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thepoliticalfreakshow:

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore, an Obama appointee, issued a ruling declaring that Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Moore stayed the decision, but only temporarily until Monday.

State Attorney General John Suthers (R), who has been defending Colorado’s ban, made a strange tactical decision in this particular case. Though he argued that he believes the ban is constitutional, he still asked Moore to overturn it and then stay that decision. This, Suthers seemed to hope, would force Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Since last month, when the 10th Circuit agreed with a lower court that Utah’s same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, Hall has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She has argued that the 10th Circuit’s stay in the Utah case only applies to Utah, but its ruling against marriage bans applies to the whole Circuit, which includes Colorado. Suthers has asked state courts to force Hall to stop, but his requests have been denied, including again Wednesday morning. As of Wednesday afternoon, the Boulder County Clerk’s office reports that it has issued a total of 181 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Moore’s decision follows a ruling by a Colorado state judge earlier this month similarly overturning the state’s law. The two cases will proceed in their separate jurisdictions.

Source: Zack Ford for ThinkProgress

H/T: Jean Ann Esselink at The New Civil Rights Movement

thepoliticalfreakshow:

WASHINGTON — On Monday morning, President Obama will be signing a long-awaited executive order to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors and transgender federal employees from discrimination.

Although the White House has not yet released the text of the order, BuzzFeed obtained a copy of the text, as of July 15. A White House spokesman would not confirm the accuracy of the text or say whether the text changed since July 15, saying only that the text “will be released, as is always the case, after it’s been signed.”

The order, as drafted, amends the existing federal contractor nondiscrimination executive order, Executive Order 11246, to include sexual orientation or gender identity. Monday’s order also amends the existing federal workforce nondiscrimination order, Executive Order 11478, to include gender identity. President Clinton had amended that order in 1998 to include sexual orientation.

Notably, the draft of Obama’s order contains no additional religious exemptions for the sexual orientation or gender identity provisions beyond those already contained in the existing executive orders, a request made by some religiously affiliated leaders. At the same time, however, the order does not take action requested by some civil rights groups to rescind an executive order issued by President George W. Bush. The Bush order provides an exemption to Executive Order 11246 for any “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” that allows such contractors to hire people of “a particular religion.”

The text obtained by BuzzFeed tracks with information provided on background on Friday.

The draft of the executive order, as of July 15:


EXECUTIVE ORDER
Further Amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, 40 U.S.C. 101 et seq., and in order to provide for a uniform policy for the Federal Government to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and take further steps to promote economy and efficiency in Federal Government procurement by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Amending Executive Order 11478. 
Executive Order 11478, as amended, is hereby further amended as follows:
(a) The first sentence of section 1 is amended by substituting “sexual orientation, gender identity,” for “sexual orientation”.
(b) The first sentence of section 7 is amended by substituting “sexual orientation, gender identity,” for “sexual orientation”.

Sec. 2. Amending Executive Order 11246.
Executive Order 11246, as amended, is hereby further amended as follows:
(a) The first sentence of Section 202, paragraph (1) is amended by substituting “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin” for “sex, or national origin”.
(b) The second sentence of Section 202, paragraph (1) is amended by substituting “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin” for “sex, or national origin”.
( c ) The first sentence of Section 202, paragraph (2) is amended by substituting “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin” for “sex, or national origin”.
(d) The first sentence of Section 203, paragraph (d) is amended by substituting “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin” for “sex, or national origin”.

Section 3. General Provisions.
(a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an agency or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Source: Chris Geidner for Buzzfeed

Oklahoma’s ban on marriage equality gets struck down. 

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Unlike other pro-marriage equality rulings in other states, this particular ruling appears to be for only the Florida Keys region instead of statewide. 

No surprise here sadly. 

h/t: Donna Cassata at AP, via Yahoo

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Andrew Tahmooressi

After a lengthy hearing in Tijuana for a Marine reservist jailed since April 1 on weapons charges, a judge Wednesday declined to throw out the case as urged by U.S. politicians and instead scheduled another evidentiary hearing.

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, 25,  who served two combat tours in Afghanistan, was arrested after crossing the border at San Ysidro with a rifle, shotgun, pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in his pickup truck.

He had recently moved to San Diego to receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Veterans Affairs hospital in La Jolla.

