Speed Read: Thursday 31 October 2013

1-    ‘WE’VE GOT 60’: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday he thinks supporters of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) now have the 60 votes they need to overcome any attempt to filibuster the measure. Just this week, the bill picked up support from the last remaining Democrats and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio says he’s “inclined” to support the bill as well. See full story on this website.

2-   THE DRIVE FOR NELSON: Equality Florida has doggedly pursued the support of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) on ENDA. Nelson was, for many months, one of only three Democratic senators not to voice support on the measure. But Equality Florida organized meetings with him and various social media campaigns to persuade him. “I cannot overstate the role of grassroots folks, specifically trans advocates, in moving Senator Nelson,” said Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith. “He could not travel in our state without answering questions on ENDA….” Smith said she thinks Nelson’s decision to come onboard probably influenced the decisions of the final two Democrats –Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas– to announce their support for ENDA as well.

3-   ALOHA MARRIAGE BILL: As expected, the Hawaii Senate easily approved a marriage equality bill Wednesday, setting the stage for a final hearing and vote in the state house. The house hearing takes place today and a full house vote is anticipated as early as Monday. If the bill is amended in the house, it will go back to the senate for its final legislative vote before going to pro-gay Governor Neil Abercrombie for his signature. The vote in the Senate Wednesday was 20 to 4.

4-   GAY MATTERS IN VIRGINIA: A new poll out yesterday about the gubernatorial race in Virginia reports that 76 percent of voters polled consider “social issues such as abortion and gay marriage” to be either “very important” or “fairly important” in deciding how they’ll vote. The 762 “likely voters” polled between October 24 and 27 were evenly divided as Democrats, Republicans, or Independents. The poll showed pro-gay Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading anti-gay Republican Ken Cuccinelli by 12 points, with a margin of error of 4.5 points.

5-   BOB GATES JOINS BOY SCOUTS: The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday it has hired former Defense Secretary Bob Gates to serve as its national executive director for two years. Gates will take the helm in May, five months after the organization’s new policy –allowing openly gay scouts—takes effect. Gates helped President Obama usher in the repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay soldiers.

6-   MORE OLYMPIC REASSURANCE: International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach issued a statement yesterday saying it has been made “very clear by the Russian authorities” that all visitors to the winter Olympic Games in Sochi “will be welcomed here equally” regardless of sexual orientation. Bach was on the third day of a four-day visit to facilities for the winter games in February. But Associated Press reported that Bach did not welcome an opportunity Wednesday to meet with Russian LGBT activists. The IOC said Bach has agreed to meet with the activists at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

7-    DUMONT NAMED CALIFORNIA SG: California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Wednesday she has appointed Edward DuMont to serve as the state’s solicitor general. DuMont is President Obama’s openly gay federal appeals nominee who Republicans blocked from confirmation in 2011. A native of Oakland, California, DuMont will start his new job as chief appellate officer for the state in January.

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