The Icing on the Discrimination Cake

On the final day of its session, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refuses to make cakes for same-sex weddings on the basis of his “religious beliefs.” Unfortunately, we are going to have to wait to see if “religious freedom” includes the freedom to discriminate as the case likely won’t be argued until late in the next session, which begins in October. (more…)

Prospects for Pride in a Trump Era

As we move toward Trump’s half-year mark in office, it is becoming clearer that the Trump administration does not intend to continue its predecessors’ prioritization of the protection of the rights and liberties of the LGBT community. Contrary to promises made during his campaign trail to be “good to the gays” and to protect the LGBT community from violence and oppression, the President’s actions since stepping in to office reveal that many of these promises are unlikely to come to fruition under the current administration. (more…)

Ongoing LGBT Evolution in the U.S. Military

militaryloveFor 17 years, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” forcibly closeted tens of thousands of military servicemen and women. Originally designed as a compromise between lawmakers and military personnel who wanted the ban on LGBTQ servicemembers lifted and those who didn’t, the reality of DADT encouraged an environment in which discrimination and prejudice festered, and those most hurt by it had no recourse because they faced dishonorable discharge. Over the lifespan of DADT, more than 14,000 servicemembers weregiven discharges due to their sexual orientation. The 2011 repeal of DADT, however, lifted that albatross from the necks of our LGBTQ servicemembers, allowing them to live authentically both in and out of uniform. Now we have a military that accepts any qualified person willing to serve — and with the daily reminder of the dangers at our country’s doorstep, better late than never. (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.

PhillyGayLawyer in Legal Intelligencer: Reflecting on Victories and Losses for LGBT Rights in 2013

Will 2014 be the year when opponents of progress will finally stand alone on the wrong side of history? The forecast looks cloudy, at best. But as I look back at 2013—the battles we’ve won and the battles we’ve lost—I see tremendous potential for advances in LGBT equality in the New Year.

It is always difficult to quantify progress in struggles for increased basic human rights. Looking at 2013 cumulatively, though, there is no doubt that the United States is picking up momentum and moving toward LGBT equality faster than ever.