6 Years Ago Today: Marriage Equality Becomes The Law Of The Land

Six years ago today the United States Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal across the nation

Six years ago today, the United States took a huge leap forward in equal rights for all when the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality was a constitutional right.

And just like that, my marriage was valid and equal to all.

Easily one of the most impactful, emotional days of my life. I will never be able to articulate the emotions that came over me in the minutes, hours, days after the news was announced.

And then, just to put the cherry on top of the sundae, the White House celebrated the occasion awash in the colors of the LGBT rainbow.

Still so far to go, but it’s important to slow down for a second and remember the good days.

News Round-Up: June 8, 2021

(screen capture from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

Some news items you might have missed:

Gallup Polling: U.S. support for legal same-sex marriage continues to trend upward, now at 70% – a new high in Gallup’s trend since 1996. This latest figure marks an increase of 10 percentage points since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all states must recognize same-sex marriages.

Gothamist: Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that the vast majority of New York’s coronavirus restrictions and safety measures will be lifted once 70% of adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine—which he estimated could happen within the next two weeks.

Washington Blade: An East Texas bakery shared a photo of rainbow Pride cookies on Facebook and immediately got slammed with homophobic hate including customers cancelling huge orders. But by the next morning, the owners were deluged with orders offering to buy the cancelled cookies and a line of customers down the block buying out the entire bakery in a show of support.

NBC4i: An anti-vaccine physician told Ohio lawmakers Tuesday that COVID-19 vaccines can magnetize people. “I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized. They can put a key on their forehead. It sticks.”

NBC News: Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg has been sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty to destroying 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in January. Brandenburg admitted he removed doses of Moderna vaccine from refrigeration storage overnight knowing it would render them ineffective.

Buzzfeed: Check out this list of 33 great LGBTQ-themed shows to watch on Hulu for Pride Month like Love, Victor or that awesome coming out dance sequence on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (top image).

Switzerland Will Hold National Vote On Same-Sex Marriage

A gay man places a wedding ring on the finger of his husband

Switzerland will hold a public referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage

I was surprised to learn today that Switzerland, of all countries, still has not legalized same-sex marriage.

One of the few European countries still lacking marriage equality, Switzerland will now ask its citizens to vote on the whether gays and lesbians can marry the person they love.

Switzerland’s journey to same-sex marriage has taken several twists and turns over the years.

Swiss lawmakers have been working on the issue since 2013 when the first bill was presented by the nation’s Green Party.

But the legislation stalled as lawmakers contemplated whether the move would require a change to Switzerland’s constitution.

In April 2020, the Council of States, the nation’s upper chamber, finally agreed a legal change was unnecessary.

On December 18, 2020, the National Council (Switzerland’s lower chamber) voted in favor of same-sex marriages by a vote of 24 to 11 with 7 abstentions. That bill also provides lesbian couples with access to sperm donation.

That vote triggered an uproar by two conservative groups – the Federal Democratic Union and the Swiss People’s Party – who quickly got to work collecting signatures for a petition calling for a referendum on the issue.

Reuters reports that Switzerland’s democratic system allows opponents of decisions by parliament the right to force a referendum, or a public vote, if a group can collect 50,000 signatures within 100 days.

On Tuesday, the Federal Chancellery confirmed that over 61,000 signatures had been collected.

In May, the government will announce a date for the vote which will probably happened this fall.

The good news is a survey commissioned by the LGBTQ advocacy group Pink Cross in 2020 showed 82% of Swiss citizens (in a country of 8.5 million) support same-sex marriage.

Podcast: Lil Nas X, 20th Anniversary Of Marriage Equality, And More

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s podcast:

• President Biden issues first-ever presidential proclamation for Transgender Day of Visibility

• Arkansas has passed a series of anti-LGBTQ laws in a week

• The Pentagon erases Trump-era ban on trans military service members

• Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first legal same-sex weddings

• Lil Nas X pens a touching letter to his 14-year-old self – Link to his new music video ‘Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report podcast.

