Speed Read: Supreme Court says no

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the National Organization for Marriage’s request to stay a federal court ruling in Oregon that allowed same-sex couples to marry. More church groups have joined the United Church of Christ’s lawsuit in North Carolina. And Clay Aiken says the president is to blame over the Veterans Administration’s failures.

 

SUPREME COURT SAYS NO TO NOM: The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday denied a request to stop same-sex couples in Oregon from marrying. The request came from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and was directed to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who handles motions from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The one-sentence order Wednesday noted that Kennedy referred the matter to the full court. NOM had sought a stay of a May 19 federal district court ruling declaring Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. NOM had also asked the federal district court for the right to serve as intervenor in a case to defend the state ban after the governor and attorney general made clear they would not. NOM said Wednesday it would continue pressing its appeal for intervenor status to the Ninth Circuit.

UCC LAWSUIT GAINS ALLIES: Three more religious groups joined the United Church of Christ’s lawsuit in North Carolina this week. The Central Conference of American Rabbis (2,000 rabbis), the Alliance of Baptists (130 congregations), and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (90 congregations) signed on as plaintiffs in UCC v. Cooper, arguing that the state ban on same-sex couples marrying violates the free exercise of religion for clergy who conduct ceremonies for same-sex couples. On May 27, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper asked the U.S. District Court for Western North Carolina to delay hearing the case until after the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rules on a case against a similar ban in Virginia.

DEMAIO ADVANCES IN PRIMARY: Openly gay Republican Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio advanced in his primary Tuesday in San Diego. DeMaio came in second behind incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat, but in California’s primaries, the top two vote getters proceed to the November ballot. DeMaio received 36 percent of the vote, compared to Peters’ 42 percent, but he handily beat out two other Republicans who garnered a combined 22 percent.

KUEHL IN RACE AGAINST SHRIVER: Openly gay California Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s primary for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She will face second place Bobby Shriver on the November ballot. Kuehl earned 36 percent of the votes in the eight-candidate race, followed by Shriver with 29 percent, and openly gay former West Hollywood Councilman John Duran with 16 percent. No one’s called the race for state controller yet, but it appears openly gay former California Assembly Speaker John Perez may have secured a spot on the November ballot. Perez appears to have come in second behind Republican Ashley Swearengin.

UTAH APPEALS RECOGNITION ORDER: As expected, the attorney general of Utah filed notice Wednesday that the state will appeal a May 19 federal district court judge’s preliminary injunction requiring that Utah recognize the marriages of an estimated 1,300 same-sex couples that took place before a U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in another district court judge’s decision striking down the state’s ban. Judge Dale Kimball (a Clinton appointee) delayed his order 21 days to give the state time to appeal his injunction in Evans v. Utah to the Tenth Circuit. A Tenth Circuit panel has already heard arguments in Kitchen v. Herbert, which challenges the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying.

CLAY AIKEN BLAMES PRESIDENT: Openly gay Congressional candidate Clay Aiken of North Carolina said in a recent interview with CNN that the buck stops with President Obama on the Veterans Administration’s failure to provide medical care to veterans in a timely fashion.

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Speed Read: Bathroom battle cry

Opponents of Houston’s newly passed non-discrimination ordinance are going for the jugular: focusing on fears that respecting the rights of transgender citizens means opening up women’s bathrooms to “predators, pedophiles, and rapists.” At the same time this second-round is underway, Houston Mayor Annise Parker was launching a campaign with Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry to raise public awareness about human trafficking.

 

INFLAMMATORY PETITION LAUNCHED: A “No Unequal Rights Coalition” launched a website Tuesday to circulate petitions in hopes of putting a referendum on Houston’s November ballot to repeal the city’s new non-discrimination ordinance. The top of the petition states, in bold type, “Biological males ARE IN FACT allowed to enter women’s restrooms in Houston under Mayor Annise Parker’s ‘Equal Rights Ordinance’, thereby threatening the physical and emotional safety of our women and children. Her ERO (sic) creates Unequal Rights for a tiny group of people by taking away rights of safety and privacy for the vast majority of our women and children!” The website notes that the group has until June 27 to collect at least 17,000 signatures. If it obtains enough signatures, the issue goes back to the Houston City Council, which can either repeal the ordinance or place the issue on the November ballot.

CHURCH WARNS OF PREDATORS AND PEDOPHILES: In a June 2 letter to his congregation, Laurence White, who obtained his doctorate from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, warns that the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance “would (literally) open the door to sexual predators, pedophiles, and rapists to gain easy access to their desired victims with legal sanction.”

PARKER AND PERRY UNITE? Texas Governor Rick Perry and Houston Mayor Annise Parker held a joint press conference Tuesday to announce a statewide campaign to educate the public about human trafficking. The campaign calls for public services messages on taxicabs, public buses, billboards, and radio and television, encouraging people to call in reports of suspicious activity. According to the mayor’s office, Texas accounts for the second highest number of reports of human trafficking (following California) and Houston the highest number in Texas.

FLORIDA JUDGE DENIES INTERVENORS: A Florida circuit court judge in Miami on Tuesday denied a request by three anti-gay groups to intervene in a lawsuit testing that state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. In Pareto v. Ruvin, Judge Sarah Zabel said the groups, which helped pass the ban, “will not be directly and immediately affected if others enter into a same-sex marriage or are prevented from entering into a same-sex marriage.” The judge said the groups could file a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, which is scheduled for a hearing on July 2. The case, led by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, is one of the few around the country that are challenging bans in state court.

 

EARLY RETURNS IN CALIFORNIA: Openly gay candidates seemed to be doing very well in the early returns of yesterday’s elections in California. Three openly gay state Assembly candidates appeared to handily win their Democratic primary races Tuesday: Incumbent Toni Atkins, who just took over the gavel as the Assembly’s first openly lesbian speaker, and Richard Gordon of Sunnyvale each had 59 percent of the vote soon after the polls closed; newcomer Evan Low had 40 percent in San Jose. Bonnie Dumanis appears to have won her race for San Diego District Attorney with 55 percent of the vote. Kevin Beiser was holding 68 percent in his race for a San Diego Unified School District seat. Jill Ravitch won 69 percent of the vote in her run to be Sonoma County District Attorney. Ken Yeager was uncontested in his race for a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. The question marks at deadline were the first openly gay Speaker of the California Assembly, John Perez, in a very tight race in his bid to run for State Controller, and Sheila Kuehl is leading the field for a highly contested seat on the Los Angeles County Board. Former West Hollywood Councilman John Duran appears to be trailing in third in that race.

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Speed Read: Zero not low enough

Idaho has asked the Ninth Circuit to let it skip the first round three-judge panel in its appeal regarding its state ban on same-sex couples marrying. GOProud says news of its shutting down is greatly exaggerated. GLAD sues the maker of Bayer aspirin.

HOW LOW CAN THEY GO?  Incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign for his record on LGBT related issues. But in today’s primary, the Family Research Council announced its endorsement over the weekend for Cochran’s challenger, Mississippi State Tea Party Senator Chris McDaniel, citing McDaniel’s strong stance against same-sex couples marrying. Seems zero wasn’t good enough.

ANOTHER REQUEST TO LEAP FROG: Idaho filed a petition with the Ninth Circuit May 30, asking to skip over the three-judge panel phase of appeal in defense of its state ban on same-sex couples marrying. Less than two months ago, the Sixth Circuit refused Michigan’s request to do the same. But Idaho says the intra-circuit conflict over the proper level of judicial scrutiny to apply when evaluating laws that affect LGBT people adversely is a question of “exceptional importance.” Even more important, it argues, is the conflict over laws banning same-sex couples from marrying. Americans “understandably want the Marriage Issue resolved now,” states the brief. The Ninth Circuit is one of five circuits with active cases before them concerning statewide bans; only two –the Fourth and Tenth— have heard arguments before a three-judge panel.

GOPROUD CONSIDERS REORGANIZATION: The gay conservative group GOProud reacted to rumors Monday that it was “shutting down.” Not so, said Matthew Bechstein, the group’s new executive director, in a press release. Bechstein said the group, which recently saw its founding members abandon ship, is considering reorganization to a “different legal type of organization.” “But if it were to actually happen,” said Bechstein, “it would only be momentary and certainly not the end of our organization.”

GLAD SUES BAYER: Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders announced Monday that it filed suit in federal court last month in Connecticut against the company that produces Bayer aspirin. The lawsuit, Passaro v. Bayer, was brought on behalf of Gerald Passaro, whose husband was a chemist at Bayer until his death in 2009. Bayer initially refused to pay Passaro the survivor benefit, saying that, under the Defense of Marriage Act, it had no obligation to. But after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA last June, the company continued to refuse to pay the benefit, governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

NOTABLE QUOTE: GLAD civil rights director Mary Bonauto in USA Today article about the string of federal court victories striking down bans on same-sex couples marrying: “We’re at a point where it would be shocking if the Supreme Court said it was permissible to deny marriage licenses to gay couples.”

GILL FUNDING PARK SERVICE STUDY: The Gill Foundation is providing $250,000 to fund the LGBT historic places study announced by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell last Friday. The National Park Service will host a meeting in Washington, D.C., June 10 “to develop a framework and focus for the LGBT theme study with a group of more than a dozen of the nation’s most respected researchers and preservationists who have expertise on LGBT history and culture.”

DEMAIO’S OFFICE VANDALIZED: Campaign staff for gay Republican Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio found their San Diego office vandalized last week. A campaign spokesperson told Associated Press that staff believe it is related to DeMaio’s efforts to curb pension costs.

AIDS LISTENING: The White House Office of National AIDS Policy last Thursday hosted the first of three public “listening sessions” in southern states. The Office’s new director, Douglas Brooks, is leading the sessions, which started in Jackson, Mississippi. The next sessions are slated for Columbia, S.C., today and Atlanta, June 5. RSVP.

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Speed Read: Strange travel companions

Illinois’ new marriage equality law went into effect officially Sunday, though more than 1,600 same-sex couples had already been married since February. And Equality Maryland is breathing easier since an anti-LGBT group failed to turn in enough signatures Saturday night to put a referendum on the ballot over the state’s new transgender non-discrimination law.

ILLINOIS LAW ENACTED: Several county clerks around Illinois opened their offices Sunday so that same-sex couples could obtain marriage licenses on the first day the state legislature’s new marriage equality law went into effect, June 1. Clerks in 16 counties have been issuing licenses to same-sex couples since February, when a federal district court judge ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The Chicago Sun Times reported yesterday that 1,635 same-sex couples had married by the close of business Friday.

REFERENDUM FAILS IN MARYLAND: Equality Maryland leaders were at the Maryland Secretary of State’s office until midnight Saturday, waiting to see if opponents of a recently signed law protecting transgender citizens would be subjected to a referendum. But midnight came and opponents delivered no signatures, so there will be no referendum this year. A message posted on the group’s website indicates it came up 1,000 signatures short of the number it needed to proceed to the ballot. Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, credited her group’s aggressive approach to stopping the referendum. “We had supporters across the state standing right next to petition gatherers and we saw first-hand voters change their minds and not sign the mean-spirited petition,” said Evans. “While some criticized our approach, we felt an obligation to the thousands of transgender Marylanders and the people who love and support them to do everything in our power to defend it, not just be quiet and wait to see what happens.” The new law is due to take effect October 1.

PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION: President Obama issued a presidential proclamation of June as LGBT Pride Month, noting “As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect, our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well.” It also noted that “we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.”

NO HINT OF EXECUTIVE ORDER: Any hope that some might have harbored that President Obama would take the opportunity of Pride Month to issue an executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors appeared to be dampened by the president’s Pride Month proclamation. “LGBT workers in too many states can be fired just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity;” the proclamation says, adding, “I continue to call on the Congress to correct this injustice by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.”

PUBLIC SUPPORT GROWING: A Gallup Poll released Friday indicates that 63 percent of Americans support the right of gay couples to adopt children. And a separate Gallup Poll Saturday showed 58 percent consider “gay and lesbian relations” to be morally acceptable. Gallup noted that, when the adoption question was first asked in 1992, only 29 percent supported the right of gay couples to adopt. “Americans have reached consensus faster about same-sex couples adopting children than about support for gay marriage in the last 20 years,” states Gallup, noting that only 55 percent of the public supports allowing same-sex couples to marry. For more on the polls, see full story.

STRANGE TRAVEL COMPANIONS: Openly gay U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) was part of a six-member Congressional tour of Afghanistan over the Memorial Day weekend with right-wing Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma. One of the three Democrats along for the ride was Rep. John Barrow of Georgia who scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional scorecard.

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Speed Read: Preserving history

The number of LGBT-related hate attacks stayed relatively consistent between 2012 and 2013, according to a report released yesterday. The Secretary of the Interior will announce a new campaign today to identify places and events in the LGBT civil rights movement to historic preservation. And the activist group GetEQUAL says it will press the White House for more “than simply a study of our history.”

HATE VIOLENCE UNCHANGED: An annual report on LGBT-related hate violence, released Thursday, indicates the number of incidents reported in 2013 “stayed relatively consistent” with the number reported in 2012. Only 45 percent of survivors reported the attacks to police, notes the report, published by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

PRESERVING HISTORY: Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is scheduled to announce this morning a new National Park Service study to identify places and events associated with the LGBT civil rights struggle movement “and ensure that the agency is telling a complete story of America’s heritage and history.” Currently, only New York City’s Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots against police harassment, has the designation as a national historic landmark by the National Park Service. Jewell will make the announcement at the Stonewall Inn, accompanied by gay philanthropist Tim Gill and New York City Councilman Corey Johnson.

DEMANDING MORE: The LGBT activist group GetEQUAL said it will stage a demonstration outside today’s event at the Stonewall “to demand more from the White House than simply a study of our history.”

DEMANDING SHORTCUT FAILS: A lesbian couple who took their challenge to Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex couples marrying directly to the state supreme court, without first going through lower courts, got an answer last week: The court won’t take the case.

IMPEACH HERRING EFFORT OFF: A resolution seeking to impeach Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring because he refused to defend the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying was killed within minutes of its introduction, according to an NBC affiliate in Richmond. According to the station, a spokesperson for House Speaker Bill Howell said late last week that Howell “does not believe impeachment is an appropriate or practical recourse at the moment.”

HAWAII FIGHT HANGS ON: The Hawaii Family Forum filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday seeking to keep alive a case, Jackson v. Abercrombie, testing the constitutionality of that state’s former ban on same-sex couples marrying. Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie and same-sex couple plaintiffs have argued the Ninth Circuit should dismiss the appeal because the Hawaiian legislature passed a law last year allowing same-sex couples to marry. The Forum, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, says new lawsuits challenging the new marriage equality law could succeed. If they do, says the Forum, then the plaintiffs in Jackson would almost certainly want to re-litigate the issue.

15,500 TRANS SOLDIERS: The Williams Institute, an LGBT-oriented think tank, issued a report this month estimating there are 15,500 transgender or non-gender conforming people serving in active duty and another 134,300 retired from the U.S. military.  Current military medical policy prohibits transgender people from serving in the military. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told ABC’s This Week program Sunday that he is open to having DOD review its policy banning transgender people from the military, but that it’s a “bit more complicated” than gays because of special medical needs.

