Arizona Supreme Court: Married Same-Sex Couples Should Have Equal Parental Rights

Good news from The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) regarding McLaughlin v. McLaughlin where the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that a woman was the legal parent of the child she and her same-sex spouse conceived through assisted reproduction during their marriage.

Via press release:

As the Arizona Supreme Court recognized, the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges and Pavan v. Smith require states to treat married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents equally under the law. The Arizona Supreme Court explained, “It would be inconsistent with Obergefell to conclude that same-sex couples can legally marry but states can then deny them the same benefits of marriage afforded opposite-sex couples.”

Suzan McLaughlin and Kimberly McLaughlin were a married lesbian couple who had a child in 2011 using an anonymous sperm donor. After separating in 2013, Kimberly stopped allowing Suzan to see their child, and Suzan filed a legal action to be recognized as a parent.

Both the Arizona Court of Appeals and the trial court held that Suzan should indeed be recognized as a legal parent to her child. NCLR and Arizona attorney Claudia Work represented Suzan.

Since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, numerous cases have recognized that married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents must be treated equally under the law.

In June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Pavan v. Smith, another National Center for Lesbian Rights case, that Obergefell required states to treat married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents equally.

Arizona law assumes the man in a marriage is the father of any child born within 10 months of a marriage. But current laws don’t offer any protective rights to a non-biological same-sex parent in a married relationship where artificial insemination is used.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Scott Bales noted that the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling states that same-sex couples are entitled to civil marriage “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.”

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Responds To Texas Supreme Court Ruling On Equal Rights Ordinance

Houston Mayor Annise Parker issued this statement via press release regarding the Texas state Supreme Court’s ruling that Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance must be repealed or put to a vote this November:

“Obviously, I am disappointed and believe the court is in error with this eleventh hour ruling in a case that had already been decided by a judge and jury of citizens.

“Nonetheless, we will proceed with the steps necessary for City Council to consider the issue. At the same time, we are consulting with our outside counsel on any possible available legal actions.

“Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance is similar to measures passed by every other major city in the country and by most local corporations. No matter the color of your skin, your age, gender, physical limitations, or sexual orientation, every Houstonian deserves the right to be treated equally. To do otherwise, hurts Houston’s well-known image as a city that is tolerant, accepting, inclusive and embracing of its diversity.

“Our citizens fully support and understand this and I have never been afraid to take it to the voters. We will win!”

Pennsylvania: Lesbian widow suing for equal treatment under inheritance laws

Barbara Baus (L) and Cathy Burgi-Rios (R)

Pennsylvania now has it’s own Edie Windsor/same-sex marriage inheritance law suit:

A Bethlehem woman who legally married her same-sex partner in 2011 in Connecticut is suing to seek equal tax treatment in the wake of her partner’s death last year.

Barbara Baus and Cathy Burgi-Rios, who lived together for more than 15 years, married on April 29, 2011, in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Burgi-Rios died on Sept. 21, 2012, from leukemia. She was 55.

According to a news release issued this morning by the law firm representing Baus, she sought the spousal tax rate of 0 percent from Pennsylvania for what she inherited from Burgi-Rios.

The state Department of Revenue responded to her request by stating her marriage was not valid in Pennsylvania; the department said she would instead be required to pay a 15 percent rate that applies to legal strangers, according to the news release from the law firm Jerner & Palmer, P.C.

All legal same-sex marriages to be recognized by US Treasury regardless of state of residency

Big news for same-sex married couples as the Federal government has now issued a ruling by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew that says, in terms of tax policy, the state of celebration is what counts – NOT the state of residence.

Yep, the ruling applies even to gay couples that live in states where their union is not recognized — so long as they were married in a state that allows same-sex marriage.

From the Huffington Post:

Thursday’s ruling by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew provides a uniform policy for the IRS; the state of celebration — where the wedding took place — now trumps the state of residency when it comes to federal tax status for same-sex married couples.

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” Lew said in a statement. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

Under the new Treasury policy, all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, employee benefits, IRA contributions, earned income, child tax credits, and income, gift and estate taxes, will apply to same sex couples regardless of where they live.

The Human Rights Campaign responds:

“With today’s ruling, committed and loving gay and lesbian married couples will now be treated equally under our nation’s federal tax laws, regardless of what state they call home,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “These families finally have access to crucial tax benefits and protections previously denied to them under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.”

The ruling does not apply to those in registered domestic partnerships or civil unions. So, for states like New Jersey, where the governor is trying to argue that civil unions are equal to full marriage – this underlines how civil unions and domestic partnerships fall short of full equality.

Evan Wolfson’s truth trumps Tony Perkins’ packaged talking points

On Face The Nation this morning, a round table was held discussing the upcoming oral arguments to be held at the US Supreme Court on same-sex marriage.

