TIME LGBT

U.S. Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriage in 6 More States

Erika Turner and Jennifer Melsop of Centreville, Virginia, embrace each other after they became the first same sex marriage couple in Arlington County at the Arlington County Courthouse on Oct. 6, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia.
Erika Turner and Jennifer Melsop of Centreville, Virginia, embrace each other after they became the first same sex marriage couple in Arlington County at the Arlington County Courthouse on Oct. 6, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia. Alex Wong—Getty Images

Same-sex couples in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming will now receive federal benefits

The federal government will recognize same-sex marriage in six new states, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Saturday: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Holder’s announcement follows the Supreme Court’s decision this month to decline to hear appeals from several states that sought to maintain their marriage bans.

 

The government will also extend federal benefits to same-sex couples in those six states.

Holder made a similar announcement about seven other states last week, including Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. With Saturday’s announcement, same-sex couples will be recognized by the federal government in 32 states, plus the District of Columbia.

“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” Holder said in a statement Saturday. “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.”

TIME The Philippines

Philippine Transgender Murder Becomes a Rallying Point for LGBT Rights

A Filipino activist holds flowers and a slogan during prayers in suburban Quezon city, Philippines on Thursday Oct. 23, 2014, to call for justice for the killing of Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude. Aaron Favila—AP

Activists say the death of Jennifer Laude highlights the vulnerable position of trans people in the Philippines

The burial of transgender woman Jennifer Laude has sparked a “National Day of Outrage” in the Philippines, with LGBT organizations staging candlelight vigils across the country on Friday.

A U.S. Marine has been accused of her killing.

“We will deliver messages of solidarity and push for justice,” says Charlese Saballe, chairwoman of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP). “The media attention to Jennifer’s case means a slow movement toward bringing transgender issues to the mainstream.”

Following Laude’s Oct. 11 murder, media have mostly focused on the fact that suspect Joseph Scott Pemberton has been held under U.S. guard, under a defense agreement between the two countries. Loud criticism has been raised over the agreement, with protesters attempting to carry a mock coffin to the U.S. embassy in Manila on Friday.

However, as Steven Rood, the Asia Foundation’s representative in the Philippines, points out, much of that will blow over.

“There’s the sensitivity of not treating Filipinos as second-class citizens in their own country,” he says. “But the backdrop is that the average Filipino citizen is very much in favor of having U.S. troops here. This doesn’t threaten U.S.-Filipino relations; the strategic benefits for the alliance will override this specific issue.”

Rather, some people hope that the strong bilateral connection between the two countries could impact the LGBT rights struggle in the Philippines. LGBT groups have participated in several protests outside the U.S. embassy in Manila and at vigils in the U.S.

“If media and other groups in the U.S. frame [Laude’s murder] as a hate crime and focuses on transgender rights, it might trickle down to people in society here and affect how they treat transgender and LGBT people,” says Saballe.

While visible, LGBT people in the Philippines lack anti-discriminatory legislation and the legal recognition of transgender available in many other countries, including the U.S.

“[Seen] with American eyes, the position of the LGBT community in the Philippines is an unusual one,” says Rood. “It’s a normal part of the Filipino community, but the violence they may be subjected to has not been very visible. This will certainly be a rallying cry.”

Saballe, whose organization also monitors violence against LGBT people in the Philippines, stresses that the community is “not really accepted in society.” She adds, “Only days after Jennifer was killed, two other trans women were murdered.”

Friday’s protest action is being held simultaneously in four cities in the Philippines, with a solidarity event also arranged in the Netherlands and a discussion forum in Thailand.

TIME LGBT

Houston’s Pastors Outraged After City Subpoenas Sermons Over Transgender Bill

Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz is surrounded by preachers as he addresses a crowd at a Houston church Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 about a legal dispute involving several pastors fighting subpoenas from Houston city attorneys. Pat Sullivan—AP

City officials have subpoenaed the sermons of five pastors who oppose the Houston's new equal rights ordinance

Houston, with its left-leaning, openly gay mayor governing an influential conservative and evangelical base, is a city politically divided. That division has been made clear in recent days after the city subpoenaed sermons of several pastors who oppose a recently passed equal rights ordinance for gay and transgender residents. The subpoenas are an attempt by city officials to determine how the preachers instructed their congregants in their push to get the law repealed.

The city’s subpoenas targeted sermons and speeches by five Houston pastors with ties to religious leaders attempting to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which bars businesses from discriminating against gay and transgender residents. The law, passed into law by Mayor Annise Parker in May, is often derided as a “bathroom bill,” because it allows transgender individuals to choose whether to use a male or female restroom.

This summer, a group of local pastors and religious leaders began gathering signatures in an attempt to get a referendum to repeal the law on this November’s ballot. But City Attorney David Feldman blocked that attempt by throwing out thousands of signatures he said didn’t meet the criteria to qualify, incensing groups opposed to the rule.

Local religious leaders claim Feldman illegally disqualified the referendum and have filed a suit against the city. Mayor Parker, meanwhile, has pledged not to enforce the ordinance until there’s a court decision. But the move by the city to subpoena Houston’s pastors, who have been vocal on the issue and have urged their congregants to support a repeal referendum, has drawn national attention. Republican Senator Ted Cruz said in a statement that the subpoenas were “shocking and shameful,” and Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has called for the city to drop them as well.

“The chilling effect of government scrutiny of our pastors is unconstitutional, and unconscionable,” Perkins said in a statement. “Mayor Parker’s use of her bully pulpit to silence pulpit freedom must be stopped in its tracks.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott also issued a letter saying the city impinged on the pastors’ First Amendment rights and called for the subpoenas’ immediate reversal. “Whether you intend it to be so or not, your action is a direct assault on the religious liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment,” Abbott wrote to Feldman. “The people of Houston and their religious leaders must be absolutely secure in their knowledge that their religious affairs are beyond the reach of the government.”

University of Houston law professor Peter Linzer says the city reached too far in issuing the subpoenas. One subpoena sent to Pastor Steve Riggle, for example, asks for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to [the equal rights ordinance], the petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity.” However, Linzer says it wouldn’t impinge on the pastors’ First Amendment rights if the city only asked only for sermons or speeches related to the signature drive. “Let’s assume they gave instructions to cheat,” Linzer says. “That would be relevant speech and I don’t see how they would have any First Amendment protection for that.”

Among those fighting the city’s move is the Alliance for Defending Freedom, a religious freedom advocacy non-profit whose lawyers have filed a motion trying to quash the subpoenas. “I haven’t seen any indication that the city is backing down,” says Erik Stanley, the group’s senior legal counsel. “But we’re hopeful that they will. The only thing we can figure is they were subpoenaed because they spoke out against the ordinance. And they urged people to sign the petition. They exercised their constitutional rights to speak out.”

Still, Mayor Parker and City Attorney David Feldman appeared to backtrack on the subpoenas Wednesday, saying they had only recently learned of them and that outside lawyers handled the lawsuit. They argued the city is merely looking for communications from those pastors regarding the petition drive, but that the subpoenas’ language was inappropriate.

“There’s no question the wording was overly broad,” Parker said in a news conference Wednesday. “But I also think there was some deliberate misinterpretation.” Feldman, the city attorney, called the uproar over the wording “ridiculous,” but also has argued that if a pastor is speaking about political issues from the pulpit, it’s not protected. The mayor’s office declined to comment further for this story.

On Friday, The Houston Chronicle reported that the city would remove the term “sermon” from the subpoenas. Mayor Parker, however, said that relevant sermons regarding the petition drive could still be gathered.

TIME LGBT

Federal Judge Strikes Down Arizona’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Arizona is the latest state where gay marriage is legal following an earlier Supreme Court move

Arizona is now the latest state with legalized same-sex marriage after a federal judge on Friday struck down the state’s ban on the practice and ordered that his decision take effect immediately.

In a concise four-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick cited rulings from higher courts to dismiss Arizona’s ban as unconstitutional.

“It is clear that an appeal to the Ninth Circuit would not succeed,” Sedwick wrote, referring to the higher court that has jurisdiction over a potential appeal in the case. The judge added that the United States Supreme Court has suggested that it would not hear an appeal in the Arizona case.

Arizona is the latest in a slew of states where same-sex marriage was effectively legalized after the Supreme Court earlier this month declined to hear cases addressing the issue. The court’s move effectively brought the total number of states with same-sex marriage to 30, while paving the way for legalization in other states as well.

TIME Ukraine

Crimea’s Gay Community Moves Out as Russian Homophobia Sets In

Yegor Guskov and Bogdan Zinchenko, who owned a gay bar in Sevastopol, feared for their business — and their family

The Qbar was always an awkward fit in the nightlife of Sevastopol. It was the only place in the Ukrainian city to host the occasional drag show, and certainly the only place where the all-male waitstaff wore booty shorts beneath their aprons. In other parts of Europe, and even many cities in mainland Ukraine, the camp décor would have raised few eyebrows. But Sevastopol is a macho place. It houses the Russian Black Sea naval fleet, and its streets are studded with the homes and memorials of veterans from Russian wars going back to the 18th century. So even before Russia decided in March of this year to annex the city from Ukraine along with the rest of the Crimean peninsula, the locals, both Russian and Ukrainian, looked at the Qbar with a bit of suspicion.

“For a long time they were afraid,” says Yegor Guskov, who ran the bar along with his partner, Bogdan Zinchenko, since it opened in 2007. Mostly out of a fear of the unfamiliar, the Ukrainian officials who worked next door at City Hall were “worried at first that someone would fondle them if they came inside,” he says. “But then they realized it was safe, and the food is really good. So they started coming to eat.” By day the bar would be full of dowdy bureaucrats on their lunch breaks; by night it was packed with lithe young men and women taking Sambuca shots and dancing to Britney Spears. It filled a niche, and business prospered.

But like a lot of things about life in Sevastopol, all of that changed after the Russian annexation. In response to this year’s pro-Western revolution in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to occupy the region of Crimea, many of them fanning out from the Russian naval base in Sevastopol. The invasion quickly helped install a new set of leaders in the region, who organized a slipshod referendum to call for Crimea to secede from Ukraine. When the vote passed with an overwhelming majority – most of Crimea’s residents are ethnic Russians – Putin signed a decree absorbing the peninsula into the Russian Federation. Its two million citizens thus found themselves living under Russian law.

For the gay community in Crimea, the most worrying piece of legislation was the Russian ban on “homosexual propaganda,” which Putin signed in 2012. Although the law is billed as an effort to protect Russian children from learning about “non-traditional sexual relationships,” its critics say the law encourages homophobia, signaling to Russians that gays are somehow inferior and should not be allowed to insist on their equality in public.

Since March, the new leaders of Crimea have embraced these principles with gusto. The head of the regional government, Sergei Aksyonov, said that the West’s liberal attitude toward gay rights would be “intolerable and unacceptable” on his peninsula during a meeting with his ministers last month. “In Crimea we don’t welcome such people, we don’t need them,” he said, referring to homosexuals. If they ever try to stage a pride parade or any other public events, Aksyonov warned that the local police and paramilitary forces would “take three minutes to clarify what [sexual] orientation is right.”

That sort of discrimination began to hit home for the Qbar in April, after Moscow appointed a retired officer of the Black Sea fleet to serve as the acting head of Sevastopol. Through their patrons from City Hall, the bar’s owners learned that “someone had whispered to the new leadership that they have a gay bar sitting right underneath them,” says Guskov. A series of fire and tax inspections followed, hitting the bar with fines and official reprimands that made its managers understand they weren’t welcome anymore.

At first they tried some cosmetic remedies. They removed the Ukrainian-language sign from their door and made the waiters put on trousers instead of their trademark denim shorts. They even took the letter Q out of the name of the bar, Guskov says, because the local officials said it looked like a symbol for sodomy. “We changed the format,” he says. “We tried to make it into a normal eatery.”

But none of that made them feel safe in the city they call home. Not only are the pair among the most open of Sevastopol’s chronically closeted gays, but Guskov and Zinchenko have a two-year-old son, Timur, from a surrogate mother. The chance that some technocrat could question their custody of Timur, plus their desire to have more children, convinced them that it was time to leave Crimea behind.

In August, they joined the quiet stream of émigrés – thousands of them, even by conservative estimates – who have left the peninsula and moved to mainland Ukraine since the annexation. The largest groups have been from Crimea’s ethnic minorities, primarily Muslim Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, who have both raised alarms over repression and discrimination since their towns and cities became a part of Russia. But the region’s gay men and women have also been moving away, as much out of protest at the annexation as out of a fear of becoming the targets of a state-backed campaign of homophobia.

Guskov believes that campaign won’t be long in coming. “When it became clear that Russia needs to prepare for isolation from Europe, it needed to smear the Europeans somehow, and the simplest is to spread this idea of perverted, decadent Gayropeans,” he says, using the derogatory term for Europeans—”Gayropeytsy”—that has entered the Russian vernacular. “So this witch hunt at home is needed as a tool to smear opponents abroad,” he says.

In Crimea, adds Zinchenko, the warning signs are easy to see. If elderly neighbors were happy before to coddle Timur and offer his parents advice on how to raise him, now the Soviet tradition of the “donos” – denouncing an acquaintance to the police – has started to return, he says. “People are writing these accusations against their neighbors just to show how patriotic they are, how loyal,” he says. “These are all signals for us. They show that we can become a target.”

That suspicion is what forced Guskov and Zinchenko to give up their business in Sevastopol, pack up their things and moved to Kiev. Along the way, the New York City-based photographer Misha Friedman joined them to document their journey, which he felt was emblematic of the transformation that Crimea, and the rest of Ukraine, have undergone since the annexation. “They just struck me as a normal happy family,” the photographer says. “They just got caught up in the politics of bigotry.” As they make their new home in the capital, they’re thinking of opening up a new Qbar, which will have to deal with a lot more competition in Kiev’s vibrant gay scene. But this seems like a minor worry compared to the risks they faced in the new Sevastopol.

Read next: What the Vatican Really Said About Homosexuality

TIME LGBT

U.S. Marine Suspected in Killing of Transgender Woman in Philippines

Friends and relatives of Filipino transgender resident Jeffrey Laude look on alongside his coffin and photograph in the northern Philippine city of Olongapo on Oct. 14, 2014.
Friends and relatives of Jeffrey Laude, a Filipino transgender woman who went by Jennifer, look at her coffin in the northern Philippine city of Olongapo on Oct. 14, 2014. Jay Directo—AFP/Getty Images

He's being held on a warship pending the investigation

A United States Marine suspected of killing a Filipina transgender woman he met in a local bar will remain in U.S. custody, officials said Tuesday.

The suspect, whom the military has not named because formal charges have not been filed, is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He is being held on the USS Peleliu warship while the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Philippine National Police conduct a joint investigation. Three other marines considered possible witnesses are also being held on the ship.

The strangled body of Jennifer Laude, 26, a Filipino national whose birth name is Jeffrey, was found shortly before midnight on Saturday, Oct. 11 at a hotel in Olongapo City, according to the Marine Corps Times. Her head had reportedly been pushed into the toilet and two used condoms were found in a trash can in the room. ABS CBN News, a Philippine news outlet, reported that Laude’s body was found less than an hour after she checked into the hotel with a male “foreigner” with “close-cropped” hair.

The suspect was in the Philippines for a longstanding joint military exercise between U.S. Marines and their Filipino counterparts that ended Oct. 10. Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, has ordered that the five ships and the marines to remain in port in the Philippines while the investigation is ongoing, according to spokesman Chuck Little. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on Tuesday said the U.S. “will continue to cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspesect of the investigation.”

The case has provoked outrage among transgender activists in the Philippines and the U.S. and renewed criticism over a 1998 pact between the two nations that requires American service members to be held in U.S. custody during criminal proceedings. In 2006, an American soldier convicted of raping a Filipino woman by a local court stoked similar anger.

“The U.S. Navy says they are going to cooperate with national law, but they haven’t turned him over to the Philippine authorities,” says Geena Rocero, a Philippines native who founded the trans advocacy organization Gender Proud. “He is still inside the ship.”

MONEY Careers

The Best Way to “Come Out” to Coworkers and Bosses

Desk with photo of two brides
MONEY (photo illustration)—iStock (main)—Getty Images (inset)

Tired of ducking out of relationship conversations at the water cooler and using gender-neutral pronouns? These strategies can help you open up with your colleagues.

On Saturday, in celebration of the 26th annual National Coming Out Day, many gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals took the courageous step of expressing their sexual identity to parents, relatives, and friends.

Few of those who spoke out, however, are likely to share their news with co-workers and employers now that they’re back at their jobs.

Despite rising public support for LGBT rights and the increase in state laws recognizing those rights, a majority (53%) of LGBT workers in the U.S. hide this part of their identify at work, according to a study released this year by the Human Rights Campaign.

According to the survey, the reasons for not being open at work range from feelings that one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is “nobody’s business,” to fear of being stereotyped, to concern that bias could have a negative effect on one’s career and professional relationships. What many don’t realize, however, is that remaining in the closet can itself have negative effects: Many LGBT workers report feeling exhausted and distracted at work from all the time and energy they spend hiding their identities, according to HRC.

Coming out to professional relations can seem just as challenging—if not more—as coming out to personal ones. “But often fears are overblown in our minds,” says Sarah Holland, an executive coach who formerly headed the Visibility Project, a national organization that helped corporations address issues of sexual orientation in the workplace. “The world is more receptive to LGBT individuals than it’s ever been before. More often then not your colleagues have already made assumptions about your sexual orientation, especially if you never say anything about your personal life.”

There’s no need to share your orientation if you don’t care to, experts say. But if you decide that it’s finally time to let your guard down, take these steps to make it easier:

Assess the Risks

Before doing anything, you want to make sure that you won’t put your career or personal security in any kind of jeopardy by saying something.

Start by checking whether your state has a non-discrimination law that would protect you from being fired, harassed, or discriminated against. Currently 21 states have such laws in place regarding sexual orientation, and 17 of those for gender identity as well. (No workplace protections exist in federal law.)

While it’s a reassuring backstop if your state is among those that offer protections, it’s arguably more important to assess your company and department culture to get a sense of how your news will be received, suggests Deena Fidas, director of workplace equality for the Human Rights Campaign.

Does your employer have a written non-discrimination policy that covers sexual orientation and/or gender identity? The vast majority (91%) of Fortune 500 companies have workplace protections in place on the basis of sexual orientation and 61% on gender identity. Does your company offer domestic partner benefits? Is there a support or affinity group for LBGT individuals, or is anyone in your department openly gay? (If so, you might want to talk to people to learn about their experiences coming out and for their insights.) Is your company ranked highly on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index?

On the other hand, have you heard anyone at work make derogatory comments about LGBT people?

Should you get the sense that it wouldn’t be comfortable to come out, you might want to rethink your corporate affiliation, says Holland. “Consider why you want to be at that company. Do you really want to spend your work life being closeted for fear?”

Start with Your Closest Colleagues

Once you determine that your workplace is LGBT friendly, begin by sharing more details of your personal life with a trusted coworker whom you know is LGBT-supportive, recommends Fidas.

Having an ally will make you feel more comfortable opening up to the rest of the workforce, and can help you deftly handle any conversations that get awkward or too personal.

For the other folks in your social circle, “use the Monday morning coffee talk as a chance to be more forthcoming,” suggests Holland.

Chances are, you’ve been ducking out every time the social chatter turns to relationships or dating—and 80% of straight workers say that these conversations come up weekly or even daily, according to the HRC survey. But now use them to your advantage: “When asked how you spent your weekend, don’t change the gender of your partner,” says Holland. “Say if you went to a function for gay rights.”

By speaking about your LGBT identity casually, you can help coworkers to follow your lead and treat it the same way.

Let Everybody Else Figure it Out

While coming out to family and friends often happens with a discrete announcement, “in the reality of the workplace, coming out is more of a daily process, not an announcing that one is gay,” says Fidas.

In other words, you need not go around to everyone from the IT guy to the mail clerk to formally and awkwardly inform them about your sexual orientation. There are many subtle, discreet ways you can clue in coworkers with whom you’re less likely to talk about these topics.

For example, putting photos of your partner on your desk or having your loved one pick you up at the office allows coworkers to make the discovery themselves without you hiding any aspect of your identity.