GETTING BEYOND ‘AWKWARD’: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a new website last week to give gay men some tips on how and when to talk with their sexual partners about their HIV status. Among other things, the campaign suggests it’s better to talk “early” –early in the relationship and early in the evening. The talk about HIV status doesn’t have to be face to face; it can also take place through texting or email. The bottom line is to talk about HIV status so both parties can take precautions to avoid the spread of the virus.

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Speed Read: NOM at Supreme Court

The National Organization for Marriage is seeking U.S. Supreme Court intervention in its effort to defend Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage. The Houston City Council passed Mayor Annise Parker’s proposed non-discrimination bill. Senator Orrin Hatch says anybody who doesn’t think “gay marriage is going to be the law of the land …just isn’t living in the real world.”

HOUSTON COUNCIL APPROVES LAW: The Houston City Council heard more than eight hours of public comment Wednesday before voting 11 to 6 in favor of Mayor Annise Parker’s comprehensive law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and other categories. The Houston Chronicle said more than 250 people signed up to offer comments on the bill.

NOM SEEKS SUPREME INTERVENTION: Justice Anthony Kennedy on Wednesday asked attorneys for Oregon and same-sex plaintiff couples to respond to a motion from the National Organization for Marriage. NOM filed a motion Tuesday seeking a stay of a May 19 federal district court ruling that allowed the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Prior to that ruling, NOM sought the right to defend the state ban after the governor and attorney general made clear they would not. U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane, an openly gay Obama appointee, ruled the ban unconstitutional on May 19 and couples began obtaining licenses right away. McShane and the Ninth Circuit then denied NOM’s request for a temporary stay in order to appeal the decision concerning intervenor status.

MAINE IMPOSES RECORD FINE ON NOM:  The Maine commission for campaign ethics voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a recommendation imposing a record $50,250 fine on the National Organization for Marriage. The staff of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices recommended the fine against NOM because of its failure to register as a ballot question committee and file campaign finance reports that disclosed its donors. The Kennebec Journal reported Commission Chairman Walter McKee as saying NOM’s defense –that it was protecting its donors from harassment— made a “mockery of Maine’s election laws.” NOM says it will appeal the ruling and file its own complaints against the Human Rights Campaign.

HATCH ON INEVITABILITY OF MARRIAGE: U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) had this to say about the inevitability of same-sex couples being able to marry nationwide: “Let’s face it, anybody who does not believe that gay marriage is going to be the law of the land just hasn’t been observing what’s going on. There is a question whether [the courts] should be able to tell the states what they can or cannot do with something as important as marriage, but the trend right now in the courts is to permit gay marriage and anybody who doesn’t admit that just isn’t living in the real world….I think it’s a portent of the future that sooner or later gay marriage is probably going to be approved by the Supreme Court of the United States, certainly as the people in this country move towards it, especially young people.” Hatch made his remarks on KSL-Radio and they were widely reported, including in the Salt Lake City Tribune.

MAYA ANGELOU PASSES: Acclaimed poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou died Wednesday at the age of 86. Angelou served as an important ally to the LGBT community, lobbying legislators in New York to support marriage equality. She was perhaps best known for her autobiographical I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and writing and delivering a poem, “On the Pulse of the Morning,” at President Clinton’s first inauguration. President Obama bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on her in 2011.

CAITLIN CAHOW NAMED TO COUNCIL: President Obama this month named lesbian hockey player Caitlin Cahow to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. Cahow most recently served on the Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremony at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

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Speed Read: Houston vote today

The Houston City Council votes today on whether to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Maine’s commission on campaign ethics votes today on whether to penalize the National Organization for Marriage for failure to comply with the law. And a letter from the Human Rights Campaign seeks an audience with the pope.

HOUSTON COUNCIL VOTES TODAY: The Houston City Council is scheduled to vote today on an ordinance proposed by lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, to adopt a policy that prohibits discrimination based on a number of categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

MAINE LIKELY TO PENALIZE NOM: A Maine election ethics commission will vote today on whether to fine the National Organization for Marriage for failing to register as a ballot question committee in a 2009 anti-gay referendum. The staff of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices issued a 37-page report April 9, recommending the commission fine NOM more than $50,000 for its failure to register as a committee and file campaign finance reports that disclosed its donors. The report notes that NOM spent $3 million in Maine in 2009 to encourage voter passage of a repeal a law allowing same-sex couples to marry, most of it funneled into a group called Stand for Marriage Maine. “NOM intentionally set up its fundraising strategy to avoid donor disclosure,” states the staff letter. In a May 6 letter responding to the recommendation, a legal group called “Act Right” asserts that NOM “made no expenditures”’ under Maine law.

WISCONSIN BRACING FOR THE FALL: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, through his attorney general, filed a motion Friday asking U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to stay her decision in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban if that decision finds the ban unconstitutional. Crabb (a Carter appointee) last month denied Walker’s request to dismiss an ACLU-led lawsuit, Wolf v. Walker. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported Friday that Walker has begun to express his own doubts about the ban’s constitutionality. “I’m not going to pretend to tell a federal judge in that regard what he or she should do about it,” Walker told the paper. “…I don’t know what (allowing gay marriage) means. Voters don’t talk to me about that.” But the Sentinel noted that Republican Attorney General  J.B. Van Hollen has made clear he intends to appeal a losing ruling to the Seventh Circuit.

HRC ASKS POPE TO MEET WITH TEACHERS: The Human Rights Campaign announced Tuesday that it has sent a letter to Pope Francis on behalf of nine teachers who have lost their jobs at Catholic schools either because they are gay or because they support a gay family member. The letter states that the teachers hope the pope’s “messages of acceptance” and “pastoral leadership” will enable him to “correct these hurtful injustices.” The letter was prompted in part by new policies being adopted by some dioceses, including Cincinnati, that call for firing any employee who even speaks in favor of the “homosexual lifestyle.” “We ask for a Papal audience with our families,” states the letter, “so that you may hear our personal stories firsthand and see the impact the Church’s actions have had on us all.”

GLOBAL ‘ROLLER COASTER’: The Human Rights Campaign on May 15 released its inaugural issue of a report monitoring LGBT equal rights globally, and it characterized 2013 as a “proverbial roller coaster.” Six nations began allowing same-sex couples to marry, but Russia passed its harsh laws against “promoting” anything gay. Activism emerged in such countries as Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iran, and yet Uganda and Nigeria cracked down with new laws criminalizing same-sex relations and imposing draconian penalties. Equality Rising notes: “Change is happening at a rapid rate. As some LGBT people are nearing legal equality, we must work together to ensure that others are not left behind.”

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Speed Read: Log Cabin attacks Polis

Log Cabin Republicans is running attack ads against an openly gay Congressman. Opponents of Houston’s lesbian Mayor Annise Parker’s proposed non-discrimination ordinance threaten to launch a recall election against her. North Dakota is left standing as the only state with a ban on same-sex marriage that hasn’t yet been challenged with a lawsuit.

LOG CABIN ADS ATTACK JARED POLIS: The national gay Republican group Log Cabin Republicans has aired three “attack ads” against openly gay U.S. Democratic Rep. Jared Polis. According to a report in the Denver Post, the latest ad mocks Polis’ personal wealth to say he’s out of touch with the average Coloradoan when he opposes natural gas development in the state, thus denying thousands of jobs and affordable heating. In retort, Polis teased the group about the perception that it has relatively few members to support such attack ads: “Oh, did all three of them chip in?”

ORDINANCE FOES THREATEN RECALL: Opponents of a proposed non-discrimination ordinance in Houston have threatened to organize a recall election against Mayor Annise Parker and other supporters of the bill. They have also threatened a referendum on the measure should it pass Wednesday, reports KHOU-TV.

