Tag Archives: same-sex marriages

Watch | Lesbian Couples Fight For Same-Sex Marriage in Mississippi

Same-sex marriages is now available in 75% America, but the battle needs more momentum, especially in the South.

However, do not fear, as the same-sex marriage movement is alive and well, even in Mississippi.

Andrea Sanders and Rebecca Bickett are one of two lesbian couples fighting to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Watch their story…

Same-Sex Couples Have Lower Divorce Rates Than Straight Couples

Until 2013, the United States was legally forbidden to recognise the marriages of same-sex couples. Despite same-sex marriage being legal in several states in the country, the existence of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) prevented the government from formally acknowledging them.

But, things have changed recently. 2013 saw the law repealed and DOMA was deemed unconstitutional, granting many married same-sex couples the same rights that heterosexual couples have (such as benefits) whilst a grand total of 35 states (out of 50) now allow same-sex marriages to take place.

However, in 15 states, opponents to same-sex marriage are still as vocal as ever with one common argument being that it is ‘destroying the sanctity of marriage’. Well, those claims are officially unfounded after new research reveals the real rate at which same-sex couples divorce.

In research conducted by the Williams Institute which looked at the patterns of relationship recognition in the United States, they found that while 2% of straight marriages end in divorce, just 1.1% of same-sex couples get divorced. If you include civil unions and domestic partnerships then that figure is bumped up to 1.6% but the point is, the gap still remains, firmly doing away with claims that same-sex couples can’t do marriage or are destroying its values.

Furthermore, the firm also noted that most (51%) married same-sex couples are female and they also make up 64% of all legally recognised same-sex relationships (again, including domestic partnerships and civil unions). That doesn’t tell us a whole lot other than lesbian and bisexual women really like wedding cake but for party and wedding planners it’s a valuable stat.

Finally, the researchers also looked into the “Windsor Effect” which is what they’re calling the changes following the United States v. Windsor decision which is what took down DOMA once and for all. They explain that although same-sex marriages had started to level off leading up to June 2013 (when DOMA was repealed) the decision led to same-sex marriage numbers jumping right back up again.

You can read more data from the study at the source link below.

Source: Williams Institute

UK Government Announces Conversion of Civil Partnerships Into Marriages Before Christmas

Couples in a civil partnership will have the option to convert it into a marriage before Christmas once regulations laid before Parliament today (15 October 2014) are approved.

This landmark change means couples in existing civil partnerships will be able to convert them into a marriage from 10 December this year.

Campaigners have called for a simple conversion into a marriage in a local register office, or couples can have a ceremony at an approved venue of their choice, including religious premises registered for marriages of same-sex couples.

Couples will be issued with a marriage certificate, which will show the marriage should be treated as existing from the date of the original civil partnership.

“I know how important it is for couples to have the option of marriage available to them. This is the final stage in ensuring every couple has the option to be married.”

Nick Boles, Minister for Skills and Equalities

This puts couples in control. They have the choice of whether they would like a simple conversion or would prefer to celebrate the occasion with a ceremony.

In July the government laid draft regulations before Parliament based on responses to a public consultation which called for a simple process for conversion. The regulations have now been revised, taking into account views expressed over the summer.

The revised regulations – once approved by Parliament – give couples greater choice and still provide the religious protections, for any ceremony following a conversion into marriage, which are enshrined in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

For the first year, all couples who formed their civil partnership before 29 March 2014 (when marriage was extended to same sex couples) will be able to receive a £45 fee reduction. This means there would be no cost for the 1-stage option.

Further information

Couples will have the choice of:

  • a simple process at a register office, which was outlined in the original regulations and now also includes a wider range of local authority offices where registrars have access to the necessary systems
  • the new option of a 2-stage process where a superintendent registrar or their deputy can complete the conversion at another venue – this will allow the couple’s family and friends to attend and a ceremony can follow immediately after

Freedom to Marry Launches National TV Ad – #ItsTime

Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide in the United States.

“We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.”

Freedom to Marry

Riding a remarkable wave of 40 rulings across the country affirming marriage for gay couples, Freedom to Marry released “It’s Time,” a national TV ad highlighting the tangible harms to same-sex couples still discriminated against in many states. The Supreme Court officially begins its new term Monday, with marriage cases from Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin under consideration.

“The ad underscores the human costs of prolonging marriage discrimination,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. “Every day of denial is a day of real and needless injury, indignity, and injustice for too many families across the country — and time matters. America is ready for the freedom to marry, 40 lower court rulings have affirmed the freedom to marry, even opponents are saying it’s time to bring the country to national resolution — and it is, indeed, time.”