Fidas also recommends using an opportunity to correct a coworker’s mistaken assumption as a way to make your sexual orientation or gender identity clear: “If you’re staring a new job, and a coworker asks if you moved from Boston with your husband, you can say you moved with your wife, rather than saying your spouse moved with you.”

Remember most of all that “you do not need your coworkers’ approval,” says Judith Martin, author of Miss Manners Minds Your Business. “You only need them to be respectful of you, which your workplace probably already obligates them to do.”

TIME LGBT

Federal Judge Strikes Down Alaska’s Gay-Marriage Ban

Gay Marriage-Alaska
Lin Davis, of Juneau, Alaska, shown wearing an orange rain coat, holds signs supporting gay marriage during a news conference Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, outside the federal courthouse in Anchorage, Alaska. Mark Thiessen—AP

Update: Oct. 13, 6:21 a.m. ET

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — A federal judge on Sunday struck down Alaska’s first-in-the-nation ban on gay marriages, the latest court decision in a busy week for the issue.

The state of Alaska will begin accepting those applications first thing Monday morning, Phillip Mitchell, with the state Department of Vital Statistics, told The Associated Press in an email. Alaska has a three-day waiting period between between applications and marriage ceremonies.

The late Sunday afternoon decision caught many people off guard. No rallies were immediately planned, but some plaintiffs celebrated over drinks at an Anchorage bar.

Matthew Hamby, who along with his husband Christopher Shelden was one of five couples to sue, was “just having drinks with friends, enjoying it.”

He said he was “elated” U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess sided with them, and he planned to among the first in line to apply for a license Monday.

“This is just an amazing day for Alaska. We’re just so fortunate that so many have fought for equality for so long — I mean, decades,” said Susan Tow, who along with her wife, Chris Laborde, were among couples who sought to overturn Alaska’s ban.

Earlier in the week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from several states that were seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage.

The move on Oct. 6 means that gay marriage is now effectively legal in about 30 states. But much of last week was marked by confusion as lower courts and states worked through when weddings can begin.

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in the West overturned marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho. On Thursday, West Virginia officials began issuing gay marriage licenses, and Kansas’ most populous county issued a marriage license Friday to a gay couple, believed to be the first such license in the state.

Sunday’s ruling in Alaska came in a lawsuit brought by five gay couples who had asked the state in May to overturn a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998. The amendment defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The lawsuit sought to bar enforcement of Alaska’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. It also called for barring enforcement of any state laws that refuse to recognize gay marriages legally performed in other states or countries or that prevent unmarried gay couples from marrying.

Burgess heard arguments Friday afternoon and promised a quick decision. He released his 25-page decision Sunday afternoon.

“Refusing the rights and responsibilities afforded by legal marriage sends the public a government-sponsored message that same-sex couples and their familial relationships do not warrant the status, benefits and dignity given to couples of the opposite sex,” Burgess wrote.

“This Court finds that Alaska’s same-sex marriage laws violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because no state interest provides ‘excessively persuasive justification’ for the significant infringement of rights that they inflicted upon homosexual individuals,” he wrote.

Gov. Sean Parnell said in a statement Sunday he was appealing to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution.

“Although the district court today may have been bound by the recent 9th Circuit panel opinion, the status of that opinion and the law in general in this area is in flux,” he said.

State lawyers were reviewing Burgess decision and working on the next steps to appeal.

Joshua Decker, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, said Alaska has no legal chance of prevailing at either the 9th Circuit Court or with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It’s really unfortunate the governor wants to continue to swim against the tide of history and try to perpetuate discrimination against Alaskans,” said Decker. “We’re disappointed but that’s not going to dampen our elation.”

Hamby said the appeal was “ridiculous and futile.”

He also called it misguided “because it continues to injure same-sex couples who love each other and just want to get married.”

If the state does appeal to the 9th Circuit Court, chances of winning were slim since the federal appeals court already has ruled against Idaho and Nevada, which made similar arguments.

Alaska voters in 1998 approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. But in the past year, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that prevented legally married same-sex couples from receiving a range of federal benefits. Federal courts also have since struck down state constitutional bans in a number of states.

