Columbia, SC recused himself from the case because as an executive board member of a Boy Scouts of America council, he (1) voted to ban LGBT Scout leaders, and (2) voted to fire a Scoutmaster who (a) brought her partner to a BSA event, and (b) is one of the plaintiffs in the case.
- TENNESSEE #1 • On 7 August 2013, same-gender couples began applying for marriage licenses as the first step of an upcoming court challenge to two same-gender civil marriage bans (statutory and constitutional).
- TENNESSEE #2 • On 21 October 2013, in Valerica Tanco, et al. v. TN Governor William Haslam, et al., four legally married same-gender couples filed suit in U.S. District Court in Nashville, in a constitutional challenge to the TN law that bans recognition of their marriages. On 19 November 2013, National Center for Lesbian Rights attorneys representing 4 legally married same-gender couples asked a federal court for immediate protection of their families while their lawsuit challenging the TN marriage ban proceeds.
- TEXAS #1 • In January 2009, in J.B. and H.B. vs. Dallas County, TX, the plaintiffs, a gay male couple, sought to dissolve their MA marriage. In September 2009, the district court ruled that the state’s 2005 marriage ban amendment was unconstitutional, and that same-gender divorce was possible. In August 2010, the state court of appeals overturned that decision. In March 2011, the plaintiffs appealed to the state Supreme Court. On 3 July 2013, the TX Supreme Court ordered supplemental briefs about impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that oveturned DOMA §3 and denied standing to the authors of CA Proposition 8. The briefs are due 18 July, 29 July, and 6 August 2013. On 5 November 2013, the TX Supreme Court heard arguments.
- TEXAS #2 • On 25 July 2013, in TX v. Angelique Naylor & Sabrina Daly, TX Attorney General (and candidate for governor) Greg Abbott (R) filed a brief arguing that couples in same-gender civil marriages from other states can’t get a divorce in TX. Final briefs are due by 6 August 2013 regarding impacts of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that overturned DOMA §3 and denied standing to the authors of CA Proposition 8. On 5 November 2013, the TX Supreme Court heard arguments.
- TEXAS #3 • On 7 May 2013, in Carolyn Compton v. Joshua Compton, Carolyn was told by Collin County, Texas Judge John Roach, Jr. that her lesbian partner, Page Price, must move out of Compton’s home, or Compton will lose custody of her children.
TEXAS #4 • In October 2011, William Flowers appealed a decision by a Houston, TX judge that he can’t leave his children alone with his husband, Jim Evans, because the husband is not related by blood or adoption. Oral arguments were heard in November 2012.
TEXAS #5 • On 1 July 2013, in Domenico Nuckols vs. TX Governor Rick Perry, et al., a Galveston man filed a federal lawsuit challenging the TX constitution’s ban on same-gender marriage. His foreign national partner was deported in 1986. On 17 July 2013, Nuckols withdrew his suit, after hearing from the ACLU and from Lambda Legal.
TEXAS #6 • On 18 September 2013, in Nikki Araguz v. Texas, a trans woman will argue before 3 state appeals court judges that they should overturn the 2010 state court decision that denied her $600,000 in death benefits because she was born a male, which makes her TX marriage to her former (now deceased) firefighter husband invalid.
