Speed Read: Thursday 14 November 2013

1-    A DIFFERENCE OR A PROBLEM? Each time a state legislature debates a marriage equality bill, as Hawaii and Illinois did this month, a significant amount of time is spent wrestling over how big a loophole to provide for religious clergy and entities to refuse services to same-sex couples. But a marketing study released Tuesday by Community Marketing & Insights shows that only 24 percent of same-sex couples who marry use a religious leader to officiate their ceremonies and only 12 percent hold their ceremonies at a religious-affiliated site. It’s not clear, of course, whether the low percentages are due to an existing religious exemption or the choice of the same-sex couples, but a separate study this year that surveyed brides in heterosexual couples found that 61 percent used a member of the clergy to officiate and 35 percent held their ceremony in a religious setting.

2- SAME-SEX DIFFERENCES: The Community Marketing study, Same-Sex Couples: Weddings and Engagements, surveyed 916 same-sex couples throughout the United States using an online survey. Fifty-seven percent were married, 19 percent in domestic partnerships, 18 percent engaged, and five percent in civil unions. The survey found that, rather than one partner proposing to the other, same-sex partners usually had a conversation and agreed to get married; most prefer to refer to their significant other as “spouse” or “partner,” rather than “husband” or “wife.” And less than half chose to have bachelor/bacherlorette parties or rehearsal dinners, but 57 percent took honeymoons after the wedding.

3- ALOHA AND PERSEVERANCE: Hawaii’s Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie had this to say yesterday when he signed the state’s marriage equality bill into law: “The legalization of marriage for same-sex couples is part of the long history of civil rights movements in the United States. Many people have worked tirelessly to make this day possible. This significant piece of legislation is a clear example of people exercising courage, determination and patient perseverance. The result advances equity in marriage and honors all First Amendment religious imperatives.” The law goes into effect December 2.

4- ONLY 3 OF TOP 10: Once Hawaii and Illinois’ marriage equality laws go into effect, 38 percent of the nation’s population will live in states with marriage equality. But of the 10 most populous states in the United States, only three will be marriage equality states – California, New York, and Illinois. Top 10 population states without marriage equality –and with bans on same-sex couples marrying— are Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, and North Carolina. Efforts to move some of those states into the marriage equality category could have an impact on the 2016 presidential election. And they could be important in 2014 races, too, when all House seats are up for grabs and newly vacant Senate seats will be up in Georgia and Michigan.

5- HIGH SCHOOL RESCUE:  The Human Rights Campaign and the Southern Poverty Law Center warned a school district on the southernmost tip of Texas Wednesday that they would file a lawsuit in federal court unless a La Feria High School includes the photo of a transgender student in its high school yearbook. Jeydon Loredo was born female but now identifies as a male and had his yearbook photo taken wearing a tuxedo. The school refused the photo, and when Loredo’s mother sought help from the school district superintendent Rey Villarreal, Villarreal told her he would not allow the photo because it would offend “community standards.” A similar case occurred in Tampa, Florida, in 2002 and went to the federal appeals court before the school relented and allowed the student to appear in attire she felt comfortable in.

6- VIRGINIA A. G. MARGIN: Democrat Mark Herring is now leading Republican Mark Obenshain by 163 votes in the race for Virginia Attorney General. Herring declared victory yesterday, but many expect Obenshain to ask for a recount, and the state board of elections won’t certify a winner for at least two weeks. The outcome could make a huge difference in how Virginia defends its ban on marriage for same-sex couples in two pending lawsuits.


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