The plaintiffs are Hamby and Shelden; Laborde and Tow; Sean Egan and David Robinson; Tracey Wiese and Katrina Cortez; and Courtney Lamb and Stephanie Pearson. Lamb and Pearson are unmarried.

Tow on Sunday said she was happy for the children of Alaska gay couples who will now see their parents recognized.

“We never thought we’d see this in our lives,” she said.

___

Associated Press writer Rachel D’Oro contributed to this report.

TIME LGBT

Supreme Court Lifts Block on Idaho Gay Marriage

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says same-sex marriage can go ahead in Idaho.

The court issued an order Friday that appears to remove the last legal obstacle keeping gay and lesbian couples from getting married in the conservative state.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday declared gay marriage bans illegal in Idaho and Nevada.

Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocked same-sex weddings in Idaho a day later after the state asked for a delay. Idaho officials said county clerks would be forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples almost immediately without the high court’s intervention.

Kennedy offered no explanation for his order, but indicated it would not be lasting. The court issued no explanation for its order Friday, either.

TIME LGBT

Couples Rush to Wed As NC Gay Marriage Ban Dumped

Same-sex marriage clears court hurdles in Idaho, North Carolina
Chad Biggs, left, and his fiance, Chris Creech say their wedding vows in front of Wake County magistrate Dexter Williams at the Wake County Courthouse in Raleigh, N.C., on Oct. 10, 2014. Chuck Liddy—MCT/Getty Images

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Minutes after a federal judge in Asheville struck down North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriages, Amy Cantrell and Lauren White rushed out of a county office with their newly printed marriage license and exchanged vows on the front steps, their two children in tow.

“This is it folks,” exclaimed the Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Asheville, to cheering supporters. “By the power vested in me by the state of North Carolina, I now pronounce you married.”

The 42-year-old Cantrell, a minister herself, was exuberant. “We’ve been waiting for this day for years,” she said.

The couple of six years have 8-month-old twins: Myla and Eleecia.

“I thought I might pass out at one point,” added White, 29. “Pretty typical bride stuff.”

U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. issued his ruling shortly after 5 p.m. In the chaotic moments afterward, it was difficult to discern exactly who were the first same-sex couple in North Carolina to get legally hitched in their home state.

In the state capital of Raleigh, the register of deeds reopened her office after hearing of the ruling and began issuing licenses to waiting couples.

Wake County Sheriff’s deputies Chad Biggs, 35, and Chris Creech, 46, were among the first to wed there. They have been together for eight years.

“Even before this I was happy, but I think now that it’s on paper and it’s legal — it’s a commitment between two people,” Biggs said.

Cogburn’s ruling followed Monday’s announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not hear any appeal of a July ruling by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond striking down Virginia’s ban. That court has jurisdiction over North Carolina.

“North Carolina’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional as a matter of law,” wrote Cogburn, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Barack Obama. “The issue before this court is neither a political issue nor a moral issue. It is a legal issue.”

Though Cogburn’s federal judicial district only covers the western third of the state, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said through a spokeswoman that the federal ruling applies statewide. Cooper, a Democrat, had previously decided not to continue defending the ban after concluding that all possible legal defenses had been exhausted. He declined to be interviewed.

Cogburn ruled moments after a different federal judge in Greensboro, Chief U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen Jr., put off a decision in two cases he oversees until at least next week. The delay followed a last-ditch effort by Republican leaders at the state legislature to intervene in the cases. Cogburn denied their request.

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger said they were disappointed. Tillis is currently campaigning for U.S. Senate.

“While we recognize the tremendous passion on all sides of this issue, we promised to defend the will of North Carolina voters because they — not judges and not politicians — define marriage as between one man and one woman and placed that in our state constitution,” the Republican legislators said in a joint statement.

A statement released by Gov. Pat McCrory’s office late Friday said all state agencies would comply with the judge’s ruling and change their operations accordingly.

The case in which Cogburn ruled was filed by a group of clergy members seeking to marry same-sex couples, making the argument that their inability to do so under state law was an unconstitutional abridgment of their religious freedom.

“We celebrate knowing that this shameful chapter in North Carolina’s history has passed,” said the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. “At the same time we know that you can still be fired simply for being gay in North Carolina. Protection from discrimination in the workplace is the next step in our push for full equality.”

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