News Fix: It’s a Rough Week for Anti-Marriage Equality County Clerks and More News Stories

Hello! I’m sorry this daily fix is up a little late — I’ve been traveling all over the nation to make it to our annual editorial retreat. If I missed anything important while trying to silently will the guy next to me on the plane to move his knees back in front of his own seat and out of mine, please let us all know about it in the comments!

Marriage Licenses

In the wake of the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality, some counties and clerks have predictably been kind of freaked out. The Campaign for Southern Equality reported on July 7th that 13 Alabama counties had stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether, and released a memo about the negative consequences of these closures. Casey Davis, county clerk in Kentucky, made a video about how hard his life is now that he also has to do his job for same-gender couples. Another video was made by a couple who took all the required paperwork as well as printouts of the Supreme Court ruling to their county clerk, only to have her refuse to give them a license and also call the police on them for filming. The ACLU has a lawsuit filed against Kim Davis, the latter county clerk.

Police and State

+ Andrew Loku, a 45-year-old father of five, was shot and killed by Toronto police this week inside his housing complex, which is dedicated as lodging for people living with mental illness. Loku was holding a hammer, and Loku’s neighbor reports that the only thing police did was shout at Loku to drop it before shooting immediately after. “I’m not talking five minutes, or two minutes, I’m talking seconds here. We didn’t get a word in, me or Andrew,” she said.”

Andrew Loku

Andrew Loku

+ The mayor of Baltimore has fired its police commissioner, citing Freddie Gray’s death and a recent spike in homicides. An outside organization will also review the “civil unrest” following Freddie Gray’s death.

Grab Bag

+ Russia’s United Russia party has created a “straight flag” with an image of a family with two children and different-gender parents as well as the hashtag “#realfamily” in Russian. Aleksey Lisovenko, a deputy head of United Russia, has said that “This is our answer to same sex marriages, this mockery of the very concept of family… We must prevent gay fever in our country and support traditional values.” So! There’s that.

russia-flag-for-straights

+ The Observer weighs in on the Bernie Sanders Situation; their take is that while Sanders is gaining popularity in a noticeable way, it’s still not going to be enough to upset Hillary for real.

[Larry Sabato, political scientist] argued that recent Democratic and Republican primary history shows that Mr. Sanders will eventually struggle because he lacks so much support from the political establishment. The establishment has a “powerful, formal” role in the Democratic nomination process, Mr. Sabato said, and Ms. Clinton dominates already among support from party leaders and delegates. President Barack Obama, who rose to power after scoring an upset over Ms. Clinton, could count on many more prominent supporters, including Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and then-Virginia Gov. Tim Kane.

+ The Women’s Donors Network Reflective Democracy campaign has released a new study called “Justice for All?”, and its findings are upsetting but not that surprising: prosecutors, who hold powerful positions in the legal system, are overwhelmingly white men at 79%. Another 16% are white women, meaning that only 5% of prosecutors are people of color of any gender. As an example of why this matters, we can look at St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, who you may remember from the Michael Brown case. His strong personal ties to the police and history of partiality alarmed many; he was ostensibly tasked with prosecuting Darren Wilson, but McCulloch’s background and ideology raised a lot of doubts about whether he would actually do his job or essentially throw the game in Wilson’s favor. This is the kind of power that prosecutors can wield in our justice system, and so these numbers aren’t heartening.

infographic-3

+ This week saw the first-ever Generation Indigenous summit, in which hundreds of Native American youths came together at the White House to work together on empowering themselves and addressing issues within their communities. The youth collectively represented 230 tribes and 42 states; subjects addressed included “economic opportunity, education and cultural and other issues.”

+ New York has become the second state after California to adopt an affirmative consent law as a measure to combat campus sexual assault. The law means that college campuses in New York state need to use a “yes means yes” policy when addressing cases of potential sexual assault; individuals attempting to prove that sex was consensual can’t argue that the other party or parties “didn’t say no” or didn’t try to fight them off.

+ A bill introduced Wednesday, the EACH Woman Act, would require healthcare provided by the federal government to cover abortion care, effectively shutting down the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of federal funds for abortion, except for very specific cases involving rape). It’s very unlikely that the bill will become a law, and much more likely that Republicans will torpedo it, but it’s neat!

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1127 articles for us.

94 Comments

  1. I’d not be surprised if some of those counties “suspending” marriage licensure are small enough that mixed-gender couples wanting licences can get that office opened just long enough to still get their licence.

