Speed Read: ‘One stroke of his pen’

“I’VE GOT A PEN”: Speaking to reporters before a meeting with his Cabinet on Wednesday, President Obama made clear that he intends to get some important things done despite the partisan fighting in Congress. He said “we are not just going to be waiting for legislation” to get things done. “I’ve got a pen …and I can use that pen to sign executive orders … that move the ball forward….” He was talking about education, business, and creating jobs. But Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, was thinking of workplace discrimination. “We need to let him know that an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT people working for federal contractors should be his top priority,” said Carey, in a press release Wednesday. “With one stroke of his pen, he can immediately improve the lives of LGBT people across the country.”

“LET’S HAVE A DEBATE”: Indiana’s Republican Governor Mike Pence gave state legislators a gentle nudge Tuesday to take their second and final vote on a proposal to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex couples from marrying. In his state of the state address January 14, Pence said, “I believe in traditional marriage, and I have long held the view that the people, rather than unelected judges, should decide matters of such great consequence to the society. Reasonable people can differ, and there are good people on both sides of this debate. No one, on either side, deserves to be disparaged or maligned because of who they are or what they believe. So let’s have a debate worthy of our people with civility and respect.”

“IT’S PRETTY CLOSE”: The Speaker of Indiana’s House told reporters Wednesday that the tally in the House Judiciary Committee on the proposed state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions is “pretty close.” The 13-member committee’s four Democrats are expected to oppose the bill and there are three Republicans on the fence who could go either way. If all opposed the bill, it would go down in defeat. The Indianapolis Star noted that a recent Republican poll found 53 percent of voters favored the ban until they were told it would also bar civil unions. Then, only 46 percent favored it.

GOP: “TOLERANCE OF BIGOTRY”: Openly gay conservative Jimmy LaSalvia, who helped found the national gay Republican group GOProud, announced on his blog Monday that he has “joined the ranks of unaffiliated voters.” LaSalvia said, “I just can’t bring myself to carry the Republican label any longer.” In part, his decision was that he doesn’t “agree with the big-government ‘conservatives’ who run the party now.” But the other reason, he said, “is the tolerance of bigotry in the GOP. The current leadership lacks the courage to stand up to it – I’m not sure they ever will.” LaSalvia says he now considers himself an “independent conservative.”

$150,000 FOR SLURS AT WORK: A straight oil rig worker harassed with anti-gay slurs at work will be able to keep $150,000 in damages awarded by California jury. On Monday, a California appeals court upheld the damages award as well as a $680,000 award to pay his attorneys. The oil worker sued his former employer, Nabors Drilling, under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act for enabling a hostile work environment. Nabors appealed, claiming there was insufficient evidence that worker was harassed because of his perceived sexual orientation. The appeals court noted that the evidence indicated that several times a day, supervisors called the employee a “queer,” “faggot,” and “homo,” and taunted him with humiliating sexual threats in front of other employees.

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