Mixed day for LGBT rights

A US district judge in Virginia ruled today that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional because it violated the due process and equal protections clauses of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. This follows Wednesday’s similar ruling in Kentucky and earlier rulings in Oklahoma and Utah. Like those rulings, the order was stayed pending appeals, so that this issue is being fast-tracked to the US Supreme Court.

In Virginia, the state’s governor and attorney general have said that they would not defend the ban so it is not clear who will defend the law in the Appeals Court. This is similar to California’s Proposition 8 case in which some of the groups who had put the anti-same sex marriage intuitive on the ballot stepped up to defend it when the state declined to do so. In the case of the Defense of Marraige Act, the Obama administration said they would not defend it and the Republican leadership in Congress mounted the ultimately unsuccessful defense. In Nevada too, the state said that in light of all these rulings, it will no longer defend their state’s ban.

But it is not all good news. Yesterday, the Kansas House of Representatives passed an outlandish bill that would allow anyone, including state employees, to refuse to provide goods and services to most members of the LGBT community if doing so would violate the “sincerely held religious beliefs of the individual or religious entity regarding sex or gender.” But in an encouraging sign Susan Wagle, the Republican president of the Kansas Senate, said she does not support the bill and neither does the Republican governor Sam Brownback.

But I am getting truly fed up with the undue deference being given to “sincerely held religious beliefs” or indeed “sincerely held beliefs” of any kind. If you don’t have anything else in favor of your position, then you are entitled to your opinion but it does not count for anything when it comes to making public policy.

But despite the craziness out of Kansas, the general trend of the news is positive.


  1. jamessweet says


    Everybody could see that the text of the majority ruling in the Windsor case was meant to lay the groundwork for future rulings by lower courts in favor of marriage equality. I am truly astounded at the pace, however. Scalia’s dissent — where he accurately elided the subtext of the majority opinion — was more right than I knew even at the time. Well, all except the part about him thinking it was a bad thing, heh…

  2. Phillip IV says

    But I am getting truly fed up with the undue deference being given to “sincerely held religious beliefs” or indeed “sincerely held beliefs” of any kind.

    And aside from the undue deference, a major problem with writing that into law is that there is actually no way a judge could objectively assess the “sincerity” of a belief – so in practice it would probably come down to professed belief in mainstream religions being considered sincerely held, and everything else thrown out. As the framers of that law no doubt intended.

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