  2. I am glad to hear about the affirmative consent law, but I wonder how the conversation will continue into other states and college campuses.
    And wow, a straight flag to prevent “gay fever”? I don’t even know where to go with this one.

  3. The “rise” of Bernie sanders has been so interesting to watch!

    I’m not sure that it’s going to be enough to overtake Hillary in the primaries, but I’m hopeful that it’s enough to force her to take public stands on certain issues that she would otherwise let slide..

    • I feel like if she takes a stand on something only because of Bernie, that stand isn’t as legitimate as it would be if she simply took a stand on something because it is what she believes. I can see her swinging right back in the other direction to make people like her (or to not rock the boat) down the road.

  4. Bernie Sanders is an interesting presidential candidate, a similar dismal of President Obama during his first election was said.

    As mentioned in a comment above, I do think if anything comes from this is ‘encouraging’ Hilliary Clinton to take positions on important topics.

  5. The issue of county clerks refusing to give same-sex couples marriage licenses because it violates their freedom of religion is a very interesting one. We had the same issue in Canada after we legalized same-sex marriage here.

    In the case “Reference Re Saskatchewan Marriage Commissioners” the Court of Appeal of Saskatchewan essentially said that the ability to act on religious beliefs in public is not a core component of freedom of religion, as it doesn’t affect the freedom to hold religious beliefs or the freedom to worship. Obviously Canadian and American constitutional law is very different (I’m a Canadian, so I’m incredibly biased, but I just thing the Canada model works SOOO much better), but I’m going to be VERY interested to see what SCOTUS says on this issue.

    • i concur! i think it will be super interesting, if frustrating, to see what happens there. we published this about it, which i thought was really interesting. i can’t believe it didn’t even occur to me to look at what happened with this in canada!

      • I was an RA for one of my law professors and helped her research a paper specifically on how courts balance competing rights, such as the right to freedom of religion and the right to equality. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes the task a little easier, because it has this fancy thing called the section 1 “reasonable limitations” clause, which allows the law to limit rights and freedoms as far as can “be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.

        The limitations clause is probably my favourite part of the Canadian Constitution, because is adds some much needed NUANCE to issues that the American Constitution makes so black and white.

        I’m just going to stop there, because I could go on and on about what makes Canada’s Constitution better then its American counterpart, but that’s a pretty rude thing to do on a predominantly American website :P

        The point is, without a limitations clause, I don’t see SCOTUS deciding the issue the same way the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal did. My instinct is to say that Justice Kennedy will likely side with his right-wing colleagues on this one, essentially allowing “religious objectors” to refuse to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But I guess we’ll all see in a few years.

    • Justice Kennedy would definitely be the swing vote, but I really hope he doesn’t go right. Because we’ve already tried the “religious objection” thing with RFRAs, and it was a disaster – even Republican lawmakers know it, which is why they rolled back the laws. And there’s a much better interpretation of First Amendment rights (even without a limitations clause, which we would do well to have), and that’s that the government can’t FORCE you to give out marriage licenses. Meaning, the government can’t force you to be a county clerk. So, if the new requirements of your job conflict with your religious beliefs, quit your job. Just like if your religion said you couldn’t eat or prepare meat, you wouldn’t work in a deli, and the government couldn’t force you to. And you can eat a vegetarian diet and worship however you want to. That’s what religious freedom is: live and let live, not keeping your taxpayer-funded salary while insisting that the government change your job requirements.

      • Exactly. Public servants are not ministers, priests or something like that. They are constitutionally bound to uphold rights and provide government services without discrimination.

        What you believe as a private citizen doesn’t matter while you’re acting as a public servant.

    • It’s not like the government is forcing them to have that job! Honestly, the people who are resigning because the are uncomfortable are correct. That is what you do if you don’t like reasonable requirements of your job.

  6. If it doesn’t work out for Bernie, what are his chances of him being VP? I think his biggest obstacle maybe the fact he’s not a non-Catholic Christin. In fact it was a concern for Kennedy as a Catholic(our only one in fact). Kennedy would have lost if Nixon didn’t look like a mess in their debate. We have a weird thing in this country for saying we have separation of church and state, except when it comes to our Presidents where religion & sect of religion matters. Like the concern is a Jewish President will not put a tree up in White House. or a Catholic will be swayed by the Pope.

