If Hell Has Frozen Over In Texas, ‘What’s The Matter With Kansas?”

Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas’s Marriage Ban, But No Weddings Just Yet

Hell has officially frozen over. A federal judge in San Antonio has ruled that the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia didn’t clear the way for marriages to take place immediately, instead issuing a stay while the state appeals. However, in his ruling, he made it clear that the ban, passed by voters in 2005 by a 3-1 margin, is nothing more than antigay discrimination.

“Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” Garcia, a Clinton appointee, wrote. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.”

The case was brought by a gay couple who want to get married and a lesbian couple who want their out-of-state marriage to be recognized in Texas. The state’s case was argued by Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor and who is likely to use the ruling to appeal to hard-core conservative voters. Abbott had argued that lifting the ban was an attempt to “rewrite over 150 years of Texas law,” as if 150-year old laws were universally deserving of preservation.

Marriage equality is unlikely to take place in Texas until the Supreme Court rules on the myriad of cases that are bubbling up on the federal circuit. However, it’s worth noting that so far the anti-marriage forces have been zero for five in federal court, all of which cover traditionally conservative states (Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Kentucky and now Texas). Today’s ruling is just one more sign that the tide is coming in very quickly and there’s little that opponents of marriage equality can do to stop it.

Full story here: http://www.queerty.com/federal-judge-strikes-down-texass-marriage-ban-but-no-weddings-just-yet-20140226/$http://www.queerty.com/federal-judge-strikes-down-texass-marriage-ban-but-no-weddings-just-yet-20140226/#ixzz2uXuptVor

Is Kansas More Conservative Than Texas?????

Houston’s Mayor Marries Longtime Partner In California

Houston Mayor Annise Parker wields the gavel to open her first session of City Council after being inaugurated in Houston

Houston Mayor Annise Parker wields the gavel to open her first session of City Council after being inaugurated in Houston

Houston’s openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, has wedded her longtime partner at a private home in California, even as her home state of Texas bans such same-sex marriages.

HOUSTON – Houston’s openly gay mayor, Annise Parker, has wedded her longtime partner at a private home in California, even as her home state of Texas bans such same-sex marriages.

Parker and Kathy Hubbard were married on Thursday, the 23rd anniversary of their relationship, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

“We have had to wait a very long time to formalize our commitment to each other,” Parker said in the statement.

About 75 percent of Texas voters in 2005 approved a state constitutional measure banning same-sex marriages. But the politics in the state’s largest cities are far more progressive, with vibrant gay communities in places such as Houston, Dallas and Austin.

Parker was elected to her third and final term as mayor in November with little attention to her sexual orientation.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, currently serving her third term in office, is openly gay, as are city council members in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Houston.

Parker instituted a policy last year that allows married, same-sex partners of city employees to receive health insurance benefits, but her new wife will not be participating in that program, according to the statement.

The city’s policy is being challenged in court by members of the Harris County Republican Party.

Parker and Hubbard have adopted two children together, a process she wrote about in the Huffington Post last year in which she talked about the discrimination they faced.

Parker and Annise are spending their honeymoon weekend in California, according to the mayor’s office.


Federal Government Recognizes the Same-Sex…

WASHINGTON — The federal government will recognize the same-sex marriages that were performed in Utah during a brief window, despite the state government’s decision not to do the same, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.

A federal judge in Utah struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages on Dec. 20, and thousands of couples rushed to get their marriage licenses. But the state of Utah is appealing the decision, and the Supreme Court earlier this week put the ruling on hold until the appeals court has ruled.

The Supreme Court’s decision halted the state from performing any additional same-sex unions, but it didn’t address the status of those same-sex marriages performed in the interim period. Holder’s announcement Friday clarified that those couples will, for now, be afforded the federal benefits married couples receive.

“I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages,” Holder said in a video released Friday afternoon.

“These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds,” he continued. “In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled -– regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.  And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”

Huffington Post


Permanent Injunction

“The application for stay presented to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court is granted. The permanent injunction issued by the United States District Court for the District of Utah, case No. 2:13-cv-217, on December 20, 32013, is stayed pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.”

Writes Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog:

The order appeared to have the support of the full Court, since there were no noted dissents.  The ruling can be interpreted as an indication that the Court wants to have further exploration in lower courts of the basic constitutional question of state power to limit marriage to a man and a woman.  Had it refused the state’s request for delay, that would have at least left the impression that the Court was comfortable allowing same-sex marriages to go forward in the 33 states where they are still banned.

Since the Monday order provided no explanation, it was not clear which of the arguments made by state officials had been convincing to the Justices.  The state had argued, among other things, that U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s decision nullifying Utah’s ban had preempted the power of the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter on that question.  The state also had contended that its interest in enforcing its ban would have been undercut by a refusing of a stay.  And it had said that it would be difficult to untangle marriages that had occurred in the meantime, if the ban were ultimately upheld in the courts.

