TIME Civil Rights

A History Lesson for the Kentucky Clerk Refusing to Grant Marriage Licenses

Not everyone immediately accepted the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling about interracial marriage, either

In recent months, as the Supreme Court considered the question of marriage equality, one particular case served as a frequent point of comparison for advocates of gay marriage rights: Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case that struck down laws that prevented interracial marriage. The case was even cited by Justice Anthony Kennedy in his opinion in the gay marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, when he noted that it established the precedent that marriage is “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

Now it seems that the link between Loving and Obergefell doesn’t end there. As a Kentucky county clerk continues to refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples—despite Obergefell and despite a refusal by the Supreme Court to get involved with her case—it’s worth remembering that it was years after Loving before interracial marriage was actually a given across the United States.

In theory, the Loving ruling meant all anti-miscegenation laws in the United States were invalidated. At the time, more than a dozen states had such laws on the books. But three years later, when Sgt. Louis Voyer (who was white) and Phyllis Bett (who was black) tried to get married in Alabama, they were refused a license by Probate Judge C. Clyde Brittain, on the basis that Alabama law would have made such a license criminal. In fact, Alabama law still made Voyer and Bett’s coupledom criminal in itself, and the Alabama constitution actively barred state lawmakers from legalizing marriage between “any white person and a Negro, or descendant of a Negro.”

In the resulting 1970 case United States v. Brittain, the district court ruling was extremely straightforward: there was no question that the Alabama laws in question were unconstitutional and that Voyer and Bett had the right to marry. The court even held that it didn’t matter if there were some other justification for not allowing them to do so—for example, if the bride did not properly provide proof of residence—because it was so obvious that the real motivation was racial. (This point is perhaps relevant today, as the Kentucky clerk in question has worked around the Obergefell ruling by refusing to grant all marriage licenses—but she has made no secret that her motivation is related to the question of her beliefs about marriage equality.) Nor did it matter that Voyer and Bett had gone ahead and gotten married in Tennessee. There was, the court ruled, reason enough for it to issue an opinion, just to set the record straight:

Although the unconstitutionality of these miscegenation laws cannot be seriously questioned by any trained in the law, we find a situation where the chief law officer of the State of Alabama is not free (and this has been so stipulated) to advise Judges of Probate who are not members of the bar that these miscegenation laws are unconstitutional and should not be followed. Such advice could only (by force of custom if not of law) be given after the Alabama laws had been declared unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction. Given such a situation, there is no reason for this Court to delay making such a declaration until another couple in just the right circumstances next feels the pinch of these laws.

It took years for the last wave of such local tests of Loving to finally die down, as explained by Julie Lavonne Novkov in her book Racial Union. It took another decade or so for the echo of Loving‘s implications to pass through the courts. (It wasn’t until 1984, for example, that the court ruled interracial couples couldn’t be discriminated against in child-custody decisions.) And it wasn’t until 2000 that Alabama actually removed its long-unenforceable anti-miscegenation law from its books.

If the fallout from Loving is any indication, those who side with the Kentucky clerk may have years of fight left to go—but their battle will likely be a losing one in the end.

Read TIME’s original coverage of the Loving case, here in the TIME Vault: Anti-Miscegenation Statutes: Repugnant Indeed

Read next: Kentucky Clerk Still Won’t Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

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TIME Poland

A Rainbow Sculpture That Symbolized LGBT Rights in Poland Has Been Dismantled

Participants march in front of artistic installation "Rainbow" during an International Woman's Day rally in Warsaw
Kacper Pempel —Reuters Participants march in front of artistic installation Rainbow during an International Women's Day rally in Warsaw on March 8, 2015

The statue had already been burned down six times by right-wing groups

A rainbow sculpture in Warsaw that served as a national symbol for the struggles of Poland’s LGBT community has been taken down, and it will not reappear in its current form, onet.pl, a local Polish-language news site, reports.

The sculptor, Julita Wojcik, tells TIME that the piece was never intended as an LGBT symbol. However, since its installation in Savior Square in 2012, the sculpture has been razed six times by right-wing groups, who saw it as a provocative expression of gay rights in the staunchly Roman Catholic country.

Ownership of the controversial work of art has now been assumed by the Centre for Contemporary Art at the Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, which says that the statue will not be reassembled in front of the museum, as some have previously speculated, nor will it appear in its current form in the museum.

Wojcik is involved in plans for a new design of the rainbow — which previously consisted of colorful plastic flowers attached to a metal substructure — but it remains to be seen what an updated version will look like.

[onet.pl]

TIME White House

White House Hires First Openly Transgender Staffer

The White House has hired its first openly transgender staffer.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan was appointed outreach and recruitment director for presidential personnel, the White House announced Tuesday. She previously worked as a policy advisor at the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Advocates for the LGBT community celebrated the move. In a statement, Wade Henderson, president and CEO at The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human rights, hailed the appointment as a “remarkable step-forward for the LGBT community.”

“As the old saying goes ‘if you’re not in the room, then you can’t possibly be at the table,'” he said. “Our nation will be stronger with Freedman-Gurspan, an advocate from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights coalition, both in the room and at the table as the first openly transgender White House staffer.”

President Obama has taken other steps recently to acknowledge the transgender community. In January, he became the first president to use the word “transgender” in a State of the Union speech. In April, he said he backs banning the use of “conversion therapy” on gay and transgender youths.

And in July he signed an executive order barring discrimination against transgender people working for government contractors. That same month, the Pentagon announced it will lift a ban on transgender troops.

Read Next: Why Transgender People Are Being Murdered at a Historic Rate

 

TIME U.K.

Half of Younger Brits Don’t Identify as ‘Completely Heterosexual’

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Dimitri Otis—Getty Images

But three quarters of the general population say they're 100% straight

A new poll found over half of younger Britons said they were not 100% heterosexual when asked to rank their sexual orientation on a scale.

In a poll conducted by YouGov, 1,632 British adults were asked place themselves on the Kinsey scale, which measures sexual orientation on a range from 0 (completely heterosexual) to 6 (completely homosexual). Out of the general public some 72% chose 0; but in the 18 to 24 age range, only 46% said they were completely heterosexual.

While only 2% of respondents identified themselves as bisexual, it appears that many acknowledge some sexual fluidity outside such labels. Six in 10 respondents overall and 74% in the 18 to 24 range agreed that “sexuality is a scale—it is possible to be somewhere near the middle.”

TIME LGBT

Why Transgender People Are Being Murdered at a Historic Rate

The number of transgender people murdered in the U.S. this year is at a historic high of 15, activists say — with over four months still to go

In the windows of some small cafes and churches around Central Brooklyn, there are little white stickers with rainbow-colored writing. These signs put up by the Audre Lorde Project say “Safe Space,” designating those buildings as places of sanctuary for LGBT people who are experiencing harassment or violence on the street.

Despite New York City’s inclusive policies for LGBT residents, the borough of Brooklyn still saw four “hate violence” incidents against them in the space of just two weeks this summer, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). People were threatened with death, they report, punched in the face, slurred at, socked with rocks.

For one particular community, these instances of violence happening around the country have higher chance of becoming fatal. On Aug. 14 the number of transgender people murdered in America this year hit a historic high of 15, according to advocacy organizations like the National Center for Transgender Equality. This somber milestone was hit when the remains of Elisha Walker, 20, were discovered in a North Carolina field several months after she went missing. Like the majority of the other victims, Elisha was not just transgender but a young transgender woman of color.

“These are all characteristics of people in the United States who are more susceptible to violence,” says the Center’s Mara Keisling, “of people who are more marginalized economically and educationally, people who end up having a bullseye on their back.”

The legal victories and increased media coverage of LGBT people in recent months has been largely positive for the community, experts like Keisling say. More people feel comfortable coming out, giving others the chance to meet and befriend someone who is transgender or gay, building the personal relationships that activists say are often the foundation for acceptance.

But the heightened visibility has also put more people at risk of being harassed or hurt. While images of Caitlyn Jenner receiving a standing ovation accepting an award in a Versace dress might seem to herald a sunny time for transgender Americans, most of them are still greatly disadvantaged socially and economically.

