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Coincidence Or Clue? Did The Supreme Court Hint At A Friday Marriage Ruling In Favor Of Equality?

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SCOTUS announced an additional date for the potential ruling of the marriage equality cases. Coincidentally, that date is the same date as two other landmark LGBT equality court wins. Coincidence, or clue?

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is expected to announce their ruling on four combined marriage equality cases by the end of the month. We’re coming down to the wire and SCOTUS still has to release opinions on seven more cases including those on marriage equality, Obamacare, lethal injection, the Fair Housing Act, congressional redistricting, sawed-off shotguns, and EPA regulations on power plant emissions.

For the month of June, the Supreme Court releases opinions every Monday at 10AM; however the court can, and often does, add additional opinion days. Even though the additional days most often fall on Thursdays, Friday the 26th was just added as a potential date. The following statement was just posted to the court’s official website:

The Supreme Court has added non-argument sessions for the announcement of opinions on Thursday, June 25, 2015, and Friday, June 26, 2015, at 10 a.m.

While there is no way of knowing the exact date the court will announce their opinion, it is interesting to note that Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor v. U.S., two monumental LGBT equality cases, were both announced on June 26 (2003 and 2013 respectively). Could it be that the LGBT community will get another win this Friday on June 26? Again, there is no way to predict the dates of the actual rulings, but if that were the case, NYC and SF Pride will have a lot more to celebrate this weekend.

Speculation? Of course!

But regardless of the actual decision date, celebration events are popping up across the country as the historical moment inches closer. The Family Equality Council, Freedom to Marry, GLAAD, Marriage Equality USA, and the National LGBTQ Task Force are coordinating these events through the website www.uniteformarriage.org. Coalition partners include big names such as the Human Rights Campaign, the Log Cabin Republicans, the National Black Justice Coalition, PFLAG, the NOH8 Campaign, and many more. New events are being added often, so if you don’t see one listed for your city, check back soon or create one yourself.

Again, even though additional dates can be added later, the current potential announcement dates are June 25, 26, and 29. Mark your calendars!

 

Image by Rich Renomeron via Flickr and a CC license

 

 

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MN Police Officer Sentenced 3.5 Years for Death of George Floyd

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Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Keung has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for aiding and abetting manslaughter in the death of Black city resident George Floyd.

Keung, age 29, had accepted a plea deal in order to avoid an additional charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. His guilty plea acknowledged that the restraining holds used by police on Floyd were excessive and likely to cause serious harm.

Video of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 murder at the hands of city police captured footage of Keung kneeling on Floyd’s back while another officer knelt of the man’s neck. for over nine minutes, officers applied pressure to Floyd while he laid face down in the street, crying and telling officers that he couldn’t breathe while also calling out for his mother.

Video of Floyd’s murder sparked international outrage and inspired protests against institutional racism and police brutality.

Keung is the fourth and final police officer to receive prison time for his role in Floyd’s death. He will serve his new sentence and a federal sentence for Floyd’s death concurrently, serving a total of about 2 1/2 years for the killing.

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'ARE YOU KIDDING?!'

Virginia Republican Files Bill Defining a Fertilized Egg as a Human

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Virginia State Delegate Marie March (R) has pre-filed House Bill 1395, a law that would define life as beginning at fertilization.

“Life begins at conception and each person is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States,” the proposed bill states.

The proposed bill would effectively outlaw all abortions in the state and even endanger the use of Plan B (aka. “The morning-after pill”), a medication that prevents fertilized egg cells from attaching to a woman’s uterine wall.

The bill could also effectively criminalize in vitro fertilization, a method of inducing pregnancy that uses fertilized eggs and discards any unused ones.

Even though Republicans control the state’s House of Delegates, it’s unclear if the bill would have any chance of passing the state’s Democratic-led Senate. The legislature won’t reconvene until January 11, 2023.

Virginia currently allows a woman to get an abortion within roughly 26 weeks of pregnancy. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed passing a law that would reduce that window to 15 weeks, a period of time in which most women may not even realize they’re pregnant.

In response to March’s bill the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance said in a statement, “In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and despite the vast majority of Virginians who oppose it, Virginia’s anti-abortion elected officials keep proving there are no limits to their extremism and true intentions to ban abortion for all Virginians.”

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'A WAR FOR AMERICA’S DEMOCRACY'

Georgia GOP Says Its Voting Restrictions “Backfired” & Helped Dems Win Senate Seat

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When two Republicans lost Georgia’s special runoff senate elections in January 2021, state Republicans in the General Assembly re-wrote voting laws to restrict absentee ballots and give voters fewer days to vote in future runoff elections.

However, after Republicans lost yet another runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat — with Herschel Walker losing to his Democratic competitor, Rev. Raphael Warnock, earlier this month — state Republicans want to re-re-write the rules, hopeful of a more favorable outcome.

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), the official who oversees the state’s voting procedures, said he plans on giving three proposals to lawmakers when they return to the General Assembly in January.

“[The proposals] include forcing large counties to open more early-voting locations (in an attempt to reduce the hours-long lines some voters waited in) … lowering the threshold candidates must achieve to avoid a runoff from 50 percent to 45 percent; and instituting a ranked-choice instant-runoff system that would not require voters to come back to the polls again after the general election,” The New York Times reported.

To be clear, it’s unclear whether these changes would’ve helped Walker win. But they stand in contrast to the changes state Republicans made to voting laws following their failed January 2021 Senate runoff ambitions.

The changes after that time severely restricted the types of people eligible to receive an absentee ballot. While 24 percent of the January 2021 vote came via mail-in absentee ballots, the rule changes resulted in 5 percent of mail-in votes coming in for the January 2022 runoff.

Republicans also lowered the number of in-person early voting days to five (though the rule change allowed counties to add extra days.) The Times found that 28 of Georgia’s 159 counties opted to add extra in-person early voting days — 17 of the counties that did largely backed Warnock while 11 backed his challenger.

Before the recent run-off election, Raffensperger also tried to enforce a state law forbidding in-person early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, Warnock successfully sued to prevent the law from going into effect.

Overall, the changes may have “backfired,” Republicans told The Times, actually encouraging Democratic voters to come out in greater numbers.

While Republicans point to the large turnout of runoff voters as “proof” that their changes didn’t discourage voting, Warnock’s campaign criticized the changes, saying that such restrictions shouldn’t make it harder for people to vote in the first place.

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