Speed Read: Booted from the closet
OREGON RELIGIOUS BALLOT BATTLE: A group seeking to exempt citizens in Oregon from non-discrimination laws by allowing them to claim a religious motive for doing so have until tomorrow to file a protest with the state supreme court over petition language prepared by the attorney general. The language characterizes the proposed initiative as “Religious belief exceptions to anti-discrimination laws for refusing services, other, for same-sex ceremonies.” The Oregonian newspaper reported that Friends of Religious Freedom, the group seeking the ballot measure, said it will likely appeal the language because the use of the word “discrimination” is “politically charged.” The group has until July 3 to gather 87,213 signatures to put the question on the ballot this November.
BLACK CAUCUS URGES REFUGE: The Congressional Black Caucus sent a letter Tuesday to Secretary of State John Kerry urging that U.S. embassies “protect individuals endangered by anti-gay laws.” The letter, signed by 41 members, says laws such as those passed by Uganda and Nigeria “not only violate human rights, they endanger lives and undermine public health….” The Caucus urges the U.S. to reassess its relationship with all 78 nations that penalize same-sex sexual relations, “reprogram assistance” away from those that support discriminatory laws, and help build pressure for those countries to repeal their laws.
ILLINOIS PIONEER SUCCUMBS: The activist whose terminal illness persuaded a federal judge to order Illinois to issue her a marriage license ahead of the June 1 enactment date of a marriage equality law died of cancer Tuesday. When Vernita Gray, 65, married her partner Patricia Ewert last November, they became the first same-sex couple to marry in the state. Gray had been a pioneer in the Chicago LGBT community since 1969, setting up a hotline, launching a lesbian newspaper, and founding a lesbian caucus of the Chicago Gay Liberation Network.
KENTUCKY COURT STAYS: Following the lead of other federal judges, a Kentucky federal district court judge Wednesday issued a stay of his February order that the state recognize out-of-state marriage licenses granted to same-sex couples. U.S. District Court Judge John Heyburn noted that the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered a stay of a similar decision in a Utah case, adding that it is “best that these momentous changes occur with full review, rather than risk premature implementation or confusing changes. That does not serve anyone well.” Kentucky is appealing Heyburn’s order in Bourke v. Beshear, and Heyburn will also hear arguments on a second question posed by the lawsuit –whether the state’s ban against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples is constitutional.
IDAHO ACTIVIST EAVESDROPPING? The Idaho Senate on Wednesday voted 28 to 6 to suspend the privileges of former State Senator Nicole LeFavour to visit the Senate offices and floor. The vote took place one day after she was found sitting in a closet space adjacent to a private lounge used by the Senate president and other lawmakers. The Statesman quoted one current Senate leader as saying “she was able to eavesdrop on private discussions and telephone conversations” from that spot. LeFavour offered only a “no comment” on her Facebook page, but her comments to the Spokesman-Review suggested she was there for more than five hours as part of a protest: “There are lots of people in closets out there, and they’re not comfortable. LeFavour has been leading a growing number of LGBT supporters in a quiet protest over the state senate’s refusal to address a bill seeking to prohibit discrimination against LGBT people. The 2014 legislative session adjourns next week.