The stay will remain until the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to uphold or overturn Shelby’s ruling.

13A687 Supreme Court Order by Equality Case Files

Supreme Court Puts Same Sex Marriage On Hold In Utah

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has put same-sex marriages on hold in Utah, at least while a federal appeals court more fully considers the issue.

The court issued a brief order Monday blocking any new same-sex unions in the state.

The order follows an emergency appeal by the state following the Dec. 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates gay and lesbian couples’ constitutional rights.

More than 900 gay and lesbian couples have married since then.

The high court order will remain in effect until the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to uphold Shelby’s ruling.

Letter to Editor—Manhattan Mecury

Marriage Equality is a Civil Right

Dear Editor:

I recently consulted my convenient source of information on just about anything, Wikipedia, and learned that same-sex marriage is legal, or will be legal in 2014, in eighteen states in the US, and by eight Native American tribal jurisdictions.  Approval of same sex marriage by state and region in this country is now experiencing a “snowball effect” facilitated by the June 26, 2013 US Supreme Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of Section 3 in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages.  As a neighbor of Fort Riley, we in Manhattan should certainly appreciate that Wikipedia also reports, “…the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it would provide spousal and family benefits to service members in same-sex marriages on the same terms as it does to those in different-sex marriages.…benefits…include health care coverage, housing … survivor benefits, can be … retroactive to June 26, the day of the Supreme Court decision…”

I am part of the lay-leadership team at a local, well-established church, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan.  We sent the Mercury a press release in early December, which you chose not to publish or report in your news sections, so I am hopeful you will print my letter today.  UUFM approved a Statement of Principle by a unanimous vote of the congregation present on December 8, 2013, as follows: “We, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan, Kansas, in light of our religious and moral principles and commitment to human rights, hereby declare full support for Marriage Equality for couples of any gender identity or sexual orientation, and call for the State of Kansas to legally recognize same-sex marriage.”  Although some in our fair city may not feel the same way as we do, UUs are certain we are not the only folks in Manhattan to feel this way about marriage equality.  I consider the right to marry whomever you choose is a civil right that should be protected and defended by all state and local jurisdictions in this country.  Our UU congregants and I want Kansas to be part of that snowball, and I invite all like-minded folks to join with us.

Tom Phillips
UUFM Chair of the Executive Board
481 Zeandale Rd., Manhattan, KS  66505



Complaint seeks to block implementation of discriminatory policies by state tax agency.

Wichita, Kans. – Equality Kansas (formerly the Kansas Equality Coalition) hails yesterday’s filing of Nelson, et al., v. Kansas Department of Revenue (Case No. 13-C1465).  The complaint, filed in Shawnee County District Court by two legally married same-sex couples, seeks to block the state Department of Revenue from implementing a tax scheme that unfairly singles out gay and lesbian couples for discriminatory treatment under the tax code.

“In Kansas all married persons have to use the same income and tax status and information on all tax returns,” said Thomas Witt, Equality Kansas’ executive director.   “There is no separate law for legally married same-sex couples, and the state shouldn’t be making separate rules that penalize or stigmatize married gay and lesbian Kansans.”

“We are simply asking the state to follow existing Kansas law,” said David J. Brown, the Lawrence attorney who filed the action. “Kansas law requires the state to use federal definitions of marriage for tax purposes, but the Department of Revenue is refusing to comply. My clients are asking the courts to order the Department of Revenue to follow the law.”

The IRS has announced that it will recognize all legally performed marriages for tax purposes and that all legally married same-sex couples must file tax returns as “married,” even if they live in a state where their marriages aren’t recognized. The Kansas Department of Revenue has announced it will not use the federal definition of marriage and has established regulations requiring same-sex couples to file as single persons and say they are not married.

To implement the new policy, the state has published a special worksheet for same-sex couples to complete when filing their Kansas taxes instead of simply using their federal tax filing numbers. The state failed to follow any of the statutory requirements for adopting the new regulations.

“By requiring legally married same-sex couples to file additional tax forms and say they are not married on those tax forms, Kansas is penalizing and stigmatizing  gay and lesbian Kansans,” said Witt. “Kansas tax officials have decided that instead of following the law, they want to single out married gay and lesbian couples for unfair and illegal treatment,” Witt said.

The Department of Revenue has published a special worksheet for same-sex couples to complete when filing their Kansas taxes. Instead of simply using their federal tax filing as the basis for Kansas income taxes as all other married couples do, legally married gay and lesbian couples must complete a worksheet which “decouples” their household income, and keep it on file for the Department to inspect upon demand.

“It is really simple: the state should follow its own laws and require all married Kansans to file their taxes – state and federal – the same way,  as married persons,” Witt said.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a gay couple living in Wabaunsee County and a lesbian couple residing in Douglas County.

Formerly the Kansas Equality Coalition, Equality Kansas works to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and to ensure the dignity, safety, and legal equality of all Kansans.