U.S./World: Supreme Court hears marriage cases

Beyond the Carolinas

Supreme Court hears marriage cases

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court heard historic oral arguments on four marriage equality cases on April 28, with advocates and opponents of same-gender marriage each claiming they were encouraged by the court’s hearing.

The four combined cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee could bring full marriage equality across the country when the court releases its ruling, expected sometime in June.

Mary Bonauto, the lead attorney arguing in favor of the changes, praised the arguments.

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“Today was a great day for equality at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Bonauto told reporters following the hearing, according to the Washington Blade.

But opponents of marriage equality were equally pleased.

“I am extremely encouraged by the questioning, especially from Justice Kennedy, because it focused on what marriage is,” John Eastman, chairman of the anti-LGBT hate group National Organization for Marriage said in a release. “It shows that the justices realize that marriage has existed for millennia and they have no constitutional basis to redefine it.”

Eastman had been brought on to continue defending North Carolina’s anti-LGBT marriage amendment last fall.

Observers at the court reported that questions from justices seemed to offer equally challenging questions for attorneys on both sides of the issue. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored three landmark gay rights opinions for the court including an historic decision overturning portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, pushed back against Bonauto’s arguments, expressing concern.

“This definition has been with us for millennia, and it’s very difficult for the court to say we know better,” Kennedy said, regarding the definition of marriage.

More conservative justices, including Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia, similarly offered questions on tradition, as well as the effects of an affirmative ruling on the religious liberty of those opposed to same-gender marriage.

More liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke briefly on the changing nature of marriage, citing past examples of how the institution had been redefined in American law.

Two questions are being considered by the court — first, whether to extend marriage across all U.S. states and, second, whether a state that does not recognize same-gender marriages must be required to recognize those legal unions performed outside of their jurisdiction.

For more on the cases, read this report from the Washington Blade: bit.ly/1HZM7K1.

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National museum picks New York, appoints N.C. native as co-chair

NEW YORK CITY — The National LGBT Museum has chosen New York City as its permanent host city and elected a North Carolina native as its board co-chair.

The museum, founded by Tim Gold, husband of North Carolina furniture maker and philanthropist Mitchell Gold, announced April 29 that it had chosen the Big Apple as the location of its forthcoming museum facility. The museum, Gold said, examined a number of possible sites and held meetings with elected officials and LGBT community leaders.

“[New York City] is both the site of many pivotal events in the history of the U.S. LGBT civil rights movement as well as a top destination worldwide for LGBT tourists. We are excited about siting the museum in this great world city,” Gold said in a release.

The group also announced that Kevin Jennings had been elected as its board co-chair.

“A New York City resident, a historian by training, and a long-time leader in the LGBT movement, Kevin is the perfect partner to help lead the effort to establish this museum in New York City,” Gold said.

Jennings is a native of Winston-Salem, N.C. He is the founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, currently serves as executive director of the Arcus Foundation and served as assistant deputy secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education from July 2009-June 2011.

“I am honored to join Tim and the Board in this important work,” Jennings said in the release. “Tim and the Board have done significant work in envisioning what a national LGBT museum might look like and I am excited to join them in helping turn that vision into a reality.”

The museum said it will now work to identify funding sources, staff and a physical location in the city. The group wants the museum to be open in time for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in June 2019. : :

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.