SCOTUS Declines To Hear Appeal For Anti-LGBTQ Florist

Gay couple dances after getting married
Gay couple dances after getting married
(stock image via Depositphotos)

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by anti-LGBTQ florist Barronelle Stutzman of Washington state who refused to sell flowers to a same-sex couple for their wedding.

Stutzman’s petition is listed on Friday’s orders list indicating the high court had denied certiorari, or refused to take up the case. No reason was given although the orders note that Justice Thomas, Justice Alito, and Justice Gorsuch would have granted the petition to hear the case. In the Supreme Court, at least four justices have to agree to take up a case.

The decision means the ruling by the Washington Supreme Court will stand.

The sad story began in 2013 when Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed, longtime customers of Arlene’s Flowers owned by Stutzman, approached the florist for flowers for their dream wedding. Stutzman refused claiming doing so would violate her religious beliefs.

In 2017, the case had made its way up to the Washington state high court which ruled Stutzman had violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws which prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in public accommodations. The florist was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

Stutzman appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 wherein SCOTUS vacated the lower court’s decision and asked the Washington court to review the case in light of a narrow ruling in the case of Jack Phillips, owner of the Colorado bakery Masterpiece Cakeshop.

A year later, in June 2019, the Washington Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision finding there had been no animosity involved against Stutzman in the original ruling.

Today’s decision is the end of the road in terms of legal options for Stutzman.

“After Curt and I were turned away from our local flower shop, we cancelled the plans for our dream wedding because we were afraid it would happen again. We had a small ceremony at home instead,” Ingersoll told ABC News in a statement. “We hope this decision sends a message to other LGBTQ people that no one should have to experience the hurt that we did.”

Alphonso David, president of Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement, “The Supreme Court has once again said that critical nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people are legally enforceable and has set a strong and definitive precedent.”

Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for the virulently anti-LGBTQ legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, called the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case “tragic.”

This is the third high profile LGBTQ-related case addressed by the Supreme Court.

In June, SCOTUS issued a unanimous but very narrow ruling in favor of Catholic Social Services (CSS) in Philadelphia which had refused to certify same-sex couples who applied to become foster parents.

The ruling was not the broad ‘license to discriminate’ anti-LGBTQ advocates had hoped for. Instead, the justices found in favor of CSS because the city hadn’t applied its own policy of exemptions uniformly. The decision only applies to CSS and its contract with Philadelphia.

And earlier this week, SCOTUS also rejected to hear an appeal by a Virginia school board seeking ban transgender students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. That decision sets precedent regarding restroom discrimination in schools in at least five states.

(Source: ABC News)

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.

Supreme Court Will Hear Challenge To Abortion Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)
The U.S. Supreme Court (2021)

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case from Mississippi that directly challenges the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade which established a constitutional right to abortion.

With the current 6-3 conservative majority on the high court, this very well could lead to a huge restriction in abortion rights.

From the New York Times:

The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19- 1392, concerns a law enacted by the Republican-dominated Mississippi legislature that banned abortions if “the probable gestational age of the unborn human” was determined to be more than 15 weeks. The statute included narrow exceptions for medical emergencies or “a severe fetal abnormality.”

Lower courts said the law was plainly unconstitutional under Roe, which forbids states from banning abortions before fetal viability — the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, or around 23 or 24 weeks.

Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic sued, saying the law ran afoul of Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the 1992 decision that affirmed Roe’s core holding.

Judge Carlton W. Reeves of Federal District Court in Jackson, Miss., blocked the law in 2018, saying the legal issue was straightforward and questioning the state lawmakers’ motives.

In his ruling, Reeves wrote that he believed the Mississippi lawmakers knew exactly what they were doing when they passed the law setting up an eventual appearance at SCOTUS.

A 3-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, agreed with Reeve’s ruling.

It should come as no surprise that the basis for the legislation was written by the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom.

