GayLawNews™

February 2015

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28 February 2015

Alabama court reverses itself, allows visitation case after same-sex couple split

UNITED STATES, Alabama: On 27 February 2015, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals withdrew its 24 October opinion ruling that VL, a woman who separated from her same-sex partner EL in Georgia can pursue visitation rights in Alabama. Held that a second parent adoption granted to now separated same-sex parents by a Georgia court in 2007 must be recognized in Alabama, and that the adoptive mother of the couple’s three children must be recognized as their parent and allowed to seek custody or visitation.
• Opinion: E.L. v. V. L. No. 2130683 PDF 93.99kb, 27 FEB 15

27 February 2015

This Scientific Breakthrough Could Ruin Conservatives' Final Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage

UNITED KINGDOM, ISRAEL: On 25 February 2015, researchers at the University of Cambridge in Britain and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel made the startling announcement that male same-sex couples may soon be able to have biological children of their own. Their studies have shown that for the first time, human egg and sperm cells can be created from the embryonic stem cells of two adults of the same gender, suggesting that gay couples may be able to have a joint-biological child.

26 February 2015

Southeast Alaska Tribal Organization OKs Gay Marriage

UNITED STATES, Alaska: On 23 February 2015, the governing board of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska announced a unanimous 7-0 decision to define legal marriage without a gender requirement. The new directive also covers tribal divorces.

Lawyer: HIV Assault Ruling Could End All Such Military Cases

UNITED STATES, Federal: On 25 February 2015, the US Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously ruled that prosecutors failed to prove that any of David Gutierrez's acts were likely to transmit HIV to his partners, overturning a 25-year precedent that had allowed military personnel to be convicted of aggravated assault solely on the basis of a positive HIV test.
• Opinion: US v. David J A Gutierrez, Technical Sergeant No. 13-0522 PDF 41.66kb, 23 FEB 15

25 February 2015

Labor Dept. updates Family and Medical Leave Act to include same-sex spouses

UNITED STATES, Washington DC: On 25 February 2015, the US Department of Labor issued a final rule revising the regulatory definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to include married, same-sex couples with effect on 27 March 2015, entitling eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, regardless of where they live.

Arkansas Town Defies State Ban, Protects LGBT Citizens

UNITED STATES, Arkansas: On 24 February 2015, with immediate effect, the City Council in Conway voted 6-2 in favour of an ordinance that bans discrimination against city employees on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The status of the ordinance may be questionable having regard to the State anti-anti-discrimination law passed 23 February but not yet in force.

Hearing scheduled for March 2 in new Alabama adoption dispute filed by successful Searcy plaintiffs

UNITED STATES, Alabama: On 25 February 2014, US District Judge Callie V S Granade ordered the hearing of the motion for preliminary and permanent injunction filed by Cari D Searcy seeking formal adoption of her spouse Kimberley McKeand's child KS - refused by Probate Judge Don Davis on 20 February - be scheduled for 02 March 2015.
•Order: Cari D Search v. Don Davis No. 1:15-cv-00104-CG-N PDF 63.08kb, 25 FEB 15

24 February 2015

Britain becomes first country to approve three-person babies

UNITED KINGDOM: On 24 February 2015, the House of Lords approved the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015, that will make the UK the first country to approve a law to allow babies to be created from the DNA of three people. Under the new rules, IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation) clinics will be able to replace an egg's defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy DNA from a female donor's egg with effect from 20 October 2015.
• Regulation: Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Mitochondrial Donation) Regulations 2015 PDF 65.34kb (Accessed 25 February 2015)

Wyoming House shoots down LGBT anti discrimination bill

UNITED STATES, Wyoming: On 24 February 2015, the House of Representatives voted down 33-26 a bill that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In contrast, on 10 February, the Senate voted 24-6 to pass Bill SF0015.

US names first-ever envoy for gay rights

UNITED STATES, Washington DC: On 23 September 2015, the US Secretary of State John Kerry named Randy Berry as its first LGBTI rights envoy.

