Speed Read: Friday 8 November 2013

1HISTORIC PASSAGE OF ENDA: The U.S. Senate yesterday, by a vote of 64 to 32, passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), the first time it has done so in the bill’s 19-year history. Joining the “aye” votes on the final ballot were the seven Republicans who voted for cloture on Monday, plus Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, as well as Democrats Claire McCaskill of Missouri. The bill is not expected to get a vote in the Republican-controlled House. Read full story.

2- TOOMEY LANGUAGE DEFEATED: Before passing ENDA, the Senate soundly rejected an attempt by Republican Senator Pat Toomey to expand the religious exemption in the bill to include a much larger number of employers. The amendment, strongly opposed by LGBT groups and supporters of ENDA, sought to expand the exemption to include entities “managed by a church or religious organization, officially affiliated with a particular religion, or [that] teach a curriculum directed toward propagating a particular religion.” It would also apply to organizations with “both religious and secular functions.” The amendment needed 60 votes to pass but got only 43, and Toomey went on to support ENDA. Read full story.

3- BIG VOTE TODAY IN HAWAII: The Hawaii House is scheduled to vote today on final passage of a marriage equality bill. The bill, which cleared several attempts to delay and defeat it during a legislative session Wednesday, is expected to pass handily. It must go back to the senate for a concurring vote and then to the desk of Governor Neil Abercrombie who has said he will sign it. The bill calls for an enactment date of December 2.

4- JUDGE MAY INTERVENE: A state circuit court judge in Hawaii said Thursday that, if the legislature passes and the governor signs the marriage equality bill, he would entertain a challenge to the new law. According to the Honolulu StarAdvertiser, Judge Karl Sakamoto indicated he thinks the bill may be in conflict with a constitutional amendment voters passed in 1998. That amendment read: “Shall the Constitution of the state of Hawaii be amended to specify that the legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples?”

5- McAULIFFE’s PRIORITIES: Following the lead of former Democratic Governor Tim Kaine, Virginia’s new Democratic Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe indicated he will sign an executive order after taking office in January to prohibit discrimination against state employees based on sexual orientation. In his first press conference after winning the governor’s seat, McAuliffe said the executive order against discrimination would be the first one he would sign. In an awkward joint press conference with the current Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, a reporter asked McDonnell how much “social issues” played in McAuliffe’s campaign against the Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli. McConnell said he thought they were “way down on the list” of influences on voters.

6- SINEMA SIGNED UP FOR IRONMAN: The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday that U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema will compete in an Ironman triathalon in Tempe, Arizona, November 17. And, indeed, she is signed up: Bib Number 905. Slots for the race sold out within 40 seconds of registration opening…last November.

7- BEST CONSERVATIVE CITIES: A website devoted to helping people buy homes, estately.com, recently lamented the trend of big cities being populated by “more liberal” people, enough to do a study to identify the “13 Best U.S. Cities for Conservatives to Live.” Top of the list: Oklahoma City. “The Reason Liberals Avoid It? Tornadoes and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).”

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