Podcast: Country Coming Out Song Goes Viral, UK, Bhutan, And Billy Porter

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:

• More LGBTQ candidates won elections this year than ever before

• A US Supreme Court decision upholds high school transgender students’ rights

Switzerland is poised to (finally) legalize same-sex marriage

• Adoptions by same-sex couples in the UK has increased for the 3rd year in a row

• Isolated Asian country of Bhutan legalizes same-sex relations

• Emmy/Grammy winner Billy Porter has been announced to help usher in the New Year

• A coming out Christmas song by country artist and LGBTQ ally Aaron LaCombe goes viral ‘Uncle Carl (Came Out On Christmas)’

Click here to watch the video and head over to Aaron’s official website for more info about his music

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Supreme Court Rejects Texas AG’s Attempt To Undo 2020 Election

Fifty-four percent of Americans believe Donald Trump should be impeached

Fifty-four percent of Americans believe Donald Trump should be impeached

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined a bid from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to nullify the ballots of millions of voters in four battleground states that went in favor of President-Elect Joe Biden.

From the Washington Post:

The court’s unsigned order was short: “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”

Trump, who has appointed three of the court’s nine members, has long viewed the Supreme Court as something of an ace-in-the-hole, and called for the justices to display “courage” and rescue him in post-election litigation.

Just about every legal expert with two brain cells to spark together predicted this would be the outcome for Paxtons’ woeful attempt to curry favor with Trump.

Many of the 100+ Republican members of Congress who publicly supported the woeful attempt have said off the record that they knew the lawsuit wouldn’t go anywhere but they felt it was a “loyalty test” to the Trumpster and wanted to avoid any future fire from the Donald.

Paxton is currently under federal investigation himself, and many say he was trying to finagle a presidential pardon with his leg humping.

Indiana AG To SCOTUS: 2 Gay Parents Shouldn’t Be On Child’s Birth Certificate

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

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) has filed a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court asking that a federal appeals court ruling which held both members of a same-sex couple can be listed as parents on their children’s birth certificates be overturned.

The case 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.

A federal judge found in favor of the Hendersons in 2016, but Indiana appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the lower court’s ruling. By that point, seven couples had joined the Hendersons in the lawsuit.

NBC News reports that in its January 2020 decision, the appellate court noted, under Indiana law, “a husband is presumed to be a child’s biological father, so that both spouses are listed as parents on the birth certificate and the child is deemed to be born in wedlock.”

“There’s no similar presumption with respect to an all-female married couple — or for that matter an all-male married couple,” the judges wrote, adding that requiring both women in a same-sex marriage to be listed as parents would prevent any discrimination.

Karen Celestino-Horseman, the attorney representing the Hendersons, told NBC News the Supreme Court should follow the legal precedent set in its own 2017 ruling for Pavan v. Smith. That case involved married couples in Arkansas who conceive via artificial insemination.

The high court’s decision held that the “constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage” included having the names of same-sex parents on a birth certificate.

(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.

But Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill argued in his SCOTUS brief that upholding the ruling in the Hendersons’ case would “violate common sense.”

Hill also maintained that allowing both parents in a same-sex couple to be on a child’s birth certificate could jeopardize parental rights based on biology.

“A birth mother’s wife will never be the biological father of the child, meaning that, 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,” Hill wrote in his brief.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a conference regarding the case on December 11. It will be the first dealing with same-sex marriage rights since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the high court.

Hill last made national headlines in May when he had his law license suspended for a month after being accused of groping a state lawmaker and three other women in a bar in 2018. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) and other state GOP leaders called for Hill’s resignation at the time.

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.

Sen. Hirono Calls Out Barrett For Offensive ‘Sexual Preference’ Term

L-R Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Sen. Mazie Hirono (screen captures)

During Day Two of the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) took time to point out Barrett’s use of the term “sexual preference” when mentioning the 2015 SCOTUS decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which brought marriage equality to the entire nation.

Earlier in the day, Barrett had said she had “no agenda” and that “I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.”

Hirono accurately called out the use of the term used by many anti-LGBTQ activists.

“Not once but twice you used the term ‘sexual preferences’ to describe those in the LGBTQ community,” said Hirono. “Let me make clear, ‘sexual preference’ is an offensive and outdated term. It is used by anti-LGTBQ activists to suggest that sexual orientation is a choice.”

