Daily Speed Read: News You Should Know May 6, 2014

By Lisa Keen

Keen News Service

'SUCH A WELL-CHOSEN PLAINTIFF': U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told the Wall Street Journal that Edie Windsor, the plaintiff in last year's successful case to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was "such a well-chosen plaintiff." Often, legal groups do carefully choose their plaintiffs in test case litigation. But in Windsor self-selected and then sought out attorney Roberta Kaplan to file her lawsuit, seeking repayment of more than $363,000 in taxes she was ordered to pay on the value of her late spouse's half of the estate. Ginsburg said, too, that she has never seen a social change as rapid as the one around marriage for same-sex couples and that she thinks it's "just great that people who for years have been disguising what they were are now free to be what they are."

OREGON AG OPPOSES NOM AS INTERVENOR: Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a brief with the U.S. District Court Friday urging Judge McShane to deny a request by the National Organization for Marriage to serve as intervenor and defend the state ban on same-sex marriage. Rosenblum said her office could not justify defending the ban from two lawsuits challenging it. In her May 2 brief, she says neither NOM "nor its anonymous members have a valid basis to intervene simply because they disagree with the position articulated by the state's chief law officer." Rosenblum noted that NOM's petition to intervene claims it is defending the ban on behalf of three unidentified members of its organizaiton. "Accepting for purposes of the motion that these individuals exist and share NOM's opposition to same-sex marriage," wrote Rosenblum, NOM has still failed to meet the legal criteria necessary to serve as intervenor and failed to file its petition in a timely manner.

ARKANSAS 'OBLIGATION' TO DEFEND: Arkansas' Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said he supports allowing same-sex couples to marry but, unlike attorneys general in five other states with similar bans, he said he will defend the constitutionality of Arkansas' ban. The Arkansas-Democrat Gazette said McDaniel made his comment during a meeting with Associated Press Managing Editors in Little Rock Saturday. "It's become more and more difficult for me to accept the idea of anyone being treated as a second class citizen," said McDaniel. But, he added, "Unless or until [the U.S. Supreme Court rules such bans are unconstitutional], I think that attorneys general have an obligation to defend their state definitions of marriage." Attorneys general in Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have indicated they cannot justify defending their states' bans on same-sex couples marrying.

ARKANSAS DECISION STILL PENDING: An Arkansas county circuit court judge said he would issue a ruling by May 2 concerning that state's ban on same-sex couples marrying, but such a ruling has yet to be issued. Associated Press reports that Judge Chris Piazza now expects to issue his decision by May 9.

IOWA TRANSMISSION LAW REVISED: The Iowa legislature last week approved and sent to the governor a new bill making it a felony to intentionally transmit HIV, hepatitis, tuberculosis, or meningococcal disease. The new legislation replaces a law that made it a felony to knowingly expose another person to HIV infection even if the virus wasn't transmitted. The statewide LGBT group OneIowa expects Democratic Governor Terry Brandstad to sign the legislation.

JUDGE SAYS SHE'LL RULE 'SWIFTLY': Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale said Monday she would rule "swiftly" on the National Center for Lesbian Rights' lawsuit challenging Idaho's laws barring same-sex couples from marriage and refusing to recognize their existing marriages. NCLR represents four couples in Latta v. Otter. Local attorneys working with NCLR argued the case Monday.


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