SOUTH DAKOTA GETS LAWSUIT: Six same-sex couples in South Dakota filed a lawsuit in federal court in Sioux Falls, reducing to just one (North Dakota) the number of states which still have bans on same-sex couples marrying but no lawsuit challenging that ban. The South Dakota lawsuit is Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard.

NINTH CIRCUIT MOVES ON NEVADA CASE: In an order issued May 23, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals announced it would hold oral arguments in September for Sevcik v. Sandoval, a Lambda Legal case challenging Nevada’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The Ninth Circuit will also hear Latta v. Otter, concerning Idaho’s ban, the week of September 8.

AVOIDING BOY SCOUT FRACTURE: Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates was installed as president of the national Boy Scouts of America organization May 22 and, in an interview the next day with Associated Press, said he would have gone further than the BSA did last fall when it voted to end its policy of barring gay scouts. “”I would have supported having gay Scoutmasters,” said Gates. But Gates said he would not re-open the question with the membership at this time because he believes it would “irreparably fracture” the organization.

McCONNELL OPPONENT WALKING A LINE: In last Tuesday’s primaries, Democrats in Kentucky chose business attorney Alison Lundergan Grimes to go up against Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell in November. McConnell has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign on LGBT issues. When asked point blank by a group of Kentucky farmers whether she supports same-sex marriage, Grimes clearly tried to find position somewhere between being “for” or “against” them. According to the Herald-Leader, Grimes said: “I want to be honest  … my husband and I have been married seven years, and the Supreme Court has already determined in my view and decided this issue, and … I think that if I’ve been committed then others should be able to have that same commitment. But the Supreme Court –they’ve already ruled on this, it’s a state sovereign issue, and here in the state of Kentucky we already have a constitutional amendment.”

MICHELLE NUNN WALKING THE SAME LINE: U.S. Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, is walking that same delicate line on same-sex marriage in Georgia. She has said she supports the right of same-sex couples to marry but believes the decision about who can marry should be left to the states.

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Speed Read: Montana’s time has come

Montana now has a lawsuit pending against its ban on same-sex couples marrying. The latest Gallup Poll finds support for recognizing marriages of same-sex couples at a new high. And LGBT leaders in San Diego make clear they want strong support for ENDA in their next member of Congress.

LAWSUIT COMES TO MONTANA: The ACLU on Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court in Montana, challenging that state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. That leaves only two states (North Dakota and South Dakota) that don’t have a federal lawsuit pending against their state ban. In the Montana suit, Rolando v. Fox, three of the four plaintiff couples have obtained marriage licenses in other states. Democratic Governor Steve Bullock issued a statement Thursday, saying, “The time has come for our state to recognize and celebrate – not discriminate against – two people who love one another, are committed to each other, and want to spend their lives together.”

SUPPORT FOR MARRIAGE ‘SOLIDIFIED’: A new Gallup poll, released Wednesday, says that support for allowing same-sex couples to marry has “solidified above the majority level.” The poll of 1,028 adults nationwide between May 8 and 11 found 55 percent believe same-sex marriages should be “recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.” Forty-two percent said “not valid.” “When Gallup first asked Americans this question about same-sex marriage in 1996, 68% were opposed to recognizing marriage between two men or two women, with slightly more than a quarter supporting it (27%),” noted the polling group. “Since then, support has steadily grown, reaching 42% by 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize it — a milestone that reached its 10th anniversary this month.”

DRAWING A LINE IN THE SAND: A group of LGBT leaders in San Diego issued an open letter Wednesday, supporting a push for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and a vote for U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, the Democratic incumbent representing San Diego (Congressional District 52). Peters supports ENDA, and his openly gay Republican challenger Carl DeMaio has appeared less passionate about it. In November, according to examiner.com, DeMaio told a San Diego State University audience that he supports ENDA but doesn’t think Congress should legislate “social issues.” The May 22 letter, signed by California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, and others states, “Those seeking to support true equality and represent our community must be leaders, and public support and advocacy for this critical civil rights legislation should be the minimum we expect.”

SMALL TOWN FRIENDLY: Voters in Pocatello, Idaho, voted down a measure Tuesday that was aimed at ending the town’s policy against discrimination based on sexual orientation. According to the Idaho State Journal, the vote was “razor thin.” Out of 9,623 votes cast, the margin of victory was 147 votes.

SMALL TOWN BULLIES: The Porterville City Council meeting attracted a crowd Monday, as many members of the public showed up to express their anger at Mayor Cam Hamilton’s remark last week that child victims of bullying should just “grow a pair” rather than ask for help from the council. The Porterville Recorder said Hamilton walked out during the public comment session, to do an interview with CNN. In the CNN interview, he said he wished his remarks had been a “little less colorful,” but he said a proposal to create “safe zones” in schools doesn’t help victims once they leave the safe zones. He said kids need to learn how to “stand up for themselves,” but conceded society should also stand up to bullies. “If in fact we see somebody who is being harassed or is being bullied, we as a society –be it out in the city or in the school itself – have the ability to stand up for the person who is being bullied and just tell the bully, ‘We’re not going to put up with this.’”

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Speed Read: No appeal, Keystone is 19

In a surprise development, Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett announced Wednesday he would not appeal a federal district court decision striking down the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie reappointed the state supreme court chief justice who wrote a critical decision striking that state’s ban.

 

PENNSYLVANIA IS FINAL; NO APPEAL: Republican Governor Tom Corbett announced Wednesday that his administration will not appeal a federal district court decision Tuesday that declared the state ban on same-sex couples marrying to be unconstitutional. Corbett had vowed in recent months to defend the law, but he issued a statement May 21 saying an appeal would be “extremely unlikely to succeed.” “I continue to maintain the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman,” said Corbett. “My duties as Governor require that I follow the laws as interpreted by the Courts and make a judgment as to the likelihood of a successful appeal….The court has spoken, and I will ensure that my administration follows the provisions of Judge Jones’ order with respect for all parties.” And with that, Pennsylvania, the sixth most populous state, becomes the 19th state plus the District of Columbia with marriage equality. The marriage equality states include 44 percent of the nation’s population.

PENNSYLVANIA AUDITOR SPOKE UP: Even before the release of the court decision declaring Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex couples marrying unconstitutional, the state’s chief fiscal officer urged the governor against an appeal. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale issued a press release May 8, saying it is “unquestionably unfair” to make same-sex couples pay an estimated $1,600 more per year in state taxes because of the ban. And he said it was unwise for the state to pay as much as $400 an hour in legal fees to defend the ban against several lawsuits while the Pennsylvania budget is facing a $1 billion shortfall.

CORBETT COMPETITOR URGED NO APPEAL, TOO: Democratic businessman Tom Wolf urged Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett not to appeal the federal district court decision that the state ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. Wolf, who won Tuesday’s Democratic primary with 58 percent of the vote, said he agrees with the court’s decision.

SANTORUM RECOMMENDED JUDGE JONES: Anti-gay former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, a likely repeat candidate for president next year, recommended U.S. District Court Judge John Jones II for the position. President George W. Bush appointed Jones.

NJ’S CHRISTIE REAPPOINTS CHIEF JUSTICE: Lambda Legal and other legal groups had expressed concerns in recent months that New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie might decline to reappoint the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. Rabner wrote a critical opinion supporting the declaration that the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. But on Wednesday, Christie announced that he will reappoint Rabner to the position and that, despite his disagreement with Rabner on some decisions, “my respect for him has never been diminished.”

