Speed Read: Tuesday 22 October 2013

1-    ILLINOIS LEGISLATIVE SHOWDOWN: Buses of marriage equality supporters are heading from Chicago to Springfield today as the Illinois legislature prepares to come back into a special session tomorrow. Supporters of allowing same-sex couples to marry are hopeful the state House will vote on a marriage equality bill passed in the Senate last February. On Monday, Equality Illinois released the results of a survey it commissioned between October 8 and 10, showing that 52 percent of registered likely voters would support allowing same-sex couples to marry, 40 percent oppose, and eight percent were undecided. Support increased by two percent when voters were reminded that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Among African Americans, a key group of influence among state house members who were not ready to vote earlier this year, 55 percent support marriage equality, 36 oppose, and nine percent are undecided. The House bill needs 60 votes to pass.

2-    THE NEXT THREE: In issuing a statement Monday, applauding Governor Chris Christie’s withdrawing his appeal of a court decision for marriage equality in New Jersey, Evan Wolfson, executive director of the national Freedom to Marry organization, predicted Illinois, Hawaii, and New Mexico could join the marriage equality list by year’s end.

3-    AND ANOTHER LAWSUIT: There are now more than 30 lawsuits challenging state bans on same-sex marriage in 20 states. The latest was filed in a federal district court in Nashville, Tennessee, on Monday by longtime lesbian legal activist Abby Rubenfeld and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

4-    OPPONENTS LOBBY FOR ENDA: The Washington Post reported Monday that a pro-gay Republican group has hired two former Republican lawmakers to lobby for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) even though they oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry. The American Unity Fund, led by Republican supporter Paul Singer who has a gay son, hired former U.S. Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) and former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) to secure Republican co-sponsors for ENDA. Reynolds is also a former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

5-   LESBIAN RUN IN MASSACHUSETTS: A lesbian top official in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office announced Monday that she will run for the Attorney General office next year. Maura Healey, who led the AG’s legal challenge against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), has served under the AG Martha Coakley for some years, first as chief of the civil rights division, then as Chief of the Public Protection & Advocacy Bureau. Coakley just last month announced her run for the governor’s office. Healey is the only announced candidate so far for the Democratic nomination for AG. But another openly gay person, Steve Kerrigan, who was chief of staff to a previous AG, is running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

6-   OBAMACARE SUPPORTER: President Obama included one gay person among the 13 citizens at a press conference Monday to illustrate the importance of his Affordable Care Act. David Hall is a self-employed IT specialist in Washington, D.C., who was discharged from the Air Force under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

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