Speed Read: Eyes on Utah again today
UTAH APPEALS TO THE TOP: Utah’s new attorney general will be sworn in today and has indicated he hopes to send a request to the U.S. Supreme Court today seeking a stay on a federal district court ruling that has allowed same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses there since December 20. As the justice designated to handle Tenth Circuit affairs, Justice Sonia Sotomayor will have the first opportunity to respond to Utah’s request, but many court observers expect she will ask the full court to weigh in. Meanwhile, newspapers in Utah estimate more than 900 same-sex couples have obtained marriage licenses in Utah so far.
NC RACE ACCELERATES: Marcus Brandon, an openly gay candidate for the Congressional House seat representing Charlotte and the Interstate 85 corridor, has to accelerate his campaign. The seat’s incumbent, Rep. Mel Watt, announced December 20 that he will resign his seat January 6 to head a federal housing agency. Brandon, who is currently a delegate to the North Carolina State House, is one of six Democrats who were planning to run in the May primary for Watt’s seat. But now that Watt is leaving in January, the governor is expected to call for a special election to fill the vacancy. The Raleigh News and Observer says Brandon has a lead in the fundraising, thus far, a lead they attribute to the endorsement of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
LAMBDA SUES HOUSTON MAYOR: Houston’s openly gay Mayor Annise Parker is now catching heat from both sides of the partner benefit debate in that city. Lambda Legal filed a complaint December 26 in federal court against Parker and the city for denying equal benefits to three gay city employees and their same-sex spouses. The three employees applied for benefits after Parker announced in November that the city would begin offering equal benefits to gay city employees in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. But after the Houston Republican Party filed suit and got a judge to issue a stay against Parker’s plan, the city advised the employees they would not be able to receive equal benefits. The case is Freeman v. Parker.
LAMBDA ARIZONA DEVELOPMENT: A federal court in Phoenix on December 23 certified as a class action Lambda’s lawsuit on behalf of Arizona state employees seeking equal benefits. The lawsuit, Diaz v. Brewer, was originally filed on behalf of five state employees; but with class action certification, Lambda will now represent all state employees with same-sex partners. Similar to the mayor in Houston, then Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano directed the state to provide equal benefits to gay employees, but the legislature, under Governor Jan Brewer, moved to change the law to deny benefits only to gay employees. Judge John Sedwick’s order said the class will represent “All lesbian and gay employees of the State who are now, or will in the future, be eligible …to obtain State health insurance benefits for their committed same-sex partners….”
ROBIN ROBERTS COMES OUT: Robin Roberts, the ABC Good Morning America co-host who interviewed President Obama in July 2012, when he revealed he had evolved to support allowing same-sex couples to marry, revealed Sunday that she herself is in a same-sex relationship. Roberts made the acknowledgement in a low-key Facebook posting, counting her blessings for the coming new year: “I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together.” People magazine identified Amber Laign as a massage therapist Roberts met through friends in San Francisco.