Speed Read: ‘Bad for Mississippi’

‘BAD FOR MISSISSIPPI’ BILL ADVANCES: The Mississippi House Judiciary Committee Tuesday advanced a religious bias bill to the House floor. Committee Chairman Andy Gipson told reporters he didn’t think the original version was discriminatory but that the committee has made “sure it protects religious freedom while not discriminating against anybody.” ACLU-Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins said her group believes the amended bill “still says one person’s religious beliefs get to trump another’s and get to discriminate against another.” The House could take the bill up today and has until March 12 to vote on the measure.

KENTUCKY HIRES DEFENDER: Democratic Governor Steve Beshear announced Tuesday he will hire an independent counsel to appeal a decision that Kentucky must recognize marriage licenses obtained out-of-state by same-sex couples. The announcement came just minutes after state Attorney General Jack Conway, also a Democrat, gave an emotional explanation for why he cannot defend the state’s ban. To defend the ban would be “defending discrimination,” Conway asserted, adding, “That, I will not do.” Judge John Heyburn granted Conway’s request for a stay of his order and will hear arguments soon, in Bourke v. Beshear, on whether Kentucky’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is also unconstitutional. One or both issues are expected to be appealed to the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

KENTUCKY COMPLICATIONS: Conway’s decision not to defend the state’s ban against same-sex couples marrying will almost certainly become a campaign issue as he launches his bid for governor this month. And The Hill newspaper reported Tuesday it’s already an issue for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign. McConnell recommended President George H.W. Bush appoint John Heyburn for his position. A right-wing group released an ad Tuesday, saying McConnell “knew Judge Heyburn was not a conservative, but he promoted him anyway. Now Judge Heyburn is forcing his liberal views on Kentucky.”

MISS KENTUCKY 2010 IS OUT: In a thoughtful post on her personal website, “Life in 27,” Miss Kentucky 2010, Djuan Trent, put it clearly, “I am queer.” Trent said she decided to come out in part because of comments she heard after a federal judge ruled that the state can no longer refuse to recognize marriage licenses of same-sex couples obtained in other states. She said she was also inspired by actor Ellen Page’s recent decision to come out at an LGBT youth conference February 14.

BOSTON PARADE ORGANIZERS SAY NO: The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council issued a press release Tuesday claiming it had been “misled” by a “ploy” attempting to enable gay veterans to march in the parade “under false pretenses.” The Council officially denied the request to allow a gay group to participate. Mass Equality leader Kara Coredini rejected that offer because it prohibited participants from wearing t-shirts or carrying signs that identified them as gay. Boston’s new mayor, Marty Walsh, had led an effort to persuade the Council to allow gays to participate. His office issued a statement Tuesday, saying “There has been miscommunication by both parties in the press over this issue, and until a direct conversation with all involved parties takes place, we remain confident and hopeful but an agreement will be reached.”

GONNA RAIN ON THAT PARADE: No word yet on whether the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers have caught wind of plans by the Westboro Baptist Church to join the festivities. The group, which routinely shows up at events to carry large signs saying such things as “God Hates Fags,” posted a message on Twitter Monday night saying it will “picket-walk” in the March 16th parade.

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