Speed Read: Hell freezes over
TWO PRESIDENTS TALK, NO LGBT MENTION: President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked by phone Tuesday about a number of issues, including security matters at the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi, where terrorists have threatened just about everybody. But according to a read-out from the White House press office, they did not talk about how visitors to Russia in support of LGBT civil rights would be treated by the Russian government during the Games. Putin’s remarks in recent days have continued to escalate concerns for LGBT people traveling to Russia. Full story.
INDIANA SWITCH AND BAIT: Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma Tuesday pulled a proposed constitutional amendment from the House Judiciary Committee and put it in the Elections and Apportionment Committee, which will hold a hearing on the measure this afternoon at 3:30. The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel said what many suspected –that the bill to ban same-sex marriage (HJR 3) lacked enough votes to pass the Judiciary Committee. Asked by the Indianapolis Star about the “highly unusual move,” Bosma said, “I responded to the overwhelming majority of the Republican caucus who have extensively lobbied me to bring this to the floor in one fashion or another.” Megan Robertson, campaign manager for Freedom Indiana, said her group is “disappointed” Bosma “broke his commitment to Hoosiers to uphold the traditional legislative process.”
LAMBDA HAILS NINTH CIRCUIT RULING: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco), using heightened scrutiny, ruled Tuesday that striking a potential jury member because of his sexual orientation violates his right to equal protection. The case, SmithKline v. Abbott, pitted one HIV-drug manufacturer against another over various claims involving the pricing of HIV medications. During jury selection for the trial, lawyers for Abbott used one of their opportunities to strike a potential juror to eliminate a juror who had acknowledged having a male partner. SmithKline challenged that strike, saying it was impermissible to strike a potential juror’s because of his sexual orientation. The district court judge disagreed, the appeals panel said the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, which struck the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), “requires that heightened scrutiny be applied to equal protection claims involving sexual orientation.” The panel remanded the case for a new trial. Lambda Legal praised the decision and said it is likely to affect other pending cases in the Ninth Circuit.
FLORIDA GETS LAWSUIT: The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a lawsuit Tuesday in a state court in Miami on behalf of six same-sex couples and Equality Florida. The lawsuit challenges the state’s ban on marriage licenses for gay couples.
HELL FREEZES OVER: For the first time in the state of Mississippi, a municipality’s governing council has approved a “Resolution supporting Equality,” declaring it public policy that “every person,” regardless of sexual orientation of gender identity, has “inherent worth” and that discrimination against a person based on any characteristic is “anathema to the public policy of the City.” That city is Starkville, Mississippi; population 24,000, near the center of one of the nation’s most conservative states.
APPOINTEE NAMED: President Obama today named Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, head of the LGBT National Black Justice Coalition, as one of 15 people to serve on his Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. Lettman-Hicks serves on numerous LGBT boards, including the National Business Inclusion Consortium for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. She also served on an advisory committee to Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLESN) LGBT Safe Schools Initiative.