Speed Read: No schism talk

NOT A LOT OF ‘SCHISM’ TALK:  President Obama said Thursday that he and Pope Francis “didn’t talk a whole lot about social schisms.” In fact, the president seemed to studiously avoid saying the word “gay” during his press conference briefing about his Thursday morning meeting with the global leader of the Catholic Church. “I think His Holiness and the Vatican have been clear about their position on a range of issues, some of them I differ with, most I heartily agree with.” Reporters asked about “gay” issues twice during the briefing, but President Obama did not go beyond saying, “the largest bulk of the time was discussing two central concerns of his.  One is the issues of the poor, the marginalized, those without opportunity, and growing inequality.”

DOJ LAUNCHES TRANS TRAINING: The U.S. Department of Justice hosted a training session for 70 invited “stakeholders” in transgender sensitivity training for law enforcement officers. The idea for the session sprang out of a meeting early last year between DOJ Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez and LGBT leaders. From the LGBT community, participants in Thursday’s session included policy directors of NGLTF, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays and the National Center for Transgender Equality. A DOJ spokeswoman said the session was a “national launch of the training program and in the coming months [DOJ] staff at regional offices around the country will be offering this training to interested law enforcement entities, including local and federal officials.”

MARYLAND ADVANCES TRANS BILL: The Maryland House of Delegates voted 82 to 57 Thursday to approve a bill adding gender identity to the state’s non-discrimination law. The state senate approved the bill March 4. It now goes to Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley who says he will sign it. The state human rights law covers public accommodations, housing, and employment. Opponents made liberal use of the “bathroom scare” tactic in the senate debate. Maryland will join 17 other states and the District of Columbia that have laws banning discrimination based on gender identity.

WEDDING DAY IN THE UK: A new law allowing same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales takes effect after midnight tonight. According to the Times of London, rainbow flags will fly over the infamous Whitehall stretch between Trafalgar Square and the parliament building. The parliament passed a law last July allowing same-sex couples to marry. Separate legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in Scotland takes effect this fall.

FROM ZERO TO CO-SPONSOR: Republican U.S. Rep. Peter King has earned only single digit scores from the Human Rights Campaign for his voting record on LGBT issues. In the last Congressional Session, it was a zero. That’s why Log Cabin Republicans was particularly excited yesterday to announce King was signing on as a co-sponsor for a piece of pro-gay legislation. “His co-sponsorship is important because this is the first time the Congressman has formally co-sponsored legislation including protections for LGBT individuals,” said Log Cabin national president Gregory Angelo. “I think anytime we grow the ranks of Republicans standing on the right side of these issues is reason to celebrate.” King signed on as co-sponsor to the Safe Schools Improvement Act that seeks to address bullying and harassment for students.

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