“Right now we’re experiencing a Dickensian time, where it’s the best of times and it’s the worst of times at once,” says transgender rights advocate Masen Davis, who formerly ran the Transgender Law Center. “We’re seeing a marked increase in the public awareness about transgender people and really incredible progress for trans rights, especially from a legal perspective. At the same time, we still represent and are part of a community that experiences incredibly high rates of unemployment, poverty and violence.”

Transgender people are four times more likely than the general population to report living in extreme poverty, making less than $10,000 per year, a standing that sometimes pushes them to enter the dangerous trade of sex work. Nearly 80% of transgender people report experiencing harassment at school when they were young. As adults, some report being physically assaulted trains and buses, in retail stores and restaurants. Greater awareness has not yet translated into broad acceptance, says Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center: “The majority of society does not understand who transgender people are in ways that lead to the violence and the murder and the harassment that we’re seeing.”

The risk is even greater for transgender women of color, who often grapple with both transphobia and racism. Sixteen of the at least 20 LGBT people murdered in 2014 were people of color, according to the NCAVP; 11 were transgender women, and 10 were transgender women of color. “People who are marginalized both because of their race and being transgender, it’s like a double whammy,” says Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

These figures likely don’t give a full picture of violence against the transgender community. Though a federal hate crimes law requires the collection of some statistics related to violence against transgender people, experts are dubious about the numbers they’re getting. “A lot of jurisdictions report zeroes, even in places where we know there are hate crimes,” Keisling says. Most state laws don’t require the collection of such statistics, according to Minter.

He says numbers are often misreported too. Incidents may not be determined to be hate crimes because there was no investigation, for instance. Crimes against transgender men like Brandon Teena—who was raped and murdered in Nebraska before his story was told in the film Boys Don’t Cry—may be recorded as crimes against women because many don’t have the money (or desire) for medical intervention.

The NCAVP, which collects the most complete figures on hate crimes against LGBT people, notes that the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated there may be 40 times more hate crimes occurring nationally than the FBI reports. Overall, the NCAVP has been receiving far fewer reports of hate violence toward the LGBT community in the last two years, down to 1,359 incidents in 2014. But they say this is a result of the collection process, not “an actual decrease of bias-based violence,” and they say their statistics do not represent exhaustive national numbers.

Minter says that the murder rate, as well as the chronic harassment many transgender people face, is best tackled through better education and more community-based programs, like those white stickers in Brooklyn windows that create networks of support among people who walk the same streets each day. Hate crime legislation is helpful in sending a message about the value of lives, he says, but it’s not going to solve the problem.

“We all have a responsibility to stop this violence,” he says, “and that means if you see a transgender person being harassed, we all have an obligation to speak up, to do something.”

TIME LGBT

Over 60 Same-Sex Couples Married at Puerto Rico Wedding

Alma Rosado,left, and Flor Maria Montijo, right, kiss after their wedding during a mass same-sex wedding in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. Over 60 couples from around the region gathered in Puerto Ricoís capital to exchange vows at a same-sex marriage ceremony. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)
Ricardo Arduengo—AP Alma Rosado,left, and Flor Maria Montijo, right, kiss after their wedding during a mass same-sex wedding in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Aug. 16, 2015.

The event follows the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in late June

(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico)—Over 60 couples from around the region gathered in Puerto Rico’s capital Sunday to exchange vows at a same-sex marriage ceremony while a crowd of supporters snapped photos and cheered.

The mass ceremony at a promenade in San Juan’s colonial district took the same-sex couples through the traditional marriage vows and exchange of rings.

The event follows the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in late June requiring every state to recognize same-sex marriages. The U.S. island’s governor signed an executive order soon after that ruling to comply.

Organizer Ada Conde, an attorney who filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have her same-sex marriage recognized in Puerto Rico prior to the Supreme Court decision, said Sunday’s ceremony was a “celebration of the triumph of love.”

Most of the couples were Puerto Ricans, but others from the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Venezuela also participated in the event.

Carrying an umbrella emblazoned with the colors of the rainbow, Puerto Rican gay rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano described the ceremony as “a historic moment for our community.”

“After so many years, we are finally able to marry here in Puerto Rico,” he said from the promenade in Old San Juan as the couples gathered in wedding dresses and suits.