Swiss legislative panel backs gay marriage

SWITZERLAND: On 20 February 2015, the Legal Affairs Committee of the National Council in a 12-2 with 1 abstention vote, recommended that the National Council adopt a same-sex marriage parliamentary initiative called Marriage for All.

23 February 2015

Arkansas Governor Lets Anti-LGBT Bill Become Law

UNITED STATES, Arkansas: On 23 February 2015, the deadline for Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto the anti-anti-discrimination Bill SB 202 - that seeks to prevent cities and counties from protecting the civil rights of gay people - passed and the Bill became law and will come into effect 90 days after the legislature formally adjourns, which is currently set for May.

Kazakh Senate passes anti-gay draft law

KAZAKHSTAN: On 23 February 2015, the Senate was reported to have approved draft laws aimed at protecting children from information harmful to their health and development and making the dissemination of information promoting non-traditional sexual orientation to children and persons under 18 years of age unlawful.

21 February 2015

Thailand bans foreigners, same-sex couples from seeking surrogacy services

THAILAND: On 21 February 2015, the Parliament was reported to have passed legislation banning foreigners and same-sex couples from seeking surrogacy services. Only married Thai couples or couples with one Thai partner who have been married at least three years can seek surrogacy, and commercial surrogacy is banned.

20 February 2015

New York court: Not disclosing HIV before sex is a misdemeanor, not a felony

UNITED STATES, New York: On 19 February 2015, the New York Supreme Court ruled 4-1 that Terrence Williams, an HIV-positive man, who told a partner that they could safely have unprotected sex should face a misdemeanor “reckless endangerment” charge, not a “depraved indifference” such as to support a felony charge.
• Memorandum: The People &c., v. Terrance Williams No. 4 PDF 17.04kb, 19 FEB 15

New rules for transgender Albertans to alter birth records

CANADA, Alberta: On 20 February 2015, the Alberta Government reportedly established new regulations to simplify the process for transgender residents to change their birth certificates by providing a signed affidavit stating their identifying gender together with a supporting letter from an accredited physician or psychologist. Gender reassignment surgery is not required.

Enda Kenny expects same-sex marriage referendum to be on 22 May

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: On 20 February 2015, Prime Minister Enda Kenny was reported to have said he expects the same-sex marriage referendum in the Republic of Ireland to be held on Friday, 22 May." alt="News item summary" /> IE 20 FEB

Finland president signs gay marriage law - couples will have to wait to get married until 2017

FINLAND: On 20 February 2015, President Sauli Niinistö signed same-sex marriage bill - the first bill petitioned by the public - into law. The new law making marriage gender neutral will come into force on 1 March 2017.

19 February 2015

Colombian Constitutional Court Approves Limited Homosexual Adoption

COLOMBIA: On 18 January 2015, Judge José Roberto Herrera for the Colombian Constitutional Court narrowly ruled 5-4 that homosexual couples can adopt but only if the child is the biological offspring of one of the partners in the relationship.
• Judgment (in Spanish): Expediente D-10.315 C-071/15 PDF 218.38kb, 18 FEB 15

18 February 2015

EEOC ruling: Walmart discriminated against lesbian employee

UNITED STATES, Massachusetts: On 29 January 2015, Kenneth An in the US Equal Opportunity Commission issued a determination finding that Wal-mart Stores discriminated against Jacqueline A Cote in her employment because of her sex by denying her the option of obtaining health insurance benefits for her spouse Diana Smithson, whom she married in Massachusetts in May 2004.
• Final Determination: Jacqueline A Cote v. Wal-mart Stores East No. 523-2014-00916 PDF 104.81kb, 29 JAN 15

Judge: Washington Florist Who Refused Gay Wedding Broke Law

UNITED STATES, Washington: On 18 February 2015, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander C Ekstrom ruled that Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene's Flowers violated state consumer protection and anti-discrimination law by refusing to provide flowers to gay couple Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed for their wedding.
• Memorandum Decision and Order: State of Washington v. Arlene's Flowers, Inc., and Robert Ingersoll and Curt Freed, v. Arlene's Flowers, Inc. Nos. 13-2-00871-5, 13-2-00953-3 PDF 5.14MB, 18 FEB 15

