News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.


Indian Supreme Court Issues Decision Against LBGT Community

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The LBGT community in India (Known as Hijras) has a long history.  The origins of Hijras go back millennia to a time when transsexuals, eunuchs and gays held a special place in society because of Hindu myths attesting to them the power to grant fertility.

Yesterday the Supreme Court of India in a controversial decision upheld a British colonial era law outlawing sodomy.   Get the decision.

Previously in 2009, the  Delhi High Court issued a decision that decriminalized homosexual sex between consenting adults under the British imposed law (also known as section 377 of the Indian Penal Code).

Will British colonial standards of morality trump Indian traditions?  Time will tell, but proponents on both sides of the issue have vowed to fight on with the next battle set to take place in the legislature.

Translation of Russia’s “Gay Propaganda” Law

With the 2014 Winter Olympic Games taking place in Sochi in February, Russia has come under international scrutiny for its recent “gay propaganda” law. The most recent issue of The Journal of Eurasian Law [Find it] provides an English-language translation of the law, with Russian facing text. The key part of the text reads:

“Propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors, manifested in the distribution of information aimed at forming non-tradition sexual orientations, the attraction of non-traditional sexual relations, distorted conceptions of the social equality of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations among minors, or imposing information on non-traditional sexual relations which evoke interest in these kinds of relations—if these actions are not punishable under criminal law—will be subject to administrative fines….”

In the introduction to the translation, the author notes that the only foreigners prosecuted so far under this law have been four Dutch film makers who interviewed a 17-year-old boy on film about being homosexual.

See Russia’s “Gay Propaganda” Law 6 Journal of Eurasian Law 373 (2013). Translation by Erin Decker; introduction by Josh Wilson.

Sexual Orientation & The Law Research Guide

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Whether it’s the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, or newly passed legislation in Illinois or Hawaii, it has become clear that same-sex marriage is a prominent legal issue.

If you’re interested in doing research on this civil rights issue or just finding out more information, the Law Library has a fantastic research guide that may be of help.  The Sexual Orientation & the Law Research Guide covers several legal topics, including same-sex marriage.

As always, if you need further assistance the Law Library’s staff is always happy to help!

This just in: Transgender Persons and the Law

Are you taking Sexual Orientation and the Law this semester?  We have the perfect book for you! Transgender Persons and the Law, by Ally Howell, is a new title published by the American Bar Association.  The primary purpose of the book is to provide information on laws and landmark court cases involving transgendered individuals.  Some of the legal situations include housing, military and veteran benefits, family law, education, health care, personal safety, employment, immigration, and criminal justice.

Come on in, and check it out!

Supreme Court strikes down DOMA

Today the Supreme Court issued a divided 5-4 opinion in the highly controversial Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)  case, U.S. v. Windsor, 570 U.S. ____ (2013).  The majority, led by Justice Kennedy, struck down DOMA, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, holding that it violated due process and equal protection rights.

The case went up to the Supreme Court after Windsor, a resident of New York legally married to another woman, appealed the IRS’ refusal to grant the estate tax exemption for married couples after her wife passed away.  DOMA excluded “a same-sex partner from the definition of ‘spouse’ as that term is used in federal statutes.”  Windsor challenged DOMA’s constitutionality.  Both the U.S. District Court and Court of Appeals ruled the provision unconstitutional.

The effect that DOMA’s definitional provision had was a wide-reaching interference with the States’ power to regulate domestic relations.  According to the Court, same-sex married couples were singled out and “humiliated” under DOMA; they were deprived of healthcare benefits and “forced to follow a complicated procedure” when filing joint taxes.  Furthermore, ethics laws, such as 18 USC §208(a) which prohibits federal executive and agency officials from “participat[ing] personally and substantially” in matters in which a spouse is financially interested, did not apply to same-sex spouses under DOMA.

The majority, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, stated that “. . . the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage.  This requires the Court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.”

Roberts dissented.  Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, in which Thomas joined, and Roberts joined as to Part I.  Alito also filed a dissenting opinion, in which Thomas joined as to Parts II and III.

You can read the opinion in its entirety here.