President Obama Endorses Marriage Equality on the Ballot
Yesterday, President Obama's campaign released three statements announcing his endorsement of state ballot initiatives to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland, Washington, and Maine. In April the President also spoke out against the measure in Minnesota, which would change the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage, even though Minnesota already has a law against same-sex marriage. The constitutional amendment would make the law more difficult to challenge.
The announcement in via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in Washington reads as follows: "The President endorsed Referendum 74 in a statement by Press Secretary Paul Bell, 'While the president does not weigh in on every single ballot measure in every state, the president believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect. Washington's same-sex marriage law would treat all Washington couples equally, and that is why the President supports a vote to approve Referendum 74.'" While the Obama campaign released three separate statements, they are all very similar, with slight state-specific variations.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in six states and the District of Columbia. The President's announcements on Thursday came five months after he became the first President to come out in support of marriage equality. In February the Obama Administration also announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), on the grounds that it considers the law a violation to the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The Supreme Court is expected to take up a case addressing the issue of marriage equality during the year-long term that began October 1st.
Media Resources: Reuters 10/25/12; The Advocate.com 10/25/12; The Washington Blade 10/25/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .