Blog of Rights

Matt
Coles
Equality in the Culture and Equality in the Courts

Equality in the Culture and Equality in the Courts

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 3:22pm
In the last 25 years or so, the attitude of Courts toward people making rights claims about sexual orientation has undergone a stark reversal. The Supreme Court of 1986 in Bowers v. Hardwick thought it "at best facetious" to claim that the constitution prevented states from making the intimate relationships of gay people a crime. By 2003, the Court said gay people had the right not to have their relationships "demeaned" by laws that did just that. Lawrence v. Texas.

God Hates Figs

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 2:14pm

Leave it to a bunch of students at the University of Chicago to remind us how best to deal with our craziest opponents. It's not to scream at them, not to shout, not to cry at their cruelty, not even to engage. It's to show them up for just how crazy…

The San Francisco Marriage Case, Part One: The Possible Outcomes and the Process

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 2:26pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

Several people have asked me questions recently about the marriage case in federal court in San Francisco (the case brought by Ted Olson and David Boies). In this first post, I'll cover possible outcomes,…

America in Transition: A Transgender Special Forces Colonel vs. the Library of Congress

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 1:11pm
Diane Schroer's case against the Library of Congress went to trial on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in D.C. The basics of the case are pretty well known. As David, Schroer spent 25 years in the Army, and retired as a decorated full Colonel in the…

The President and Hospital Visitation

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 2:14pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

Early in 1978, I hung out a shingle and began practicing law with three friends on Castro Street in San Francisco. It was before HIV turned all our lives upside down, but we soon realized that hospital…

Let People Vote

Let People Vote

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 3:19pm

The right to vote is what makes a country a true democracy. Limit the right to only some of the people and you don't really have self-government anymore.

Supreme Court Strikes a Blow Against LGBT Discrimination

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 4:18pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

As you probably know, a couple of days ago the Supreme Court decided Christian Legal Society of Hastings College of the Law v. Martinez. The court ruled 5-4 that the Christian Legal Society (CLS)…

The San Francisco Marriage Case, Part Two: The Supreme Court

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 4:53pm

(Originally posted on Huffington Post.)

This is my second post on the Olson/Boies marriage case in federal court in San Francisco. This part covers the Supreme Court and what might happen if the case gets there. (My last post outlined the…

Getting Rid of Prop. 8

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 3:38pm

The LGBT Project and the ACLU’s three California affiliates (Northern, Southern and San Diego-Imperial) wrote to our allies on Monday suggesting that we ought to reframe the conversation about getting rid of Prop. 8.

Our letter says…

Iowa and Vermont: The Politics of It

By Matt Coles, Director, ACLU Center for Equality at 1:32pm

Some week. The Vermont legislature voted to let same-sex couples marry, and the Iowa Supreme Court decided that it is unconstitutional not to let same-sex couples marry. Together, these two events are a much needed shot in the arm for marriage.

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Iowans celebrate Supreme Court marriage decision.
(Photo: Alan Light, Creative Commons)

Iowa is the first win in a flat state without an ocean view. And the decision was unanimous. Vermont is the first time a state legislature (as opposed to a court) has opened marriage, and it did it by a stunning veto override.

Iowa and Vermont don’t erase the damage from losing Proposition 8 in California. They don’t have either the cultural or economic influence that the Golden State has. Still, there’s nothing like winning big to put the wind back in your sails.

Where the marriage movement heads now, though, is complicated. Iowa and Vermont will not be the start of same-sex marriage all over the country because that simply isn’t possible.

Winning marriage in four states has been politically expensive; in getting it, we also got amendments to state constitutions that block marriage in 29 states. There are just two ways to get marriage now in those 29 states. First, you could go to the voters to get the amendments repealed. That’s a very costly process, and one not likely to work in many of the states with amendments (like Alabama and Mississippi).

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