WATCH WHITE HOUSE CEREMONY LIVE: The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power will be the featured speaker today at 3 p.m. EDT for a ceremony unveiling the U.S. postage stamp honoring Harvey Milk. The ceremony will be viewable live at the White House website. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Tammy Baldwin, and Rep. John Lewis will be among the other speakers. Milk was a powerful political organizer of San Francisco’s LGBT community in the 1970s. And he was one of the first openly gay people to be elected to office, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Milk and then San Francisco Mayor George Moscone were assassinated in 1978 by another supervisor who had voluntarily resigned his seat on the board and then became angry when Moscone would not let him re-take the position.

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Speed Read: ‘The ash heap of history’

A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional and should be discarded “into the ash heap of history.” The Ninth Circuit has granted Idaho’s request for a stay pending appeal of a federal district court decision striking its ban. And President Obama names a sixth openly gay ambassador.

JUDGE STRIKES PENNSYLVANIA BAN: A federal judge on Tuesday declared a ban on same-sex couples marrying in Pennsylvania to be a violation of the equal protection and due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III (an appointee of President George W. Bush) said the plaintiff couples suffer “a multitude of daily harms” from the ban. “We are a better people than what these laws represent,” wrote Jones in Whitewood v. Wolf, “and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s press office said Tuesday evening the governor had not yet made a decision regarding whether to appeal the ruling. Last November, he vowed to defend the ban.

NINTH CIRCUIT EXPEDITES IDAHO: The Ninth Circuit panel that granted Idaho an emergency stay on Thursday granted a stay on Tuesday to remain in place until it can rule on the merits of the state’s appeal of a district court ruling that the state ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. The panel also expedited Idaho’s appeal of Judge Candy Dale’s May 13 ruling in Latta v. Otter.  Oral argument will take place the week of September 8 in San Francisco. In issuing the panel’s stay, one judge, Obama appointee Andrew Hurwitz, indicated he believes the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in SmithKline v. Abbott –that laws targeting gays require heightened scrutiny– will make it difficult for Idaho’s ban to survive. But he also said he believes the Supreme Court’s granting of a stay in the Utah case sent a “clear message” that stays should be granted on district court rulings against state bans on same-sex couples marrying.

AMBASSADOR NUMBER SIX: President Obama this month nominated an openly gay State Department fellow to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Ted Osius has 25 years of experience as a State Department officer in Asia, including years advising the ambassador to India and serving as deputy chief of the U.S. mission in Jakarta. He had a stint as political and management officer at the U.S. Embassy in Vatican City. And he is currently an associate professor at the National War College in Washington, D.C. The State Department website profiled Osius and his spouse, Clayton Bond, last June as part of its Pride Month recognition. Bond is a foreign service officer at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. Osius and Bond were married in Canada. Previously, President Obama named openly gay men as ambassadors to five other countries.

AT LEAST SIX OF EIGHT GAYS WIN RACES: Of eight openly LGBT candidates on primary ballots yesterday, six are confirmed winners, one lost, and for one the results were not yet in at midnight. In Georgia, incumbent State Rep. Simone Bell easily won her Democratic primary with 64 percent of the vote; incumbent Democratic Rep. Karla Drenner was unopposed. In Fulton County, incumbent county commissioner Joan Garner coasted to the Democratic nomination with 70 percent of the vote. But newcomer Kyle Williams fell short in his Democratic primary race for a state senate seat, taking on 34 percent of the vote compared to winner Elena Parent’s 66 percent. In Pennsylvania, Democratic incumbent Brian Sims ran unopposed. The results for newcomer Josh Young for a Pennsylvania House seat were not yet in at deadline. In Idaho, newcomer Democrat John McCrostie beat out two other candidates for the nomination to a House seat, taking 53.5 percent of the vote. And in Oregon, Rob Nosse was the top vote getter in a field of six Democratic candidates for a House seat, earning 48 percent of the vote.

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Speed Read: Oregon makes 18

A federal judge’s ruling struck down Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage Monday. A federal judge in Utah has ordered the state to recognize an estimated 1,300 marriages by same-sex couples there. And there’s an interesting race heating up for the Los Angeles County Board.

OREGON JUDGE STRIKES BAN: Oregon on Monday became the 18th state to allow same-sex couples to marry. In a 26-page ruling that shared some of his personal experience with anti-gay sentiments, U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane (an Obama appointee) struck down the state’s ban as “utterly arbitrary and completely irrational” and in violation of the equal protection and due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber and his attorney general had already made clear they intended to abide by any decision striking the ban, and McShane’s order called for his decision to go into effect immediately. One of the plaintiff couples was the first to get married, just minutes after the decision was released. See full story.

FEDERAL JUDGE SAYS UTAH MARRIAGES COUNT: U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball (Clinton appointee) granted a preliminary injunction Monday afternoon requiring that Utah recognize the marriages of an estimated 1,300 same-sex couples that took place before a U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in another district court judge’s decision in Kitchen v. Herbert, striking down the state’s ban. But Kimball, who applied heightened scrutiny in the case, Evans v. Utah, stayed his order for 21 days, to give the state time to seek an emergency stay from the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. At deadline, state officials said they were considering an appeal but had not yet made a decision. John Mejia, an attorney with the ACLU which sought the injunction, said that, while couples must still await a permanent decision, the preliminary injunction does provide same-sex couples with “the full recognition they deserve as lawfully married couples.”

GAYS IN MANY PRIMARIES TODAY: At least eight openly gay candidates are on the ballot in primaries today. Six of them are running for state House seats: Incumbents include Reps. Simone Bell and Karla Drenner of Georgia and Brian Sims of Pennsylvania; newcomers include John McCrostie in Idaho; Rob Nosse in Oregon; and Joshua Young of Pennsylvania. In Georgia, Kyle Williams is running for the state senate and Joan Garner is running for a Fulton County Commission seat.

HOT RACE FOR L.A. COUNTY BOARD: Two openly gay candidates are among eight people running for the June 3 election for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Former California Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl is considered one of the frontrunners in the contest. She was, in 1994, the first openly gay person elected to the California Assembly and later the first to serve in the state senate. She was term-limited out of the legislature. Former West Hollywood City Council member John Duran is also running. Duran has deep ties to the LGBT community, having served on the boards of numerous organizations, including Lambda Legal, Equality California, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. They are running against Bobby Shriver, the son of the late Peace Corps founder Sargent Shriver.

CAUGHT ON TAPE: Equality Florida has posted a video on its website showing Florida Republican State Rep. Charles Van Zant speaking at a right-wing conservative conference in March opposing certain education reforms proposed by the American Institutes for Research (AIR): “These people….will promote double mindedness in state education and attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.” Politifact.com, a fact-checking feature of the Miami Herald, says AIR “only provides materials on gay and lesbian issues to schools and organizations that request it….And the group does not promote the issues.”

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Speed Read: Big news in Oregon today

A federal judge will release his opinion at noon PDT today on the constitutionality of Oregon’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Arkansas marriages are off again as the state supreme court grants a stay. And a show of solidarity with a female student who wanted to wear a tuxedo for her senior portrait may have moved officials of a Catholic high school in San Francisco to reverse their plan to pull the photo from the yearbook.

 

OREGON DECISION AT NOON TODAY: U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane of Oregon said Friday he would issue his decision at noon PDT today in litigation challenging the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Unless McShane puts a stay on his own decision, a ruling against the ban would likely go into effect immediately.  Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber supports the right of same-sex couples to marry, and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum refused to defend the ban in court, saying it was unconstitutional. Officials in several counties have already indicated they are prepared to issue licenses as soon as such a decision is announced.

ARKANSAS ROLLER COASTER: Arkansas county circuit court Judge Chris Piazza issued an amended and final decision May 15 to make clear he intended to include, in his original May 9 ruling striking down two laws banning same-sex couples from marrying, a third law that prohibits county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The next day, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a one-sentence order, granting the state’s request for a stay on Piazza’s decision pending the state’s appeal before the state high court. And then, the Republican speaker of the Arkansas House voted against suspension of House rules to allow for a vote on a resolution to urge the state supreme court to overturn Piazza’s ruling. The Arkansas Times reported that House Speaker Davy Carter voted against suspending the rules to allow the resolution on the floor, saying “Judicial intimidation by the legislative branch is not appropriate in this instance or any other.”

