Speed Read: Monday 28 October 2013

1-    HAWAII SHOWDOWN: The Hawaii Senate is expected to vote this week on a marriage equality bill and supporters say both the state senate and house have the votes necessary to make the Aloha State Number 15. Starting today, the legislature is meeting in a special session called by pro-gay Governor Neil Abercrombie. The Senate Judiciary committee holds a public hearing on the measure starting this morning. If the Senate clears the bill Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will hold its hearing on Halloween and the full house will vote November 4.

2-   ONE JUSTICE: With all the victories the LGBT community has had to celebrate in recent years, the glass is still only half-full, said GLAD Legal Director Gary Buseck, at the organization’s annual gala in Boston Friday. ENDA has not passed, anti-gay slurs are still the most common insult for students, and the community’s legal fate rests in the hands of one justice, he said, referring to the consistent swing vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. GLAD raked in more than $700,000 at its best-attended dinner. The event honored another justice, former Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall.

3-   HIGH PRAISE: Chief Justice Marshall, who was herself involved with the anti-apartheid movement in her homeland of South Africa as a young woman, issued high praise for GLAD civil rights director Mary Bonauto for her work in pressing the landmark lawsuit that led to the Massachusetts’ high court decision that the state constitution required allowing same-sex couples to marry. Marshall called Bonauto a “brilliant, quiet, determined advocate in the tradition of Daniel Webster and Clarence Darrow and Margaret Brent, the first woman lawyer in America.” “Thank you, Mary, for representing the Goodridge plaintiffs and thank you for commencing that elegantly conceived case with perfect timing so that it landed on my desk while I was the chief justice.”

4-   STATE OF ALARM: An official of the U.S. State Department told a meeting of European LGBT activists October 24 in Croatia that Russia’s anti-gay laws are “alarming.” Acting Assistant Secretary Uzra Zeya, from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, expressed concern for the growing threats of violence against Pride celebrants in some countries, including Serbia. She applauded France and the UK for legalizing marriage for same-sex couples.

5-   STRIKE DOWN THIS LAW: The attorneys general of 14 states and the District of Columbia filed a joint brief to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last Friday, arguing that statewide bans against allowing same-sex couples to marry are unconstitutional. The brief, led by Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley, is directed specifically at bans in Nevada and Hawaii, which are currently being contested in court. In addition to Massachusetts, states joining the brief include California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Vermont and Washington, as well as three which still have bans (Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon).

6-   BALDWIN AT THE TABLE: Openly gay U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is one of the 29 legislators on the House-Senate conference committee facing a December 13 deadline to come up with a long-term budget. The committee holds its first meeting Wednesday.

7-   SHARING SUCCESS: Karin Johanson, the campaign manager U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin relied on for her victory last November, is heading to Texas to help Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, reported Associated Press yesterday.



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