Speed Read: Eyes on Sotomayor
UTAH APPEALS TO THE TOP: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor could decide as early as this afternoon whether to grant a stay of 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, Sotomayor has the first opportunity to respond to Utah’s request for an emergency stay, but she also has the option of asking the full bench to consider the request. Utah’s new attorney general filed the petition for stay to the Supreme Court Tuesday, and Sotomayor gave private attorneys representing same-sex couples until noon today to file a brief opposing the stay. Meanwhile, newspapers in Utah estimate between 700 and 900 same-sex couples have obtained marriage licenses in Utah so far.
LAMBDA SUES HOUSTON MAYOR: Houston’s openly gay Mayor Annise Parker is catching heat from both sides of the partner benefits debate. Lambda Legal filed a complaint December 26 in federal court against Parker and the city for denying equal benefits to three gay city employees. The three employees applied for benefits after Parker announced in November that the city would begin offering equal benefits to married 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 a judge issued 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.
CRIST APOLOGIZES: Florida’s former Governor Charlie Crist apologized last month for having supported a ban on same-sex marriage approved by voters in 2008. “I’m sorry I did that. It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive,” said Crist, in an interview with Watermark, an LGBT news organization in Florida. Crist was the Republican governor of Florida from 2007 to 2011. He’s currently running for the Democratic nomination for governor, saying that his former political party “went nuts.” But Watermark publisher Tom Dyer, who conducted the interview December 17, didn’t let Crist off the hook. He noted Crist also supported limiting marriage to heterosexual couples when Crist ran for senator in 2006 and that he expressed a belief that children who need to be adopted would be best off in “traditional” heterosexual homes. “When you look back at the circumstances, one could come to the conclusion that your shifts in opinion were either politically expedient…” said Dyer. “They were. They were. And it was wrong,” said Crist, interrupting. “That’s what I’m telling you. And I’m sorry.” Full story.
CATASTROPHE AVERTED: More than 700 patrons were crowded into the popular LGBT bar Neighbours New Year’s Eve when an arsonist poured gasoline on a carpeted stairway to the second floor and set it ablaze. Local television KING5 reported that the attack took place shortly after midnight and that a customer in the bar quickly discovered the fire and extinguished the flames. Video taken by one activist in the bar shows sprinklers going off and management discovering a full can of gasoline underneath a pool table on the second floor. No injuries were reported but KING5 says Seattle police are investigating the incident as a potential hate crime. The bar remained closed New Year’s Day.