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Federal Judge Overturns Kansas’ Ban On Same-Sex Marriage, Implements One-Week Stay

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on November 5th, 2014 12:08 am by HL

Federal Judge Overturns Kansas’ Ban On Same-Sex Marriage, Implements One-Week Stay

Kansas will make 33 — in a week, presuming another state doesn’t get there first.

The post Federal Judge Overturns Kansas’ Ban On Same-Sex Marriage, Implements One-Week Stay appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Welcome To Kansas

CREDIT: Shutterstock/Bart Everett

A federal judge issued a decision Tuesday overturning Kansas’ ban on same-sex couples marrying, nodding to the Tenth Circuit precedent set in the Oklahoma and Utah cases. Kansas state officials tried to argue on many technicalities that the judge should consider their ban differently, but he dismissed them all in his opinion.

Judge Daniel Crabtree, an Obama appointee, did grant a one-week stay on his order, acknowledging the Circuit could come to a different conclusion on one of the many technicalities. He also acknowledged that the stay would give the state’s clerks “adequate time to prepare to honor the injunction.”

Assuming no other decision precedes the lifting of the stay, Kansas will be the 33rd marriage equality state. Along with Montana and South Carolina, it is one of the remaining states impacted by a Circuit Court opinion that still do not have marriage equality themselves.

A state judge had previously ordered one county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the Kansas Supreme Court intervened. That case is set to be argued on Thursday.

The post Federal Judge Overturns Kansas’ Ban On Same-Sex Marriage, Implements One-Week Stay appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Why Activists Are Hopeful That Americans Are Ready To Fight For Death With Dignity

Brittany Maynard may have a lasting legacy on the political landscape in this country.

The post Why Activists Are Hopeful That Americans Are Ready To Fight For Death With Dignity appeared first on ThinkProgress.

This undated file photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill woman who died on Saturday

This undated file photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill woman who died on Saturday

CREDIT: AP Photo/Maynard Family, File

Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman who ended her life on Saturday after sparking a national conversation about right-to-die policies, may have a lasting legacy on the political landscape in this country. Activists in the field are hoping the coverage surrounding Maynard’s decision may reinvigorate the largely stalled movement to reform Americans’ end-of-life care.

Maynard was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of terminal brain cancer at the beginning of this year. She and her husband decided to relocate from California to Oregon so she could take advantage of Oregon’s right-to-die law before succumbing to the side effects of her cancer. During the last weeks of her life, they traveled to the Grand Canyon to check it off of her “bucket list.” And three days ago, just weeks before her 30th birthday, Maynard decided to take a dose of lethal medication, and passed away in her home surrounded by her family.

Thanks to Maynard’s willingness to speak out about her personal story, death with dignity activists are optimistic that Americans may push for more widespread policy change regarding end-of-life care — an area that has come under increasing scrutiny over the past several years. The expensive medical services that patients receive at the end of their lives typically don’t improve the quality of life for terminally ill patients.

“The incredible number of people who have been inspired by Brittany’s story, we hope to translate that into action in moving toward legislative change in this coming session,” Mickey MacIntyre, the chief program officer at Compassion & Choices, told the Associated Press this week. Peg Sandeen, the executive director of the Death with Dignity National Center, added that she expects upcoming legislative pushes on both coasts.

So far, proponents of death with dignity have been able to legalize the practice in just a handful of states: Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Montana, and Vermont. Most of the proposed bills in this area end up failing, even in progressive places like California.

But the sluggish legislative effort doesn’t necessarily reflect most Americans’ position on the issue. For more than four decades, a majority of Americans have agreed with the idea that terminally ill patients should be able to painlessly end their lives. Support for the concept has risen even further since it crossed the 50 percent threshold in 1973; for the past 20 years, about seven in ten Americans have told Gallup that they favor right-to-die policies.

Although this level of support depends on how pollsters ask the question — framing it in terms of a doctor helping “to end the patient’s life by some painless means,” rather than in terms of “suicide,” increases approval for the issue by nearly 20 percentage points — it’s remained fairly constant over two decades.

The widespread interest in Maynard’s story may finally be able to translate some of that support into mobilization for the grassroots movement to legalize right-to-die measures in additional states. That may be especially true, advocates argue, because Maynard offered Americans a new and powerful spokesperson for the issue of death with dignity.

“Brittany Maynard, because she’s young, vivacious, attractive, a newlywed, has a dog, and is a very different kind of person from the average middle-aged or older person who has to confront issues about terminal illness, changes the optics of the debate,” Arthur Caplan, the head of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University, wrote in an op-ed in Medscape Business of Medicine. “Now we have a young woman getting people in her generation interested in the issue.”

Sandeen echoed those sentiments in an interview with the Associated Press. “Younger people support death with dignity at really high levels, but it’s not necessarily relevant or salient to their lives. I think the Brittany Maynard story makes it real,” she said.

After she partnered with Compassion & Choices to tell her story, Maynard got considerable backlash from pro-life groups that oppose doctor-assisted suicide. Many opponents pleaded with Maynard to reconsider her decision. Caplan argues that Maynard’s youth is exactly what has made opponents of doctor-assisted suicide so nervous over the past couple weeks.

“Critics are worried about her partly because she’s speaking to that new audience, and they know that the younger generation of America has shifted attitudes about gay marriage and the use of marijuana, and maybe they are going to have that same impact in pushing physician-assisted suicide forward,” he pointed out in Medscape. “She may change the politics here.”

Since the beginning of 2013, seven states have introduced right-to-die legislation, according to the Death with Dignity National Center. It remains to be seen whether any of those measures are viable in the next session. Compassion & Choices has already been working to lay the groundwork for movement in California this fall, where polling indicates that a ballot measure on the issue would have the support of two thirds of voters.

Nonetheless, right-to-die campaigns need more than just public support. Experts say the movement has historically been hampered by a powerful opponent: the Catholic Church, which considers doctor-assisted suicide to be on par with abortion as a morally unacceptable way to end a life. For instance, even though Massachusetts looked like it was poised to pass a death-with-dignity law in 2012, Catholic-affiliated opponents poured $4 million dollars into defeating the measure — which ended up failing by a narrow 51 percent to 49 percent vote.

“You could put this issue on the ballot anywhere in the country, and if there were no political campaigns organized around the issue, it would pass in every state,” Eli Stutsman, an Oregon lawyer who helped draft that state’s groundbreaking death with dignity law, recently told TIME. “But if you look at where the money comes from and the political expertise and organization, it’s always the Catholic Church.”

The post Why Activists Are Hopeful That Americans Are Ready To Fight For Death With Dignity appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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