MAYOR SAYS BULLIED KIDS SHOULD ‘GROW A PAIR’: Porterville, California, is not an LGBT friendly place. Its city council last fall ousted a mayor who had declared June LGBT Pride Month and, in 2008, it supported Proposition 8. But it still startled some observers last week when the new mayor, Cameron Hamilton, said kids who are bullied should take care of the problem themselves. “I’m against bullying, but I’m getting damn tired of it being used as a mantra for everything….All most people have to do is grow a pair and stick up for them damn selves,” said Hamilton, recorded by ABC News. The former mayor, Virginia Gurrola, said “It’s hard to stand up and grow a pair when you’re a ten-year-old little girl.” The proposal before the council was a resolution by Gurrola to create “safe zones” for kids during after school hours. Gay Porterville spokeswoman Melissa McMurrey said she was “shocked” by Hamilton’s remarks. The council will take up the resolution Tuesday, May 20.

PRESIDENT SPEAKS AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA: The White House issued a press release Friday, saying “no one should face violence or discrimination — no matter who they are or whom they love.” The statement was released to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which was Saturday. The president’s statement also noted that next month marks the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

CATHOLIC STUDENTS RALLY BEHIND TUX: Students at a Catholic high school in San Francisco wore ties to school Friday to express their support of a female student who wore a tuxedo for her senior portrait. Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory requires female students to wear dresses for their senior portraits and took Jessica Urbina’s photo out of the yearbook. But school officials told the San Francisco Chronicle Friday that the tie-day action “sparked a campus-wide dialogue which will result in a revision of policy.”

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Speed Read: Ninth Circuit stays Idaho

The Ninth Circuit has temporarily stopped same-sex couples from marrying in Idaho when a federal judge’s ruling is due to go into effect today. The St. Louis Rams head coach has taken pro-active measures to ensure a smooth transition for Michael Sam as he joins the team as the NFL’s first openly gay player.

NINTH CIRCUIT STAYS IDAHO: A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Thursday issued a temporary stay preventing Chief Magistrate Judge Candy Dale’s order striking Idaho’s ban on same-sex couples marrying from taking effect today. The stay will remain in place until the panel decides whether the state has state has met the requirements for a permanent stay while Judge Dale’s decision is on appeal to the Ninth. The state’s opening brief on appeal is due August 22. The National Center for Lesbian Rights then has until September 22 to file a response. The panel includes Reagan appointee Edward Leavy, George W. Bush appointee Consuelo Callahan, and Obama appointee Andrew Hurwitz.

MARYLAND TRANS BILL SIGNED INTO LAW: Democratic Governor and potential presidential candidate Martin O’Malley signed a bill Thursday that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other areas. A press release from the governor’s office quoted Lt. Governor Anthony Brown as saying the bill is a “critical step forward in protecting all Marylanders from discrimination.” The law will go into effect October 1. Maryland will become the 17th and the District of Columbia to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

BATHROOM COMPROMISE IN HOUSTON: The Houston City Council postponed its scheduled vote on Mayor Annise Parker’s proposed equal rights ordinance Wednesday. According to local television news reports, Parker told reporters she had the votes to pass a version of the bill that removed language ensuring that transgender people could use public restrooms based on their gender identity, but she wanted to give the public more time to understand the legislation and comment. Some church groups say they are still opposed to the bill. A vote is expected May 28.

TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF MARRIAGE: Saturday, May 17, marks the tenth anniversary of same-sex couples being able to legally marry in the United States. It was 2004 when Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses, in response to a November 2003 decision of the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. It was another four years before the second state –Connecticut—did so, in response to a state supreme court decision, followed a year later by Iowa, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. New Hampshire was the fifth state, in 2010, and New York the sixth, in 2011. Then, in 2012, voters in Maryland, Maine, and Washington state approved marriage equality measures. Eight more states joined the list in 2013 –five of them through action by the state legislatures—and a federal court ruling in Utah striking that state’s ban down is on appeal. So far in 2014, 11 states (all but one through federal court ruling) have had their bans struck and are on appeal.

OFT QUOTED LINE OF HISTORY: Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the LGBT legal group that won the historic state supreme court decision in Massachusetts which led the state to become the first to allow same-sex couples to marry, highlights this line from that famous decision, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health: “The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens.”

WELCOMING MICHAEL SAM: Wade Davis, head of a group for LGBT athletes, told Associated Press he was invited by St. Louis Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher to help the team prepare to welcome the NFL’s first openly gay football player, Michael Sam.

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Speed Read: Idaho poised for Friday

A federal judge in Oregon is expected to rule any day now on that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. And a federal judge In Idaho refused to grant a stay of her decision striking that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

JUDGE SAYS NO TO NOM: U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane yesterday denied the National Organization for Marriage motion to serve as intervenor to defend Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage. McShane, who is openly gay, held a hearing on two consolidated lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the ban. Because the state attorney general said her office could not vouch for the ban’s constitutionality, no one argued in its defense. McShane is expected to issue his decision on that issue soon and, if he finds it unconstitutional, same-sex couples may be able to obtain marriage licenses right away. NOM has said it will appeal McShane’s ruling on the intervenor motion to the Ninth Circuit.

IDAHO RUSHES TO APPEAL FOR STAY: Idaho Governor Butch Otter is also on his way to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Otter is appealing the decision Wednesday by Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale to deny his request that she stay her decision striking the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Dale’s ruling on the ban, issued Tuesday, will go into effect Friday morning unless Otter is able to secure a stay from the federal appeals court.

ARKANSAS COMPLICATIONS: The Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition from the state’s attorney general for an emergency stay of a county circuit judge’s May 9 ruling that two state laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The high court said that, for procedural reasons, the supreme court does not yet have jurisdiction. Responding to the attorney general’s argument that county clerks around the state are uncertain as to whether they should issues licenses or wait for the results of an appeal, the supreme court noted that Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling said nothing about a separate Arkansas law “and its prohibitions against circuit and county clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses.” Jack Wagoner, an attorney for the 12 plaintiff couples, told the Arkansas Times he’d be in court today to “fix” the problem. “How can you find something unconstitutional,” said Wagoner, “but not affect a statute that would require the clerks to do something unconstitutional?”

ANOTHER VOICE ON ENDA FRAILTY: Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center Executive Director Lorri Jean, speaking to “An Evening with Women” event on Saturday, had this to say about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act: “Religious freedom does not include the freedom to oppress other people. These kinds of fundamentalist forces are behind efforts to gut what laws we do have in this country that protect LGBT people from discrimination….Even our own Employment Non-Discrimination Act—the only federal law currently being proposed to protect LGBT people—includes a broad religious exemption. It was put into ENDA eight years ago, expressly to weaken it. It does not belong there today.” Former NGLTF Executive Director Matt Foreman said Monday he thinks LGBT leaders should “pull the plug” on the current version of ENDA, saying it is “essentially a lifeless corpse.”

SOUTH CAROLINA SENATE RESTORES FUNDS: The South Carolina Senate on Wednesday approved a state budget Tuesday that restores the $70,000 cut from the funding for two public universities over their use of books with positive depictions of gay people. But according to the State newspaper, the senate stipulated that the restored funds should be used to teach the constitution and other founding documents.

A DAY TO GIVE “OUT” TO LGBT COMMUNITY: Today is “Give Out Day,” an event scheduled to encourage supporters of LGBT organizations to donate to them. Last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the event raised over $600,000, from 5,474 individuals in support of over 400 nonprofits groups across the country.

