Speed Read: Utah reiterates ban in force
UTAH AG SAYS EXISTING SS MARRIAGES MAY NOT COUNT: The Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that he was “unable to reach a legal conclusion as to the ultimate validity of marriage between persons of the same sex who completed their marriage ceremony in Utah between December 20, 2013, and January 6, 2014.” “That question remains unanswered and the answer will depend on the result of the appeal process,” continued Reyes. He said any same-sex couple applying for some state marriage benefit or recognition would be evaluated on a “case-by-case basis” by a “review team” established just for that purpose. Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, said he believes the marriages are valid but that the U.S. Supreme Court’s stay means “there is no court order preventing what the AG is suggesting be done.” Full story.
NCLR JOINS THE UTAH FRAY: By coincidence, the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed papers Wednesday to join as co-counsel on appeal for the same-sex couples challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. NCLR has a number of marriage equality challenges under its belt. It will be working with the private law firm of Magleby & Greenwood in defending a U.S. District Court judge’s ruling December 20 that the Utah ban is unconstitutional. The first round of briefs in the appeal to the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is due January 27.
407 MAYORS BACK MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Not just anybody can join; only mayors. But the “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” group now has 407 mayors from around the country, publicly support equal rights for same-sex couples in marriage. Houston Mayor Annise Parker is one of the six co-chairs. The states with the largest number of mayors is not surprising: California (54), New York (46), Florida (32), New Jersey (30), and Pennsylvania (23). The U.S. Conference of Mayors estimates there are 1,398 mayors of cities with populations greater than 30,000.
PARKER HINTS AT FUTURE: Speaking of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the openly gay mayor of the nation’s fourth most populous city, said in a Houston Chronicle interview January 3 that, once her third and final term is up, she’ll probably start looking at a run for a “statewide executive position.” The Chronicle notes that the next gubernatorial race after Parker leaves the mayoral office is 2018.
POLL FINDS MOST ARE ‘INDEPENDENT’: A Gallup Poll released Wednesday found that most Americans (42 percent) consider themselves “political independents,” rather than part of one of the two major political parties. It is an historic high for independents, said Gallup, which has tracked political affiliation for 25 years. The other 56 percent are split 31 percent Democrats and 25 percent Republicans. Identification with both political parties has declined, but Gallup noted that the Republican percentage is at an all-time low, beginning its steady dive around 2004, when GOP operatives were waging an aggressive drive to ban same-sex marriage bans in states around the country. Gallup’s numbers were derived from a survey of 18,871 adults over the course of 13 surveys in 2013. Margin of error is plus or minus one percent.
ANTI-TRANS INITIATIVE NEARS CLEARANCE: The California Secretary of State Wednesday said a proposed ballot measure seeking to repeal a non-discrimination law enacted last August to ensure transgender students can use school facilities based on their gender identity has passed an initial threshold. The Secretary’s website states that a random signature validation indicates that proponents of the measure have likely turned in enough voter signatures to put the referendum on the ballot. Now, the Secretary’s office conducts a full check of every signature. That process is expected to be completed by February 24.