The Great Reversal

Up until now, most circuit and appeals courts within the United States have declared gay marriage constitutional. However, a federal appeals court on December 25th upheld the restriction on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee. This 2:1 decision was made by Judge Jeffrey Sutton, appointed by President George W. Bush in the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit of Appeals. In response, Judge Martha Daughtery, the sole Democratic person on the three-judge panel, lambasted the decision by comparing it to ‘’an engrossing TED Talk, neglectful of its own impact on gay and lesbian couples.” She continued and stated “instead of recognizing the plaintiffs as persons suffering actual harm as a result of being denied the right to marry where they reside, or the right to have their valid marriages recognized there, my colleagues view the plaintiffs as social activists who have somehow stumbled into the federal court.” Gay marriage advocates like the supporters of April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the couple who challenge a ban in Michigan, as well as their opponents immediately stated they would extend the case to the Supreme Court. The couple’s attorney Dana Nessel as well as Joe Dunman, the lawyer for plaintiffs in Kentucky, said not only appealing to the Supreme Court is a possibility but petitioning for a retrial can also be done. Yet, as the Supreme Court did not take up the gay marriage issue in October, instead rejecting seven cases, the same was expected for this cases. The rejection allowed gay marriage to proceed in five new states and encourage the same to follow in others. However, as appeals courts across the nation are disparate, the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to be coerced into action at least by the end of the year.

Although it did not take the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee cases, the Supreme Court did hear another case, ruling it unconstitutional to prohibit same-sex marriage. It began with District Judge Richard Gergel who wanted to strike down the ban in South Carolina according to a relevant law in Virginia via the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Citizens in support of gay marriage hope this will be a pervasive ruling, establishing same-sex marriage in all the United States. This case was a victory compounded with that of the the federal judge, Brian Morris, who eliminated Montana’s ban on same-sex marriage. A lesbian couple who brought this case to the court became the first same-sex pair to receive a marriage license in Montana at the Cascade County Courthouses in Great Falls. This same day (November 13) dozens of couples married right in the courthouses where the decision to lift the ban on gay marriage was made. Presently, 35 states have legalized gay marriage, with South Carolina the most recent among them.

Expanding to the global scale, Montenegro hosted its first gay pride parade free of violence in its capital Podgorica on Sunday, November 16. Although their 100 were vastly outnumbered by the multitude of police, they served to forestall what had occurred last year: anti-gay protestors hurling rocks and firecrackers at the parade to interrupt and mar the celebration. Hitherto, all three of Montenegro’s gay pride marches were tainted with some conflict. But this increased security is preventing such a collapse. Furthermore, even the Podgorica Mayor Slavolijub Stijepanovic and Human rights Minister Suad Numanovic along with many ambassadors from EU member states joined the march. Not only does this event exhibit the progress Montenegro has made regarding human rights, it also serves Montenegro, which is trying to become a member of the EU. The EU solely permits nations that have made specific social advancements to become members. Still, surveys indicate 70% of Montenegrins still believe homosexuality is a disease or sickness and 80% believe it should be publicized.

Brazil, conversely, has been dubbed the “world champion of homophobic crimes by rights group Grupo Gay de Bahia because 40% of recorded crimes against gays in South America occur in Brazil and because Brazil averages 300 murders fueled by sexuality annually.” However, the nation is on a path to reform as the Supreme Court of Brazil recognized gay unions in 2011 and ruled that public institutions cannot reject gay marriage applicants in 2013. Recently, 1000’s of gay Brazilian advocates participated in the 19th Rio de Janeiro’s Gay Pride parade. This event epitomizes Brazil’s uneasy transition into becoming an indiscriminately accepting society.

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