In death, more indignities for gay Baxter County man, this time from Texas | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, August 6, 2015

In death, more indignities for gay Baxter County man, this time from Texas

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2015 at 9:41 AM

click to enlarge TOGETHER: James Stone (left) and John "Jay" Hoskins in their marriage photo. - FAMILY PHOTO/BAXTER BULLETIN
  • Family photo/Baxter Bulletin
  • TOGETHER: James Stone (left) and John "Jay" Hoskins in their marriage photo.
We've written before about James Stone, a Baxter County native, and the troubles his family encountered in holding his funeral in a small community near Mountain Home because he was gay and married to a man. Though accounts differ on the lack of receptivity in church and a community organization, there's no disagreement that anti-gay literature was distributed by so-called Christians at his funeral. Stone's mother received the packet condemning them him and the family to hell.

Think Progress recounts the sad episode here, along with new developments — obstacles created by Texas for Stone's husband, John "Jay" Hoskins. Happily, Texas still has a federal judge willing to enforce the U.S. Constitution.

The state refused Hoskins' request that Stone's death certificate be amended to reflect that he is Stone's surviving spouse. Writes Think Progress:

Even in John’s moment of great sorrow, Texas continues to wage a war against marriage equality — despite a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States commanding them to lay down their arms.

The emergency motion also discloses one more detail about John Allen Stone-Hoskins. John has cancer, and his doctors “estimate he has no more than 45 to 60 days to live.” If the state does not stop resisting its constitutional obligation soon, John will die without ever having his rights vindicated in life

As a legal matter, it’s hard to imagine a litigant with a stronger claim for relief. The facts of John’s situation are, in all relevant respects, identical to the situation that faced Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision. Like John, Obergefell is a gay man who married his late husband in a state that recognized the equal marriage rights of same-sex couples, only to return home to a state that refused to honor those rights. John is asking for the exact same relief that Obergefell sought.

Texas is already under a court order not to enforce its same-sex marriage ban. Hoskins, as a result, has not only asked for his rights under the law but that Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton (under indictment in a securities case) and health services director Kirk Cole be held in contempt of court.

Acting with speed that is typically unheard of in the federal judiciary outside of last minute appeals of a death sentence, Judge Orlando Garcia granted John ’s [Hoskins'] motion the same day that it was filed. Garcia’s order does not simply order Cole to “immediately issue an amended death certificate for James H. Stone-Hoskins to state that John Allen Stone-Hoskins is the surviving spouse of James, and in doing so, fully recognize their legal out-of-state marriage,” it also orders both Cole and Paxton to appear in court “to determine whether Defendants should be held in contempt for disobedience of this Court’s July 7, 2015 order, permanently enjoining Defendants from enforcing any Texas’s laws that prohibit or fail to recognize same-sex marriage.”

Leviticus might say something about men lying with men, though I've read differing interpretations. I'm pretty sure it doesn't encourage persecution and harassment of the dead and dying and their families.

UPDATE: Talking Points Memo has more details on the legal struggle. It is reiminscent of the uncertainty that continues to prevail in Arkansas on adding parents to birth certificates and continuing uncertainty on Social Security decisions. But these are more complicated matters than a death certificate for a legally married spouse.

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