The Illinois Senate Executive Committee has advanced a marriage equality bill to the floor:
Moments ago, the Senate Executive Committee passed the SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Act, out of committee on a vote of 9 to 5. Senate President John Cullerton, a leading supporter of the legislation, has announced he will call the floor vote on February 14.
Said Rick Garcia, Director of the Equal Marriage Illinois Project and Senior Policy Advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda, the leading and largest Illinois Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization: "We are all very excited to see this bill move forward. We are looking forward to a full vote in the Senate and we expect it to pass. It should be a very welcome Valentine's Day gift for the thousands of couples and families that are anxiously awaiting the passage of this bill. The momentum continues to build in Illinois."
Jim Bennett, Midwest Regional Director of Lambda Legal, released a statement:
"The day when loving, committed same-sex couples in Illinois can marry feels imminent, and Lambda Legal is energized by this vote. Our state is ready to become the tenth state where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry, and we urge people across the state to call their senators and urge them to vote in favor of the bill when it comes to a vote as early as next week. It's just time."
Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and Equality Illnois have formed the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition.
MTV News reports that the Frank Ocean and Chris Brown assault case is closed:
Odd Future crooner Ocean spoke to cops earlier and told officials he was "desirous of prosecution in this incident,"
but on Saturday he announced on his Tumblr account
that he was choosing "sanity. No Criminal Charges. No civil lawsuit."
Whitmore said his office just needs to confirm with Ocean that his Tumblr statement is accurate and then they will close the books on the case. Sheriff's officials had spoken to Ocean and were in the process of interviewing witnesses, but they had not yet chatted with Brown, who might have faced misdemeanor battery charges in the case, which Whitmore said amounts to "unwanted touching."
"All investigations are important and we were going to talk to witnesses and Chris Brown, but now that's not necessary," he said.
Brown, who sources told TMZ was not involved in the fight, was seen sporting a hard cast on his hand last week, with no explanation given for his injury. Ocean, meanwhile, tweeted that he'd suffered a cut finger in the incident, which he said might hamper his performance at the Grammys on Sunday.
Details of the police report are emerging, however. Ocean said he was called a "faggot" bye someone during the assault.
Ocean told police Brown tried to shake his hand, but Ocean refused, telling Brown he was in his parking spot. Ocean claimed that's when Brown punched him in the face. According to the report, Ocean said two of Brown's goons then jumped in to help Brown ... pushed him into a corner and attempted to kick him.
Ocean -- who revealed last year that he'd once had a romantic relationship with a man -- also said he believes he heard someone yell "f**got!" but he's unsure who made the statement.
Cops also say Ocean told them that Brown threatened to shoot him, saying, "We can bust on you too!" Ocean told police the whole fight lasted about two or three minutes.
I've just been sent this preview shot of Mario Lopez disrobing for a 'streak' on Extra tonight. I assume it's related to the Super Bowl given his attire. I'm also assuming that given his propensity for stripping down and showing off he doesn't really mind that he lost the bet.
The Pentagon is set to announce it is extending new benefits to the spouses of gay and lesbian personnel, the Washington Post reports:
Officials at the Pentagon would not say which new benefits the department has determined it can extend to same-sex couples without violating the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that bars the federal government from legally recognizing same-sex unions. Gay rights advocates have called for benefits including housing privileges, access to base recreational facilities and joint duty assignments for couples in the military.
Legal experts say, however, that the Pentagon will be unable to extend more than 100 benefits while the Defense of Marriage Act remains in place.
The new guidelines will be departing Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta’s final imprint on the armed forces.
George Kalogridis, who started bussing tables at Walt Disney World in August 1971, this week rose to the position of president, becoming Central Florida's most powerful gay man, Watermark reports:
According to his official Walt Disney World bio, Kalogridis, 59, has been with the company for 41 years. He comes to his new role in Lake Buena Vista from Disneyland Resort, where he has served as president since 2009. Kalogridis’ job titles also include CEO for Disney Resort Paris, vice president of Travel Operations at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and vice president of Epcot.
Kalogridis is a sociology graduate from UCF and was born in Winter Haven. According to the Orlando Sentinel, he and his partner, Andy Hardy, have been together for 12 years. The couple plans to build a home in Golden Oak, a subdivision being developed by Disney World on the northeast corner of the resort’s property. Hardy is a finance manager with Walt Disney Parks & Resorts global entertainment, according to the Orange County (CA) Business Journal.
The British House of Commons has just voted 400 -175 to approve marriage equality on a second reading of the bill.
Related votes are continuing LIVE here (budget, etc)...
Labour Party leader Ed Milliband released a statement:
This is a proud day and an important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain. The overwhelming majority of Labour MPs supported this change to make sure marriage reflects the value we place on long-term, loving relationships whoever you love. Equal marriage builds on Labour’s successes in government which include the repeal of Section 28, equalising the age of consent, the introduction of civil partnerships and changes to the rules governing adoption.
Guardian live blog here.
MPs have voted by a majority of 225 in favour of the new Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. The Bill will extend the legal form of marriage to lesbian, gay and bisexual people and permit religious denominations to celebrate such marriages should they wish.
Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said: ‘As the last piece of the legislative jigsaw providing equality for gay people in Britain, this is a truly historic step forward. We’re absolutely delighted that MPs have demonstrated so overwhelmingly that they’re in touch with the twenty-first century.
‘We anticipate, as always, a tough battle in the House of Lords. Happily, the size of the Commons majority seen tonight – much larger than for most normal Government business – will make it very difficult for peers to suggest that the Bill should be rejected.
‘Most people in Britain support equal marriage and will be delighted that we’re now a step closer to it. We’re grateful to the thousands of Stonewall supporters, many of them straight, who played a big part by contacting their MPs in support.'
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will now go into Commons Committee Stage and is likely to progress to the House of Lords after the Queen’s Speech, expected in early May.