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Tag Archives: constitutional
INDIANAPOLIS Opponents of an effort to place Indiana’s gay marriage ban in the state constitution won a surprising victory Thursday as the Senate effectively pushed off a statewide vote on the issue for at least two years, and possibly longer.
In a parliamentary move that spared state senators a tough vote on the measure, the Senate advanced the marriage ban without the “second sentence” ban on civil unions. The House stripped that language from the amendment before passing it last month, and the Senate’s decision not to restore the language before voting Thursday means the effort to amend the constitution must start fresh.
Even if Indiana’s marriage ban clears the Senate on a final vote Monday, it would have to be debated again in the next biennial session, 2015-16, before it could appear before voters.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said many lawmakers sensed that the final say on the issue ultimately will be made by the U.S. Supreme Court. A federal court ruling this week that Kentucky must recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states was weighed in private discussions among Senate Republicans, and Long said he could sense momentum building for a high court ruling.
“In reality, I think the issue is going to be before the United States Supreme Court as I’ve said before and it’s either going to be a state’s rights issue and each state decides for itself or it’s going to be decided by the Supreme Court that it’s a violation of the 14th Amendment,” Long said. “One way or another they’re going to have the final say in this because the U.S. Constitution trumps a state constitution.”
Indiana’s gay marriage battle was playing out as federal courts in Oklahoma and Utah overturned constitutional bans and New Mexico’s high court overturned that state’s marriage ban.
Devonte Glass of Gary, Indiana (center) stands with friends who traveled to Indianapolis on Thursday to protest against an effort to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)
The state Senate’s decision caps a sharp turnabout in Indiana, where just three years ago the constitutional ban passed the General Assembly with overwhelming majorities. But national attitudes on gay marriage have shifted sharply, and opponents of the ban were able to build a strong coalition that lobbied Indiana lawmakers heavily privately and in public.
Indiana’s gay marriage battle also opened a rift among Republicans in the solidly conservative state. Pro-business conservatives, including many who had worked closely with former Gov. Mitch Daniels, largely lined up against the marriage ban. While social conservatives, mostly aligned with Republican Gov. Mike Pence, fought hard to shepherd the ban to the 2014 ballot.
Some of the Republican Party’s strongest fundraisers, including former George W. Bush economic adviser Al Hubbard and former Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jim Kittle, opened their wallets for Freedom Indiana, the umbrella organization opposing the marriage ban.
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Nevadas decision not to defend the states ban on gay marriage leaves a conservative group that pushed for the constitutional amendment to carry on the legal fight alone before a federal appeals court.
More than three dozen groups, states and individuals have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case pending before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. But only the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage remains to argue for preserving the law being challenged by eight gay, Nevada couples who say its an unconstitutional violation of their civil rights.
The coalition orchestrated efforts more than a decade ago to put the constitutional amendment on the ballot, where it received overwhelming support.
Monte Stewart, the coalitions lead attorney in Boise, Idaho, would not comment Tuesday.
But Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal, a gay advocacy group representing the Nevada couples in the lawsuit, said the states decision very significantly helps our case.
That sends quite a message to the 9th Circuit, he said Tuesday.
Democratic Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced Monday her office will not defend the amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge and attorney general, agreed, saying Nevadas law is no longer defensible in court after another 9th Circuit ruling that said gays and lesbians cannot be precluded from jury duty because of their sexual orientation. That ruling extended civil rights protections to gays that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously promised only to women and racial minorities.
Still, the case challenging Nevadas gay marriage ban will proceed in the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. Eight same-sex couples are appealing a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Jones in Reno, who upheld the ban in 2012.
Some legal experts say an appellate ruling favoring couples would make it less likely Nevada will become a national test case for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Where the Nevada attorney general is not defending the law and same-sex couples win at the appellate court level, then there might not be any case for the Supreme Court to review, said Douglas NeJaime, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.
INDIANAPOLIS Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, has moved the gay-marriage amendment to the Senate Rules Committee for hearing early the week of Feb. 10.
