Virginia Lawmakers Vote Down Bill to Repeal Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage

Gay VirginiaOn Monday, a House of Delegates subcommittee in Virginia voted 6-1 against HJ665, a bill to repeal that State’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

HJ665 was introduced on January 9th by Virginia Delegate Scott Surovell (D-).  In an interview with the Washington Blade, Surovell said, “people affirming their love to each other and living in committed relationships is a universal human right.”

“It’s a civil right,” Surovell continued. “I don’t think that the constitution should prohibit the government from recognizing people’s love and commitment to each other solely because of their sexual orientation. I think it’s wrong and it’s hateful.”

In a statement to the Washington Blade, Delegate Rob Krupicka (D) said, “Virginia is going to have to re-visit this issue either because the public demands it, because we are forced to by the Supreme Court or because corporations make it clear that they’d rather move to D.C. or Maryland in order to protect their employees.  Marshall-Newman is so broadly worded, that it puts even basic contracts in question. Ultimately, I’d like us to be talking about an amendment to add marriage freedom to our constitution. But as today’s action shows, we have work to do to even allow for basic contract rights between two people.”

It looks like supporters of same-sex marriage in Virginia have a lot of work to do to convince the legislature that the discriminatory amendment must be repealed.  If you’re looking for a way to help the cause, you may wish to contact Equality Virginia.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Colorado Governor Wants Civil Union Legislation Passed This Year

Colorado Gay marriageIn his third State of the Union address, Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, called for the legislature to pass civil union this year.

“As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few mountains we ought to climb together before this session ends in May,” said the Governor.  “Some of us tried very hard, but it didn’t get done last year. This year, let’s do it. Let’s pass civil unions.”

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has supported the Colorado Civil Union Act since it was first introduced in the legislature in 2011.  The Republican controlled House opposed the measure even though it had gained bipartisan support in the Senate.  In 2012, the bill was again cleared by the Senate with bipartisan support.  It also cleared three House GOP committees.  The bill died after the clock ran out on the legislative session.  According to Out Colorado, then-Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, (R) called it an impasse and said his chamber’s body didn’t have enough time to consider the bill. The bill was introduced on the first day of the regular session but was held in the Senate while sponsors state Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. Mark Ferrandino, both Denver Democrats, shopped for a GOP House sponsor.  Less than 24 hours later, Hickenlooper told lawmakers he would call a special session to give Republicans the time they needed to consider the bill.  McNulty sent the bill to the House State Affairs committee where it was killed on a party line vote.

The civil union bill was reintroduced this year and with a legislature controlled by Democrats, seems destined to pass.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

LGBT Fast Friday News 1/11/13

Fast Friday is a weekly feature in which I provide links to news items and other resources of interest to the LGBT community.

Tammy Baldwin: Was Chuck Hagel’s gay apology ‘sincere’?

Washington National Cathedral Announces It Will Hold Same-Sex Weddings

Scott Lively Warns ‘Wedding Songs to Homosexual Marriage’ are Responsible for Noah’s Flood and End Times

Mark Ferrandino Becomes Colorado’s First Openly Gay Speaker Of The House (VIDEO)

Bishop Says Marriage Equality Is ‘Immoral and Unnecessary’

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Supreme Court Schedules Hearings on Perry and Windsor Cases in March

The Supreme Court of the United States has announced that it will hear oral arguments in the Perry case (Proposition 8) on Tuesday, March 26th.  The Windsor case is scheduled for Wednesday, March 27th.  Read AFER’s press release below:

Washington, DC – Today, the United States Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.

Enacted in November 2008, Proposition 8 eliminated the fundamental freedom of gay and lesbian Californians to marry. On December 7, 2012, the Supreme Court granted review in Perry to consider whether Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Perry case was filed on May 22, 2009, in Federal District Court on behalf of two California couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. On February 7, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a landmark ruling upholding the historic August 2010 decision of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court also indicated today that it will hear oral argument in United States v. Windsor, a challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. Enacted by Congress in 1996, DOMA nullifies the marriages of gay and lesbian couples for all purposes of federal law.

The Supreme Court will receive written briefs from the parties in Perry and Windsor prior to hearing oral argument.

READ THE SUPREME COURT’S MARCH 2013 ORAL ARGUMENT CALENDAR HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Oral-Argument-Calendar.pdf
READ THE SUPREME COURT’S ORDER GRANTING CERTIORARI HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2012-12-07-Certiorari-Granted.pdf 
READ THE FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT’S DECISION HERE: www.afer.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Prop8Decision.pdf 

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Divorce for Same-Sex Couples in Connecticut

Lesbian DivorceWith the start of a new year, the calls and e-mails from couples wishing to discuss divorce have started coming in.  It’s not a new phenomenon.  People often wait until the holidays have passed before they start asking questions about divorce.  I suppose I could have chosen to post today on a cheerier topic but I’m just being honest.  The inquiries are coming in and there are plenty of other folks out there trying to understand the divorce process.

Let me begin by saying that if - and only if – you or your spouse reside in Connecticut and have been a resident of this state for at least 12 months, Connecticut’s courts will have jurisdiction to adjudicate your divorce.  If you live in another state but were married in Connecticut, you can’t obtain a divorce in this state, no matter how much you want to do so.  Connecticut may have married you but unless you are a resident, it has no jurisdiction over your divorce.

That may present a problem for some couples.  If you don’t live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage (at least for the purposes of granting a divorce), you are stuck.  The only thing to do is move to the nearest state that does recognize same-sex marriage.  Each state has its own residency requirements, so you’d be wise yo check out the rules before making a move.

