Speed Read: Lesbian on the front lines
MISSISSIPPI TWIST: The Mississippi House voted 80 to 37 Wednesday evening to approve a dramatically altered “religious freedom” bill that simply calls for a committee to prepare a report “regarding proposed legislation that protects the religious freedoms of the citizens of the State of Mississippi.” Now, the House and Senate conference committee must reconcile their two very different bills. The Senate bill prohibits the state and “any person” from burdening a person’s right to free exercise of religion.
COURAGE IN SOLIDARITY: Randi Weingarten, the openly lesbian president of the million-member-plus American Federation of Teachers, is in the Ukraine capital’s Maidan Square today, as part of an international delegation of teaching professionals to support Ukraine’s “quest for democracy.” The group was scheduled to visit the office of the Ukraine teachers union office, which, according to a Twitter post from Weingarten early this morning, “sheltered protesters during the uprising” and “was demolished by police forces.”
THE TAXMAN EXPLAINTH: The U.S. Internal Revenue Service released a two-minute video last week to help married same-sex couples tackle some of the complications that may be facing them this year. The bottom line: a same-sex couple that is married must file as either “Married Filing Jointly” or “Married Filing Separately.” The video says couples don’t need to amend their returns from previous years but may find it beneficial (Use Form 1040X) The agency also posted a new informational Q&A on its website.
JUDGE NOMINEE APPROVED: By a vote of 97 to 0, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm lesbian Judith Levy as a U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Michigan. Levy, 55, served as an intern at Lambda Legal Defense during the summer of 1994, is a member of the board of directors for DOJ Pride and the Human Rights Campaign. Prior to her confirmation, she worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit as chief of its Civil Rights Unit.
NOMINEE GETS HEARING: U.S. District Court nominee Staci Yandle was before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday. President Obama nominated Yandle to the Southern District of Illinois, and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced her to the committee, noting that, if confirmed, Yandle will be the first openly gay person ever to serve on the federal court in Illinois. She was joined at the hearing by her mother, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. Yandle has been serving as a solo practitioner, an adjunct professor, and a legal adviser to the NAACP.
CAN’T RECOGNIZE, CAN’T DIVORCE: A state judge in Huntsville, Alabama, rejected a petition for divorce Wednesday filed by a lesbian couple who married in Iowa. According to the Huntsville Times, the attorney for one of the women said she would be appealing the decision.
GAY D.C. MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Openly gay D.C. Councilman David Catania announced Wednesday he will run for mayor. The former Republican now Independent seeks to be the first white and the first openly gay person to win the office. He has been polling well in a crowded field of candidates, but that field will narrow soon, with the party primaries scheduled for April 1.
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