- TEXAS #7 • On 9 September 2013, 16 TX state representatives told the TX Military Forces to: (1) stop denying equal pay and benefits to all same-gender married military couples at all TX National Guard facilities, (2) stop denying membership in family readiness groups, and (3) stop denying participation in marriage enrichment retreats. On 13 September 2013, in Alicia Butler & Judith Chedville vs. Texas, Lambda Legal told the TX Military Forces that since 3 September 2013 it has been unlawful to deny equal federal pay and benefits to any same-gender married military couple, and the TX ban on same-gender civil marriage does not exempt TX from compliance. Chedville is an Army nurse and Iraq war veteran, and a 1st Lieutenant in the Army National Guard. On 31 October 2013, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directed Army National Guard units nationwide to process benefit applications for all personnel with same-gender spouses, regardless of local marriage laws, especially at the 114 bases in 9 states: FL, GA, IN, LA, MS, OK, SC, TX, and WV. (1) On 1 November 2013, the IN Army National Guard confirmed that it has been processing benefits for same-gender couples since 1 October, and that even though some applications were temporarily delayed, no benefits were ever denied, and no federal law was broken. (2) On 1 November 2013, the WV Army National Guard confirmed that it had begun processing ID cards at state facilities for same-gender couples. (3) On 1 November 2013, SC Army National Guard Col. Ronald Taylor confirmed that all initial applications for spouse benefits must be submitted at federal facilities (McEntire, Eastover, Greenville, Fort Jackson, Charleston, Parris Island/Beaufort, Ft. Gordon, GA, Ft. Stewart, GA, Charlotte, NC, and Ft. Bragg, NC). (4) On 5 November 2013, the FL Army National Guard began issuing full benefits to same-gender couples by using only federal facilities to process benefit applications. On 22 November 2013, Army National Guard Bureau General Frank Grass, under orders from Secretary of Defene Chuck Hagel, met with state generals and notified them that all service members and spouses must receive 100% of the federally funded ID cards and federally funded benefits that they have earned, regardless of any state-level bans on same-gender civil marriage. (5) On 7 November 2013, OK ceased processing benefits for all personnel, thereby ending its discrimination against personnel with same-gender spouses. (6) On 26 November 2013, TX Military Forces (TX Army National Guard) agreed to process benefits applications for military personnel with same-gender spouses in TX, but only if the U.S. Department of Defense provides all funding, personnel, and systems. (7) On 3 December 2014, LA Army National Guard Lt. Col. Michael Mazmierzak confirmed that LA now issues same-gender spouse benefits by using federal personnel, funds, and systems for processing applications. On 9 December 2013, GA Army National Guard began to process spouse benefit applications for military personnel with same-gender spouses, leaving MS as the only state still unlawfully denying benefits.
- TEXAS #8 • On 28 October 2013, in Cleopatra De Leon, et al., v. TX Governor Rick Perry et al., two same-gender couples represented by Lambda Legal filed a federal class action lawsuit for all TX couples, challenging the 2005 TX constitutional ban on marriage inside and outside TX. On 22 November 2013, the plaintiffs asked that the court halt the ban at the start of the case, instead of at the end, so that marriages may take place while the case proceeds. Arguments will be heard in January 2014.
- UTAH • On 25 March 2013, in Kitchen, et al. v. Utah Attorney General John Swallow, et al., 3 couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging Utah’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage. The plaintiffs are one gay couple, one lesbian couple, and a second lesbian couple whose IA marriage is ignored by UT. On 11 October 2013, UT Governor Herbert requested a summary judgment favoring the state, and argued that: (1) marriage is not a right; (2) states can exclude some citizens from marriage; (3) “responsible procreation” is a reason to exclude same-gender couples, and (4) raising children with mixed-gender parents is better. Plaintiffs also requested a summary judgment in their favor, and argued that UT’s constitutional ban restricts rights and liberties. The court will hear both motions for summary judgment on 4 December 2013, and the judge expects a ruling in early January 2014.
- VIRGINIA #1 • On 18 July 2013, in Timothy Bostic, et al. vs. VA State Registrar Janet Rainey, et al., a gay couple filed a federal lawsuit challenging VA’s 2006 ban on same-gender marriage, joined by a lesbian couple seeking to have their 2008 CA marriage recognized in VA. The court assigned an expedited schedule. On 30 September 2013, AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights), the sole sponsor of the lawsuit which defeated CA Proposition 8, joined this lawsuit to win full federal marriage equality nationwide. On 3 October 2013, VA Attorney General (and candidate for governor) Ken Cucinelli argued that same-gender civil marriage should be banned because: (1) some religious beliefs from the 1500s also ban it; (2) some dictionaries still describe marriage as only between mixed-gender couples; and (3) some mixed-gender couples procreate.
