Podcast: Catch Up On This Week’s LGBTQ Headlines In Less Than 20 Minutes

Hit play below – you know you want to hear me chat 🙂

In this week’s podcast:

• The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down an important ruling for transgender protections in the workplace

• Should we boycott Bermuda for taking away marriage equality?

• An out high school football star is targeted by the haters of Westboro Baptist Church but his classmates aren’t having it

• A gay couple found their wedding photo used in a political attack ad by the Tennessee state Republican Party #WTF?

• Take two – Starkville, Mississippi, is getting it’s first Pride parade

• The 2018 Paralympics have begun and there’s at least one out and proud Paralympian this year

• Mindy Kaling’s new series Champions on NBC features a 16-year-old out character who’s never seen the inside of a closet

• VICE follows gay married couple Rick & Griff in Atlanta to learn how folks are monetizing their social media following

• NBC’s “The Voice” made history this week with the series’ first transgender contestant

• Randy Rainbow takes on the NRA with his parody of “Kids” from the 1960s Broadway hit Bye Bye Birdie

6th Circuit Court Of Appeals Rules “Religious Freedom” Doesn’t Allow For Trans Discrimination

In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) doesn’t allow for transgender discrimination in the workplace.

In a 49-page opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote that R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan “engaged in unlawful discrimination” against transgender employee Aimee Stephens under Title VII of the Civil Rights of 1964.

From The Washington Blade:

In essence, the Sixth Circuit establishes two milestones with the decision.

First, it explicitly concludes discrimination against transgender workers is sex discrimination, and unlawful under Title VII.

Second, it makes clear religious freedom as outlined under RFRA doesn’t supersede Title VII’s prohibition on employment discrimination.

The case, EEOC v. Harris Funeral Homes, began in 2013 when Harris Funeral Homes fired Stephens, who has worked there for six years, after she announced that she would transition. The basis for the termination was that by dressing as a women, Stephens would violate the dress code for the business and that would place a substantial burden on the religious beliefs of the funeral home’s owner, Thomas Rost.

In her reasoning for the decision, Moore first establishes anti-transgender discrimination is sex discrimination. Although the Sixth Circuit in the 2004 ruling of Smith v. City of Salem determined sex-stereotyping amounts to sex discrimination, the court had never before ruled anti-trans discrimination is unlawful.

The decision sends the case back to the lower court that ruled the funeral home did have the right to terminate Stephens under RFRA,.

The ruling also represents a loss for Attorney Jeff Sessions. Although the federal government wasn’t a party to the case, Sessions issued a memo asserting transgender people aren’t covered under Title VII despite legal precedent.

No Word From SCOTUS Today On 6th Circuit Court Marriage Ruling

Today was the first day we might have heard something from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether the justices will take up one or all of the same-sex marriage cases from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

And – we got nothing.

The justices will consider – again – on Friday whether to hear Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and/or Tennessee marriage cases.

The justices did deny Louisiana same-sex couples’ request to skip over the appeals court and take their case directly, but that was rather expected.

Kentucky and Michigan follow Ohio and Tennessee with SCOTUS Filings For Same-Sex Marriage Review

Following the petitions filed on Friday by Ohio and Tennessee, the plaintiffs in the Kentucky and Michigan same-sex marriage cases – which recently saw their respective state’s bans upheld by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals – have filed requests with SCOTUS for review of that 6th Circuit anti-equality ruling.

SCOTUS is highly expected to take up at least one if not all cases now that there is disagreement among federal appellate courts on marriage equality.

Stay tuned.

Ohio Couples File Request For Appeal To SCOTUS On Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

The full US Supreme Court

The first of four expected appeals of the recent 6th Circuit Court ruling on same-sex marriage has been filed by Lambda Legal and the ACLU to the US Supreme Court by the plaintiffs from Ohio.

Those plaintiffs are comprised of married same-sex couples and widowers of men who have died and want their out-of-state marriages recognized by the state.

The appeal is predicated on the recent ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld bans on same-sex marriage in four states.

The cases in Tennessee and Ohio focus on recognition of legal same-sex marriages conducted in other states, while the Kentucky and Michigan cases request full marriage equality.

The Supreme Court declined to review appeals from Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia earlier this year saying with no disagreement between federal appellate courts there was no need.

With the 6th Circuit’s ruling which upheld the marriage bans in the four states, it’s almost certain SCOTUS will grant review to at least one of the cases.

Tennessee’s request is now filed, with Ohio and Michigan to follow suit on later today or Monday, according to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner.

Presently, 32 states plus the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.