The thirty-second ad aired on Sunday morning’s network news shows in the Washington, D.C. market and on cable news this week.


U.S Census to Survey Same-Sex Marriages for the First Time

Contrary to the minority held belief, same-sex married couples do exist! Right up there with aliens, unicorns and other assorted myths, the United States government wasn’t officially allowed to acknowledge the existence of same-sex married couples. Despite the very real existence of legally married couples, DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) prohibited them from doing so on account that giving same-sex married couples the same rights and benefits as opposite sex couples would destroy the sanctity of marriage but this all change last year when the law was repealed.

The move to do this is so huge because now it finally gives us a clear, statistically supported picture on how same-sex marriage rulings are having an impact on the community and how many people are taking advantage of the legality. In a broader sense of what this means, the growing numbers of same-sex married couples could potentially alter future legislation and future marketing and monetary decisions.

For example, if lawmakers know that the laws that they make are having an effect on a large amount of plugged-in, politically conscious same-sex married couples, they will, to put it bluntly, pander to them. It’s a harsh way to put it but that is often how these things go and we are already seeing that even the most conservative, former same-sex marriage opponents are having a change of heart in an effort to appeal to more voters and new statistics to support this are only going see this type of behaviour increase.

Pew Research notes that existing data on same-sex married couples is incorrect as many opposite sex couples may have accidentally ticked the wrong box and described themselves as a same sex couple. So undoubtedly then, this will help correct the stats and we’ll be able to track them over time as more and more big same sex marriage decisions are ruled throughout the United States.


America’s Greatest LGBT Jeweller: An Interview with Rony Tennenbaum

Tom Sykes: You’ve been making jewellery for LGBT couples for some time now. How did you get into that world?

Rony Tennenbaum: I’ve been in the jewellery business for over 25 years. I  worked for various companies doing every kind of job, from back-end manufacturing from the ground up, to sourcing the gold and the diamonds, to putting jewellery together, polishing it and finishing it. Then about 7 years ago I took all the  knowledge I had acquired and decided to go it alone. I saw a niche because nobody else was catering to the LGBT community, which was my community. So I started my own line that would fill that niche.

TS: How is it that LGBTs’ tastes in jewellery differ from straight people’s tastes?

There’s definitely more trend awareness amongst LGBT people, especially with respect to fashion. I keep telling people that 10 years ago, when we didn’t have marriage equality, everyone thought the norm in wedding jewellery was a man going out and buying a diamond ring for a woman who he would then propose to.

The dynamic has changed now that we have so many LGBT marriages. All kinds of questions have been raised in my community. Do we both propose to each other? Do we both wear diamond rings? Do we both have to wear the same ring? Nowadays gay and lesbian couples will propose to each other and both wear jewellery. So there is a difference in taste and in attitudes to getting married. My experience with LGBT couples has taught me that they’re not looking for the traditional engagement and wedding rings that you find in your typical stores.

TS: What are the pieces you’ve made that you’re most proud of?

RT: My pride and joy is my LVOE trademark collection. The letters of the word LOVE are deliberately jumbled around to signify that love is love no matter how you spell it or define it. Love is love no matter who the people in love are. The LVOE line always resonates with people because the statement is so strong. It has a powerful sentiment and meaning beyond your usual rainbows and triangles and gay symbols. If you are going to wear a wedding or engagement ring then it must be very special and unique to you.

TS: You’ve been described as a ‘sought-after authority’ on LGBT wedding ring fashion. What’s exciting you right now?

RT: A couple of things. My community is not accustomed to the whole practice of getting engaged. We’ve been so enthralled about the changes to the law allowing us to get married in the first place that few of us stop and think about the practicalities of how we should get engaged and married. So there are all these new demands on jewellers like me. Gay men want to buy engagement rings and lesbians don’t want to wear the old-fashioned crown-head with a diamond sticking out of it, they want to buy a ring based on other criteria such as durability and wearability. In the LGBT wedding world we are moving away from traditional styles towards something more comfortable and distinctive.

TS: During the dark days when LGBT marriage was illegal across the whole of the United States, did you ever get into any trouble or feel threatened with regard to the work that you were doing?

RT: What is so great about the present day is that tolerance is growing fast. When I started out 7 years ago there were only something like 3 states that were pro-marriage equality and now we have reached almost half the country. There has been such a huge wave of acceptance of people like me.

Of course there are always going to be people who are ignorant about the facts, who don’t know LGBTs and who have misconceived notions about us. We need to confront those people and let them know that LGBTs are just as normal as anyone else. I had a store front for several years and a lot of my customers were straight couples. So there’s nothing about my jewellery that is exclusively LGBT, but my work comes from my heart and I do try to imbue it with symbols of love and tolerance.

