Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In Other Gay News...

- Confirmation hearings began yesterday for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. SCOTUSblog has some truly excellent issue briefs covering major topics likely to be addressed in the hearings, including DADT. [SCOTUSblog]

- Monday was also Justice Stevens' last day on the Court. He read a farewell letter from the bench. [Blog of Legal Times]

- West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, described by some as a "powerful foe of same sex marriage," died yesterday. [Sexual Orientation and the Law]

- More on Twin Cities Pride, as the organization announces it may move the event next year to a private venue so it won't have to tolerate anti-gay preachers like Brian Johnson (as I said here). [The Advocate]

Monday, June 28, 2010

Supreme Court Rules in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez

The Supreme Court handed down the last of its opinions for the term today, including a decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.

The issue in the case was whether a public school (UC Hastings, the law school at UC Davis) could deny funding and recognition to a religious student organization that required its officers and voting members to agree with certain core religious viewpoints, including ones that violated the school's non-discrimination policy (the religious viewpoint at issue - that unrepentant gay sex is a sin). After the school denied the student group funding based on the fact that the group's bylaws violated the non-discrimination policy, the group sued.

This is yet another case from the Supreme Court with an LGBT connection, the other being Doe v. Reed. I blogged earlier that, although Doe v. Reed involved some gay issues, it wasn't actually an LGBT rights case. What about this one?

Some seem to think that Christian Legal Society is, in fact, a "victory" for gays and lesbians (at least that's what the email from the National LGBT Bar Association told me). Additionally, others believe the breakdown of the court in today's 5-4 decision might reflect how the Justices might come out should the Prop 8 trial make its way to One First Street.

I think I'm somewhere in the middle on this one. I tend to agree with Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog, who points out:
The bottom line: state college leaders may reserve official status on campus to groups that admit all comers, provided that the policy genuinely seeks and promotes that aim and does not single out any group because of what it believes.
The case has a very narrow holding, and it's not directly about the fact that the Christian Legal Society was excluding members based on their sexual orientation. Even Justice Alito's dissent focuses less on any sort of argument for morality than it does the right to expression entitled to the Christian Legal Society. At the same time, it is an argument that pits freedom of religion against homosexuality. At the very least, this is a major victory in that it upheld a law school policy that refused to allow tuition from gay students or allies from going to a student group that espoused homophobia.

The case that was handed down today that I think is a bigger indicator of future cases, though, is the Second Amendment case, McDonald v. City of Chicago. In McDonald, the Court held in another 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment was incorporated to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The potentially important part of the decision for gay rights advocates, though, is that the five Justices that voted to incorporate the Second Amendment did so based on a conservative interpretation of the Constitution, as noted by Steven Calabresi:
Justice Alito’s opinion is also of tremendous importance because it is based on the premis that substantive due process rights must be deeply rooted in American history and tradition before the Supreme Court can protect them....The McDonald case makes it clear that five justices (Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy) are now committed to recognizing only rights that are deeply rooted in history and tradition. This is the first occasion on which Roberts and Alito have squarely addressed this issue, and it is also significant because Justice Kennedy, who strayed from the conservative camp when he found a constitutional right to commit sodomy, is now back to signing on to opinions that confine constitutional rights to those that are deeply rooted in history and tradition.
Does McDonald mean that Justice Kennedy has switched camps yet again? Probably not, but it's interesting that he signed onto an opinion from Justice Alito with such strong language as to what substantive due process rights will be recognized by the Court.

A great resource for information and documents in Christian Legal Society is the case's SCOTUSwiki page. Other stories covering the opinion can be found at Althouse, Bilerico, Box Turtle Bulletin, and Leonard Link.

Twin Cities Pride After the Fact

Some follow up on the First Amendment flap surrounding Twin Cities Pride in Minnesota.

First, the federal district court refused to issue an injunction preventing anti-gay preacher Brian Johnson from entering the pride festival, citing Johnson's First Amendment rights. This is a decision that, as I said previously, I agree with - free speech is for everyone, not just people we like or agree with. If you want to regulate speech at your event, rent out a private venue, not a public park. Dale Carpenter comments on the case, with links to the district court's opinion, at Volokh.