    • i would be surprised if he turned out to be VP, as i feel like he and Hillary disagree about too many major things, but anything is possible! i haven’t heard much so far about possible VP candidates for her (although i also haven’t been paying too much attention), and i’ll be really interested to see where that goes.

      • The Vice President is — from a legal standpoint — effectively limited to what the President gives them (they’re ex officio President of the Senate, and… that’s it, unless the President loses office). Clinton could appoint Sanders to appease the left and threaten the right (they’re not going to kill or impeach her when that would give Sanders the presidency).

    • I wondered the same thing earlier. I read an article speculating on Biden running, and it got me thinking about VPs. I agree with Rachel that Sanders prolly wouldn’t be for Hillary though.

  7. I think it’s neat that despite a lack of mainstream media coverage, which has shown to be a huge factor in whether candidates are considered viable, Bernie is still turning people out in a big way (10k folks in Wisconsin???). I’m thinking social media might prove to be just as powerful a force in this election as regular old TV and newspapers.

    • i agree! and i feel like he’s part of a powerful tradition of running for president as a political statement even with the knowledge that he won’t be elected. the presidential election cycle is SO exhausting and stressful, i think, and it’s heartening for me to see some stuff that i think is constructive and useful being discussed during it!

      • Agreed! He may not have a chance at winning, but I think he’ll move the dialogue in a big way, and sometimes that’s just as important.

        PS that’s a pretty cool name you have there, I think it’s missing a letter tho

  8. Since the whole “denying access to everyone to make a point about how you hate having to provide services to minorities” thing worked so well with school integration, The South. Way to go!

    Also, that flag makes my inner vexilogist cry

    • During the integration of Little Rock High School in 1957, the governor of Arkansas resisted the Brown v. Board of Education decision along with segregationist protesters and sent the Arkansas National Guard to blockade the school and prevent black students from entering. Eisenhower had to send federal troops to protect the students.

      I live in Texas, and we have dozens of counties refusing to give out same-sex marriage licenses. Worse, our Attorney General has released multiple statements denouncing the Supreme Court decision and actively supporting the county clerks – telling them to stand strong for their beliefs, that they’re doing the right thing, the Supreme Court is wrong, etc. He’s supplying pro bono lawyers to defend the clerks facing legal action. Pro bono lawyers. To defend bigots. With Texans’ taxes. There have been rumors about the the Department of Justice coming down here for civil rights violations like they did in Ferguson. No federal troops, thank goodness, but it’s still eerie how much this feels like Little Rock High. Have we time-traveled to 1957? Does Attorney General Paxton not realize he’ll go down in history as the next Governor Faubus? Any tenth grade history student could see the pattern!

      It is encouraging that we have so much documentation now. Hopefully that’ll make us safer, and our cases easier to prosecute this time around.

  9. It’s ridiculous that some state officials are so adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage that they will go as far as refusing to issue ANY marriage licenses right now. They should be embarrassed and ashamed.

    Also, the idea of straight pride and a straight pride flag renders me speechless.

  10. Anybody else was disappointed with the “disappointment” HC felt about Donald Trump comments on inmigration? Because I get that Republicans wouldn’t say a thing about it, they’re practically the same, but she needed to take a stronger stand on that matter.

    Maybe she’s waiting for what Bernie has to say about it?

  11. I have so many thoughts. First, that video of the couple getting denied a marriage license and pushing back– it was so eery to me how calm the clerk was being as she denied someone their SCOTUS given right. Don’t just act like this is something that’s okay for you to do, yo.

    and, What the hell straight flag? Please leave?

    Also, YAY AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT! I hope this has some positive influence. Go New York!

  12. Rachel, I adore how you can report so much stomach-churning news with quips instead of pages of utter outrage. This is the least-painful place to get the news from because when someone does something shitty, you say “well, isn’t this neat” instead of “AUGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH”

    • +1.

      I’m having a news holiday this week but I can still read df because I feel like I stand with thousands in my rage and despair.
      Also it doesn’t cover the especially depressing news in my home country of Australia

  13. Kinda silly how a country that boasts ‘justice and equality for all’ is actually the whitest and most biased…America itself really is kind of an anti-thesis of the things it supposedly stands for

  14. I’m so down with New York’s affirmative consent law it’s such a huge win. I’m curious though, will the law apply to only public universities, or will it affect private institutions as well? I’m going to do some research on this. I really hope private universities have to comply as well, or my school is probably going to continue to suck at dealing with sexual assault on campus. Did you know that if someone is too drunk to give consent a legitimate defense is saying that you didn’t realize the other person was drunk? Most schools have terrible sexual assault policies full of giant gaping holes that let perps walk free constantly. I’m really hopeful that this new law will help with that.

