Changing the State of Hate-Crime Laws in Pennsylvania

tumblr_madb5cLO0b1rdh3oho1_500On Sept. 11, two gay men, ages 27 and 28, were brutally gay-bashed, allegedly by a group of young people who were dining earlier that evening at La Viola in Philadelphia. The two men went to the hospital with injuries, one with a broken jaw that needed to be wired shut, all of which police say was preceded by disparaging remarks about their sexual orientation. Since then, it has been a whirlwind; after two weeks of investigation and through the help of social media, three of the alleged 15 assailants were charged with crimes associated with the incident—simple assault, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and criminal conspiracy—but shockingly, hate crimes are missing among the charges listed. (more…)

PhillyGayNews: Marriage equality is spreading like wildfire

 

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Proponents of marriage equality have been kicking butt and taking names over the last year-and-a-half! These victories leave us with 19 states plus Washington, D.C., where LGBTQ individuals have the freedom to marry. In an additional 14 states, judges have issued rulings in favor of the freedom to marry, with many of these rulings now stayed as they proceed to appellate courts.

Three states offer broad protections short of marriage: Colorado allows civil union; and Nevada offers broad domestic partnership and Wisconsin has more limited domestic-partnership laws. (more…)

Legal Intelligencer: Would Appeal in Whitewood Have Helped Marriage Equality?

The fight for marriage equality has entered into a new phase garnering a different perspective with respect to legal strategy. Pennsylvania joined the ranks (becoming the 19th state) on May 20 when U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania declared that Pennsylvania’s version of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in Whitewood v. Wolf, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68937 (May 20, 2014). The elation was palpable in Philadelphia, as hundreds of LGBT individuals and their allies gathered on the steps of City Hall to celebrate no longer being second-class citizens in Pennsylvania, alongside the American Civil Liberties Union, the Whitewood legal team of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller and several of the plaintiffs.

Of the same-sex marriage rulings that occurred in other states so far this year—Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Michigan, Oregon, Arkansas and Idaho—seven (except for Oregon) had their rulings stayed pending appeal, and thus those cases have been kicked up to their respective circuit courts. Unlike most other marriage equality cases, Pennsylvania’s decision was not appealed.

The future of marriage equality cases in the United States

We have entered a new era. Every single state with a ban against same-sex marriage has a lawsuit in place — now that the nation’s last unchallenged state, North Dakota, has lost that status. A lawsuit was filed last week to challenge that state’s bans, along with ones in Montana and South Dakota. While we in Pennsylvania are celebrating our hard-earned victory for marriage equality, the battle is just beginning in these and other states. But, these state-by-state battles are securing that an inevitable Supreme Court ruling will be in our favor.

The same-sex marriage movement has enjoyed a streak of more than a dozen victories in federal courts since Windsor v. United States. In six states we’ve had clean wins: New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Federal judges have invalidated bans in six other states — Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, Michigan and Idaho — but those decisions have been stayed pending appeals. Lastly, in Arkansas, a state judge struck down that state’s ban; the ruling has been stayed and is under appeal. Regardless of the process, since Windsor, no state ban against same-sex marriage has survived a court challenge and the last two cases, in Oregon and Pennsylvania, were delivered with governing officials in both states saying they would not appeal. Same-sex couples are now allowed to legally marry in 19 states, and more than two in five Americans live in such states.