Speed Read: Monday 21 October 2013

1-    ONE-THIRD OF U.S. HAS MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Now that New Jersey has marriage equality, one-third of the U.S. population lives in a state where same-sex couples can marry. New Jersey is now the 14th state, plus the District of Columbia, to allow same-sex couples to marry and the fifth state to do so this year. Several cities and towns across New Jersey opened their clerk’s offices Saturday to enable same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses after the state supreme court announced Friday it would not delay implementation of a lower court ruling in favor of marriage equality. Newark Mayor Cory Booker officiated for nine couples (seven same-sex) starting at 12:01 this morning in the city hall rotunda, and when, with the first couple (a gay male couple), he asked if anyone knew of any reason the couple should not be wed, a protester cried out, “This is unlawful in the eyes of God.”

2-   9TH CIRCUIT BRIEFS SEVCIK: Lambda Legal, which led the lawsuit in New Jersey that produced today’s marriage equality in the Garden State, filed a briefs Friday (October 28) with the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a Nevada case. Sevcik v. Sandoval is in a good position to become the next case to challenge a statewide ban on same-sex marriage before the U.S. Supreme Court. Lambda’s brief appeals a district court dismissal last year of its equal protection challenge against Nevada’s ban. The brief argues that it inflicts “profound harm” on same-sex couples and their children.

3-   SINEMA OUTRAISED CHALLENGER: Federal Elections Commission records show that openly bisexual U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has gotten off to a good start in raising money for re-election next year. She’s raised $1.1 million during this election cycle as of the latest filing date, September 30. The Republican most likely to challenge her in the primary, Vernon Parker, raised $39,000.

4-   BILL IN WAITING: “Strengthening America’s Schools Act” (S.1094) seeks to prohibit harassment or bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It also prohibits discrimination against students in programs supported by federal funds based on the students’ sexual orientation or gender identity. Passed by committee in June, it was on October 11 placed on the Senate legislative calendar, awaiting action.

5-   NC MARRIAGE EFFORT INTENSIFIES: North Carolina was the last state to approve a ballot measure to ban same-sex couples from marrying. But on October 15, a Buncombe County official accepted applications for marriage licenses from eight same-sex couples. County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger said he had “concerns” that the state ban is unconstitutional and he asked state Attorney General Roy Cooper to allow him to issue the licenses. Cooper is opposed to the ban but advised the clerk that the state constitutional ban is law until “the constitution is changed or the court says otherwise.” Final briefs are due November 15 in an ACLU-backed lawsuit in federal court seeking to strike down the ban.

6-   BOOKMARK: This Town, by New York Times political reporter Mark Leibovich, page 258: reports that in the fall of 2011, President Obama told a group of close confidants that there were several topics he would like to be more vocal about in his second term, if he should win one. Four of those topics identified in the book were climate change, immigration, Guantanamo Bay prison, and same-sex marriage. Much to Obama’s dismay, that confidential plan was leaked to political reporters within days. And, by May 2012, six months ahead of re-election, President Obama granted an interview to ABC News to voice his support for marriage equality. Many believe that interview did much to accelerate support for marriage equality, including victory in four ballot battles in November 2012.

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