Monday, January 30, 2012

"Plaintiffs in Howe v. Haslam Respond to Ruling"

Last year, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed HB 600 into law. This piece of legislation prohibits local governments from enacting any anti-discrimination policies to protect LGBT persons, if those policies are stricter than the ones currently in force at the state level. (Currently, Tennessee has no statewide law barring discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.) On January 25, 2012, Chancellor L. McCoy issued a preliminary order in Howe v. Haslam, the case challenging HB 600, which gives the plaintiffs in the case 30 days to provide additional proof that they have been harmed by the law in order to prevent the case from being dismissed.

Full story at the NCLR's Blog.

Thanks to OUTlaw President Erika Scibelli for the link to the story.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ministers Sue Over Hate Crimes Law

Gary Glenn, photo courtesy of

In 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. The act effectively expanded the 1969 U.S. hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by the victim's gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability. Following the passage of the law, three Michigan ministers led by Gary Glenn of the Michigan American Family Association challenged the constitutionality of the law, arguing that it violated their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Noting that the law does not, in fact, proscribe speech but rather "prohibits only violent conduct", U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In 2010, a federal judge agreed with Holder and dismissed the suit, writing that "it is entirely speculative that Plaintiff's conduct would be prosecuted under the Act" and that the plaintiff's claim must be more than just a "generalized grievance." Now, in a new twist, a three judge panel for the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has decided to take up the ministers' claim, with oral arguments set for this Wednesday.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Strong Support for Washington's Gay Marriage Bill

Photo courtesy of Queerty.

Following Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire's statement in support of same-sex marriage, a bill to legalize it has now been introduced in the Washington state Senate with 23 sponsors, two of whom are Republicans. Currently, six Democrats have not signed onto the bill, but only two more votes are necessary to have a majority and pass the bill in the Senate. If successful the bill will move to the House, where the Democrats have an even larger majority, before heading to Gov. Gregoire's desk.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Washington Governor Proposes Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire has just proposed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in her state. Concerning the legalization of same-sex marriage, Gregoire said, "It's time, it's the right thing to do, and I will introduce a bill to do it." While Democrats control both the state Senate and House, it should be noted that some conservative Democrats in Washington have voted with Republicans in the past to oppose LGBT rights.