Speed Read: Friday 20 December 2013
NEW MEXICO MAKES 17: The New Mexico Supreme Court yesterday ruled that state laws which “have the effect of precluding same-gender couples from marrying” violate the equal protection guarantee of the state constitution. “We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry,” wrote the court, “and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.” The ruling means that now one-third of the states and more than one-third of the nation’s population lives in a marriage equality state. For full story.
NOW, THERE’S THREE: Olympic figure skating medalist Brian Boitano came out yesterday, bringing to three the number of openly gay people who are part of the U.S.’s official delegations to the Winter Olympics in Russia in February. Boitano, who has studiously declined to talk about his private life for years, issued a statement, saying he was honored to be part of the delegation, and adding, “I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am. … I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.”
HOLD UP IN HOUSTON: A family district court judge in Houston has blocked implementation of lesbian Mayor Annise Parker’s plan to provide equal benefits to the spouses of gay city employees. Parker argued the policy change was necessary to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last June, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). But on December 17, Judge Lisa Millard granted a temporary restraining order requested by Harris County Republicans, who filed lawsuit, Pidgeon v. Parker, trying to stop the policy. Millard set January 6 for a hearing on the issue. Notably, last April, in an advisory stating that various municipalities could not recognize domestic partnerships, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott noted that the Supreme Court ruling in DOMA (which had not yet been issued) “could call into question the enforceability of” the state constitutional ban on recognition of same-sex marriages.
SENATE CLEARS DEFENSE BILL: The U.S. Senate cleared the National Defense Authorization Act Thursday night, and President Obama issued a statement indicating he is “pleased” with the final version. The bill, already passed by the House, included a number of amendments of interest to the LGBT community. While the measure will repeal a military law against consensual sodomy, it also includes potential accommodations for service members to express religious views against homosexuality.
RALLY PRESSURES RUBIO: A group of demonstrators picketed outside U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s Miami office Tuesday, seeking to pressure the Republican to withdraw his block against the confirmation of openly gay African American judge William Thomas for a seat on the federal district court bench. President Obama nominated Thomas in November 2012, with Rubio’s support and that of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. But Rubio withdrew his support in September, and, through a spokesman, told Huffington Post that it was because Rubio was troubled by how Thomas handled a death penalty case and a hit-and-run case. Tuesday’s rally was organized by a local Baptist Church.