July 1, 2010
Wisconsin SCt upholds gay marriage ban against technical challenge
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld the state's constitutional ban on marriage equality and civil unions. In a unanimous ruling, the court rejected a claim that the 2006 amendment violated a rule limiting constitutional amendments to a single subject. The opinion is here.
June 28, 2010
High court upholds public law school's non-discrimination policy against religious challenge
The Supreme Court Monday upheld a policy at a California law school that groups receiving campus funding must accept "all comers" -- that is, that they may not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation or other status or belief. The Christian Legal Society at the University of California Hastings had filed suit after the university revoked its recognition because the group barred membership to "unrepentant homosexuals."
While upholding the law school's policy, the Court remanded to the 9th Circuit an assertion by CLS that Hastings applied its non-discrimination policy selectively in this case.
Our colleague Ruthann Robson analyzes the decision over at ConLawProfBlog.
Lambda Legal and Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) had filed a friend of the court brief arguing that CLS's exclusion of students who engage in same-sex sexual activity without remorse excludes gay people by definition. "We're extremely pleased the Court has found that discrimination is discrimination, however you try to package it," said Jon Davidson, Legal Director of Lambda Legal. "CLS was attempting to draw a distinction between status and conduct. But when an organization has a membership requirement that one must believe conduct central to one's identity is immoral, that's the same thing as excluding people for who they are. It's wrong of CLS to expect students to fund a group that wouldn't have them as a member. The Court wisely rejected CLS's attempt to obtain what the Court recognized as 'preferential, not equal treatment' under the school's rules applicable to all other recognized clubs."
Sen. Byrd was powerful foe of same-sex marriage
Legendary West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, who died this morning, had at best a mixed record on civil rights. He was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan (something for which he later apologized) and filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act (though he later supported civil rights measures once he became a Senate leader). He remained to the end, though, a powerful foe of marriage equality for gays and lesbians, taking to the Senate floor on at least one occasion to give an emotional, somewhat doddering speech on a topic for which his age and life experience obviously had not prepared him. In 2006, he was one of only two Democrats (the other was Ben Nelson) to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.