Watch the full discussion above where Tony Perkins, of the certified hate group Family Research Council, tries to repeat and repeat his long practiced scare tactics about marriage equality while Evan Wolfson puts the facts about equality on the table.

(via Good As You)

Sen. Marco Rubio: Just because I think someone deserves 2nd class rights does not make me a bigot

Speaking at CPAC this afternoon, Sen. Marco Rubio complained that the people he would deny rights to (same-sex marriage rights, pro-choice rights) don’t respect him:

“I respect people who disagree with me on certain things, but that means they have to respect me too. Just because I believe states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot. Just because we believe that life, all human life, all life, all human life is worthy of protection in every stage of its development doesn’t make you a chauvinist. In fact, the people who are actually close minded in American politics are people who love to preach about the certainty of science in regard to our climate, but ignore the absolute fact that life begins at conception.”

Sec. of Defense Panetta expected to announce extension of benefits to LGBT military families

Via press release: Outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is expected this week to announce the long-delayed extension of support and benefits for gay and lesbian military families, according to reports.

Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson said today that the organization hopes Panetta will take full advantage of this final opportunity to act before leaving office.

“Secretary Panetta established a strong civil rights record long before taking office at the Pentagon, so his unwillingness to extend support and recognition to gay and lesbian service members and their families where it is clearly within his authority to do so has baffled many of us. We are hopeful that he will not take half-measures here; for him to grant anything less than the full extent of benefits available under current law would be an anticlimactic end to an otherwise exemplary record on civil rights,” said Robinson.

Read more here.

Poll: Americans Favor Rights for Gays, Lesbians to Inherit, Adopt

Click pic to enlarge

Most Americans say gay and lesbian domestic partners or spouses should have inheritance rights and health insurance and other benefits. And a majority say gays and lesbians should be able to legally adopt children.

From the recent Gallup survey:

While 53% of Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage, significantly higher percentages support the idea of equal rights for partners or spouses of gays or lesbians when it comes to inheritance rights and employee benefits, and making it legal for gays and lesbians to adopt children. Support for all three issues is up at least slightly from three years ago.

Less than half of Americans, however, support the idea of openly gay adults serving as Boy Scout leaders. Given the lack of a trend on this question, it is not clear whether support is higher than in the past, or the degree to which the lack of support may reflect respondents’ reluctance to say how a private organization should decide who holds its positions of leadership.

(via JMG)

General Mills supports equal rights for gays in the workplace

You may not know that every ten seconds an American places a General
Mills product in his or her bag.

You also may not know General Mills has
been an amazing partner in the goal of full LGBT workplace equality for years.

Yesterday, the three-time 100 percent rated company on HRC’s CEI sat on a panel of four witnesses to testify before the Senate HELP Committee on the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This is what true leaders look like.

Ken Charles, Vice President of Global Diversity and Inclusion,
represented General Mills at Tuesday’s hearing, and spoke eloquently
about how diversity and inclusion drive success at a company that has
been in business for over 150 years.

Employing 35,000 workers worldwide,
Charles noted that if employees cannot bring their full selves to work,
and if employees live in fear of being treated differently simply based
on who they are, it comes at a cost to the company.

General Mills has had a non-discrimination policy inclusive of sexual
orientation and gender identity for years, sending a strong message that
their LGBT employees are respected, valued, challenged, and rewarded
for their contributions and performances. As a result, General Mills
employees are productive and engaged.

Via HRC

NC: Domestic partnership benefits in limbo

In North Carolina, cities and counties that offer domestic partner
benefits to employees are in limbo after voters passed a constitutional
amendment banning same-sex marriage.

In some
other states, such amendments have led to the end of domestic partner
benefits for public workers. And that’s exactly what some families in
North Carolina are afraid of.

Melissa, Moira, and Libby Hodges, left to right, pose in front of a Christmas tree.

Ever since voters approved the constitutional amendment
on May 8, Libby Hodges has worried about what could happen to her
family’s health coverage. But she’s trying to put on a good face for her
4-year-old daughter, Moira.

“Sometimes it
just happens that way,” Libby Hodges tells her daughter. “Like when you
play a soccer game. … If I lose or win it’s okay.”

Libby
works for the city of Durham, one of nine local governments across the
state offering domestic partner benefits. Moira is on her insurance
plan. But since Libby isn’t the little girl’s biological mom, that
benefit could end.

Libby’s partner, Melissa
Hodges, who gave birth to Moira, could add their daughter to her
insurance plan. That would cost an extra $500 a month, a big hit to
their budget. Melissa says they may have to move to a state where
domestic partner benefits are assured.

“I’m
going to stay on the lookout for jobs in all these various different
places in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maryland,” says Melissa Hodges.
“I was looking back at the list today of which states do we have all
the same benefits and rights or at least as close as we can get.”

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