Sunday Speed: Va. stay expires Thursday

BIGGEST NEWS OF THE WEEK: A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals voted 2 to 1 this week not to extend a temporary stay beyond August 20 for its ruling to take effect, striking down state laws banning same-sex couples from marrying. The panel’s July 28 decision gave opponents of same-sex marriage 21 days to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. The Alliance Defending Freedom said it would file within 90 days and sought an extension of the initial stay. But the Virginia attorney general filed a petition last week, urging the high court to take the case in order to resolve the issue of state bans on same-sex couples marrying. On Friday, Chief Justice John Roberts asked those opposing the extension of the stay to submit their arguments by Monday. Unless the Supreme Court issues a stay of the decision, the Fourth Circuit ruling takes effect Thursday, August 21.

SOMETHING PROFOUNDLY WRONG: Major LGBT and AIDS groups signed onto an open letter Tuesday, expressing solidarity with the family of an unarmed African American teenager, Michael Brown, shot to death August 9 by a police officer in suburban St. Louis. The teen’s companion at the time said the officer shot at both teens after first aggressively confronting them for walking down the middle of a suburban street. “When communities experience fear, harassment and brutality simply because of who they are or how they look, we are failing as a nation,” said the letter. “In light of the recent events in Missouri, it is clearer than ever that there is something profoundly wrong in our country.

99-YEAR-OLD WOWS GAY GAMES: A 99-year-old New York athlete competed in the Gay Games this week, astounding many with her performance of 59.8 seconds for the 100-meter race. Ida Keeling, a great great grandmother from the Bronx, was there with her competitor and coach daughter Shelley Keeling, who has competed in several previous Gay Games. Various media reports say she set the world record for her age group in the internationally certified Games.

HOUSTON BATTLE POSTPONED: A group seeking to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance on the November ballot on Friday dropped their motion to have their petitions for the ballot measure validated. A judge has set January 19 for the court to hear their arguments that they submitted enough signatures for the ballot. Meanwhile, Houston Mayor Annise Parker has agreed not to enforce the ordinance, passed by city council in May, until opponents’ lawsuit is heard.

TENNESSEE SIDESTEP: Although the Supreme Court in Windsor ruled that the federal government “cannot trump” a state’s licensing of marriage for a same-sex couple, it did not “go the final step and find that a State that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional,” said Circuit Court Judge Russell Simmons Jr. of Roane County, Tennessee, in an August 5 ruling. “The laws of Iowa concerning same sex marriage is [sic] so diametrically opposed to Tennessee’s laws, [sic] and Tennessee’s own legitimate public policy concerning same-sex marriage, that Tennessee is not required by the U.S. Constitution to give full faith and credit to a valid marriage of a same-sex couple in Iowa.” Ironically, the case concerned a Tennessee same-sex couple that no longer wants to be married.

ALABAMA MEDIA ELITE: From an August 11 editorial in the Montgomery Advertiser, a daily Gannett newspaper in Montgomery, Alabama: “The tide toward marriage equality in Alabama is rising, as it has in many other states, and it’s unlikely to be stopped. Nor should it be. The constitutional argument that the right to marry should be extended to same-sex couples is simply too sound.” To read the whole editorial.

KENTUCKY COLD, ALASKA WARMING: A poll released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling indicates only 28 percent of Kentucky voters support the right to marry for same-sex couples. Another 28 percent said civil unions would be acceptable. But 41 percent said there should be “no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.” Meanwhile, a poll released Tuesday showed Alaska voters more comfortable with marriage equality: 46 percent support marriage equality, 26 percent for civil unions, and only 25 percent against any recognition.

BILLINGS BALKS ON NON-DISCRIMINATION: The staff for the Billings, Montana, City Council recommended the council approve a non-discrimination ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and the vote was a tie. Then, according to, Billings Mayor Tom Hanel, at about 3 a.m. Tuesday, cast the deciding vote against and the measure was defeated, 6 to 5.

SO DOES EAST BATON ROUGE: The metro council of the East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, voted 8 to 4 Wednesday to reject a non-discrimination ordinance there to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the local newspaper, The Advocate.

HAWAII ALLY OUSTED: Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie was trounced in last Saturday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, but it apparently wasn’t because of his support of marriage equality.  According to various news reports, Abercrombie alienated many by proposing a tax on retiree pensions, a cut on Medicare reimbursements, and cuts in pay for teachers and nurses, to name a few. Some reports mentioned that “a number” of Democrats were upset that he made the state legislature come back into special session to address the marriage equality law, but the governor’s support for marriage equality was not, in and of itself, identified as a factor in his primary loss. The new Democratic gubernatorial candidate is State Senator David Ige voted for marriage equality in that special session and has vowed to “work diligently to protect the civil rights of all Hawaii’s citizens.” Ige is currently running seven points behind the Republican candidate.

SMITHSONIAN RECEIVING LGBT ARTIFACTS: Props from the television series Will and Grace and the diplomatic passports of former U.S. ambassador David Huebner and his spouse Duane McWaine are among the artifacts being accepted by the Smithsonian Tuesday, during a reception in Washington. An August 13 press release from the Smithsonian said the National Museum of American History has been collected “related objects for many years.” It is also accepting this week the racquet from transgender tennis pro Renee Richards.

ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE TAKER: U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) took the “Ice Bucket Challenge” Wednesday, pouring a bucket of ice water over her head. The challenge, a fundraising effort, asks people to either pour a bucket of ice water over their head or write a check for $100 to the ALS Association, which funds research into the deadly Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Those who go for the ice are encouraged to post a YouTube video of the event and challenge specific other people to do the same. Sinema’s website indicates she also donated to the organization.

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