Speed Read: Monday 9 December 2013

1-    TAKANO FASTED: Openly gay U.S. Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) became the fourth member of Congress to participate in the high-profile national fast to draw attention to the need for immigration reform. “As the son of immigrants who sacrificed so much to come to America,” said Takano in a press statement, “I am honored to continue the Fast for Families to raise the importance of immigration reform to my colleagues in Congress.” Takano’s office said he would fast from 11 a.m. EST Friday, when he would take the place of Rep. Joe Garcia of Florida, until 8 a.m. Saturday, when he would pass the fast on to Rep. Tony Cardenas of California.

2-   POLIS GETS ANGRY:  Openly gay U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) lost his temper last week and literally yelled at the member chairing a session after she commented that House rules ask representatives not to address occupants of the public gallery. Rep. Joe Garcia had just recognized several visitors who were there to draw attention to the need for immigration reform. “The gentle people in the gallery…would not have to be in the gallery advocating if this House would simply took up the bill!…And you’re saying we’re addressing them and that’s what you’re upset about, Madam Speaker?! I want you, Madam Speaker, to address the reason that they are here! They are here because the government is tearing apart their families, Madam Speaker!” Madam Speaker Pro Tempore at the time was Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.).

3-   CONTINENTAL TRIM: A federal judge in New Jersey last week allowed part of a lawsuit to proceed in which a Continental Airlines flight attendant –a male—alleges supervisors required him to cut his hair before working a flight to Europe. Ray Falcon said he had a military-style haircut for three months and wasn’t questioned until his supervisors at Newark International refused to let him work a flight in September 2010 until he agreed to cut off the hair on top. Supervisors claimed Falcon had a mohawk-style cut that violated the airline’s employee policy prohibiting extreme hairstyles. Falcon, who still works for the airline, says they targeted him because he’s gay. On December 4, Judge Jose Linares issued an opinion and order in the lawsuit, Falcon v. Continental, allowing a jury to determine whether Continental created a hostile work environment because of Falcon’s sexual orientation.

4-   SINGER DENOUNCES RUSSIAN LAW: Performing in concert just outside of Moscow Friday, singer Elton John said “I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia. In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating.” He told the audience that some people have demanded that, because of such legislation, he should not have come to Russia to perform. But he said “many, many more” urged him to come and he wants to show them that he cares. He dedicated the concert to the memory of a young Russian man who was beaten to death after telling two friends he was gay.

5-    GERMAN LEADER BUCKS SOCHI: Germany’s ceremonial head of state, President Joachim Gauck, told the German magazine Der Spiegel Sunday that he will not attend the Olympic Games in Russia in February. Some reports immediately interpreted the decision as a political expression of Gauck’s opposition to Russian human rights violations, but a spokesperson for his office quickly tried to downplay the significance of the decision, telling Der Spiegel “There is no rule that [the] president always goes to the Olympic Winter Games.”

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