And so Brian Johnson and his family went to Twin Cities Pride, brought free Bibles, got followed around by the media, and generally were ignored by most pride-goers. No one got crazy, no one got into a fight, there wasn't even a shouting match that I can find reference to. Just lots of gays and allies, enjoying the weekend. Which, really, is the way it should be.

Quick Follow-Up on Doe v. Reed

The Supreme Court's decision in Doe v. Reed, which I blogged about on Friday, continues to receive attention on the blogosphere. Lisa McElroy at SOTUSblog has a good "In Plain English" explanation of the decision, including this passage, which is similar to what I talked about in my post:
One other note: The Court sided with the state here, which some may view as siding with gay marriage proponents. But that’s not it at all. The Court did not express an opinion on gay marriage in and of itself. It merely ruled on the legal issue before it, an important distinction that will come into play even when cases directly implicating gay marriage eventually make their way to the Court.

In Other Gay News...

Lots of news from this big gay weekend.

- Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir married her partner on Sunday, after the country's new law recognizing same-sex marriage came into affect. Which explains all of the volcanic eruptions and economic meltdowns. [Box Turtle Bulletin and The Advocate]

- Chile is also moving on laws to recognize same-sex civil unions. [Box Turtle Bulletin]

- The Second Circuit held that a police officer could not be held civilly liable for making an unconstitutional arrest when he was picked up by a guy cruising in a park. Because even though the loitering law the arrest was based on had been declared unconstitutional twenty years ago, it hadn't been taken off the books by the legislature, and it wasn't the responsibility of the cop to know that. It may, however, be the responsibility of the city to provide proper training to said cop so that he does not enforce unconstitutional statutes. And so the arrestees suit goes forward. [Leonard Link]

- Nancy Polikoff gives some tips as to how the HHS regulations on hospital visitation can be put into effect in a way that actually makes sense for gays and lesbians. [Bilerico]

- Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli goes originalist and lets a high school crowd know that gays "would never have been contemplated" by the framers of the 14th Amendment. [The Advocate]

- Esera Tuaolo, a former Minnesota Vikings player who came out in 2002, was arrested for domestic violence and disorderly conduct.

- Paul Waldman talks about the arguments against same-sex marriage - and why they end up being all about straight people. [The American Prospect via Feministing]

- And, as the Prop 8 trial nears its end, the lawyers get more write-ups. This time, it's David Bois' turn. [Salon via Towleroad]

- Soledad O'Brien tackles DADT. [Towleroad]

- Bilerico has a podcast full of gay issues, including Doe v. Reed, DADT, ENDA, and the politics of pride. Happy Monday! [Bilerico]

Friday, June 25, 2010

In Other Gay News...

- In yet another instance of pride events meeting free speech rights, Toronto Pride officials have announced that they will not prohibit a group named "Queers Against Israeli Apartheid" from marching in the parade, as previously announced. [Bilerico Project]

- The European Court of Human Rights held that members of the Council of Europe need not provide equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, although whether some sort of civil union may be required is unclear. [Box Turtle Bulletin and The Advocate]

- Filed under ridiculous: Elena Kagan is now reportedly an "ex-gay." [Towleroad]

- 1L Contracts hypo alert - a D.C. woman is suing her church to recover $250,000 in donations she gave to the church, now that the church has come out in support of same-sex marriage. [Queerty]

Supreme Court Rules in Doe v. Reed - A Big Deal?

The Supreme Court yesterday handed down its opinion in Doe v. Reed, the First Amendment case that asked whether the names of individuals who signed petitions in Washington's Referendum 71, which would put same-sex marriage on the Washington ballot, may be released under the state's public disclosure law.

There have been plenty of stories about the decision, some of which are linked atSCOTUSBlog. SCOTUSBlog's Tom Goldstein also has an excellent summary of the decision, which held 8-1 (with Justice Thomas dissenting) first that referendum signatories do not have a right to keep their identities private. The Court also held (and this is where some other blogs are missing the holding of the decision) that in each situation a court should consider whether the specific circumstances of the given referendum do in fact call for anonymity (when the purpose and effect of the disclosure of the names would be to facilitate harassment). So, are the names of those that signed Referendum 71 being released? We still don't know - the Court remanded that question to the lower courts to apply the test to this particular case.

So what is the impact of this case on gay rights or gay marriage? Quite frankly, I don't see there being all that much. This is, first and foremost, a First Amendment case. The main issue here was whether a state law requiring public disclosure of certain records, including referendum petitions, was subject to First Amendment scrutiny. The fact that the referendum at issue was to put marriage equality up for a vote, and that the individuals whose identities would be disclosed were opposed to marriage equality, is just a side issue that implicates the analysis that will go to the lower courts. The referendum could well have been about medical marijuana or term limits.

So why is the decision such a big deal for LGBT rights? My first reaction - it isn't. The analysis for whether the disclosure of those that signed Referendum 71 would facilitate harassment is unofficially discussed in dicta in the opinion (and outlined by Arthur Leonard here), and will be re-addressed by the lower courts. That analysis will have an effect on how later courts address similar situations, but even then each case will be specific to the facts of that particular time and state.

But on another level there is the feeling that the Supreme Court made the decision today to refuse to allow those who would deny rights to others to hide behind a referendum. And that is important.

So maybe this is more about the sentiment - we finally got a win! Or at least it feels like it.

Gay Parents - Gary and Tony, Wisconsin, and How to Approach Parental Rights

There's a lot of activity lately on the issue of parental rights for gays and lesbians.

Plenty of blogs have been buzzing about Soledad O'Brien's piece last night, Gary and Tony Have a Baby, the latest in CNN's Gay in America series. To be sure, reactions have been mixed. Take, for example, the pieces at Bilerico that are both generally positive and quite critical (largely based on the perpetuation of gay stereotypes). The piece itself raises a lot of issues (including the legal angle of adopting via surrogacy), but I find it encouraging that the issue is being addressed in the mainstream media in a way that (hopefully) will have a positive impact on people's perceptions of the struggles gays and lesbians have to go through to have a child. And I thought the piece itself was well put together, particularly when you consider that its audience isn't really gay couples in New York or San Francisco, but generally conservative people in middle America.

Meanwhile, in not so encouraging news, a Wisconsin appeals court ruled yesterday that same sex partners do not have full parental rights of their adopted kids (the opinion is posted here). The case arose when a lesbian couple, Wendy and Liz, adopted two children. Under Wisconsin law, the women cannot marry, and because they are not married they cannot jointly adopt. So Liz adopted the kids, which became a problem after Wendy and Liz's relationship ended and Wendy attempted to gain some sort of legal recognition of her parental relationship with the kids. The court ultimately refused to recognize Wendy as a parent. The court also refused to address Wendy's Constitutional claims, which argued that Wisconsin law violated the kids' equal protection and due process rights, saying they were "inadequately developed." A fight for another day.

The different ways of looking at gay parenting and adoption issues are highlighted by Susan Appleton in her paper Gender and Parentage just posted on SSRN (via Legal Theory). Appleton takes on how the legal system currently treats parenting rights and adoption issues, and why courts and legislatures should approach these issues from a "diversity approach" - basically, all parties are equal regardless of gender. Appleton contrasts the diversity approach with the "integrated model," which does focus on the biological roles of parents. Ultimately, Appleton argues for the diversity approach, which is a clear step for equality that would make cases like the Wisconsin appeals decision a thing of the past.

This is all a particularly interesting question, though, especially because of the results that come out of the current system of laws. Take, for example, California's presumption that a child that is born to a married couple is the biological offspring of both parents, until proven otherwise. This might make sense when you're dealing with a man and a woman - if the man wants to prove the child is not his, or another man wants to assert parental rights over the child, paternity must be proven. But how do we deal with, say, a lesbian couple that has legally been married in California? They now have a child, and the law presumes that both have full parental rights? Something tells me the answer to that is no, and that the non-biological mom will have to go through adoption proceedings, but I think there's a good equal protection argument to be made that parental rights should, in fact, be assumed for both women (of course, it also raises the issue of what the biological father's parental rights are to the child in that case).

Like I said, interesting stuff. It's frustrating that court decisions like the one in Wisconsin seem to be going against a "diversity approach." Still, I find it encouraging that programs like In America and policies from the Department of Labor (which recently interpreted the Family and Medical Leave Act to allow same-sex parents to take leave to care for a sick child, even if he/she is not legally related to the child, as I blogged about here) seem to be moving in the other direction.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Of Boy Scouts and Pride Parades

A Philadelphia jury yesterday determined that the city could not evict the Boy Scouts from their city-owned offices because of the Scouts' anti-gay policies (as has been reported as Towleroad and other sites).

Which has spurred Timothy Kinkaid from Box Turtle Bulletin (a great site if you haven't checked it out already) to lament over the fact that the gays "can't even buy a right." I agree with Kinkaid that it's disappointing and frustrating that homophobic preachers want to go to pride festivals and pass out leaflets telling gay people that they are going to hell. I agree that it's maddening when a jury refuses to apply the anti-discrimination laws of a city in a way that makes any logicals sense. But I don't think things are as bad as he makes them out to be.

As I said yesterday, the First Amendment protects speech we might find abhorrent, but that's actually a good thing. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it's one of the reasons we have pride events enough to worry about crazy preachers coming in to rile us up. And while the Boy Scouts case is disappointing, it is heartening to know that it was the City of Philadelphia that attempted to evict the Boy Scouts for their discriminatory practices. And it was eight members of the jury that got it wrong in allowing the discrimination to continue on the taxpayers' dime. We ought to know by now that equality in the courtroom isn't coming from the jury box; it's coming from the bench.

In Other Gay News...

- Australia's new Prime Minister Julia Gillard is against same sex marriage. [Advocate]

- The Department of Labor has interpreted the Family and Medical Leave Act in such a way that will allow same sex parents to take leave to care for a sick child, even if he/she is not legally related to the child. [Leonard Link]

- And in another positive move from the government, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has sent a letter to major hospital associations urging them to institute equal rules for same-sex couples when it comes to rights of visitation and power of attorney. [Towleroad]

- The Family Research Council is concerned that conservative gays might be pushing for national handgun concealed carry license reciprocity as a way to further reciprocity for same sex marriage licenses. A concern (or potential legitimate tactic) that David Kopel shoots down without too much trouble. I tend to agree with Kopel that any Second Amendment reciprocity arguments are not likely to have a huge impact on marriage equality, but it's a fun thought experiment. [Volokh]

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In Other Gay News...

- The DOJ has an LGBT employee association, and they hand out a yearly community service award to individuals serving the LGBT community. This year's award went to D.C. Councilman David Catania for his work advancing marriage equality in the District. [Blog of Legal Times]

- Because hearing from the Department of Health and Human Services wasn't enough, the ladies of The View tackle whether or not the gays should be allowed to give blood. [The Advocate]

- Courtney Joslin of UC Davis School of Law has posted her article, Travel Insurance: Protecting Lesbian and Gay Parent Families Across State Lines, on SSRN. [Via Legal Theory Blog]

Free Speech Claims From Anti-Gay Protestors at Twin Cities Pride

The Twin Cities Pride festival and parade in Minneapolis is coming up this weekend. But things are being stirred up by one Brian Johnson, an anti-gay activist and preacher that has threatened to bring suit against the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (the board that issues permits for the park where the festival is being held) if he is not allowed to display signs, distribute literature, and counsel attendees with his message that homosexuality is sinful.

Johnson relies, of course, on a First Amendment right to enter the park and express his personal views. The Board has agreed to his demands thus far, but now Twin Cities Pride is threatening its own suit against the Board to bar Johnson. On its website, Twin Cities Pride said it anticipates filing for an injunction in the District Court in Minneapolis...yesterday.

