The Vermont Supreme Court rejected claims made by legislators and town clerks that the state’s civil union laws, which grant gay and lesbian couples the most comprehensive package of domestic partner benefits in the nation, were unconstitutional. Among the plaintiff’s arguments was the claim that the law requiring town clerks to issue civil union licenses to gays and lesbians forced them to act against their religious belief that homosexuality is immoral. The Court determined that the town clerks claims were invalid as an assistant could be appointed to distribute the licenses. The Court also admonished the town clerks saying that it was “highly questionable” for a public official to “retain public office while refusing to perform a generally applicable duty of that office on religious grounds.” In 2000, Vermont became the first state in the nation to give civil recognition to gay and lesbian couples. Soon after, the bill faced legal challenges, all of which have failed thus far.
Media Resources: Associated Press, 1/3/02; Feminist Daily News Wire
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .