Speed Read: Mississippi warning
TRAVEL ALERT FOR MISSISSIPPI? An LGBT activist group sent out a “Travel Alert” March 6 warning LGBT people not to travel alone in Mississippi and take other precautions due to the “continued risk of discrimination based on sexual orientation/gender identity” due to a pending religious bias bill. GetEQUAL’s notice did not sit well with all Mississippi activists. Jeff White, president of the Mississippi Gulf Coast LGBT Community Center, sent out an open letter March 7 to GetEQUAL, saying he was “taken aback” by the travel alert. Rather than avoid Mississippi, White urged the community to “converge” on the state to increase LGBT visibility and support.
INDIANA CHALLENGE UNDERWAY: Indiana just joined the list of states that are being sued in federal court for their bans on recognition of marriages for same-sex couples. But Love v. Pence, a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana, has some activists concerned it could give “the anti-equality crowd a new rallying cry” to retaliate before the 2014 session adjourns. “With the General Assembly still in session,” wrote Bilerico.com co-owner Jerame Davis Saturday, “legislators now have a chance to revisit” a recently stripped down proposal to put a marriage ban in the state constitution “and use procedural maneuvers to resurrect it, put it on the ballot this year….”
CUTTING TO THE QUICK: Three national LGBT groups have signed onto a brief in support of the federal Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in an appeal before the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The case, Miller v. U.S., asks whether the increased penalties of the hate crime act apply when a person attacks someone of his own religion over a religious dispute. It involves the conviction of 13 members of an Amish sect in Ohio who attacked other Amish men and women who did not obey the leader’s rules. The attackers were convicted of conspiracy and kidnapping and, under federal hate crimes act, had their sentences increased significantly. The LGBT groups that signed onto the brief filed by the Anti-Defamation League include GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Center for Transgender Equality. The brief argues that the hate crimes law does not interfere with religious free exercise in this case but safeguards it for the victims of the attacks.
SINEMA STAYS THE COURSE: Openly bisexual U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sineman announced last week that she would not change Congressional districts to take advantage of a more Democratic territory. Sinema, a first-termer, currently represents a mixed party district, District 9. But she used to live in the heavily Democratic District 7, where the current incumbent has just announced his retirement. The Arizona Republic noted that Sinema “could have been free to chart a more liberal policy course, closer to her activist roots, and climb the House leadership ladder,” has she run for District 7, but she would have to run against openly gay State Senator Steve Gallardo and two other Democrats. And, says the Republic, Sinema is in a “strong position for re-election” to the District 9 seat and strengthen a potential to run for U.S. Senate.
PAUL HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF: Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) attendees voted U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) as their most favored presidential candidate for 2016. Rand garnered 31 percent of votes in the straw poll, followed in a distant second by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz with nine percent and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie with eight percent. In 2010, it was Paul’s father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul who won the CPAC straw poll, with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in second with 22 percent.