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Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

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Snapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks.

‘Equal Recognition’ campaign launched in Edinburgh; hope for a ‘third gender’ within the UK?

Oriana Frame, Durham University.

On the 1st of November 2014, the Equal Recognition campaign was launched in Edinburgh. The campaign, pioneered by The Scottish Transgender Alliance alongside the Equality Network, has vocalised the notion that Scotland, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, is falling behind countries such as India, Denmark, Bangladesh and Germany who have already legally recognised a ‘third’ non-binary gender.

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Jesse Bachir Picture

Durham Law Student, Jesse Bachir, explores a recent development in the current US Supreme Court case on same sex marriage. An earlier version of this post was published on Queer Human Rights and is posted here with permission and thanks.

This week, the US Supreme Court will be hearing two cases on the issue of same sex marriage. Today, it will be hearing Hollingsworth v Perry, a case deciding whether California’s Proposition 8, a State amendment to the Californian Constitution which states that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In advance of this hearing, Obama submitted an amicus brief with the Supreme Court asking them to the ban on equal marriage in the Prop 8 case. This move was a lot more monumental than most people realise – the President of the United States had intervened in judicial matters.
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IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks

International Women’s Day

Laura Graham

Today, 8th March, marks International Women’s Day 2013, a day to celebrate the achievements and lives of women across the globe, as well as speaking out against oppression of women and the issues still facing women today.

International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over 100 years. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated in the US in 1909, following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The very first International Women’s Day was launched in 1911 on 19th March (not 8th March) – the 19th March was chosen to mark the promise made by the Prussian king on this date during the 1848 revolution to introduce votes for women. Since 1913, it has been celebrated on the 8th March.

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erikarErika Rackley, Durham Law School

These are interesting times for judicial diversity. In the same fortnight as public pension cuts hit judges’ pensions and the three vacancies on the UK Supreme Court are filled, Lady Hale – the first, and so far only, female Supreme Court Justice – turned her attention to a number of ‘uncomfortable truths’ about judicial diversity including the (oft-unspoken) fear, that ‘a radical increase in the number of women and BME judges [would] lead in time to lower pay, lower status and ultimately to a less able judiciary’. (You can read her lecture here and as reported in The Guardian here).

And yet, while this and other ‘demons’ were deftly slain by Lady Hale, it remains to be seen what effect the pension cuts will have on quality of judicial applicants and the status of the judiciary as a whole. But what of diversity? Will the change in financial benefits make any difference to the diversity of those opting to become a judge?

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IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks

Church of England and Church in Wales Ban on Gay Marriage

Jayne Howell

The government is currently initiating legislation which would allow gay marriage in England and Wales.  There has been concern that this could cause a backlash from some religious organisations given that homosexuality is frowned upon in many religions. In a bid to appease conservative and religious critics, the proposed legislation would allow same sex marriages in religious institutions that wish to perform them but would not oblige them to do so.

When the Church of England presented its position on same-sex marriage in its submission to the Government’s consultation in June, it stressed that “the canons of the Church of England define marriage, in accordance with Christ’s teaching and the doctrine of the Church, as being between a man and a woman”.  This suggests that the Church was opposed to the idea of same-sex marriage and would not support the proposals.  However, the Church has expressed their “complete shock” at the ‘quadruple lock’ which will on ban the Church of England and the Church in Wales from offering same-sex marriages.  This shock seems to arise from the fact that the government has not consulted the churches in making this decision. It is felt that this takes away the choice from individual churches, given that some may be sympathetic to the idea of same-sex marriages in church. (more…)

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IB imageSnapshots of law, gender and sexuality news from the past couple of weeks

Women bishops – Church of England votes no

Catherine Donegan

On 21st November, the Church of England Synod faced its biggest crisis yet after voting against allowing women to become bishops. The legislation, which would have swept away centuries of entrenched sexism, was rejected by just six votes. Controversy had centred on the provisions for parishes opposed to women bishops to request supervision by a stand-in male bishop.

After a 12 year push the long awaited measure was dealt a fatal blow. The legislation had needed a two-thirds majority in each of the three houses of the General Synod to pass. The measure was passed by the synod’s Houses of Bishops and Clergy but was rejected by the House of Laity. The votes were 44 for 3 against with two abstentions in the House of Bishops, 148 for 45 against the House of Clergy and 132 for 74 against in the House of Laity. If just six members of the laity had voted for instead of against the measure it would have been passed.

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Durham Law Student, Jesse Bachir, explores the legal position of same-sex marriage in the US.

Same-sex marriage has seen some very good progress lately, especially with the recent election. In fact, the election brought same-sex marriage to Maine, Maryland and Washington by referendum – the first time in US history that same-sex marriage has been legalised via popular vote. Minnesota voters also defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage at the ballots during the election. All of this, along with openly gay, lesbian and transgender representatives being elected to national and state legislators, as well as President Obama being elected for a second term, made this past election a very exciting time for the LGBTQ community. However, there are still some major hurdles to overcome for same-sex marriage in the United States

Marriage in the US 101

Very briefly, it is important to note the distinction between state and federal powers in the United States before continuing with any discussions of same-sex marriage within the US. Marriage is a right reserved by the states – meaning that they have the power to legislate as to the definitions and requirements of marriage. If you want to get married, you must go to the state and follow their particular rules governing marriage.

Once you are married, you are conferred apposite rights and privileges by the state as well as the Federal Government. However, it is up to each individual state to determine who is married within their jurisdiction – meaning that in order to gain access to federal marriage rights, you must first have access to state marriage rights.

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