US Government Will Recognize Utah Same-Sex Marriages
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday that it will recognize the approximately 1,300 marriages of same-sex couples who married in Utah in the past few weeks.
The legal battle over same-sex marriage has been progressing quickly in Utah after US District Judge Robert Shelby ruled on December 20 that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage violates same-sex couples' federal constitutional rights under United States v. Windsor. Utah subsequently filed an emergency request to stay the judge's ruling, which the Supreme Court temporarily granted last week. Following the temporary block, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said state recognition of the couples married during the time period when same-sex marriage was legal - December 20 to January 6 - would be on hold while the appeal to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals progresses.
"These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds," US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video announcing the DOJ decision to recognize the marriages. "In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled--regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages."
Several states have followed the federal government's lead with their own announcements recognizing Utah same-sex marriages, including Washington and Maryland. Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.
Media Resources: The New York Times 1/10/14; US Dept of Justice 1/10/14; Feminist Newswire 6/26/13, 1/6/14
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .