Speed Read: New DOD regs publish today

DOD DEFINITIONS PROPOSAL: The Federal Register today is publishing new Defense Department regulations spelling out that the words “spouse” and “marriage” include same-sex couples. The regulations are part of an effort that began in August 2010 to standardize identification cards for service members and their dependents. But they take into account the Supreme Court’s ruling last June that the federal government may not ignore valid marriage licenses of same-sex couples. Public comment will be accepted until March 7 but the regulations are effective immediately.
SOTOMAYOR DECISION? U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor may announce as early as today her decision on whether to grant a stay of a federal court decision in Utah that has allowed same-sex couples to marry since December 20. She also has the option of asking the full court weigh in on the request. And the parties to the case, Kitchen v. Herbert, have the option of appealing Sotomayor’s lone decision to the full court.
PUTIN SOFTENS BAN: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order Saturday that amends his previous executive order concerning how his administration will handle protesters during the Olympic Games in February. Details of the order were not available on the president’s website, but the New York Times reported that Russia will require protesters to secure approval in advance. Previous orders have indicated that protests will be allowed in a park about nine miles away from the nearest Olympic event site in Sochi.
SEATTLE ARSON: Seattle officials still have no suspects in the New Year’s Eve arson attack on a crowded LGBT bar in Seattle. Local station KIRO-TV credited a U.S. Army sergeant in the club with grabbing a fire extinguisher from behind a bar and, with another service member, putting out the fire. The fire was apparently ignited after someone poured gasoline onto the club’s carpeted stairway. Bar employees found a plastic gas can at the top of the stairs. In addition to the quick action of bar patrons, the nightclub’s sprinkler system, fast-acting staff, and calm patrons are credited with avoiding what could have quickly become a catastrophic loss of life. More than 700 patrons were in the club shortly after midnight when the fire erupted.
MICHAUD OPPONENT LASHES OUT: Maine independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler has lashed out against the decision of Equality Maine to endorse openly gay U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud for governor this November. In a January 2 press release, Cutler said Equality Maine “denied its members an opportunity to hear from the candidates in a debate or forum and have a voice in their endorsement process.” He also claims Michaud has voted against equal rights for the LGBT community 19 times.
PARKER URGES NON-DISCRIM BILL: Although she’s embroiled in litigation over her effort to ensure that gay city employees obtain the same benefits as straight ones, Houston’s lesbian Mayor Annise Parker did not shy away from pointing out the city’s continued deficiencies when it comes to the LGBT community. In her third and final inauguration speech January 2 (Houston has term limits), Parker said, “To ensure the full participation of every Houstonian in the business and civic life of this great city, It is time to pass a comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the protections most Houstonians take for granted.”

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