17 February 2015

Texas ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, judge rules

UNITED STATES, Texas: On 17 February 2015, Judge Guy Herman in the Travis County Probate Court found the State ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in a case where Sonemaly Phrasavath was seeking to establish her rights in the estate of her deceased partner Stella Powell.
• Order: Estate of Stella Marie Powell No. C-1-PB-14-001695 PDF 82.60kb, 17 FEB 15

14 February 2015

Arkansas Passes Ban on Discrimination Bans

UNITED STATES, Arkansas: On 13 February 2015, the House of Representatives approved a bill 58-21 that would prevent cities and counties from enacting or enforcing laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he will let it become law in 90 days without his signature.

West Virginia Has Smallest Town With LGBT Rights Law

UNITED STATES, West Virginia: On 09 February 2015, the Town Council of Thurmond, population five, voted unanimously to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

13 February 2015

State sides with transgendered woman's dismissal claim in Framingham

UNITED STATES, Massachusetts: On 02 January 2015, Hearing Officer Betty E Waxman in the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ruled in favor of transgendered woman Jackie Ravesi who claimed she was fired from her position as a fitness instructor at the NAZ Fitness Group five years ago because of her gender status and ordered NAZ to back pay losses of $154,850 on top of $25,000 in emotional distress damages.
• Decision: MCAD and Jackie Ravesi v. NAZ Fitness Group No. 10-BEM-03164 PDF 187.47kb, 02 JAN 15

12 February 2015

Idaho’s first six same-sex marriage licenses ruled invalid

UNITED STATES, Idaho: On 12 February 2015, the Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics reportedly ruled invalid the first six same-sex marriage licenses issued before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay blocking same-sex marriage in Idaho effective 15 October 2014. The county has offered to reissue the licenses at no charge.

Federal judge orders Alabama official to allow gay marriage

UNITED STATES, Alabama: On 12 February 2015, US District Court Judge Callie V S Granade ordered Mobile County Probate Court Judge Don Davis to issue marriage licenses to the same-sex couples in the James N Strawser, et al., v. Luther Strange case.
• Order: James N Strawser, et al., v. Luther Strange No. 14-0424-CG-C PDF 94.69kb, 12 FEB 15

Tokyo's Shibuya Ward to Issue Same-Sex Partner Certificates

JAPAN: On 12 February 2015, Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward chief Toshitake Kuwahararevealed a plan to issue its own certificates to same-sex couples and recognize them as partners that are “equivalent” to those that are married under the law. If the draft statute passes, the local government would be the first to issue such documentation in the country.

11 February 2015

Italy rejects gay marriage

ITALY: On 09 February 2015, Judge MG Luccioli in the Corto Suprema Di Cassazione ruled there is nothing in the Constitution that requires the government to extend marriage rights to LGBTI people however, same-sex couples should have the same rights as unmarried Italian opposite-sex couples.
• Judgment (in Italian): Personality Rights No. 2400 PDF 582.62kb, 09 FEB 15

10 February 2015

Arkansas town rushes to pass local LGBT non-discrimination law ahead of state ban

UNITED STATES, Arkansas: On 09 February 2015, the Eureka Springs City Council passed 5-0 Ordinance 2223 that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in areas of employment, public accommodations and housing. State Senate Bill SB202 would if passed into law make the creation or enforcement of such ordinances illegal.

Missouri Supreme Court sends same-sex divorce case back to lower court

UNITED STATES, Missouri: On 10 February 2015, the Missouri Supreme Court, in an opinion handed down by Judge Richard B Teitelman and confined to the question of whether the circuit court had subject matter jurisdiction in a dissolution of same-sex marriage case, ruled that a St. Louis County circuit judge erred in dismissing the divorce case of two St. Louis men referred to as M.S. and D.S., and ordered the lower court to again take up the case.
• Opinion: In Re the Marriage of MS v. DS No. SC94101 PDF 29.81kb 10 FEB 15

New Jersey judge rules conversion therapy group can't claim homosexuality is a disorder

UNITED STATES, New Jersey: On 10 February 2015, Superior Court Judge Peter F Bariso ruled that it “is a misrepresentation in violation of [New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act], in advertising or selling conversion therapy services, to describe homosexuality, not as being a normal variation of human sexuality, but as being a mental illness, disease, disorder, or equivalent thereof”.
• Order: Michael Ferguson, Benjamin Unger et al., v. Jonah L-5473-12 PDF 905.54kb, 10 FEB 15

Committee recommends Nepal legalize same-sex marriage

NEPAL: On 09 February 2015, a 150-page Committee report was submitted to the government with a recommendation for an equal marriage legal provision for same-sex couples, with equal family protection to the couple and children and to address discriminatory criminal and civil laws.

Ninth Circuit puts hold on Montana appeal of same-sex marriage ruling

UNITED STATES, Montana: On 09 February 2015, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted the Montana attorney general's request to put a hold on his appeal in Rolondo v. Fox, the court ruling that Montana's ban on same-sex is unconstitutional, because the Supreme Court plans to take up the issue.

Wyoming Senate approves bill to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination

UNITED STATES, Wyoming: On 10 February 2015, the Senate voted 24-6 to approve a bill (SF0015) to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.The Bill now goes to the House.

Kansas Governor Rescinds Order Protecting Gay State Workers

UNITED STATES, Kansas: On 10 February 2015, Gov. Sam Brownback issued an executive order (No. 15-01) cancelling the August 2007 order (No. 07-24) by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius barring discrimination against gays and lesbians in hiring and employment throughout much of state government.

09 February 2015

Arkansas Senate OKs bill to prohibit local LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances

UNITED STATES, Arkansas: On 09 February 2015, the Arkansas Senate approved 24-8 legislation to prohibit cities and counties from enacting ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, a basis not contained in state law. The proposal now heads to the House."

Supreme Court won't stop same-sex couples from marrying in Alabama

UNITED STATES, Alabama: On 09 February 2015, the US Supreme Court denied (7-2) Alabama's request to put same-sex marriages on hold pending the appeal of two cases, meaning same-sex marriages may now proceed in Alabama. Justice Thomas and Justice Scalia dissented.
• Order: Luther Strange v. Cari D Searcey, et al. No. 14A840 PDF 57.53kb, 09 FEB 15

08 February 2015

Slovak turnout too slim to strengthen ban on gay marriage

SLOVAKIA: On 08 February 2015, Slovak conservatives did not turn out anywhere near the 50 percent of voters needed on Saturday to approve a referendum that would have strengthened the country's ban on marriages and child adoptions by same-sex couple. The Statistics Office said that votes counted from 99.9 percent of the central European country's voting districts showed a turnout of just 21.4 percent.

07 February 2015

Swedish man to serve jail time for homosexuality

TUNISIA: On 04 February 2015, a 50-year-old Swedish man was convicted of taking part in homosexual acts and sentenced to two years in prison. In Tunisia, sexual intercourse between people of the same sex can be punishable by three years in prison.

Transgender 17-year-old allowed gender treatment without parental consent

AUSTRALIA, Victoria: On 17 December 2014, in what may be a precedent setting judgment, Justice Cronin in the Family Court of Australia granted an application by 17-year-old f2m transgender “Isaac” seeking a declaration that he be found “Gillick” competent to make his own decisions about a medical procedure and treatment for Gender Dysphoria without the consent of his parents. Anyone under the age of 18 usually must have parental consent for any kind of transgender-related care.
• Judgment: Re Isaac [2014] FamCA 1134 RTF 17 DEC 14

06 February 2015

Brave Supreme Court ruling on assisted suicide a victory for human dignity, human rights

CANADA, Federal: On 06 February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously (9-0) ruled that Canadians have a fundamental right to end their lives, with the help of a physician, if they are suffering from a “grievous and irremediable medical condition that causes enduring and intolerable suffering”, giving Canada's federal and provincial governments just 12 months to create a legislative regime that protects the rights of all patients, protects the conscious rights of physicians, and protects the vulnerable from exploitation.
• Judgment: Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) 2015 SCC 5 PDF 555.06kb 06 FE 15