I’ll ask again, as I so often do in this space … please don’t call or e-mail me for advice on how to obtain a divorce in another gay-divorcestate.  I am licensed to practice law in Connecticut and cannot speak to you about the laws of another state.  Please don’t call to say that you were married in Connecticut but don’t live here and want to speak to me about how to obtain a divorce.  I’ve already explained that Connecticut can’t divorce you unless you are a resident.

If you own property in Connecticut but don’t actually reside here, you are not a resident.  If you have a post office box in Connecticut but don’t actually live here, you are not a resident.  You are a resident of the state in which you are registered to vote, pay your taxes, register your cars and obtain your drivers license.

Until all 50 states recognize same-sex marriage, this dilemma will continue for same-sex couples.  It’s not fair.  It’s discriminatory.  It’s reality for now and it just plain stinks.

If you DO reside in Connecticut and are considering a divorce, you are welcome to download my complimentary brochure, The Divorce Process in Connecticut.  For information specific to same-sex couples, I invite you to check out my website section on Dissolution (Divorce) of Same-Sex Marriages & Civil Unions Legal Separation & Annulment in Connecticut.  Finally, you might want to check out some of my earlier posts on this blog about same-sex divorce.

If you reside in a state other than Connecticut and are looking for a lawyer to help you with your divorce, you might call the local bar association for a referral.  If you are looking for a lawyer who specifically works with same-sex couples, you might contact GLAD (Eastern U.S.) or Lambda Legal (Western U.S) for a referral.

It’s important to understand your rights in divorce and to understand the divorce process itself.  A conversation with a divorce attorney can help to put your mind at ease.

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

Looking Back on 2012: A Banner Year for LGBT Rights

As 2012 comes to a close and I write my final post of the year. I can’t help but feel a sense of gratitude for all of the accomplishments realized by the LGBT community.  It has truly been a banner year.

Same-sex couples in Maine, Maryland and Washington won the right to marry at the ballot box this November while voters defeated a ban against gay marriage in Minnesota.   Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealedPresident Obama came out in support of same-sex marriage.

Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate, will be sworn in this January and an unprecedented number of LGB legislators won or kept seats in Congress.

More celebrities have joined the cause in support of gay rights, including Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman.

Court battles were won and more than one court held DOMA to be unconstitutional.  Best of all, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the DOMA cases this term.

Professionally, I had a wonderful year as well.  As a result of this blog, I was invited to be a panelist at the Secrets of the Legal Bloggers event hosted by the Young Lawyers Section of the Connecticut Bar Association.   There, I met two aspiring bloggers with an interest in LGBT issues.  I was interviewed by the Connecticut Post in May about President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage.  This blog turned 3 in July (my Attorney O’s Midnight Musings blog turned 3 in June).  In September, I had the opportunity to be a guest lecturer at a family law paralegal class at Manchester Community College on the topic of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.  For fun (and to hopefully engage the students), I wrote and performed a tongue-in-cheek rap song about DOMA that I hope to post on this blog sometime in 2013.

I was elected vice-president of the Collaborative Divorce Professionals, in September, which was quite exciting as I am such a firm believer in the collaborative divorce process.  I was contacted by the BBC in London to give an interview on the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policy banning gays from the organization.  Although that interview never materialized due to a major world crisis that preempted the story, it was gratifying that my opinion had been sought by a reporter.  In October, I was privileged to attend the Diversity Award dinner for my mentor and colleague, Judge Maureen M. Murphy, a tireless advocate for LGBT rights who worked for marriage equality in Connecticut and was part of the groundbreaking Kerrigen case that ultimately won same-sex couples the right to marry in this state.   Finally, I ended 2012 with an interview for a piece on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) that is supposed to run in the Hartford Courant.

All in all, it was an exciting year for me and for LGBT citizens in general.

To the wonderful clients who entrusted me with their legal matters this year, thank you for the opportunity to work with you and to learn from you.  Whether working with clients wishing to draft Wills and documents of protection, wanting to protect their families by going through the step-parent adoption process, seeking divorce or working with the Probate process for a loved one’s estate, it was a gratifying year to have met so many wonderful people.  I thank you for the many conversations, for your displays of courage and humor and tenacity in the face of adversity.  You are all to be admired.

As 2013 approaches, I am optimistic that we will continue to see advances in LGBT rights and protections.  There will be opposition, to be sure — but I choose to believe that the LGBT community will ultimately prevail.

Have a fabulous night as you celebrate the end of 2012 and the start of 2013.  Be safe in whatever you choose to do.

I wish you joy, love and prosperity in the coming year.  I also wish each of you great peace.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading.

Happy New Year 2013

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.

LGBT Fast Friday News 12/28/12

To my faithful readers:  I wish you all a happy, healthy, prosperous new year!

Fast Friday is a weekly feature in which I provide links to news items and other resources of interest to the LGBT community.

Editorial: No More Teddy Bears For Newtown, Please. Send Checks To United Way Instead

A Nation United Against Westboro: 12 Actions Taken Against The Inflammatory Church In 2012

Website helps Dutch Catholics “de-baptize” over gay marriage

Same-sex marriage faces some lingering resistance in Md.

Malloy names first openly gay justice to high court

Third Republican House Member Supports DOMA Repeal

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Stay connected with our Social Media Pages:

Connecticut Lesbian and Gay Law blog on Facebook for all blog posts from this blog as well as additional stories and links of interest to the LGBT community. 

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Be sure to LIKE our pages and become a follower!

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Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog.  Read my entire disclaimer.

copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.