- VIRGINIA #2 • On 1 August 2013, in Joanne Harris, et al. v. Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell et al., the ACLU, ACLU Virginia, and Lambda Legal filed a federal class action lawsuit for two couples seeking full marriage equality for all VA residents, including couples married elsewhere. On 30 September 2013, ACLU and Lambda Legal asked for a summary judgment. On 29 October 2013, federal judge Michael Urbanski considered whether: (1) to certify the case of two couples as a class action representing all same-gender couples in VA; and (2) whether to dismiss the governor and a circuit court clerk as defendants, leaving only the state vital records registrar. On 29 October 2013, the original date for arguing the merits of the case (3 January 2014) was canceled, and it may be re-scheduled.
- VIRGINIA #3 • On 3 Ocober 2013, in National Organization for Marriage v. U.S. Internal Revenue Service, NOM filed a federal lawsuit claiming that IRS unlawfully released NOM’s confidential tax data.
- WASHINGTON #1 • On 28 June 2013, in Freed & Robert Ingersoll v. Florist Baronelle Stutzman, and WA State v. Florist Baronelle Stutzman, and Florist Baronelle Stutzman v. WA State, Benton County Superior Court Judge Salvador Mendoza: (1) refused to recuse himself from the cases; and (2) consolidated the first two lawsuits, in which a commercial florist refused to deliver flowers for the wedding of two gay men, in violation of the 2006 consumer protection and sexual orientation discrimination laws. ACLU represents the couple, and the anti-LGBT organization Alliance Defending Freedom represents the florist.
- WASHINGTON #2 • On 3 December 2014, in Michael Hall, et al. v. BNSF Railway Company, two legally married same-gender couples filed a federal suit to obtain spouse health insurance coverage for themselves and all other workers because although same-gender civil marriage is legal in WA, employer BNSF refuses to comply. On 4 December 2013, America’s largest freight rail carriers (BNSF, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, CSX, and others) announced they will provide health care benefits to same-gender spouses of their workers, starting 1 January 2014.
WEST VIRGINIA • On 1 October 2013, in Casie Jo McGee, et al. v. Cabell County Clerk Karen Cole, et al., Fairness WV and Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit for three couples challenging the state law that bans marriage equality. On 23 October 2013, the U.S. District court gave clerks from Kanawha and Cabell counties up to 60 extra days to respond to the suit, so that WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey can decide whether to intervene. On 22 November 2013, the WV Attorney General announced that he will defend the WV ban on same-gender civil marriage.
- WISCONSIN • On 17 September 2012, in Julaine Appling, et al., v. WI Governor Scott Walker, et al., the WI Supreme Court declined to review a case challenging the state’s 2009 domestic partnership law which covers 2,300 couples, and the court upheld a lower court’s ruling that that law does not violate the state’s 2006 constitutional ban on same-gender marriage, because domestic partnership offers only 43 of the 200 rights that come with full marriage. The case returned to the 4th District Court of Appeals for a hearing, and on 21 December 2012, the WI Court of Appeals upheld as constitutional the state’s 2009 Domestic Partner Registry law, and rejected arguments of the anti-LGBT group Wisconsin Family Action as “nonsense.” WFA appealed again. On 14 June 2013, the WI Supreme Court accepted the case. On 23 October 2013, 7 WI Supreme Court justices heard arguments, considered altering the existing domestic partner law, and adjourned without a decision, which is expected by summer 2014. The law is being defended by Fair Wisconsin and Lambda Legal.
- WYOMING • On 6 June 2011, in Paula Christiansen v. Victoria Lee Christiansen, the WY Supreme Court upheld the 2010 WY divorce of two Niobrara County women who legally married in Canada in 2008, because marriages legal in other countries are legal in WY, and added that whether to recognize such marriages for reasons other than divorce would be decided in some future case.
Send questions and comments to Ned Flaherty: NFlaherty@MarriageEquality.org.