Speed Read: Indiana vote too close to call
CLIFFHANGER IN INDIANA TODAY: The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday that its head count of how House members plan to vote on the bill to ban same-sex marriage stands at a tie. Today, the House is expected to take the first of two critical votes on a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses. Republican Governor Mike Pence has been rallying support behind the bill and, if it passes, the House will then take its second and final vote as soon as Tuesday, sending the proposal to voters in November. But the Star says that more than a third of those who voted for the ban in 2011 now plan to vote against it or are uncertain how they’ll vote. The tally appears to be 38 for, 38 against, 24 undecided or refuse to reveal their plans.
SPEAKER CONFESSES: Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma acknowledged this weekend that he pulled the ban bill out of its original committee because he was afraid it would be defeated there. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette quotes Bosma as saying one Republican on the Judiciary Committee refused to reveal his vote in advance and that –based on the head count already known, 6 to 6— that one vote would decide the bill’s fate. Bosma said he was troubled that “One person making the decision and taking away the opportunity for every member here to cast their vote, whether it’s yes or no.” The ban passed the second committee January 22, on a 9 to 3 vote. Meanwhile, the openly gay son of the chairman of the second committee publicly expressed his opposition to the bill his father voted for, on the Indiana Equality Facebook page Sunday.
VIRGINIA TRIES A MANEUVER: Republicans in the Virginia legislature are hoping to quickly pass a bill (HB 706) that would enable any one member of the legislative body to have legal standing to defend a state law which the attorney general or governor decline to defend. The bill passed its committee Friday on a 13 to 7 vote. In addition, a group of Republicans in the House sent a letter to newly sworn-in Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe asking him to appoint legal counsel to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. That ban, a constitutional amendment, is under challenge in two federal courts in Virginia. McAuliffe, a strong opponent of the measure, is not likely to appoint outside counsel to defend it.
NEVADA RECONSIDERS: Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto issued a statement last Friday saying that the state’s arguments defending its ban on same-sex marriage are “likely no longer tenable in the Ninth Circuit.” She was referring the the federal appeals panel decision last week that said it believes the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor requires use of heightened scrutiny on laws that disfavor gays. The Nevada challenge, Sevcik v. Sandoval, was brought by Lambda Legal and is pending before the Ninth Circuit. Of more than 30 lawsuits in more than two dozen states, the Nevada case is farther along in the appeals process than any other case, making it a contender for being the first to bring the same-sex marriage ban to the U.S. Supreme Court. The state won its case at the district court level.
A CITY WITH ZERO GAYS: The mayor of Sochi, site of the upcoming Winter Olympics, told a reporter yesterday that there are no gay people in that city, population 343,000. “We do not have them in our city,’ said Anatoly Pakhomov, in response to a question from a BBC reporter. The BBC noted their reporter had visited a gay bar in Sochi prior to the interview and pressed Pakhomov about his claim. “I am not sure,” conceded Pakhomov, “but I don’t bloody know them.”