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Speed Read: Slugfest in Fourth Circuit

The Fourth Circuit vote on Virginia’s ban of same-sex marriage will almost certainly be 2 to 1, given Tuesday’s combative oral argument. A federal judge in Idaho struck down that state’s ban on Tuesday and ordered the state to start issuing licenses Friday. Former NGLTF leader says “pull the plug” on ENDA.

FOURTH CIRCUIT SLUGFEST: Oral arguments Tuesday before the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals over Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage suggest the vote will almost certainly be 2 to 1 vote. The only question is which way it will go. Sharp comments and fierce questioning by two of the three judges left little room for doubt on how their votes will split. Republican appointee Paul Niemeyer, 73, said allowing gays to marry could set the stage for a man to marry “six wives or his daughter.” He suggested same-sex couples could have a “parallel” type relationship “with less attributes.” Democratic appointee Judge Roger Gregory, 62, derided arguments by attorneys who said marriage laws are for heterosexual couples to “protect the children.” Gregory said that sounded like a “totalitarian system where people are baby makers and you get married for the interest of the state.” Full story tomorrow.

THE ‘SLOW’ MARCH IN IDAHO: Just eight days after hearing arguments, a U.S. magistrate judge on Tuesday struck down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage and ordered the state begin issuing licenses Friday. Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale’s 57-page memorandum order in Latta v. Otter, a case brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, says the ban on same-sex couple marrying violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees to equal protection and due process.  “Slow as the march toward equality may seem, it is never in vain,” wrote Dale, who said the state offered “no evidence that same-sex marriage would adversely affect opposite-sex marriages or the well-being of children.” The ruling made Idaho the 11th state this year to see its ban on same-sex marriage struck down. All are under appeal. In anticipation of Dale’s decision, Idaho’s Republican Governor Butch Otter filed a motion requesting a stay pending appeal.

SPEAKING OF THE ‘SLOW’ MARCH: It was 40 years ago today that U.S. Reps. Bella Abzug and Ed Koch (D-NY) introduced the “Equality Act of 1974,” the first version of what is now the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The Equality Act was a much broader piece of legislation, seeking to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Over the years, the bill was trimmed and rewritten. Today’s version seeks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity but only in employment with businesses of 15 employees or more and with exemptions for religious organizations. The bill passed the Senate last November for the first time in its 40-year history; but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has vowed it will not get a vote in the House under his leadership.

PULL THE PLUG ON ENDA? Former National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman urged LGBT leaders to “pull the plug” on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), saying it is an “essentially lifeless corpse.”

COUPLES SUE IN ALASKA: Five same-sex couples filed suit in federal court Monday to challenge Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage. That now leaves only three states with bans that have not yet been challenged in court: North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.

LAMBDA AT ALASKA SUPREME COURT: Lambda Legal argued a case before the Alaska Supreme Court Tuesday that could strike down that state’s ban on same-sex marriages. In Harris v. Millennium Hotel, Lambda argued that the state law barring same-sex couples the right to marry prevented Deborah Harris from qualifying for a survivors’ benefit paid through the state’s Workers Compensation Act to spouses of employees killed at work. Harris and Kerry Fadely were in a relationship for 10 years before Fadely was shot to death at work by a recently fired employee.

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Speed Read: ‘THE big moment’?

A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will this morning take up a challenge to Virginia’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Clay Aiken’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination in the race for the U.S. House died on Monday from injuries sustained in a fall, according to family members

AT THE FOURTH CIRCUIT THIS MORNING: One of the fastest moving cases among the 60 or so lawsuits challenging state bans on same-sex couples marrying is the Bostic v. Schaefer case from Virginia. This morning, that case will be argued before a panel of one of the nation’s most conservative federal appeals courts, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Virginia. The identity of the three-judge panel is to be released this morning. The argument begins at 9:30 and Equality Virginia says it expects to have more than 100 people at a rally outside. The Fourth Circuit says an audio recording of proceedings will be available on its website by 2 this afternoon.

CLAY AIKEN CHALLENGER DIES: Businessman Keith Crisco, who was fewer than 400 votes behind openly gay candidate Clay Aiken in the Democratic primary race for North Carolina’s Second Congressional District, died Monday. The News and Observer reported the Crisco family as saying the 71-year-old succumbed from injuries he sustained in a fall at home around midday. He reportedly planned to concede the primary to Aiken on Tuesday. Aiken issued a statement calling Crisco “a gentleman, a good and honorable man, and an extraordinary public servant.” Aiken will now face incumbent Tea Party Republican U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers in November.

HUCKABEE IMPLORES IMPEACHMENT: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee called on current Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat who opposes same-sex marriage, to call a special session of the Arkansas legislature to impeach county circuit Judge Chris Piazza. Huckabee, according to The Hill newspaper, said Piazza usurped the authority of the legislature and the voters when he declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. The state attorney general filed a motion with the state supreme court Monday morning, seeking a stay of Piazza’s decision; at deadline, the state high court had yet to respond. Only five out of Arkansas’ 75 counties have issued licenses to same-sex couples.

HAGEL OPEN TO DOD TRANS REVIEW: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on ABC’s This Week program Sunday that he is open to having DOD review its policy banning transgender people from the military, but that it’s a “bit more complicated” than gays because of special medical needs. He made his comment in response to a question from reporter Martha Raddatz, adding “every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it.”

ANALYZING THE KISS: There was a lot of air time given Monday to talk about a widely seen video of openly gay football player Michael Sam getting the news Saturday that he had just been drafted by the St. Louis Rams and was becoming the first openly gay professional football player. The video shows Sam getting off the phone in tears and turning to his boyfriend Vito Cammisano who gives him a quick kiss on the lips and then they hug for a long time as Sam is clearly overcome with emotion. After viewing the video, a Miami Dolphins player tweeted “OMG” and “Horrible;” but his team general manager quickly released a statement, saying he was “disappointed” in the post and would “handle” the matter. MSNBC political commentator Chuck Todd had this perspective: “That could be the most significant cultural moment in hindsight. We may look back on that moment being sort of THE big moment when same-sex marriage and same-sex relationships as far as pop culture was concerned went mainstream. … That was as significant as a state legalizing, as being the first state to legalize same-sex marriage.”

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Speed Read: A beacon from Arkansas

ARKANSAS GOES DOWN: A county circuit court judge in Arkansas on Friday ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and does not “advance any conceivable legitimate state interest necessary to support even a rational basis review.” Wright v. Arkansas was filed on behalf of 20 same-sex couples –some who sought to marry in Arkansas and some who sought to have their out-of-state marriages recognized there. Judge Chris Piazza noted that the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s law prohibiting private consensual sodomy one hear before the U.S. Supreme Court did so. And, he concluded, “It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples. It is time to let that beacon of freedom shine brighter on all our brothers and sisters. We will be stronger for it.”

FIRST MARRIAGES IN ARKANSAS: Because Judge Chris Piazza did not put a stay on his May 9 decision, same-sex couples began applying Saturday morning for marriage licenses. The first was granted in Eureka Springs to a young lesbian couple. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported couples from as far away as Texas and Oklahoma drove to Eureka to get married. It estimated 100 people were lined up when the office opened at 9 Saturday morning. The state’s attorney general, although he has said he supports the right of same-sex couples to marry, has indicated he will defend the laws on appeal and ask for a stay.

SCORECARD ON VICTORIES: Not counting Arkansas yet, there are currently 17 states and the District of Columbia with laws that provide for marriage equality. Another nine states have had courts strike down their laws banning same-sex marriage. Eight of the nine are on appeal before federal appeals courts. Only cases for two states have been argued at the appeals level –both before the Tenth Circuit. Tomorrow, a case from Virginia will be argued before the Fourth Circuit. A case from a 10th state, Hawaii, is still pending before the Ninth Circuit which has asked for briefs by early June on why the case should not be considered moot. Hawaii’s legislature passed a bill last year, eliminating its ban on same-sex marriages.