    • I’d like to see college rape cases brought out of college tribunals and into actual courts. Tribunals don’t have the same punitive tools courts do, and having separate systems for students and non-students is ineffective (as with the California law, this doesn’t seem to apply the same standards to non-students; conversely, laws improving court trials don’t affect college tribunals). I know colleges started taking over the cases because the legal system sucked at it (and still does), but it has its own share of problems; it’d make more sense to merge the systems and only have one thing to improve. (Even if college tribunals were a great way to handle rape cases, we’d need to improve the courts anyway, because not being a student doesn’t stop someone being raped.)

  15. The EACH Women Act is so exciting and so important! Abortion care is a part of healthcare and needs to be accessible to all, regardless of income.

    Also, I think I’ve got a case of the gay fever.

  16. Ugh, so, I work for a global org doing social media and we had a call with our regional teams yesterday, one of the things they noted that the community in Russia and several other countries told us that they were happy we didn’t change our HQ profile pictures to rainbow or tweet anything about marriage equality (the community said that, not the people who work with us in those countries)…. We didn’t do it because I’m not a big corporate pride fan when said corporation hasn’t done anything to support the cause… but still. Awkward straight pride flag moment…

  17. I often scoff at all the stupid homophobic shit Russia comes up with but I am actually so worried about the entire generation of kids who are going to grow up with this shit and pass those ideas on to their own children.

  18. “If we can’t get our way, we’re not going to marry anyone, and make EVERYONE miserable!”
    I don’t understand this attitude? Maybe it was just a ploy….maybe they’re not homophobic, they’re heterophobic. They just needed an excuse to discriminate against the straights?

  19. I am flummoxed by these people refusing to issue licences. I am a public servant & if the legislation governing my work changed to a point where it conflicted with my values (as it did when I worked at the Dept of Immigration & Australia re-introduced offshore processing of asylum seekers) I would, you know, get another job. I certainly wouldn’t take it upon myself to stop doing my job, deny people access to their legal rights & expect to get paid.

  20. 1. I’m saddened by another death by police, but I’m glad that even though it’s in Canada it’s still getting traction. People act like police brutality against Black folks is an American thing and it’s NOT

    2. I’m so over these county clerks. Like, fine, you don’t want to do your job? I’d get fired for that. So like, maybe just quit. I bet there’s someone else out there who is equally qualified who’d be more than willing to do it.

    3. Affirmative consent! Yes!!!

  21. Something I’ve discovered being in law school and such, is that social justice people have a HUGE chip on their shoulder about people becoming district attorneys and prosecutors, even when the person saying they want to become one is obviously radical and into social justice. We seriously need to work on dismantling that, because the fact that so many of the people working those jobs are cishet white men with no fucking clue is why things are so fucked up.

  22. I think I’m coming down with a gay fever… :\

    SMDH at the Toronto police!!! A man was holding a hammer, so freaking shoot him SECONDS after telling him to drop it!!??!? I never say this, but “I can’t.” I really just can’t anymore.

    Blah to everything.

  23. I really wish Bernie Sanders had more to say on immigration. It really put me off that his website for the moment only has 3 things under “Issues” and NO mention of one of the most pressing issues out there.

    I do like that he has called himself a socialist. +1 for that.

  24. Uuugghhh that straight pride flag showed up on my Facebook newsfeed because someone I went to high school with (religious, conservative) liked an article commending it. But I’m actually glad I saw it a second time here, because now I’m just laughing at “gay fever” and the ridiculousness of it all.

    Also, I would love to see more rulings/legislation following marriage equality because I think we have an opportunity to make things better in a lot of ways. These clerks are fighting a losing battle. You clearly can’t use a religious objection to doing your (government) job to keep the job, be paid, and not perform your actual duties. Your freedom of choice and religion is to choose another job. I’m hoping for a domino chain of rulings: no religious objection excuse when you’re free to choose another job, no religious objection where you refuse to serve certain customers, and hopefully sooner rather than later some ENDA-type legislation so that LGBTQ people cannot be denied housing and jobs based on our identities.

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