Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TENNIS TUESDAY: Serena Ready To Play Stanford, Tiafoe Loses In ATP Debut

Serena Williams is scheduled to return to the WTA Tour today, almost 4 weeks after she was last seen on a tennis court barely able to hit a tennis ball during her ill-fated doubles match with sister Venus at Wimbledon.

Serena has been spending time in Croatia with her hitting partner Sasha and doing some training as well as enjoying herself on vacation.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Serena has not stopped working with her coach Patrick Moutaoglou and even though she pulled out of the Swedish Open (on clay) she is fulfilling her commitment to the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, which the World #1 won in 2012 over fellow American Coco Vandeweghe the reigning champion.

Sister Venus, Angelique Kerber, Agnieska Radwanska and former World #1 Vika Azarenka are also in the draw.

On the other side of the country future American #1 Francis Tiafoe made his ATP Tour debut at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. in front of his hometown crowd and although he won his first ever professional point with an ace, he lost the match 4-6 4-6 to Evgeny Donskoy.

Tiafoe is just 16 years old, but it one of the top
juniors in the world, having won the two most important junior tournaments in the world (the prestigious Orange Bowl and the Easter Bowl) in the same season. The last American to do that was named John McEnroe, and he turned out pretty well as a pro.

Tiafoe is under extreme scrutiny as America hungers for a male player with the ability to win majors and dominate the game as the Williams sisters have on the women's side. So far that pressure has not helped Tiafoe's results but realistically he is at least 4 to 5 years before he will be making any kind of significant impact on the men's tour.

Monday, July 28, 2014

MAP: State of Marriage Equality Right Now

Joe Jervis posted this map of the current state of marriage equality nationwide from Wikipedia. Blue states indicate where same-sex marriage is currently legal, red where it is banned and yellow where laws banning marriage equality have been struck down by judges but the ruling are on hold by a court.

Fourth Circuit Strikes Down Virginia's Ban On Marriage Equality!

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has affirmed a February 2014 district court decision that struck down Virginia's ban on marriage equality. The ruling puts the marriage bans in four sates covered by the 4th Circuit (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia) in question. However, it is likely that there will be stay on proceedings in the Fourth Circuit until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a final ruling in the case.

Just a  few weeks ago the Tenth Circuit issued rulings affirming that Utah's and Oklahoma's bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional but this did not stop the Attorney General of Colorado (the Tenth Circuit is physically housed in Denver!) from asserting that Colorado's ban on marriage equality is still intact (even though a state judge and a federal judge has struck it down).

In today's 2-1 decision from the 4th Circuit, the majority says:
We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.
Human Rights Campaign, the nations largest LGBT advocacy group helpfully noes that there have been nineteen consecutive ruling from federal courts affirming marriage equality since June 27, 2013 and lists the state of play in the pending federal lawsuits on marriage equality at the appellate level or higher:
Cases pending before federal appeals courts:
  • DeLeon v. Perry, Texas [Argument date at the Fifth Circuit not set]
  • Tanco v. Haslam, Tennessee [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
  • Bourke vs. Beshear, Kentucky [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
  • Obergefell v. Kasich, Ohio [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
  • Henry v. Himes, Ohio [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
  • DeBoer v. Snyder, Michigan [Arguments at the Sixth Circuit set for August 6]
  • Wolf v. Walker, Wisconsin [Arguments at the Seventh Circuit set for August 26]
  • Baskin v. Bogan, Indiana [Arguments at the Seventh Circuit set for August 26]
  • Sevcik v. Sandoval, Nevada [Argument at the Ninth Circuit set for September 8]
  • Latta v. Otter, Idaho [Argument at the Ninth Circuit set for September]
  • Jackson v. Abercrombie, Hawaii [Argument at the Ninth Circuit set for September 8]
  • Burns v. Hickenlooper, Colorado [Argument date at the Tenth Circuit not set]

Cases petitioned or likely to be petitioned to the U.S. Supreme Court:
  • Kitchen v. Herbert, Utah [Tenth Circuit struck down marriage ban June 25]
  • Bishop v. United States, Oklahoma [Tenth Circuit struck down marriage ban July 18]
  • Bostic v. Schaefer, Virginia [Fourth Circuit struck down marriage ban July 28]
Basically it's a race now to see if the Supreme Court will get the marriage cases in the 2014-15 term or in the 2015-16 term. Sooner is looking more likely, but maybe we'll need to get a circuit split (an actual federal appellate ruling where marriage equality loses) for that to happen.

