Prior to Tuesday, six states (New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa) and the District of Columbia had full marriage equality.
As a result of Tuesday’s historic election, three additional states will now have marriage equality as well. Those states are Maine, Maryland, and Washington. (Technically, at the time of this post, Washington’s results are still coming in, but its referendum on the matter looks almost certain to pass.)
The rights, privileges, and responsibilities afforded to married individuals in the United States are vast and varied. As a matter of clear public policy, federal, state, and local governments grant married individuals everything from tax breaks to survivorship rights. Gay and lesbian couples across the country have sought to be included in these benefits and obligations. They have seen success in recent years in various state courts and legislatures, including being granted inclusion in marriage in a few, civil unions in some, and domestic partnerships in others. Despite such gains for these couples, 31 states have recently amended their constitutions to specifically deny such recognition. In these states, gay and lesbians are left with no other option than to attempt to contract around their inability to obtain governmental recognition of their unions; Minnesota is currently considering whether to pass a similar amendment.
Andrew Cohen, contributing editor at The Atlantic, discusses in Supreme Court Review: The Tyranny of the Majority how four of this week’s controversial decisions from the nation’s highest Court were decided by one vote. Cohen’s piece is a solid reminder that, despite the complexity and nuance of constitutional law, it is the ballot box during presidential-election years that remains the most powerful force in the determination of Supreme Court decisions.
Tuesday’s decision in Perry v. Brown (the “Prop 8” case) means that roughly one year from now, it is likely that the United States Supreme Court will be giving its opinion on the now infamous 2008 ballot proposition that resulted in barring Californian gay couples from joining in marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy will ultimately decide the fate of millions of gay people who wish to join in the civil institution of marriage, and his opinion will likely have a significantly broader impact on cases involving sexual orientation discrimination.
Recently, the state of Wisconsin passed a bill by special assembly that critically limits collective bargaining rights for most workers in the public sector. It appears that the dispute between proponents and opponents of the bill may find its way into the courtroom. Legal precedent disfavors those challenging the bill, but there are both procedural and constitutional arguments available to the opponents which may prove to be useful avenues for launching creative challenges to the bill.
Congress passed the LLFPA to reverse the Supreme Court’s 2007 holding in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Inc. In that case, Justice Alito led a 5-4 majority in concluding that Ledbetter could not sue Goodyear under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for gender based pay discrimination that she had experienced for almost twenty years because she did not file her charge within six months of the original decision (made decades earlier) to pay her less than her male counterparts.
Last week, Judge Vaughn Walker issued a highly anticipated ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger striking down California’s Proposition 8 – which amended California’s state constitution to restrict marriage to “a man and a woman” – on the grounds that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. This first edition of the Madia Law newsletter seeks to examine the impact of this decision on potential civil rights actions alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The law firm of Madia Law LLC is located in Minneapolis, MN and represents employees throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota, including: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington, Edina, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Eagan, Woodbury, White Bear Lake, Richfield, Minnetonka, Wayzata, Vadnais Heights, Blaine, St. Cloud, Lakeville, Shakopee, Prior Lake, Burnsville, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Carver County, Washington County, Dakota County, Scott County, and Stearns County.