SCOTUS aftermath: How will the dominoes fall?
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT advocate, pledged to bring "marriage equality to all 50 states" within 5 years following the June 26 Supreme Court decision declaring section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. Two weeks following the ruling, the flurry of legal news from across the United States is promising as organizations such as the ACLU and Lambda Legal begin to challenge same-sex marriage bans in several states. While Tennessee has not yet been mentioned specifically, legal eyes are upon several states including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Illinois.
Pennsylvania: On Tuesday, civil rights lawyers filed the the first known legal challenge on behalf of 23 plaintiffs. The are seeking to overturn the state's 17-year-old ban on same-sex marriage. The lawsuit named Republican Governor Tom Corbett, Democrat Attorney General Kathleen Kane and three other state officials as defendants.
Today Attorney General Kane announced that she would not defend the state law and has deferred defense to Gov. Tom Corbett. “I cannot ethically defend the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s (law banning same-sex marriage), where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional,” Kathleen Kane announced in a press conference.
It is still unclear whether Gov. Corbett will defend the law as polls find Pennsylvania citizens in favor of marriage equality. Gov. Corbett office has yet to issue comment.
Michigan: Wednesday, July 10, it was announced that a federal judge would begin hearing arguments October 1 in a federal lawsuit brought by two Michigan lesbians who claim that the state's same-sex marriage ban and adoption ban violate their rights. Michigan passed its constitutional ban in 2004.
Illinois: ACLU and Lambda legal files for a summary judgement on behalf of 25 same-sex couples challenging Illinois ban on same-sex marriage. While Illinois supports civil unions, the couple are unable to receive federal benefits because they are not legally married. A decision could come as soon as August 6.
In The South:
There are several challenges brewing in the South including Virginia, North Carolina and Arkansas.
In Virginia, the ACLU and Lambda Legal announced on Tuesday, July 9, they intended to file a federal suit challenging the state's constitutional ban against same-sex marriage.
In North Carolina, the ACLU has asked to add a claim challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage to an existing lawsuit that challenges an existing state adoption law that same-sex couples cannot be recognized as equal parents. Update: July 12, North Carolina AG agreed to allow the ACLU to amend their case.
In Arkansas, two groups have asked the Attorney General's office to approve language for a statewide ballot measure that would overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Arkansans for Equality has pushed for a 2014 ballot measure that would repeal the state's same-sex marriage ban while Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality has asked for a 2016 ballot measure that would provide for a new state constitutional amendment that would prohibit banning marriage on account of "sex or sexual orientation." While these have yet to be approved, Economic Development Commission Executive Director Grant Tennille has called for Arkansas to repeal it's ban. At a news conference earlier this week Tenille said, “I believe that increasingly, particularly in the area of high tech, high skilled, knowledge-based jobs, that companies look for locations where all of their employees can be welcomed, all of their employees can be part of a community and all of their employees will be treated equally. I think the first state in the South that moves in that direction will have a leg up.”