TS: You’re also very passionate about charitable and philanthropic causes as ways of giving something back to the LGBT community. Could you tell us a little bit about that?

RT: I have a soft spot for the youth and especially young people who get bullied for their sexuality. There’s been a real increase in that in tandem with the growth of the internet; cyber bullying is so often targeted at LGBTs. One of my collections, called LVOE Life, is about learning to love who you are, no matter what your sexual persuasion is. Through my work, I want to help as many young gay and lesbians to understand that there are role models out there. I didn’t have that; I grew up in a time when there was no one to aspire to.

I’m so excited and proud to live in a time where I can say that I’m an accomplished gay businessman. I want others to be able to say the same thing; it’s a real passion of mine.

Same-sex Marriages Could Start Next Week in Virginia

A federal appeals court refused to delay its ruling striking down Virginia’s gay marriage ban, which means that same-sex couples could begin marrying in the state as early as next week.

The state would also need to start recognizing marriages from out of state by next Wednesday, assuming the U.S. Supreme Court does not intervene.

A county clerk in northern Virginia had asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to stay its decision, issued in late July, while it is appealed to the high court. The appeals court’s order did not explain why it denied that request.

While clerks in other states within the 4th Circuit – West Virginia and the Carolinas – wouldn’t technically have to begin issuing licenses as well, federal courts in the state would likely make them if they don’t, said Nancy Leong, a law professor at the University of Denver. Maryland, another state in the circuit, already allows same-sex marriages.

“There’s no longer a justification to keep same-sex couples from marrying. Given how many different judges in so many different parts of the country … have reached the same result, it seems highly likely that the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail on the merits, and I think that, in turn, explains why the 4th Circuit was not willing to grant a stay.”

Nancy Leong

Ken Connelly, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Prince William County Clerk of Court Michele B. McQuigg in the case, said the group will seek an emergency stay from the nation’s highest court “as soon as possible.” That request will go to Chief Justice John Roberts, who is responsible for the 4th Circuit.

Connelly said he expects the stay to be granted, “given that there isn’t any substantive difference” between the Virginia case and a federal case in Utah, in which the Supreme Court has twice granted delays in the state’s fight to keep its same-sex marriage ban.

But Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which argued against Virginia’s gay marriage ban, said

“Virginia’s loving, committed gay and lesbian couples and their children should not be asked to wait one more day for their fundamental right to marry.”

Adam Umhoefer

Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 that banned gay marriage and prohibited the recognition of such marriages performed in other states. The appeals court ruling overturning that ban was the third such ruling by a federal appeals court and the first in the South.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring – who has said he will not defend the state’s ban and believes the courts ruled correctly in striking it down – asked the Supreme Court last week to review a lower court’s decision striking down the state’s ban.

Herring said he believes the case will prove compelling to the high court because of the “stringent, discriminatory nature of Virginia’s marriage ban” and other factors.

A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati last week considered arguments regarding six cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some observers have said the 6th Circuit may be the first to uphold statewide gay marriage bans after more than 20 consecutive rulings in the past eight months striking them down.

Veteran Lesbian Couple to Demand Married Recognition

Nancy Robrahn and Jennie Rosenkranz have been together for almost 30 years and are both aged over 65. This weekend they will travel from their home state, South Dakota, in order to get married in Minnesota, a state where same-sex marriage is permitted. They will then return to SD and demand that the government recognise their union.

According to the law firm hired by the couple, Robrahn, 68, and Rosenkranz, 72, will be married at Minneapolis’ Community of Christ Church by the city mayor. Their four children and six grandchildren will be present at the ceremony.

When they go back to South Dakota, the couple will begin litigation against the state government to repeal 2006 legislation banning same-sex marriage.

‘We are approaching the time when end of life decisions and plans need to be made,’ said Robrahn. ‘There are many federal protections that will become available to us through this Minnesota marriage. We hope to see the day when couples like us don’t have to travel out of South Dakota to marry.’

Robrahn and Rosenkranz are not the only gay couple pursuing a civil rights suit against the state of South Dakota. Their plaintiffs in this case are two other same-sex couples. There is hope amongst the LGBT community in the state that their legal action will lead to a broader amendment to the constitution of the state that will, once and for all, legalise and normalise same-sex marriage.

If such a law is passed, Montana, Alaska and North Dakota will be the only states in the Union not to either recognise same-sex marriages or to have an equality suit pending. According to the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, right across the USA there are 65 cases seeking marriage equality in over 30 states and territories.