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!