Speed Read: Arizona joins a trend
ARIZONA SENATE JOINS THE TREND: The Arizona Senate on Wednesday voted 17 to 13 for a bill that allows people to claim a religious belief in order to discriminate based on sexual orientation. The Arizona legislature is one of several state legislatures to take up similar bills, many of which are failing. The Arizona Republic newspaper said the House could take up the measure today.
COURT PONDERS SECOND VA. CASE: Attorneys representing same-sex couples in a second federal challenge of Virginia’s ban on same-sex couples marrying urged their judge Wednesday to issue a decision in the case or proceed quickly to trial. According to a court docket on Wednesday’s hearing, attorneys from Lambda Legal and the ACLU also urged U.S. District Court Judge Michael Urbanski not to issue a stay in Harris v. Virginia, as Judge Arenda Wright Allen did February 14 in Bostic v. Virginia. The Washington Post and Associated Press reported that Urbanski questioned whether it is necessary for him to rule on the class action suit now that the Bostic decision is heading to the appeals court.
HRC URGES AMBASSADOR RECALLS: The Human Rights Campaign Wednesday urged Secretary of State John Kerry to withdraw U.S. ambassadors out of Uganda and Nigeria. HRC President Chad Griffin said recently enacted anti-gay laws in both countries “treat their LGBT citizens like criminals cannot be accepted as business as usual by the U.S. government.”
ADD GAMBIA TO THE LIST: The president of Gambia on Tuesday likened gay people to “vermin.” Speaking to a national television audience on the anniversary of Gambia’s independence from Britain, President Yahya Jammeh said that the acronym LGBT stands for “leprosy, gonorrhea, bacteria and tuberculosis; all of which are detrimental to human existence.” Jammeh has made similarly hateful public remarks before. In 2008, he vowed to behead any gay person found in the country and urged gays to leave the country. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement Wednesday saying the U.S. government is “deeply troubled” by Jammeh’s “hateful rhetoric.”
ANONYMOUS HATE CAMPAIGN: Rancho Mirage, California, City Council Scott Hines is running for re-election this April, and someone mailed to voters a postcard with a photo of Hines, the word “Fags,” and a message to “Send Hines Packing Back to Palm Springs, where he belongs.” Palm Springs is a heavily gay town a few miles away. The word “fags” is spelled out by aligning letters from the words “No More Fab Party Guy Scotty.” A group opposing Hines’ re-election denied sending the card and said they think Hines supporters mailed it out to blame the opposition group.
DUNN VERDICT AND GAY-BLACK SCHISM: Pulitzer Prize-winning political writer Jonathan Capehart wrote Wednesday that, for many African Americans, the gay community fails to show its solidarity with the black civil rights movement when injustice prevails against the black community. Capehart’s Washington Post columnwas inspired by openly lesbian American Idol competitor and Broadway performer Frenchie Davis, who is African American. Following the news that a jury in Florida deadlocked Saturday over a murder charge against Michael Dunn for shooting teenaged Jordan Davis for playing his music too loud. Davis posted a message on Facebook saying the gay community doesn‘t get to draw comparisons with the black civil rights movement “and then remain SILENT when the civil rights of Black teens are being violated.” Capehart wrote that the gay community has spoken out at times, but “on issues of importance to the African American community — voting rights, criminal justice and basic dignity — the gays generally speaking have been largely silent.”