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
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. . . .