Speed Read: Surprises in Sochi
OLYMPIC VISIBILITY: LGBT visibility at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, included a few surprises in its first four days. For instance, it was Olympic organizers at the speed skating stadium who chose to play the iconic gay anthem “YMCA” over the public address system during Saturday’s competition. And it was openly gay athlete Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria who told reporters, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to make protests here, no one cares.” NBC aired its interview with President Obama in which he acknowledged putting three openly gay athletes on the presidential delegation to the Olympic ceremonies “to make it very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” Chevrolet ran a commercial promoting its SUV “for whatever shape your family takes,” including what appeared to be a two-dad family and a two-mom family. See full story.
HOLDER’S NEW POLICY? U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a Human Rights Campaign audience in New York Saturday that he would announce a new policy today. The Department of Justice, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, “will – for the first time in history – formally instruct all Justice Department employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law.” But there have been some mixed assessments of how big this news really is. Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, says it’s “quite significant.” “It instructs all government attorneys to respect all marriages of same-sex couples, regardless of the laws of their state of residence to argue for recognition of their marriages for all purposes,” says Davidson. But Gary Buseck, legal director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, says the “substance” of the announcement was less impressive. Many of the benefits touted as part of the new policy were already a “done deal” “and the other items are good but certainly not far-reaching.” Read full story.
INDIANA SENATE COULD VOTE TODAY: An Indiana senate committee will hold a hearing today on a bill seeking to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The Indiana House passed the bill on January 28, but it was different from the bill passed by both chambers in the previous legislative session. The bill passed this year does not include a sentence saying that the state will also not recognize any other form of same-sex relationship, such as civil unions or domestic partnerships. If the senate sticks with the House’s current version, then the legislature will have to approve the measure one more time, in the next legislative session, before it can go to voters. The full senate will likely take up the bill next week.
TAX SEASON CONSIDERATIONS: Lambda Legal says “there are still complications” for married same-sex couples preparing to file federal tax forms this year, as a result of the landmark ruling last June by the U.S. Supreme Court, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. This is especially true for couples who live in states that do not recognize their marriages, says Lambda. And the group’s website is carrying an article to answer some of the more basic questions that might arise for couples as they file their federal taxes this year.