Dale Carpenter has coverage of the issue over at Volokh, where he puts forward the argument that the Supreme Court's decision in Hurley v. GLIB supports TCP's position:

TCP claims that it cannot be forced to include speech from an active participant — one who distributes literature and displays signs — whose message is diametrically opposed to its own within the boundaries and during the times in which it has obtained a permit to craft its own message of acceptance of homosexuality. His active presence on the festival grounds may mistakenly be perceived as reflecting TCP’s judgement that his religious views are worthy of presentation as part of a range of views about homosexuality or to express a liberal tolerance for messages of condemnation. It would be impractical to disclaim the message of one or more moving counter-speakers.
Aside from the First Amendment issue here, which seems to be a cross between Hurley and the Fred Phelps case coming up, I am inclined to say let the guy protest. Really, aside from being a mild annoyance, the worst I can see happening is someone taking a swing at him (which is probably what he's looking for anyway). I don't think any court would take seriously an argument that his being there or his message would incite violence, but it's interesting to ask whether protestors in other situations would. And isn't this just one of the situations where we, as Americans, have decided that it is better to allow inconvenient speech we may not agree with so that we may, I don't know, rent out parks for Pride festivals?

Happy pride, Minneapolis.

After a long break...

...we're back.

We're going to try to shift the focus of the blog from providing short summaries of relevant LGBT articles to analysis of news and articles that bring together the law and LGBT related issues.

Welcome back.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

11th Circuit Immigration Opinion

Prof. Leonard at New York Law School has this piece on a recent 11th Circuit decision reversing a Board of Immigration Appeals decision that would have denied asylum and withholding from removal for a gay, HIV+ man from Venezuela.

2010 Lavendar Law Carrer Fair Kickoff

The 2010 Lavendar Law Career Fair and Conference Summer Kickoff Reception is being held tomorrow at the Miami Chop House.

Gay Marriage Changes "Everything"

"A lot of the advocates of gay marriage in Iowa have said, ‘It doesn’t affect anything. Nothing has changed,’ [Iowa State Senator Merlin] Bartz says. "The reality of it is that everything is changing." By "everything," apparently Bartz means "camping." The Iowa state senator is challenging a state parks policy that would extend family camping privileges to married same-sex couples. (From The Advocate and Towleroad)

New Jersey Marriage

Advocates for marriage equality in New Jersey submitted amicus briefs to the state supreme court, arguing that the state's civil union law negatively impacts the children of LBGT unions, reports The Advocate.

All About Elena

Following President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan on Monday, there's a lot out there on the current Solicitor General's record (and lack thereof). Here are some of the better stories that address Kagan's record on LGBT issues, most notably DADT and same-sex marriage.

- Ann Althouse asks whether Kagan's Solicitor General questionnaire answer regarding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage is the same she would give as a SCOUTS justice.
- SCOUSBlog rounds up the stories of the day on Kagan, a number of which address her positions on DADT and same-sex marriage (namely, Nina Totenberg, Bob Egelko, Robert Clark, Jeffrey Toobin, and Emily Bazelon).
- Alex Pareene has a post at Salon arguing that Kagan will in fact not support same-sex marriage, given her record on the issue.
- Bilerico addresses Kagan's stance on the Solomon Amendment while she was Dean at Harvard.

And there are also myriad stories on Kagan's sexuality.

- Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic argues that it is "cowardly" for Kagan not to publicly reveal her orientation.
- Joe Conason disagrees, and argues that Kagan's sexuality is not, and should not be, an issue.
- Jack Shafer wishes there were a Supreme Court nominee that were openly gay.

Friday, May 7, 2010


“Clearly the world changed dramatically with the Gates letter...Everyone is trying to figure out how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.” The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld reports on why the repeal of DADT may be in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, Zachary Kramer of Penn State University has posted "Heterosexuality and Military Service" to SSRN. The paper reviews why any concerns about sexual behavior undermining unit cohesion could be addressed by rules covering all sexual conduct, and not just same-sex conduct. (Thanks to Legal Theory Blog.)