“That sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable was a key part of the majority’s opinion in Obergefell,” added the senator. “Which, by the way, [Justice Antonin] Scalia did not agree with.”

LGBTQ folks haven’t gotten much focus in this election cycle, but this lands bigtime. Bravo, Sen. Hirono.

Barrett later apologized saying she “would never mean to use a term that would cause any offense in the LGBTQ community.”

Trump Takes Tax Returns Case Back To SCOTUS After Losing In Lower Courts

Donald Trump during a White House press briefing (public domain)

Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to block lower court rulings that would allow the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to review several years of the Donald’s income tax returns.

This comes after a federal district judge ruled against Trump’s legal team which had argued the District Attorney’s subpoena is “overbroad.” A federal appeals court agreed with the lower court’s assessment.

More from CNBC:

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear his appeal, it will be the second time the court has taken the case, which is related to an ongoing criminal probe of the Trump Organization, the president’s company, by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office.

Trump’s lawyers in their filing Tuesday said “there is a reasonable probability that” the Supreme Court will take the appeal.

In the meantime, Vance has agreed to hold off on enforcing the subpoena pending the outcome of Trump’s efforts at the Supreme Court.

Vance is seeking the tax returns and other records as part of a probe that is known to be eyeing how hush-money payments to women who say they had sex with Trump were accounted for by the Trump Organization. The president has denied having sex with either woman, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Barrett Dodges On LGBTQ Rights & Marriage Equality “I Can’t, I’m Sorry”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Judge Amy Coney Barrett

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Judge Amy Coney Barrett

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) brought up LGBTQ rights and specifically marriage equality during today’s confirmation hearing with Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Feinstein asked Barrett whether she believes marriage equality is settled law, but Barrett dodged on giving a clear answer. In public comments, Barrett has previously made it known she did not support the 2015 Obergefell ruling which made marriage equality legal across the U.S.

She also believes Title IX doesn’t protect transgender people on the basis of sex discrimination.

In responding today, Barrett used the anti-LGBTQ phrase “sexual preference” in referencing sexual orientation indicating that she believes it is a choice. The catchphrase is popular among those who oppose LGBTQ rights and maintain queer people could just choose to be straight if they wanted to.

Here is a clip of Sen. Feinstein asking the judge about her thoughts on both the Defense of Marriage ruling which SCOTUS struck down as well as the Obergefell decision.

Feinstein: “Both decisions were decided by a 5-4 margin. Justice Ginsburg was in the majority. Justice Scalia dissented in both cases. You said in your acceptance speech for this nomination that Justice Scalia’s philosophy is your philosophy. Do you agree with this particular point of Justice Scalia’s view that the U.S. Constitution does not afford gay people the fundamental right to marry?”

Judge Barrett: “If I were confirmed, you would be getting Justice Barrett, not Justice Scalia so I don’t think that anybody should assume that just because Justice Scalia decided a decision a certain way that I would too. But I’m not going to express a view on whether I agree or disagree with Justice Scalia for the same reasons that I’ve been giving.

“Now, Justice Ginsburg, with her characteristic pithiness, used this to describe how a nominee should comport herself at a hearing. ‘No hints, no previews, no forecasts.’ That had been the practice of nominees before her but everybody calls it the Ginsburg rule because she stated it so concisely and it’s been the practice of every nominee since. So I can’t, and I’m sorry to not be able to embrace or disavow Justice Scalia’s position but I really can’t do that on any point of law.”

Feinstein: “Well that’s really too bad because it’s really a fundamental point for large numbers of people in this country. I understand you don’t want to answer these questions directly but you identify yourself with a Justice that you, like him, would be a consistent vote to roll back hard-fought freedoms and protections for the LGBT community. And what I was hoping that you would say is that this would be a point of difference where those freedoms would be respected and you haven’t said that.”

Barrett: “Senator, I have no agenda and I do want to be clear that I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not ever discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.

“Like racism, I think discrimination is important. On the questions of law, however, I just, because I’m a sitting judge and because you can’t answer questions without going through the judicial process, can’t give answers to those very specific questions.”