Yesterday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that lawsuits against Kim Davis could proceed. The decision overturned a lower court that had thrown out three lawsuits filed by same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses by the county clerk.
Kim Davis became a right-wing figurehead when she refused to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County, Kentucky in 2015 after the Supreme Court decision that made same-sex marriage legal. Davis opposes same-sex marriage for religious reasons. She was jailed for contempt of court after refusing to follow a judge's orders.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruling which extended marriage equality nationwide. The landmark decision was a major victory for the country's LGBT community.
But as the rest of the community celebrated, the lead plaintiff in the case sat in the airport waiting for a flight back home to Ohio. "I spent my decision day sitting in the airport because my flight was delayed, delayed, delayed and finally cancelled about 1 a.m.,” said Jim Obergefell self-deprecatingly in an interview with the Washington Blade. "I wasn’t able to really take part in the celebrations that were going on that night. When I meet people, so many times I hear stories about how they were just out having fun... all I can think of was I was sitting in Reagan airport. It wasn’t quite that fun.”
If there were any doubts about where the Republican Party officially stands on the question of LGBT rights, its recent action settles it. On August 14, the Republican National Committee (RNC) passed a resolution supporting strongly anti-LGBT legislation. The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was designed specifically to prevent the federal government from taking any “adverse action” against individuals or organizations for discriminating against LGBT individuals on the basis of religious belief. “Adverse action” is given an uncommonly broad definition in the bill, covering everything from imposing tax penalties to refusing contracts, grant awards or employment.
The bill, which also allows individuals and organizations that have discriminated against LGBT individuals to sue the federal government for monetary damages, was introduced specifically in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the widely celebrated civil rights decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states.
The news in 2015 was unforgettable, historic, often chilling to watch. From the specter of global terrorism to controversial social issues, from the confused state of politics to corporate corruption, important issues played out on the public stage of opinion, augmented by a hyper-connected global community.
The Second Nexus editors culled through the news that made headlines and dominated trending topics over this past year and selected our ten most important stories, in no particular order. We’re confident only that many will disagree with our list. So have a look, and have at.
Editor's Note: Updated with citations from the justices and reactions from those in attendance.
After decades of struggle, marriage equality is now the law of the land. Millions of Americans have been waiting for our nation’s highest court to recognize marriage equality--and it just did in a 5-4 opinion, issued by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Ever since the tide turned sharply in 2013, when the Court found that the federal government had to recognize same-sex married couples under federal law, case after case pointed toward what seemed an inevitable national consensus--at least until the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a contrary decision, setting up a showdown at the Supreme Court.
Ireland is poised to become the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage by popular vote. On Friday, May 22, voters in Ireland will be asked to consider whether “[m]arriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinctions as to their sex.” If the polls are correct, Ireland is very likely to vote “yes”—making marriage equality the law of the land.
The “Yes” campaign is polling so well, in fact, that it has led some commentators to wonder if the polls are an accurate prediction of the vote to come. Right now, marriage equality in Ireland seems almost inevitable. According to recent polling data, the measure will win—and it will win by a landslide—with as many as 69% of Irish voters prepared to vote yes.
In just a few days, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in one of the most important civil rights cases in a generation: Obergefell v. Hodges. After more than 20 years of struggle for marriage equality in the US, gay rights advocates are hopeful that, one way or another, Obergefell will legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states.
And indicators suggest there's a very good chance.