Podcast: Captain America, Japan & Marriage Equality, The LGBTQ Tribe Takes The Call

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s podcast:

• Japan takes a baby step towards marriage equality

• A transgender student won a large settlement in his discrimination lawsuit against a school district in Minnesota

• A pharmacist came to the aid of LGBTQ seniors in Brooklyn

• New polling shows strong support for the Equality Act

• Marvel Comics has announced a gay Captain America on the way

• And the LGBTQ tribe answers the call – link to Twitter thread here.

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report podcast

SCOTUS Turns Away Attempt To Undermine LGBTQ Parents’ Rights

a lesbian couple with their child
(image via iStock Photo)

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case that could have undercut marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Even with a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court, SCOTUS refused to roll back same-sex marriage rights.

The case, Box v. Henderson, was brought by parents Ruby and Ashlee Henderson in 2015 as a challenge to Indiana’s birth records law. The couple sued when county officials refused to list both on the birth certificate of their son, who was conceived via artificial insemination.

The state of Indiana regularly lists the male spouse on birth certificates in opposite-sex marriages that conceive via anonymous sperm donors even though the husband has no biological link to the child.

But in the case of the Hendersons, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill argued “whenever a birth-mother’s wife gains presumptive ‘parentage’ status, a biological father’s rights and obligations to the child have necessarily been undermined without proper adjudication.”

In his brief to the Supreme Court, Hill wrote that it’s just “common sense” that while “the husband of a birth mother is usually the biological father, the wife of a birth mother is never the biological father.”

But in its 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which made marriage equality the law of the land, the high court was specific that same-sex couples are entitled to the same “constellation of benefits” of marriage that opposite-sex married couples are afforded. And that includes birth certificates for their children.

(stock photo via Depositphotos)

The Hendersons argued in their original suit that a number of legal issues could arise regarding who could enroll their son in school, ensure he was covered by health insurance, or even speak on the child’s behalf during a medical appointment. Without the legal status conferred by a birth certificate, one of the women would need to formally adopt their son which could cost up to $5,000 in legal fees.

The couple won in federal court in 2016 but Indiana appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the lower court’s ruling ten months ago. In its unanimous decision, the 7th Circuit cited due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

In other words, just because someone’s a wife, not a husband, doesn’t mean you can deny them marriage rights.

In 2017, the Supreme Court had ruled on the issue of same-sex parents and birth certificates in Pavan v. Smith, in which SCOTUS found in favor of a same-sex couple who had also conceived through assisted reproduction.

Since that time, SCOTUS refused to hear a similar case in 2018 from Arizona where a lesbian couple sued for legal recognition of the birth mother’s wife as a parent after using an anonymous sperm donor to conceive.

With the Supreme Court’s refusal to review the case today, the lower court rulings will stand.

Karen Celestino-Horseman, the attorney for the Hendersons, told The Indianapolis Star they were “delighted” about the Supreme Court’s decision.

“It’s a major victory that is going to keep the same-sex families together, and the children born to these marriages will have two parents to love and protect them,” added Celestino-Horseman.

Cathy Sakimura, Deputy Director and Family Law Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), said in a statement today, “The Supreme Court rightly denied this case because it has already clearly decided that same-sex spouses and different-sex spouses must be treated equally.”

Solicitor General Tom Fisher, speaking for the Indiana Attorney General’s office, issued a lame “We are disappointed the Court declined to take up the case.”

Supreme Court Justice Alito Criticizes High Court’s Marriage Equality Ruling

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito (screen capture)

While delivering the keynote speech at the Federalist Society’s convention last night, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito surprised some by going full-on anti-same-sex marriage by openly criticizing the high court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling.

The Federal Society is the ulra-conservative organization that, among other things, has advised and recommended all three of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court picks.

From HuffPost:

Alito condemned the landmark same-sex marriage decision Obergefell v. Hodges, saying it has led to censorship of people who believe is “a union of one man and one woman.” He suggested it meant that freedom of speech is “falling out of favor in some circles.”

“You can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry,” Alito said.

“That this would happen after our decision in Obergefell should not have come as a surprise,” he added. “Yes, the opinion of the court included words meant to calm the fears of those who cling to traditional views of marriage. But I could see, and so did the other justices in dissent, where the decision would lead.”