The ceremony was criticized by the Roman Catholic bishop of Arecibo, Monsignor Daniel Fernandez Torres. Citing the church’s catechism, which defines marriage as a sacrament, he said that a marital union can be shared only by a man and woman and that same-sex marriages are “contrary to natural law.”

“Today is a sad day for Puerto Rican society,” Fernandez said in a statement.

Puerto Rico until recently prohibited same-sex marriage and the recognition of such marriages, but the government struck down those laws after the Supreme Court decision. Officials also now allow gay couples to adopt children.

In recent days, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla also signed two executive orders that allow transgender and transsexual people to change their gender on their driver’s license and protect their rights when seeking medical services.

TIME LGBT

This Transgender Teen Froze His Eggs Before Transitioning

Cole Carman is one of the first young transgender people to have done so

An 18-year-old transgender man shared on Saturday his story of freezing his eggs prior to beginning hormone therapy, one of the first transgender teens to have done so, according to his doctor.

In a profile in People, Cole Carman said his doctor had introduced the possibility of freezing his eggs in January, when he was about to start testosterone therapy following his double mastectomy. “I already knew I wanted kids, so to say yes and make that decision was a no-brainer,” he said.

Read more at People.

TIME faith

Mormon Church Considers Creating Its Own Version of the Boy Scouts

Faithful Attend Mormon General Conference In Salt Lake City
George Frey—Getty Images The Salt Lake Temple is seen during the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Oct. 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Church of Latter Day Saints is unhappy with Monday's decision to allow openly gay and bisexual troop leaders to serve

The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS)—Mormonism’s central church body—is seriously considering creating “its own international program for boys separate from the Boy Scouts of America,” after the Scouts revoked their ban on openly gay scout leaders this week, church spokesman Eric Hawkins told Religion News Service.

The committee voted unanimously on Monday to overturn the ban, which had been in place for 105 years.

That same day, the Mormon Church released a statement saying it was “deeply troubled” by the decision and was going to “re-evaluate” its relationship with the Boy Scouts.

With its status as a “global organization with members in 170 countries, the church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available,” the church said in a press release. “Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the [Boy Scouts’] National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the church in the weeks ahead.”

The church and the Boy Scouts have had a long relationship: as of 2010, the church’s troops counted 142,085 Cub Scouts and 205,990 Boy Scouts.

A breakup with the church could have serious financial repercussions for the Boy Scouts, which earns about $10.5 million a year from Mormon-affiliated groups alone, based on a $24 annual registration fee per Scout and leader.

 

TIME policy

Google Joins Chorus of Companies Backing LGBT Bill

The Equality Act has a growing list of corporate supporters

Add Google to the list of major companies voicing their support for proposed legislation that would ban discrimination against members of the LGBT community.

The online search giant on Tuesday joined the likes of Facebook, General Mills, and Nike in publicly backing the Equality Act, a landmark anti-discrimination bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The Equality Act seeks to expand existing civil rights protections against racial and gender-based discrimination in the workplace and other public spheres to include safeguards against sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Diverse perspectives, ideas, and cultures lead to the creation of better products and services and ideas,” a Google spokeswoman told Fortune in an e-mail Tuesday. “And it’s the right thing to do. That’s why we support protections for LGBT Americans as outlined in the Equality Act.”

Other companies to announce support for the bill include Apple, American Airlines, the Dow Chemical Company [fortune-stock symbol=”DOW”], and Levi Strauss.

Fortune reached out to a handful of other large U.S. companies on Tuesday to ask about their respective stances on the Equality Act. An IBM spokesman said the company is still reviewing the proposed legislation. “IBM has a long standing commitment to equal opportunity, including LGBT employees,” the spokesman added. Fortune will add other firms’ responses as we hear back.

An increasing number of large corporations have embraced LGBT rights over the past few months. Earlier this year, tech companies Salesforce and Apple — whose CEO, Tim Cook, is openly gay — along with GE were among the most vocal critics of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which opponents argued allows for discrimination against gay and lesbian employees. Walmart has also become an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights, particularly in its home state of Arkansas, where the nation’s largest private employer was joined by rival Target in speaking out against that state’s religious freedom bill. Walmart and Target did not immediately respond to Fortune‘s request for comment on the Equality Act.

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