Speed Read: An Oscar dedication
OSCAR GOLDEN MOMENT: In addition to having openly gay television host Ellen DeGeneres as emcee, the Academy Awards Sunday night also included a touching acceptance speech by Best Supporting Actor Jared Leto. Leto, who portrayed a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club, said his Oscar was for “the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS. And to those of you who have ever felt injustice because of who you are and who you love, I stand here in front of the world with you and for you.” Matthew McConaughey won the Best Actor for his portrayal of a homophobic straight man with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club.
MISSISSIPPI MUDSLIDE: The Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act has not been amended to the satisfaction of the Mississippi Gulf Coast LGBT community center. Group leader Jeff White said Wednesday he thought the bill had been adequately stripped of its anti-gay language in a House subcommittee action, but by Thursday, he said further research has revealed “it is clear that the language has not been changed and we are still going forth with the protest of the bill.” The House Judiciary Committee is set to take up the bill today or Tuesday.
CLOUDS HOVER OVER BOSTON PARADE: It has been almost 20 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a private group that organizes an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade down the streets of Boston could exclude an Irish gay contingent. The court, in Hurley v. GLIB, held that the Allied War Veterans Council’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech trumped a Massachusetts law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations. But a lot has happened since 1995 and the LGBT community’s political clout has prompted the city’s new mayor, Marty Walsh, to try and convince parade organizers to let a gay contingent in. So far, the group has agreed but only if gays don’t wear t-shirts or carry signs that identify themselves as gay.
RELIGIOUS SUPPORT FOR SS MARRIAGE: A national poll released last week indicates that the general public’s support to allowing same-sex couples to marry has gone from 32 percent in 2003 (before Massachusetts started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples) to 53 percent in 2013. The survey found the most support for same-sex marriage among Jews (83 percent) and people unaffiliated with a specific religion (73 percent), and it found the least support among white evangelical Protestants (27 percent) and black Protestants (35 percent). Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about gay and lesbian issues. In general, the survey found 5.1 percent of the survey group self-identified as LGBT. The telephone poll, carried out by the Princeton Survey Research Associates for the Public Religion Research Institute, surveyed 4,509 adults throughout the U.S. between November 12 and December 18 and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.7 percent.
KING REACTS TO PUTIN HUG: In an interview after returning from the closing ceremony at the Winter Olympics, tennis legend Billie Jean King was asked what she thought about Russian President Vladimir Putin having hugged openly gay speed skater Ireen Wust at a party after she won a gold medal. King told AP: “It’s great. Think he knew it? Doesn’t matter, that’s the way the world should be. He should be embracing humanity.”