Plaintiffs In 6th Circuit Court Marriage Ban Ruling Look To SCOTUS

According to Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner, all sets of plaintiffs from yesterday’s 6th Circuit ruling upholding bans on same-sex marriage have conferenced and the decision is to unanimously head to the US Supreme Court.

Abby Rubenfeld, the lead lawyer for the Tennessee plaintiffs, updated BuzzFeed News about Friday’s call with the counsel from all four states.

“We just had a conference call with the attorneys from all four Sixth Circuit states on the marriage cases. We were all in agreement to apply for certiorari at the supreme court, and not to first seek en banc review in the Sixth Circuit,” she explained. “Given the significance of the issue, the reality that it will end up in the Supreme Court ultimately, and the harms that all of our clients are suffering each day that their marriages are not recognized, we want to get to the Supreme Court sooner rather than later.”

“We hope to file within two weeks, and hopefully sooner, so that we can still be on the docket for this term—which means resolution by june 30, 2015,” she added.

ACLU Will Appeal 6th Circuit Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling To SCOTUS

From Chase Strangio, staff attorney in the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project:

“This decision is an outlier that’s incompatible with the 50 other rulings that uphold fairness for all families, as well as with the Supreme Court’s decision to let marriage equality rulings stand in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia.

“It is shameful and wrong that John Arthur’s death certificate may have to be revised to list him as single and erase his husband’s name as his surviving spouse.

“We believe it’s wholly unconstitutional to deny same sex couples and their families access to the rights and respect that all other families receive.

“We will be filing for Supreme Court review right away and hope that through this deeply disappointing ruling we will be able to bring a uniform rule of equality to the entire country.”

(via press release)

Marriage equality arguments end in 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

The big day for marriage equality in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ended.

Six cases from four states looking for marriage equality – Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Freedom To Marry has posted the oral arguments from all of the cases. If you’ve never listened to lawyers present their cases and answer questions by the judges, it can be pretty fascinating. Plus, you might get a sense of which side the rulings will come down on. Although, law experts always make a point of saying you can’t really tell what the ruling will be based on the questions the judges ask. Sometimes, they are just playing “devil’s advocate” to see where it takes them.

Chris Geidner, legal editor for Buzzfeed, seemed to think Judge Daughtrey seemed most sympathetic to the good guys; Judge Cook, who apparently spoke the least seemed to favor the bad guys; and so it will most probably fall on Judge Sutton, who was not an easy read.

Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade wrote:

Based on their line of questioning, two judges — U.S. Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtry and U.S. Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton — seemed prepared to rule against bans on same-sex marriage. U.S. Circuit Judge Deborah Cook was relatively quiet, but appeared poised to rule in favor of the laws. Similar to other federal appeals court rulings, the panel seemed headed to make a 2-1 decision in favor of marriage equality.

Listen to the oral arguments below and see what you think:

Michigan: DeBoer v. Snyder

Tennessee:Tanco v. Haslam

Kentucky: Bourke v. Beshear and Love v. Beshear

Ohio: Obergefell v. Wymyslo and Henry v. Himes

And now, we wait. Experts say it could take several weeks to get the rulings.

6th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear 5 marriage equality cases Wednesday

It will be a busy day in Cincinnati this Wednesday as a three-judge panel in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear appeals in 5 marriage equality cases from 4 different states.

Some of the cases address the freedom to marry directly, while some challenge states that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

All five cases will be heard by the same three-judge panel, consisting of former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Deborah L. Cook, 62; ex-state Solicitor Jeffrey Sutton, 53; and Martha Craig “Cissy” Daughtrey, 72. Daughtrey was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, while Cook and Sutton were picked by President George W. Bush in 2003.

Of the five cases, two are from Ohio:

• Obergefell, et al v. Himes, et al, is an appeal from a decision by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black on Dec. 23, 2013, that required the state of Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates issued by the state.

• Henry, et al v. Himes, is an appeal from another Black ruling, this one on April 14, 2014, that ordered the state to recognize valid same-sex marriages legally performed in states that allow such marriages.

The other three cases are from Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee:

• DeBoer, et al v. Snyder, et al, is an appeal from an order by Judge Bernard A. Friedman on March 21, 2014, that struck down as unconstitutional Michigan’s ban on gay marriage.

• Bourke, et al v. Beshear, et al, stems from an order by Judge John G. Heyburn II on Feb. 12, 2014, declaring that Kentucky law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by refusing to recognize marriages legally performed in other states.

• Tanco, et al v. Haslam, et al, is an appeal from a decision by Judge Aleta A. Trauger ordering Tennessee to recognize marriages of three couples legally married outside the state.