Tahmooressi has consistently said he crossed the border by mistake, missing the turnoff to remain in the U.S. That story was challenged by Mexican officials when Tahmooressi’s explanation that he had never before visited Mexico proved to be untrue.

Wednesday’s hearing was the first time that Tahmooressi was able to  explain to a judge his version of events that led to his arrest. Mexican customs officials were also set to talk to the judge about what happened the night that Tahmooressi was arrested.

A hearing in May was canceled after Tahmooressi fired his attorney. The next hearing will be set for August. The judge ordered that Tahmooressi  remain in jail.

Tahmooressi’s new  attorney has cautioned him and his mother, Jill, that the process could take months as multiple hearings are held. Jill Tahmooressi, who lives in Florida, attended Wednesday’s hearing; the media was not allowed to attend.

Some 74 members of U.S. Congress have called on the Obama administration to work with Mexican authorities to gain Tahmooressi’s release.

On the eve of Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Lee Terry (R-Nebraska) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California) wrote to the Mexican judge, Victor Octavio Luna Escobedo, reminding him that Tahmooressi is “a Marine Corps veteran who risked his life for hisnation and his fellow Marines.”

His case, the two wrote, should be “favorably resolved on the basis that he made a simple mistake at the border.”

Mexican officials have stressed that while the Mexican judicial system is different from the U.S. system, it shares one key characteristic: Cases are not decided by political pressure.

They have also noted that ignorance of the law is no excuse and that there are numerous signs warning that bringing weapons into Mexico is a crime.

thepoliticalfreakshow:

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Today was the last day for Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to ask for an en banc review of last month’s decision by a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court. Instead, Reyes is going directly to SCOTUS.

UPDATE: Just in via Winslow.

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UPDATE II: The NCLR responds. 

We want this case to move forward to a final resolution as quickly as possible. Every day, loving and committed same-sex couples and their families in Utah are being harmed by the continued enforcement of measures that deny them equal dignity, security and protection—even though both the federal district court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals have held they violate fundamental constitutional guarantees. We look forward to the day every family in Utah has the freedom to marry, and we will work hard to make that happen as soon as possible.

UPDATE III: Freedom To Marry reacts. 

The Supreme Court should take this case and swiftly move to end marriage discrimination across the country. Every day of delay is a day of hardship for couples and their loved ones wrongly denied the freedom to marry and respect for their families. The American people support the freedom to marry, but the law still discriminates for too many American couples in too many states.

As in the South Park episode “Follow That Egg!”, Colorado will remain on “Butt Buddies” (aka civil unions) status instead of full equal marriage. 

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thepoliticalfreakshow:

The news: In a win for religious conservatives, the Supreme Court on Monday handed down a remarkable 5-4 decision in the controversial Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case explaining that corporations cannot be required to provide contraception coverage.

In plain English, the Supreme Court ruled that closely-held corporations (which is a company in which at least 50% of the stock is held by less than five people) have the same religious rights as people. Similar to churches being exempt from the Obamacare mandate, the court is saying corporations are as well. 

More deeply, a business can determine a person’s medical options, including women’s birth control (as was at stake in Hobby Lobby). Your boss has a say on your birth control options.

It’s a big victory for religious freedom. The court said the government pushed the line by forcing companies to follow health care guidelines — including providing birth control — when said companies felt their religious rights were at stake. 

One note: It does not provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice.

Using the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) — a federal law that prevents other laws from substantially burdening a person’s right to exercise their religion — the court decided that Hobby Lobby’s rights were indeed being violated by Obamacare. 

There’s also the whole are corporations people? question being asked again (a la Citizens United). At the appeals court level, Hobby Lobby won an exemption to deny employee access while the Third Circuit Court decided that “Corporations can’t be religious.”

What comes next?

1) This opens the gateway for other companies to impose religious beliefs on employees. 

2) This changes the nature of all religious-related lawsuits and Obamacare lawsuits forever moving forward

The SCOTUS ruling determines how far religious freedoms can extend, and to what degree they can be imposed on others. Either way, religious conservatives come out on top. 

How did we get here? Hobby Lobby, the for-profit craft chain store, along with co-plaintiff Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. have sued the federal government because they want their strong religious objections to be one of the guiding principles applied to their employees’ health care coverage. Simply put, the companies don’t want to pay for employee birth control, or pay a fine if they do not comply with the Obamacare mandate, because of their faith. 

Both sides camped outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., ahead of the decision. 

Source: Chris Miles for Mic