He announced the move Thursday, which went against statements he made last week, in which he was adamant the bill would go to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Long said he did not think the amendment would stall there, but that the Rules Committee was more representative of leadership of the chamber and a better place for it to be handled.
The Indiana House narrowly passed the constitutional proposal to ban gay marriage last week after deleting a second sentence that would have banned future civil unions as well.
Long said it is his preference that the amendment remain the same in committee, but that any changes can be offered in the Senate on second reading. None will be blocked.
Long would not say how he personally feels about whether the second sentence should be restored.
Im going to keep my powder dry on that right now.
Some supporters want the second sentence put back in so that Hoosiers can vote on the proposal in November. If it isnt restored, the amendment would have to be passed again by the legislature in 2015 or 2016, and could not go to the voters until 2016.
Its a matter of when, not if, Long said.
Megan Robertson, campaign manager for the bipartisan Freedom Indiana coalition fighting the proposal, didnt agree with Long that it is a foregone conclusion the amendment will eventually pass two separately elected General Assemblies.
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Indiana General Assembly is back in session and some political interest groups will be looking to lawmakers to decide on the constitutional ban on gay marriage.
Advance America has released two television ads in the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne markets urging lawmakers to give the voters the right to vote on House Joint Resolution six, also known as HJR-6. This bill, if presented and approved by voters, will amend the Indiana’s constitution to only allow marriage between a man and a woman. State Senator Tom Wysssaid it’s hard to tell what legislators may do on this issue.
“To say what’s going to happen this year, no one really knows what’s exactly going to happen because there are so many variables,” he said.
State Sen. Wyss said some legislators want to focus on other topics beside this one. He said there won’t be any major push in the General Assembly because no one wants to play the “blame game” on this sensitive topic.
“If a majority of those members want this issue put on the table, that’s what’s going to be done, but it’s not something that President Pro-Tem Long or Speaker Bosma are going to control by themselves,” said Wyss.
Andy Downs, Director of Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, said he believes lawmakers will narrowly pass the measure to bring before voters.
“There are actual members of the General Assembly who are saying I’m not saying I’m for it or against it, but I’m saying that you the people should decide,” Downs said.
Downs believes some in the public may feel this topic has been talked about long enough, but interest groups are keeping it in the forefront to force the state to take a stand.
“It’s the one issue that everyone knows that we’re going to have to talk about, and we’re going to do something about it, but there are these other things we like to do,” Downs said.
Downs said if there’s a constitutional ban, it’s likely it will go before the courts.
Marc Solomon, the national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, a group that advocates for gay marriage, has a hard time counting the victories for his movement in 2013.
Its been an amazing year, says Solomon. Its the gift that keeps on giving.
He lists the states that have legalized same-sex marriage along with those where judicial decisions on lawsuits led to the overturning of marriage protection laws or constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.
The most recent decision came last week in Utah, where U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby, a Fort Atkinson native, struck down that states same-sex marriage ban and refused to issue a stay, which would have allowed the constitutional amendment to remain in place as his decision is appealed.
The state is now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in the absence of a stay, the result has been a flood of gay and lesbian couples rushing to courthouses throughout the state to get married.
Im looking at pictures of Boy Scouts in Utah bringing pizza to county clerks who are working over lunch to provide marriage licenses to gay couples, says Solomon. Its a new world out there.
For the moment, that new world does not include Wisconsin, where a constitutional amendment adopted in 2006 that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman remains on the books. Despite its similarity to the Utah amendment, it currently faces no legal challenges.
As closely as we watch these things, I cant tell you why there isnt one here, says Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, a group that pushed for the amendment and opposes any challenges to it. I can say that we remain on high alert for such challenges.
Appling believes recent legal victories for gay marriage advocates are less representative of a groundswell of support than an orchestrated legal strategy.
It is our opinion that, for the most part, people seeking to challenge these amendments look around carefully for where they want to challenge and before what judges they want to challenge these, says Appling.
