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

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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

http://www.scribd.com/embeds/129357946/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-1dmlrbn3jjbt981ajxl5

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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News

Raphael Warnock Beats Trump-Backed Herschel Walker – Democrats Increase Senate Majority

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Millions of Americans in Georgia voted to re-elect Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock and send him back to Washington D.C., NBC News projects. It is a clear mandate for the policies enacted by the Biden administration and a strong rebuke for the flailing former president, Donald Trump.

Senator Warnock faced a challenge from a Texas Republican who claimed to live in the Peach State, Trump-backed former NFL star Herschel Walker.

The New York Times, confirming Warnock is the projected winner, reports a huge number of Georgians, more than 3.3 million, voted in the runoff election.

An admitted Texas resident, Walker’s long list of hypocritical claims and actions, falsehoods, lies, and troubling business and tax dealings were only outweighed by the women who accused him of violent behavior, pressuring them and paying for them to get abortions, and revelations he had not one child but four, including a son he almost never sees.

READ MORE: ‘Everything Has Been a Lie’: Christian Walker Drops Damning New Video Blasting His Father’s ‘Lies’ Over Abortion

Warnock, who is also the Senior Pastor at the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church, Ebenezer Baptist, out-raised and out-campaigned Walker, especially in the last week.

Herschel Walker appeared at only two events this weekend, Politico reported, “a tailgate in Atlanta before a University of Georgia football game on Saturday, where he did not speak, and a Sunday rally in Loganville, where his stump speech touched on everything from complaints about pronouns and critical race theory to funding law enforcement.”

With 51 votes in the Senate, Democrats will not be forced into a power-sharing agreement with Republicans as they were two years ago. President Biden will be able to nominate and have confirmed even more judges, an area he has excelled. And Democrats will have full committee majorities, giving them power to issue subpoenas in investigations.

RELATED: ‘The Child Would Not Be Safe’: Woman Who Says Herschel Walker Pressured Her to Have Abortion Says She Felt ‘Threatened’

The Washington Post on Tuesday noted that Democrats having 51 votes is “an insurance policy against the unthinkable — the possibility that vacancies or party switches could flip the majority. That has happened before, most recently in 2001. The reason that it hasn’t happened more often is mostly because the Senate isn’t usually this closely divided. But vacancies and seat flips do happen — a lot. In fact, since World War II, about 70 percent of Congresses have featured some kind of shift in partisan balance of the Senate between elections.”

The unthinkable includes the possibility that a Democratic Senator in a state headed by a Republican governor could resign or die, allowing a Republican to be installed in their place. As The Post notes, there are 11 cases currently where that could happen.

Warnock unseated a GOP Senator in a 2020 special election, making this his first full elected six-year term.

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain notes President Biden “becomes the first President since FDR 1934 to see every Senator in his party re-elected (who was seeking re-election.)”

 

 

 

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CRIME

Guilty on All Counts: Trump Organization Loses Big in Criminal Fraud Case

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A jury has found thew crown jewel of Donald Trump’s real estate empire, The Trump Organization, guilty on all counts in a state criminal tax fraud case.

Calling it “a remarkable rebuke of the former president’s company and what prosecutors described as its ‘culture of fraud and deception,'” The New York Times reports the details include “conviction on all 17 counts.”

Charges include tax fraud, a scheme to defraud, and conspiracy and falsifying business records, but The Times says it is “hardly a death sentence for the Trump Organization.”

The Times adds the conviction comes “after more than a day of jury deliberations in State Supreme Court in Manhattan,” which “resulted from a long-running scheme in which the Trump Organization doled out off-the-books luxury perks to some executives: They received fancy apartments, leased Mercedes-Benzes, even private school tuition for relatives, none of which they paid taxes on.”

Donald Trump was not a defendant in the case, but the case will be front and center during his presidential run.

According to a press release from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, The Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp. were convicted of the following charges:

  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count
  • Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, one count
  • Criminal Tax Fraud in Third Degree, a class D felony, two counts
  • Criminal Tax Fraud in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, one count
  • Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony, three counts

The Trump Corporation was also convicted of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a class E felony.

MSNBC reported the verdict on-air:

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

Image via Shutterstock

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News

Watch: McConnell Refuses to Say He Will Not Support Trump for President Even After ‘Terminate the Constitution’ Demand

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Even after Donald Trump called for the “termination” of the U.S. Constitution this weekend and demanded he be put back into office or be given a do-over national presidential election, Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing to say he will not support the ex-president’s current run for the White House.

McConnell kicked off his weekly press conference Tuesday by mildly criticizing Trump, although not mentioning him by name.

“First, let me just say that anyone seeking the presidency who thinks that the Constitution could somehow be suspended or not followed, it seems to me would have a very hard time being sworn in as president of United States,” McConnell told reporters.

But when asked if he “categorically” would refuse to support Trump – personally or in his role as Senate Republican Minority Leader – McConnell refused to go that far.

READ MORE: Watch: McConnell and McCarthy Shunned as Congressional Gold Medal Recipients Refuse to Shake Their Hands

“This is the second week in a row you’ve come out to begin your press conference criticizing Donald Trump,” a reporter off-camera said. “Can you say categorically that you do not support him if he were the Republican nominee?”

McConnell could not.

“What I’m saying is it would be pretty hard to be sworn in, to the presidency, if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution. That’s what I said, and I just said it again,” McConnell stated.

“How about your personal support?” the reporter shot back.

McConnell ignored the question.

During the 2016 campaign Trump also made clear he did not feel beholden to upholding the Constitution, so it’s unclear why McConnell would suggest he could not be sworn in again should he be elected in 2024.

READ MORE: Far Right Republican Slammed by Raskin for Trying to Derail Respect for Marriage Bill with Failed Religious Amendment

In fact, Trump’s concerning remarks surrounding the Constitution in 2016 led Brown University political science professor Corey Brettschneider to pen a piece for Politico: “Trump vs. the Constitution: A Guide.”

“It may be true that Donald Trump has read the Constitution. But it’s unclear if he understands it,” it begins.

McConnell is not only the second longest serving leader of a party’s caucus in the Senate, nor his he just the Senate Republican Minority Leader.

He wields massive power and influence via his ties to a Super PAC.

According to CNN, the Senate Leadership Fund is “a super PAC affiliated with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

This year alone, the Senate Leadership Fund has spent nearly $300 million to elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate. In 2020 it spent over $475 million.

Many have seen their ads, which are almost entirely, according to Open Secrets, against Democrats, not for Republicans.

Watch McConnell below or at this link.

 

 

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