First of all, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word bigotry as “obstinate or intolerant devotion to one’s own opinions and prejudices.” So, “clinging” to one’s own views without considering those of others pretty much falls under that definition.

And, as HuffPost points out, “people can still freely express opposition to same-sex marriage, just as their critics can freely call them ‘bigots.'”

Alito also criticized governors for issuing “sweeping restrictions” in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently surging in nearly every state in the union.

Midday Brain Break: Adorable Wedding Flashmob Dance

(screen captures via Instagram)

Awww… It’s been a while since we saw a flash mob dance at a wedding – but today we get this little uplifting nugget.

Fitness guy Brock Dalgleish shared this clip from his beautiful wedding, which took place this past Sunday in Salt Lake City.

Dalgleish surprised his partner, Riley Jay, Brock with not one but two dance routines at the end of the ceremony.

Socially-distanced guests watched as the dancers knocked it out to Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love” from her latest album, Chromatica.

“This was my dream come true,” Brock told his followers on TikTok. “Wedding flash mob with all of my people.”

New Data Shows Changing Attitudes On LGBTQ Acceptance

June 26 has become such a special day in LGBTQ history in the United States many now view the date as ‘National Gay Pride Day.’

It was on this day in 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down so-called ‘sodomy’ laws which made consensual adult sexual activity in private a crime (Lawrence v Texas).

In 2013, SCOTUS invalidated the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages (Windsor v United States).

June 26, 2015, was a historic day for LGBTQ people when the high court ruled marriage equality is a constitutional right bringing same-sex marriage to the entire United States (Obergefell v Hodges).

Two years later, on June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court the court gave us another win in Pavan v. Smith ruling that the state of Arkansas, by refusing to automatically list both members of a same-sex couple as parents on their children’s birth certificates (which was routinely done for opposite-sex parents), was violating the legal parameters enumerated in Obergefell which declared same-sex couples must be afforded “the constellation of benefits that the State has linked to marriage.”

A lot of progress has been made by the LGBTQ community in great part because of changing attitudes about homosexuality, not only in the U.S. but around the world.

Pew Research has been tracking public opinion on the acceptance of LGBTQ people since 2002. In its latest survey of 38,426 people in 34 countries, Pew found acceptance is still growing in most of the world, but not everywhere.

For instance, from 2013 (the last time Pew polled the question) to 2019, the number of Americans who say homosexuality should be accepted has risen from 60% to 72%. Only 21% said homosexuality should not be accepted by society.

Most of Western Europe supports acceptance. Sweden has the highest level of support at 94% followed by The Netherlands (92%), Spain (89%), France (86%), and the UK (86%).

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by GAY PRIDE SPAIN (@gaypridespain) on

Other countries, while not quite as approving, have shown double-digit increases in support like South Africa (from 32% to 54% support), India (15% to 37%), and Turkey (9% to 25%).

But in regions like the Middle East and Africa, some nations offer little support like Kenya (14%) and Tunisia (9%). Israel stands out as an exception in the Middle East with 47% support, although many might have expected that figure to be higher considering the popularity of Pride events in cities like Tel Aviv.

 

However, the results aren’t all puppies and rainbows.

Attitudes in some countries have actually dropped since Pew first began asking the question in 2002.

The 2019 survey shows only 14% support in Russia, 9% in Indonesia, and a scant 7% in Nigeria. All of those figures are lower than the 2002 results.

Pew Research does note, though, that the Philippines, often seen as a conservative nation in terms of social issues, was found to have 73% acceptance.

A country’s wealth seems to have a correlating factor to acceptance as well.

Germany, Sweden, and The Netherlands each have a per-capita gross domestic product over $50,000 and all show huge support for LGBTQ people.

But poorer countries like Kenya, Ukraine, and Nigeria – all with per-capita GDP under $10K – indicate approval around 14% or lower.

For those interested, 32 countries around the world have legalized marriage equality with Costa Rica joining the list last month.

(source: Pew Research)