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Same-Sex Marriage: Does National Strategy Trump Private Citizens’ Right To A Trial Decision?



Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

A federal judge yesterday was expected to hear and rule on a same-sex marriage and adoption case that could have found Michigan‘s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Instead, the judge, who had scheduled the hearing of the case at a Michigan law school because he thought it would be instructional for the Wayne State University students, quickly announced he was delaying his ruling until after the Supreme Court had decided the Prop 8 and DOMA cases, which surprised most people in the room.

READ: Same-Sex Marriage Might Be Legal In Michigan By The End Of The Day Today

But as it turns out, some were likely not surprised, namely, state and national LGBT organizations that filed an amicus brief that offered support — albeit somewhat tepid, one could argue — for overturning the Michigan ban on same-sex marriage and for finding in favor of the couple’s right to jointly adopt their three toddlers, aged three and four, two of whom have special needs.

In fact, as Chris Geidner at Buzzfeed reported, the LGBT organizations that signed the amicus brief “wrote that before resolving the Michigan couple’s case, ‘this Court may determine that it is prudent to await decision’ in the California Proposition 8 case at the Supreme Court.”

“Although the LGBT groups’ moves have been out of the spotlight as the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases took center stage,” Geidner added, “they shed light on the careful approach LGBT legal advocacy organizations have taken in the past couple of years. Although courtroom successes have been plenty in challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, more direct marriage-rights cases have met with mixed results. Although courts in the Proposition 8 challenge have found the California amendment to be unconstitutional, federal marriage equality lawsuits in Hawaii and Nevada were rejected by trial courts.”

Regular readers of The New Civil Rights Movement are very familiar with this Michigan case. Jayne Rowse and April Deboer are a lesbian couple, together more than ten years, both nurses, who have singly but not jointly been allowed to adopt three toddlers, Nolan, Ryanne, and Jacob, (one of whom, frankly, was expected to not live) and sued the state at first only for the right to adopt their children as a couple. When the federal court judge suggested they amended their case and ask the court to overturn as unconstitutional Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, they took some time to consider it, and ultimately decided to move forward to challenge the marriage ban.

“The case, initially filed in January 2012, came only after several LGBT organizations declined to participate, Dana Nessel, one of the couple’s attorneys, told BuzzFeed Thursday,” Geidner reports:

“What they told us is that they refuse to touch anything in the Sixth Circuit [Court of Appeals].”

The fear: they would lose.

Jay Kaplan of the ACLU of Michigan told BuzzFeed Friday that Nessel’s assessment was accurate, saying, “If you’re going to bring a marriage equality claim, you want to be sure that you’re going to be successful at all stages of the process.” Of the Sixth Circuit, he said, “There is not a progressive majority on the court.”

At issue here is strategy. And rights — not the right of the couple to adopt and to marry (which should be a foregone conclusion, and hopefully someday soon will be,) but the right of LGBT organizations who have contributed absolutely not one penny to support the case, and almost zero support otherwise, with the exception of the amicus brief.

(In fairness, Equality Michigan has publicly expressed support of the couple’s case in the Huffington Post and elsewhere.)

The brief easily could be seen as not wildly supportive — and perhaps that’s a legal strategy too. It hems and haws and is written in a manner that might lead someone to conclude the signatories are nervous.

But most if not all of the LGBT organizations who drafted and/or signed the amicus brief are pros in the field: the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Fund of Michigan, Equality Michigan, the Human Rights Campaign Fund (HRC), Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., National Center for Lesbian Rights, Family Equality Council, Affirmations Community Center, Ruth Ellis Center, and KICK.

And there was an option: say nothing. Or, a better option: say something to argue unequivocally and unwaveringly.

April, Jayne, Nolan, Ryanne, and Jacob desperately need help, support, and relief from the state. (Try raising three special needs toddlers on the salaries of two unmarried nurses.)

The LGBT organizations are tasked with strategizing and ultimately securing equality for all. But has their long-term strategy hurt or harmed the chances of a short-term win for Jayne and April?

Imagine what would have happened had the judge struck down as unconstitutional Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, less than three weeks before the Supreme Court took up two landmark same-sex marriage cases?

We’ll never know, but it certainly can be said that there are many who felt optimistic about where the judge was headed.

“This court may find that denying same-sex couples the ability to obtain second parent adoptions is unconstitutional without addressing the question of whether Michigan may deny same-sex couples the ability to marry because these two claims are separate,” part of the amicus brief reads.

“Second parent adoptions are at the core of the relief sought by the plaintiffs, and can be granted regardless of whether ams-sex couples are allowed to marry in Michigan,” reads another section.

Here’s the amicus brief. You decide. Did April Jayne, Nolan, Ryanne, and Jacob deserve unfettered support?


Adoption Amicus Curiae Motion and Brief by davidbadash

Editor’s note: The New Civil Rights Movement reached out to several of the LGBT orgs who signed the brief. Only one responded before publication.


For more, read The New Civil Rights Movement’s Jean Ann Esselink‘s reports:

On Our Radar – Do Children In Same-Sex Families Have A Right To Be Equal?

Federal Judge Encourages Lesbian Couple To Take On Michigan’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Michigan Couple Take Judge’s Suggestion To Challenge State’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Oakland County Refuses To Defend Michigan’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage And Adoption


You can help support April and Jayne through the Deboer Rowse Fund, which is also on Facebook.

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Lindsey Graham Admonished by Senate Ethics Committee



U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been formally admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for violating ethics rules and standards by repeatedly soliciting campaign donations during an interview at the Capitol.

The bipartisan committee issued Graham a Public Letter of Admonition after the South Carolina Republican solicited donations for Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker.

“Based upon all available information, the Committee concluded that on November 30, 2022, you conducted a media interview with Fox News in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building and that your interview was slightly over nine minutes, with over four minutes devoted to a discussion of the 2022 senatorial run-off election in Georgia. The Committee further concluded that during your discussion of the senatorial run-off election, you directly solicited campaign contributions on behalf of Mr. Walker’s campaign committee,, five separate times.”

The letter notes that Sen. Graham had previously violated the same standards when he solicited campaign donations in a federal building in October of 2020, but said it was an “unplanned media interview.” When a reporter had asked him about fundraising, Graham “directly solicited campaign contributions” for his re-election campaign.

READ MORE: Watch: GOP Lawmaker Orders Grieving Parkland Parents Removed From ‘ATF Overreach’ Hearing

The Committee noted “mitigating” circumstances and did not cite him for that violation.

“The public must feel confident that Members use public resources only for official actions in the best interests of the United States, not for partisan political activity,” the letter concludes. “Your actions failed to uphold that standard, resulting in harm to the public trust and confidence in the United States Senate. You are hereby admonished.”

CNN’s Manu Raju posted the letter to social media.

You can read the letter below or at this link.

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Watch: GOP Lawmaker Orders Grieving Parkland Parents Removed From ‘ATF Overreach’ Hearing



U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) is being criticized for having the parents of a victim of the Parkland school massacre removed from a GOP-led House committee hearing on “ATF Overreach” after he deemed them “out of order” for remarks they made while a Member was speaking. Minutes later, Capital Police pinned the father to the ground in the hallway and arrested him.

“See this is, exactly what we have to avoid!” Rep. Fallon, chairing the joint hearing, angrily declared as he pointed his finger after the father, Manuel Oliver, made a remark that was inaudible. “Which is some minority of folks trying to silence dissent. Dissent shouldn’t be kryptonite.”

“There’s a decorum that should be adhered to,” Fallon, who recently refused to sign a statement denouncing white supremacy, said as he chastising Oliver.

After another, louder outburst, Fallon mockingly asked, “Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same — I don’t want another January 6.”

READ MORE: ‘Unlawful Incursion’: Manhattan DA Schools Jim Jordan for Demanding He Testify in Ongoing Trump Investigation

Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) responded, “If they’re trying to overthrow the government, they oughta be held to the same standard, but I think they’re trying to express their frustrations.”

Angrily again, Rep. Fallon interjected.

“Whoa whoa whoa whoa,” he shouted as he banged the gavel.

“Member’s out of line,” Fallon said (incorrectly. The term is “out of order.”)

Shortly thereafter, Rep. Fallon had both Manuel and Patricia Oliver removed.

ABC News reporter Will Steakin, who was in the hearing, tweeted video and said bot Manuel and Patricia Oliver “appear to leave without resistance… moments later there was a loud thud outside the hearing room and I found Manuel being pinned to the ground by multiple officers.”

“Manuel Oliver, the father of a 17-year-old Parkland shooting victim, was arrested Thursday on Capitol Hill after he appeared to shout at a Republican lawmaker who was speaking during a hearing on gun regulations,” NBC News reports. Patricia Oliver, his wife and the mother of their 17-year old son, Joaquin Oliver, who was one of 17 people who died in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, was not arrested.

READ MORE: ‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs

On social media critics expressed anger at Fallon.

“Rep. Pat Fallon (R) thinks parents of slaughtered children should just sit down & shut up as Republicans maintain outrageously dangerous gun laws. He had this parent expelled rather than just giving a warning, which is the usual,” wrote one Twitter user.

“Texas Rep. Pat Fallon: You are the EXACT problem with the gun violence and why it keeps being the leading cause of death in children today,” wrote another.

According to the NIH, gun violence is the leading cause of childhood death.

Still another Twitter user blasted Fallon: “What disgraceful & despicable behavior by Representative Pat Fallon. Exercising your right to free speech is being an insurrectionist? The man lost his son. Have you no compassion? I think he has more than earned the right to be heard by Congress. Such an abuse of power.”

And one called Fallon “feckless.”

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‘Repercussions’: Biden White House Warns Uganda ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill Could Force US to Cancel $950 Million in Annual Aid



The Biden administration may cancel the $950 million in annual assistance the U.S. provides to Uganda if President Yoweri Museveni signs into law its latest “Kill the Gays” bill, which calls for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and between ten and 20 years in prison for other LGBTQ “acts.”

National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby on Wednesday made clear if Uganda further criminalizes homosexuality and the LGBTQ community there could be “repercussions that we would have to take.”

“That would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance,” Admiral Kirby said at a White House press briefing.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also told reporters Wednesday the Biden administration has “grave concerns” over the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), and “increasing violence targeting LGBTQIA+ persons.”

READ MORE: Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case

“If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, deter tourism and invest in Uganda and damage Uganda’s international reputation,” Jean-Pierre warned. “The bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world.”

Kirby and Jean-Pierre’s remarks came on the same day as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” legislation, saying it “would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

“The United States provides more than $950 million in aid to Uganda each year, according to the State Department. The money supports development and health care measures, such as combating HIV/AIDS,” Courthouse News reported Wednesday. “Uganda is already among 30 African countries that ban same-sex relations. The new proposal would broaden penalties and appears to be the first to outlaw identifying as LGBTQ+, according to Human Rights Watch.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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