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
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .