Speed Read: Monday 23 December 2013

HEARING TODAY ON UTAH STAY: U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby, who issued Friday’s decision ordering the state to stop enforcing its ban on marriage licenses for same-sex couples, will hear arguments this morning on a request from the state, seeking a stay of his decision while the state appeals to the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The Tenth Circuit on Sunday evening denied an emergency motion from the administration of Republican Governor Gary Herbert for a temporary stay to block Shelby’s order until Shelby can rule on the state’s request for a stay pending appeal. According to the appeals court, Utah’s motion for the emergency stay was not properly presented but that the state can resubmit its request.

MARRIAGES ALREADY UNDERWAY: The Salt Lake County clerk’s office stayed open extra hours Friday evening to accommodate more than 100 same-sex couples who rushed in to apply for marriage licenses. Calling it “a chaotic situation …that requires an expedited judicial resolution,” Republican Governor Gary Herbert vowed to appeal the December 20 decision of Judge Robert Shelby, an appointee of President Obama. Salt Lake City Tribune reported Saturday that the Weber County clerk’s office turned away “hundreds” of applicants Saturday afternoon, citing “security requirements” and legal concerns that offering extra hours would be considered making “special accommodations” for the crowds of same-sex couples.

THE EVOLUTION CONTINUES: Republican Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania seems to be going through a bit of an evolution. In October, he likened the marriage of a same-sex couple to a marriage between children or between siblings. Last month, he vowed to fight a lawsuit seeking to strike down the state’s ban on allowing same-sex couples to marry. This month, he announced his support for adding sexual orientation to the state’s comprehensive non-discrimination law. Corbett told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he decided to support the measure after learning that there is no federal law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination.

THE HEART OF AMERICA: At his last press conference before leaving for holiday vacation, President Obama was asked Friday to explain “the message you were trying to send” with his choice of delegates to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Three of the ten delegates are openly gay athletes. “I think the delegation speaks for itself,” said Obama. “You’ve got outstanding Americans, outstanding athletes, people who will represent us extraordinarily well. And the fact that we’ve got folks like Billie Jean King or Brian Boitano, who themselves have been world-class athletes that everybody acknowledges for their excellence but also for their character, who also happen to be members of the LGBT community, you should take that for what it’s worth — that when it comes to the Olympics and athletic performance, we don’t make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation. We judge people on how they perform, both on the court and off the court — on the field and off the field.  And that’s a value that I think is at the heart of not just America, but American sports.”

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