Speed Read: 4,000 converge on Houston

PRESIDENTIAL DISAPPOINTMENT: President Obama spoke of a nation working on issues such as marriage equality, and he praised the nation’s reputation in the world, respected because “we believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being, regardless of race or religion, creed or sexual orientation.” But he did not, in his nationally televised 80-minute State of the Union address last night, express explicit support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) or promise an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation. That absence prompted many expressions of disappointment from LGBT leaders, but the White House said the address is never a comprehensive list of priorities and that the president has expressed his support of ENDA publicly and did so in a supplemental fact sheet issued in conjunction with last night’s address. Full story.
BAN BILL PASSES INDIANA HOUSE: The Indiana House on Tuesday approved a proposal to change the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The vote on House Joint Resolution 3 was 57-40, and the bill now goes to the state senate. Marriage equality supporters potentially delayed seeing the ban on marriage for same-sex couples on the Indiana ballot until 2016, when the House on Monday removed language that had been approved in 2011. But during debate Tuesday, Rep. Shelli VanDenBurgh (D-Crown Point) said she thinks the amendment to remove the language that would have also banned civil unions and domestic partnerships was just a tactic to give some Republicans political cover. She predicted the state senate would re-insert the language taken out of the House bill and the full original bill would be ultimately passed by both chambers. That would put the measure before voters this year. Full story.
CREATING CHANGE KICKS OFF: An estimated 4,000 people will be attending the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s annual Creating Change Conference starting today in Houston. Day One includes several day-long “institutes,” including one devoted to issues in K-12 education, organized by GLSEN. Later in the week, NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey will deliver her annual “State of the Movement” address. And one of the highlights will be a keynote by Laverne Cox, the first trans woman of color to have a leading role in a mainstream scripted television series, Orange is the New Black.
GILLESPIE BID IN VIRGINIA: The marriage equality issue is almost certain to come up in the U.S. Senate race in Virginia this year. Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie announced this month his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. Gillespie is opposed to marriage licenses for same-sex couples but in August 2010, when another former RNC Chair, Ken Mehlman, came out, Gillespie told The Atlantic he hoped Mehlman’s coming out would help the party become “more respectful and civil in our discourse.” Warner told a town hall meeting in Williamsburg Friday that he supports the right of gay couples to marry, adding “It’s not an issue I was in the lead on.” Perhaps more concerning for Gillespie this week, however, was the sting Monday of former Republican U.S. Senator John Warner announcing his endorsement of incumbent Democrat Mark Warner.
POLIS INVITES OBAMA ON POT TOUR: Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) recently invited President Obama to Colorado to see how the state’s new law, legalizing the sale, possession, and use of marijuana for personal, recreational purposes, works. The January 23 letter, which Polis also sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, says Colorado’s new voter-approved law gives the state “an opportunity to reduce crime and to help keep marijuana out of the hands of children.”

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