Speed Read: Friday 22 November 2013

1-    FAMILY VALUES:  A great many federal regulations have been made more LGBT friendly since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA enables an employee to take unpaid leave to care for a “spouse” or other immediate family member. Given that only 16 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry, same-sex couples in the other states might suddenly need the FMLA but find themselves ineligible. A study released Thursday by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) found that 11 states and D.C. have state laws allowing employees to take unpaid leave but only three of those states (Colorado, Maine, Wisconsin) recognize a partner who is not a legal spouse. Bottom line? Only the 16 marriage states, D.C., plus Wisconsin and Colorado have reliable coverage for same-sex couples. MAP recommends Congress broaden the definition of who can take FMLA leave to include domestic partners and same-sex partners.

2-   TRIMMING THE FILIBUSTER:  Log Cabin Republican leader Gregory Angelo is none too happy about the 52 to 48 Senate vote yesterday to end the option of filibuster for most presidential nominees. Under the new rule, executive and most judicial nominations can be approved with a simple majority of the senate, instead of the previous 60. Angelo said the rule change is a “power-grab” that “has razed any goodwill that was building among Senate Republicans to work in respectful bi-partisanship.” “I’m just happy the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act two weeks ago, because any incentive for Republicans to work with Senate Democrats on LGBT issues moving forward has just been obliterated.”

3-   AGs PUSH BOEHNER: Speaking of Republican goodwill and ENDA, attorneys general for 14 states joined a November 18 letter to House Speaker John Boehner, urging him to bring ENDA to the floor. “As chief law enforcement officers for our states, we are tasked with promoting equal protection and equal opportunity for our residents,” stated the letter. “…ENDA is an essential tool that would further assist us in doing our jobs.” The letter was signed by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

4-   HOPE SIGNED: President Obama yesterday signed into law an act to ease restrictions on organ transplants between people with HIV. The HIV Organ Policy Equity act (HOPE) was supported by numerous HIV organizations and the Human Rights Campaign. The law will also authorize Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to develop guidelines for when organs from deceased patients with HIV can be used for medical research.

5-   FRANK SUPPORT: The Boston Globe reported Wednesday that former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) believes U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren would make good presidential material. Frank said Warren, a first-year senator, is “vigorous and energetic and she’s a lot younger than Joe Biden.” Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are widely considered potential candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.



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