More DOMA Coverage

The challenge to DOMA that we reported earlier was heard in court Thursday, and received a great deal of coverage from The Advocate in posts here (which takes a look at the judge hearing the case, Judge Joseph Tauro) and here (which compares the case to the California challenge to Prop 8), Towleroad here, Feministing, and on NPR's Morning Edition (which I was pleased to hear on the way to work).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Trans Marriage in Texas

"It's a weight lifted...Now the federal government and state government recognize our love." A trans woman in Texas succeeded in marrying her longtime partner, as reported by Bilerico and The Advocate.

International Happenings

Good news and bad news in the international LGBT world.

Argentina's House has approved a same-sex marriage bill, which will now head to the nation's Senate (from Box Turtle Bulletin).

And a Lithuanian court made a ruling that will likely ban a gay pride march in that country, reports The Advocate.

DADT Coverage

As Veterans Lobby Day (which we covered yesterday) draws nearer, The Advocate reports that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is still "noncommittal" on a timeline for the repeal of DADT. Reading the transcript and The Advocate's story, however, one gets the impression that Gibbs was less noncommittal and more unclear as to the status: "The Washington Blade began the exchange by asking if the president was “ruling out” inclusion of repeal in the Defense authorization bill. “Let me get some guidance on that,” Gibbs said. “I don't know the answer to that.”"

In other DADT news, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network released another edition of "Stories from the Frontlines," also covered by The Advocate.

DOMA Challenge

A federal district court in Boston will hear a challenge to DOMA being brought in Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management. From WCVB TV, via The Advocate:

"They argue that the federal law restricts federal benefits to those in heterosexual marriages and they said that is inherently unfair and that it's only the states that should be able to determine marriage and domestic relations laws. The federal government, represented by the U.S. attorney's office in Boston, has asked that the case be dismissed, saying, among other things, that there is no fundamental right to federal benefits based on marital status."

Banning Blood Drives

San Jose State University has suspended all blood drives on its campus "based on the view that the FDA’s ban on donation by men who have had sex with men since 1977 violates the school's antidiscrimination policy." Eugene Volokh has an excellent piece that questions such a move, regardless of whether such a policy is sound. He also compares it with past attempts to bar military recruiters from college campuses, and says that banning blood drives and recruiters is a symbolic gesture that cannot outweigh the importance of "those institutions that protect our lives..."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Concerns for Trans Protections in ENDA

The Bilerico Project reports on the practical implications of the proposed ENDA language on trans employee bathroom usage.

ACLU Files Brief in New Jersey Marriage Case

"The American Civil Liberties Union submitted an amicus brief for a lawsuit in New Jersey, which argues that civil unions are not equal to marriages." The Advocate covers the ACLU's brief in the ongoing lawsuit here.

Veterans to Lobby for Repeal of DADT

In a move coordinated by Servicemembers United and the Human Rights Campaign, military veterans will converge on Washington D.C. on May 11-12 to lobby Congress and the White House for the repeal of DADT. On May 10, 125 veterans will participate in a meeting with the White House, and another 40 will participate in a meeting with the Pentagon (no word, it seems, on who from the White House or the Pentagon will be attending those meetings). Towleroad notes reactions in support of and against the move. The Advocate's coverage of the announcement is here.

Interestingly, The Advocate tags this as lobbying by gay veterans, while Towleroad doesn't specify whether the event is targeted toward LGBT veterans. The Veterans Lobby Day homepage and event announcement, which includes a link to an RSVP form for those wishing to participate, don't seem to specify either. The RSVP form for the May 10 meetings, however, notes that for the Pentagon meeting "the Comprehensive Review Working Group on DADT is interested in meeting with a diverse group of gay, lesbian, and bisexual veterans as part of its ongoing work to evaluate repeal implementation strategies and the effect of repeal on the force. Please ensure that you fit this criteria if you would like to attend this very important meeting." No such disclaimer appears for the White House meeting.

New York Court Rules in Lesbian Parent Cases

"New York State’s highest court ruled in two cases Tuesday that nonbiological parents involved in same-sex relationships have rights similar to those of biological parents. But the court limited its rulings, ultimately leaving it up to the State Legislature to decide whether to amend state law to grant nonbiological parents full custody rights." The New York Times reports on the Court of Appeals decisions. The Advocate also covers the story here, and Prof. Arthur Leonard from New York Law School has an extensive discussion of the two opinions here.