OHIO APPEALS AS EXPECTED: The Ohio attorney general filed a notice of appeal Friday with the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, asking the court to overturn a district court decision that ordered Ohio to recognize marriage licenses for same-sex couples from other states.

DIFFERENTLY SITUATED: The Kentucky governor filed a brief May 7, asking the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a district court’s ruling that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. In the brief for in Bourke v. Beshear, Kentucky argues that same-sex couples who want to marry are not “similarly situated” as man-woman couples who want to marry, but are “materially different.”

ST. LOUIS DRAFTS MICHAEL SAM: Openly gay college football star Michael Sam became the first openly gay pro football player Saturday when the St. Louis Rams chose him in the last round of picks. Sam chose to come out at one of the most vulnerable times in his career –just as he was finishing up his stint at the University of Missouri and just before the National Football League’s annual draft. NBC News noted that, by staying in Missouri, Sam’s new team “ensured that he’ll be in front of a supportive fan base.”

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Speed Read: ‘Tangible and intangible’

The Senate Judiciary Committee quietly advanced the nomination of openly gay African American judge Darrin Gayes Thursday. A federal judge in Indiana gave some relief from the ban on same-sex marriage to a lesbian couple in Indiana. Openly gay Congressional candidate Clay Aiken may have to face a run-off in this Democratic primary.

NOMINEE ADVANCES OUT OF COMMITTEE: The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, by voice vote, recommended the confirmation of openly gay federal district court nominee Darrin Gayles. A vote on the nomination had been scheduled for last week, but Republicans on the committee held over the vote on Gayles’ nomination and that of three others to the district court in southern Florida. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted Thursday that both senators from Florida have given their consent to advancing all four nominees. The nomination of a previous openly gay African American man to the federal bench in Miami was killed when Senator Marco Rubio raised objections. If cleared by the full Senate, Gayles will be the first openly gay African American male to be confirmed to a federal bench seat.

INDIANA PRELIMINARY VICTORY: A federal district court judge ruled Thursday that Indiana’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages harms a same-sex couple “in numerous tangible and intangible ways.” In doing so, Judge Richard Young ordered the state to recognize the marriage license obtained out of state by Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler to protect Sandler’s rights to care Quasney, who is near death from ovarian cancer. The order also requires Indiana, upon Quasney’s death, to list Sandler as her spouse on the death certificate. Young ruled that he doubts Indiana’s ban “will suffer a different fate than those around the country,” where other federal district courts have consistently found them unconstitutional. Last month, Judge Young granted a temporary restraining order requiring Indiana to recognize the Quasney-Sandler marriage license obtained in Massachusetts. Lambda Legal brought the case, Baskin v. Bogan, on behalf of several couples and the court must still consider the merits of the overall challenge to the state’s ban. Lambda staff attorney Paul Castillo, said that, “while this family is experiencing urgent, life-threatening medical circumstances, they’re just one of the thousands of same-sex couples in Indiana enduring real financial and dignitary harm due to the State’s discriminatory marriage ban. Our work in Indiana is not done.  All same-sex couples in Indiana need the security only marriage provides.”

DEM POLL SHOWS MICHAUD BACK IN LEAD: Democracy for America, a group founded by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, announced Thursday that its poll of 754 Maine voters finds openly gay U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud four points ahead of incumbent Republican Governor Paul LePage. Asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 43 percent said Michaud, 39 percent said LePage, 15 percent said independent candidate Eliot Cutler, and three percent were undecided. Michaud and LePage have been running very close in polls in the past month. A Republican-leaning polling firm, Rasmussen Reports, called the race a tie based on data it gathered between April 23 and 25 from 830 “likely voters.” A Huffington Post analysis of 10 polls (but not the Democracy for America data) estimated Michaud at 40.6 percent, LePage at 37.9 percent, Cutler at 15.9 percent.

AIKEN MAY FACE RUN-OFF: There are 276 uncounted ballots in openly gay U.S. House candidate Clay Aiken’s Democratic primary race against two competitors in North Carolina’s Congressional District 2. That doesn’t give second-place candidate Keith Crisco a chance to catch up to Aiken, who has a 369-vote lead. But it could give him enough to drop Aiken’s vote tally below the 40 percent margin needed to avoid a run-off. And the Raleigh News-Observer reported Thursday that business Keith Crisco has not conceded the race and that, if a run-off is necessary, it will take place in July.

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Speed Read: 53% in work closet

A Human Rights Campaign study found that 53 percent of LGBT people hide their sexual orientation from almost everybody at work. Lesbian gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur held her own Wednesday night in the first Democratic primary debate for Maryland.

53 PERCENT CLOSETED ON THE JOB: A report released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign’s educational arm says that 53 percent of LGBT people keep their sexual orientation secret at their places of employment. According to the report, only 17 states and Washington, D.C., have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Another four states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation only. The report, “The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion,” surveyed 800 LGBT workers and 879 non-LGBT workers.

AIKEN VICTORY STILL PENDING: North Carolina election officials will review the outcome of the Congressional District 2 Democratic primary race on May 15, after they’ve had a chance to tally in absentee and challenged ballots. As of Wednesday afternoon, openly gay candidate Clay Aiken, of American Idol fame, held just over 40 percent of the vote with a 369-vote lead over businessman Keith Crisco.

MIZEUR HANDLES FIRST DEBATE: Openly lesbian Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur stayed above the fray and focused like a laser on the need to increase the minimum wage and the virtues of legalizing marijuana. Mizeur, a delegate in the state House, was participating Wednesday night in the first debate in the three-way race for the Democratic nomination June 24. Mizeur ranks behind both Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler in polls. But a transcript of the debate published by the Washington Post, indicates Mizeur managed a solid performance.

MARIJUANA FOR CHILDREN? At one point during Wednesday night’s debate, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur was questioned about her support for legalizing marijuana. She noted, among other things, that legalization could provide tax revenue to pay for a universal pre-Kindergarten. Mizeur then added that it would send “an important message about the fact that this is a substance that is arguably less harmful to the body than alcohol and tobacco.” That awkward juxtaposition of pre-Kindergarten and marijuana being “arguably less harmful” apparently prompted this question from moderator David Gregory of Meet the Press: “Are you comfortable saying to the children of this state, ‘marijuana’s okay’?” “We’re not saying that to the children of this state,” replied Mizeur, noting that, in fact, her plan calls for spending $4 million a year to make sure children know marijuana is a “a very dangerous substance for a developing mind.”

REPORT URGES DOJ ACTION: A report Wednesday from a coalition of groups working on fair treatment of people by the criminal justice system recommends the U.S. Department of Justice amend its guidelines to stop profiling of LGBT people and people with HIV by federal law enforcement agents. The “Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People with HIV,” was developed by former NGLTF Executive Director Urvashi Vaid and former AIDS Project Director at Lambda Legal Catherine Hanssens and others. DOJ announced in January it would revise its rules for federal agents to prohibit the use of sexual orientation and other characteristics to prompt investigations. In April, Attorney General Eric Holder said the department would begin to collect data on people stopped or arrested to “reduce” the possible effects of bias. But he did not make specific mention of LGBT bias. In a preface to the coalition report, former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous notes that New York City police have used “stop and frisk” practices against LGBT people. Another of the Roadmap’s authors, Andrea Ritchie, co-coordinator of the LGBT group Streetwise and Safe, said the coalition members have spoken with DOJ about some of their recommendations and look forward to conversations in the future.

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