Speed Read: Indiana dodges a ballot?

INDIANA DODGES A BALLOT? The battle isn’t over yet, but marriage equality supporters scored an important victory Monday, thwarting an effort to put a ban on marriage for same-sex couples on the Indiana ballot this November. The Republican-dominated House voted 52 to 43 to remove language from the proposed ban that would have prevented same-sex couples from obtaining any form of recognition for their relationships, including civil unions and domestic partnerships. Some opponents said it could even have prevented employers from offering equal benefits to employees with same-sex partners. The House is expected to hold its final vote on the overall bill (HJR 3) today. The bill then goes to the state senate, which could pass the original House version or accept the amended version.

VIRGINIA GOV SAYS NO: Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe responded Monday to a letter from Republicans asking him to appoint an independent counsel to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage in federal court: No.

MOVEMENT REPORT MIXED: An independent think tank that studies the progress of the movement for equal rights for LGBT people releases its latest report today and the assessment is a surprising “mixed.” The Movement Advancement Project’s “Momentum Report” acknowledges “unprecedented progress” towards marriage equality but notes that while 17 states allow same-sex couples to marry, the rest don’t. And progress on other issues of importance to the LGBT movement, such as bullying and employment discrimination, ‘have slowed significantly.”

STATE OF POSSIBILITIES: President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address tonight and much of the early buzz around the speech suggests he will signal his intentions to issue more executive orders in the coming year. LGBT activists have been pressuring the White House to issue an executive order barring sexual orientation discrimination by federal contractors. Others have urged him to speak out more forcefully for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). There has been no indication that President Obama is considering an LGBT executive order.

VISITORS IN THE GALLERY: As in past years, President Obama will include an openly gay person among the special guests joining the First Lady in the House gallery during the State of the Union address. Tonight, it will be Jason Collins, the National Basketball Association player who, last year, became the first male player in a major American team sport to come out as gay.

HOLDER TO HIGHLIGHT HRC FETE: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will deliver the keynote address to a Human Rights Campaign gala in New York February 8. HRC President Chad Griffin called Holder a “courageous” leader who “has seized every opportunity to broaden the circle of freedom to include LGBT people and their families, and he continues to act with unprecedented speed to bring federal recognition to married gay and lesbian couples across the country.”

GAY GOP RUNS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: Openly gay Republican Dan Innis is running for a U.S. House seat from New Hampshire. Innis is a former dean of the University of New Hampshire business school and, with his husband, co-founder of a hotel opening this spring in Portsmouth. He seeks to unseat incumbent Democrat Carol Shea-Porter, but must first win the Republican nomination September 9 from Frank Guinta, who held the U.S. House seat before being defeated by Shea-Porter. Guinta’s voting record on LGBT issues in the 112th Congress rated a zero from the Human Rights Campaign, the lowest possible.

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