05 February 2015

California Supreme Court Revives Differential Sex Offender Registry Rules

UNITED STATES, California: On 29 January 2015, on a 5-2 vote, the California Supreme Court overturned a 2006 ruling which held that all adults who have sex with minors 16 or 17 are “similarly situated” and therefore there is no reason to deny judges discretion as to whether to order registration of the offender in all such instances. Now, in cases involving 16, 17-year-olds, judges can waive ordering registration of the offender on the sex offender register when vaginal intercourse is involved, but not in the case of sodomy or oral sex.
• Opinion: James Richard Johnson v. Department of Justice S209167 PDF 407.46kb, 29 JAN 15

Did Nebraska just accidentally recognize same-sex marriage?

UNITED STATES, Nebraska: On 04 February 2015, the Nebraska legislature passed 38-0 Bill LB 184 that would waive the 180-day residency period for military spouses who want to apply for gun permits with an amendment that applies to 'anyone receiving the federal benefits of a military spouse' and the Department of Defense extended benefits to same-sex spouses after the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down in 2013.

04 February 2015

Michigan agrees to recognize 300 same-sex marriages carried out during brief window last year

UNITED STATES, Michigan: On 04 February 2015, Governor Rick Snyder announced that the state will recognize 300 same-sex marriages carried out during a flurry of ceremonies last year following a federal judge striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage on 21 March 2014 and the granting of a stay of the order on 22 March 2014 in the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Florida's top court to decide if gay sex constitutes 'intercourse'

UNITED STATES, Florida: On 04 Februuary 2015, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments on the definition of sexual intercourse in a test of a law requiring HIV-positive people to tell partners of their status. In 2011, Gary Debaun was charged with falsely telling a man he did not have the virus before they engaged in sex acts. Monroe County Circuit Judge Wayne Miller dismissed the case saying state law defined “sexual intercourse” as male-female genital penetration.The district appeals court overturned Miller's ruling and asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

03 February 2015

Same-sex couples poised to marry in Alabama after stay denied

UNITED STATES, Alabama: On 03 February 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange's motion for an extended stay in a brief order that clears the way for the conservative state to become the 37th in the United States to allow gay couples to wed. The Order consolidated the Cari D Searcy, Kimberly McKeand v. Attorney General, State of Alabama, James N Strawer, John E Humphrey v. Attorney General, State of Alabama csaes.
• Order: Cari D Searcy, Kimberly McKeand v. Attorney General, State of Alabama, James N Strawer, John E Humphrey v. Attorney General, State of Alabama Nos. 15019285-C, 15-10313-A PDF 55.72kb, 03 FEB 15

02 February 2015

Oregon bakery will have to pay same-sex couple up to $150K

UNITED STATES, Oregon: On 29 January 2015, Bureau of Labour and Industries Adminstrative law Judge Alan McCullough concluded Melissa Elaine Klein and Aaron Wayne Klein as proprietors of Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated state anti-discrimination law by refusing to sell Laurel Bowman and her fiancée Rachel Cryer a cake for their upcoming wedding. The judge held that although the proprietors are religious, the bakery is not a religious institution under law and therefore not exempt. A damages hearing is set down for 10 March.
• Interim Order: In the Matter of Melissa Elaine Klein, dba Sweet Cakes by Melissa and Aaron Wayne Klein dba Sweet Cakes by Melissa Nos. 44-14, 44-15 PDF 3.34MB 29 JAN 15

Contract in Same-Sex Couple's Split Controls, Superior Court Rules (Registration)

UNITED STATES, Pennsylvania: On 26 January 2015, Justices Ford Elliott, Shogan and Musmanno in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, upheld the trial court's order and judgment that found the agreement executed between Cynthia Clifton and Joanne Bruscemi was unambiguous as to the disposition of real property upon the termination of their relationship and ruled that the reason one woman moved out was irrelevant.
• Opinion: Cynthia Clifton v. Joanne Bruscemi Nos. 76 WDA 2014, 107 WDA 2014 PDF 95.70kb, 26 JAN 15

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