D.C. Court of Appeals Hears Arguments in Challenge to D.C. Marriage Law

The Advocate, Towleroad, and the Blog of Legal Times all covered yesterday's arguments in the D.C. Court of Appeals. The BLT reports that the arguments before all nine judges "gave little clue of which way [the judges] are leaning." The case, Harry Jackson et al v. DC Board of Elections, is a challenge brought by Bishop Harry Jackson against the D.C. Board of Elections' decision to reject a ballot initiative brought to put D.C.'s recent legislation recognizing marriage equality up for a public referendum. The Board of Elections had rejected the initiative because it violated the District's Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The previous orders of the Superior Court rejecting the petitioners' claims can be found here and here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Scholarship on Morality and Gay Rights

Legal Theory Blog pointed to Carlos Ball's new paper up on SSRN, "Gay is Good: Morality and the LGBT Rights Movement."

Faculty Fight for "Freedom of Sexuality" at Cardozo Law School

Above the Law reported yesterday on "freedom of sexuality" at Cardozo Law School, where law school professors "felt that the university administration’s “unequivocal condemnation” of homosexuality undermined Cardozo’s commitment to “academic freedom” and “antidiscrimination principles.”"

May's Lesbian/Gay Law Notes

Sexual Orientation and the Law Blog links to this month's publication of the Lesbian/Gay Law Notes from New York Law School's Prof. Arthur Leonard. This month's publication addresses issues including the Philippines' Supreme Court ruling that a gay rights party is entitled to participate in the national election as a party-list organization, New York City's loitering statute, and Hawaii's civil union bill.

Free Speech/Hate Speech Incident in the U.K.

"Mr Mcalpine said he told the officers that while he was not homophobic, he did believe homosexuality was a sin and there was no law against saying so." Volokh reports on a free speech incident out of England.

Contracts Clause to Remain Closeted

"Can Hollywood Legally Keep Gay Stars in the Closet?" An interesting take on contracts from Queerty and E!Online, with the makings of a fun exam hypo or student note.

Israel Court Rules on Pension for Closeted Partner

From the Advocate: "A man will be able to receive the pension of his late partner even though they hid their relationship from family members, the Tel Aviv District Labor Court ruled Monday."

Anti-Bullying Legislation

"[Sen.] Casey said the legislation, which will be known as the Safe Schools Improvement Act, is necessary because data shows that bullying happens ”most frequently to children who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.”" The Washington Blade has this article on the new anti-bullying legislation proposed by Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey.

Cert Denied in Boy Scouts Suit

SCOTUSblog covers the Supreme Court's denial of cert yesterday in Boy Scouts v. Barnes-Wallace, a lawsuit from the Ninth Circuit where a lesbian couple sued to prevent the Boy Scouts from using public land. The district court in the case ruled that the Boy Scouts' lease with the city of San Diego violated the Establishment Clause. The Boy Scouts appealed, arguing that the couple did not have Article III standing to sue under the Establishment Clause. The Ninth Circuit disagreed and upheld the parties' standing, and the Supreme Court's denial of cert will now send the case back to the Ninth Circuit for further proceedings.

The Christian Science Monitor's coverage of the case is here, and SCOTUSblog's earlier coverage of the case, with links to the Ninth Circuit opinion and briefs, is here. Additional coverage from CBS is here.

DADT Coverage

"We will not disappear. We will remember, in November."

A lot of reporting has occurred in the wake of the Don't Ask Don't Tell protests at the White House over the weekend, including from Towleroad and Box Turtle Bulletin, both of which have video of Howard Dean's speech at the protest.

Bilerico also covers a "solidarity rally" in Arizona.

And Towleroad also provides an update from "Stories from the Frontlines," an ongoing series urging for the repeal of DADT.

The Gay Law Blog Kickoff

Hello and welcome to The Gay Law Blog. As the name implies, The Gay Law Blog is a resource for legal news and issues related to the LGBT world.

If you have any suggestions as to how we can improve our coverage, please feel free to send me an email. Enjoy!