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The word in Arabic, dostour, means constitution
From a recent article on Arab West Report, to which I contributed a section reporting from a conference held by Egyptian liberals on the ideal constitution. Somewhat surprisingly, there was a good deal of sentiment against the military council:
Essam al-Din Hassan next spoke about the principle of freedom and the encroachments against it in negotiations over the new constitution. One feature of these negotiations is the efforts of the Ministry of Defense and al-Azhar to entrench their independence from the rest of the state. In terms of the military, standing apart from the rest of the executive authority essentially two heads of state would be terrible for the civil state and allow Egypt to again become a military, police state.
It is not unreasonable to think, he stated, that the military might trade this status with religious forces that are also looking for gains in the constitution, especially the Salafs. They are arguing to keep Article 219 somewhere in the text, providing a conservative, Sunni-specific interpretation to the clause in Article 2 saying sharia is the primary source of legislation. But even Article 2, he argued, designating a religion for the state, has no place in a civil state. Article 3, similarly, guaranteeing special religious rights for the Copts, only reinforces the idea of a religious state. To curb such sectarian advances, firm consensus must be gathered in the committee of fifty which is rewriting the Constitution, so that civil state principles are protected, even from the tools of democracy which might undo them.
Ahmad Raghib spoke less about the necessary constitutional provisions for human dignity than the danger of their constant undermining. He noted that previous Egyptian constitutions, such as the 1971 version which governed up until the January 25 Revolution, provided guarantees for human dignity. This did not, however, stop the state from ignoring them, or even trampling upon them as was visible in the police torture cases against Khalid Saeed and Ahmad Bilal.
Raghib expanded Hassans warning about the military saying most institutions of state are seeking to enshrine their independence in the Constitution. This is expressly against the will of the people, however, who should have their elected officials administratively responsible for all these institutions. Unfortunately, in the previous Constitution, the Muslim Brotherhood collaborated with these institutions to preserve Mubaraks state and keep it and the military council immune from their crimes. He closed with the expectation that a third wave of the Revolution might be necessary to put things right and secure a true modern civil constitution.
Please click here to read the full article at Arab West Report, which contains further reporting from the conference as well as observations from an interview with Rev. Safwat al-Baiady, president of the Protestant churches of Egypt and a member in the constitutional committee.
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THE NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILDs LEGAL OBSERVER TRAINING MANUAL The Legal Observer program is part of a comprehensive system of legal support coordinated by the National Lawyers Guild designed to enable people to express their political views as fully as possible, without unconstitutional disruption or interference by the government and with the least possible consequences from the criminal justice system.
The New Jersey Supreme Court said Friday thatsame-sex couples in the state could wed, starting Monday, while an appeal to same-sex marriage is pending. The court’s sharp tone indicates that the justices are likely, in the end, to affirm gay marriage rights for good.
The New Jersey Supreme Court on Friday opened the way for the first time for gay and lesbian couples in the state to get married starting next Monday, Oct. 21.
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With a stroke of the judicial pen, New Jersey joined 13 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing same-sex couples to marry.
The 7-to-0 ruling is only preliminary, with the court set to hear arguments on the merits of the case in early January.But the sharp tone of Fridays 20-page opinion leaves little doubt that the justices are likely to uphold an earlier judges ruling that the New Jersey constitution requires that the state permit same-sex couples to marry.
We find that the compelling public interest in this case is to avoid violations of the constitutional guarantee of equal treatment for same-sex couples, the court said.The state argues that we should give the democratic process a chance to play out rather than act now. When courts face questions that have far-reaching social implications, there is a benefit to letting the political process and public discussion proceed first, the court noted.
But the justices added: When a party presents a clear case of ongoing unequal treatment, and asks the court to vindicate constitutionally-protected rights, a court may not sidestep its obligations to rule for an indefinite amount of time.
Under those circumstances, courts do not have the option to defer, they said.
The issue was not whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. That will be decided after Januarys argument session. The issue on Friday was simply whether same-sex couples could begin getting married before the court hears the appeal.
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