Hat/tip to Chris Geidner

EYE CANDY: Blake Sciortino

Blake Sciortino is a smoking hot find by Gorgeous Sexy Guys. According to his Model Mayhem profile he is 21 years old, 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds. He has Facebook and Twitter pages.

I'm not sure what his ethnicity is but from his last name I suspect he is Italian. As I have said before. "Hawt is hawt"!

You're welcome!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

7th Circuit Sets Auugust 26 For Oral Arguments in WISCONSIN & INDIANA Marriage Equality cases

The 7th U.S. Circuit has announced the date of the oral arguments in marriage equality cases for Indiana and Wisconsin. On June 25th, Indiana's ban on same-sex marriage as struck down by a  judge and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals later issued a stay on the judge's ruling (when the judge refused to). Similarly, in Wisconsin a federal judge struck down the same-sex marriage ban on June 7 but the judge later stayed her own ruling.

Now comes word that a 3-judge panel of the 7th Circuit will hear oral arguments before the end of the summer:

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced Friday on its online docket that it has rescheduled oral arguments for both states' appeals of federal court decisions for Aug. 26. 
Federal judges in Indiana and Wisconsin overturned each state's gay marriage ban in separate rulings. When both states appealed, the 7th Circuit Court combined the cases and set aside the previous hearing date. 
The 7th Circuit also denied requests that the states' appeals be heard before the full 10-member court instead of a three-judge panel, as is customary.
hat/tip to Joe Jervis

Friday, July 25, 2014

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Rafael Nadal & Girlfriend Xisca Photographed Kissing In Public

Rafael Nadal and his longtime girlfriend Xisca Perello attended a wedding together in Spain. It should be noted that it was not their own wedding. World #1 Novak Djokovic got married to his longtime girlfriend and fiancee Jelena Ristic on Thursday July 10. Andy Murray's girlfriend is KimPears. Roger Federer is married and has 2 sets of twins (5-year-old girls Charlene and Myla and newborn boys Leo and Lenny).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And Now Colorado! Federal Judge Strikes Down Marriage Equality Ban (Issues Stay Through 8/25/14)

Colorado's ban on same-sex marriage has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in the case of Burns v Hickenlooper. If you're counting that is now eighteen consecutive federal court decisions in favor of marriage equality since last year's Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor.

Equality on Trial quotes the judge on the question of whether there should be a stay issued pending a final resolution of the Kitchen v. Herbert case which the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals already decided. The judge issued a stay on his decision through 8:00am August 25, 2014.
Based on the most recent stay, it appears to the Court that it may well be that a message is being sent by the Supreme Court. But this Court is not some modern day haruspex skilled in the art of divination. This Court cannot – and, more importantly, it will not – tell the people of Colorado that the access to this or any other fundamental right will be delayed because it “thinks” or “perceives” the subtle – or not so subtle – content of a message not directed to this case. The rule of law demands more.
Much props from this fellow sesquipedalian for the use of the word "haruspex"!

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Pastafarians Can Get CA State ID With Religious Headgear

rAmen! In a statement demonstrating the implications of religious freedom for church-state interaction, a California man named Christopher Beard Vannote has been able to get a state-issued driver's license wearing religious headgear. This would not be notable, except for the fact that Vannote is a Pastafarian, so his religious headgear is a colander!

Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WATCH: Trailer for Alan Turing Drama The Imitation Game Starring Benedict Cumberbatch

There's finally going to be a big Hollywood movie about gay icon Alan Turing released this year. It's called The Imitation Game and it stars Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC's Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness). The trailer is out now. The film will be released November 21, 2014.


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