Speed Read: Ex-gay therapy ban upheld

EX-THERAPY BAN UPHELD: The full Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals yesterday denied a request to review a three-judge panel decision that upheld a law that prohibits the use of ex-gay therapy on young people. The denial came in Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown, two cases challenging California’s new law barring the use of sexual orientation change efforts (aka reparative therapy) on persons younger than 18. Last August, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit said the law does not violate the right to freedom of expression, “is neither vague nor overbroad, and does not violate parents’ fundamental rights.” Many expect Liberty Counsel, which has been leading the challenge against the law, to appeal now to the U.S. Supreme Court.

KANSAS SEEKS A LOOPHOLE: A Kansas House committee held a hearing Tuesday and Wednesday on a bill that seeks to allow any “individual or religious entity” to withhold “any services, accommodations” including “counseling, adoption, foster care” and “employment” that is “related to” any same-sex “relationship” by claiming to hold a “sincerely held religious belief” contrary to that relationship. Rep. Charles Macheers told the Topeka Capital-Journal that HB 2453 is intended to “protect religious freedom for people and institutions on both sides of the marriage debate.” But Thomas Witt of the Kansas Equality Coalition said it’s an effort to circumvent what many believe is a likely ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down state bans on same-sex marriage. The House committee could vote as early as Friday on the measure. A group of senators and representatives in Idaho’s legislature introduced a similar bill yesterday, but that bill’s language does not mention same-sex couples.

NEW GAY TEXAS REP: Openly gay Democrat Celia Israel, treasurer of Stonewall Democrats of Austin, won election to the state House Tuesday. According to the Travis County Clerk’s records, Israel won with 59 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Mike Van De Walle’s 41 percent. The election makes Israel the second openly LGBT person in the Texas House, along with Rep. Mary Gonzalez of Clint.

TENNESSEE RECALL: A group of people unhappy with efforts of gay Chattanooga Councilman Chris Anderson to pass a bill giving gay city employees equal benefits for their domestic partners are seeking to circulate petitions to force a recall vote against him. Others reportedly believe he doesn’t represent his district’s African American citizens. Anderson was elected in March of last year. The Times Free Press says the local elections commission will discuss the petition February 13. It says the domestic partnership issue will be on the city ballot later this year.

WEST VA. SUIT ADVANCES: A federal district court judge in West Virginia yesterday denied a state motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. But Chief Judge Robert Chambers (a Clinton appointee) also granted a state’s motion to dismiss that part of McGee v. Cole that challenged the state’s refusal to recognize marriage licenses granted to same-sex couples in other states.

VIRGINIA HEARING DELAYED: Due to an unusually heavy snowfall, U. S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen has postponed today’s scheduled oral arguments in one of two cases challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Famed Proposition 8 attorney Ted Olson was due to make today’s key argument that the ban is unconstitutional, sharing time with the Virginia solicitor general who will also be arguing against the state’s ban. The judge’s office indicated the hearing would be rescheduled for sometime in February.

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