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Friday Speed Read: Montana, Gallup on Marriage, Scott Peters, Pocatello, Porterville

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

Ben_ChaseLAWSUIT 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 and South Dakotas) 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’:

GallupA 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.”

PetersDRAWING ENDA AS THE 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: Hamilton

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 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.’”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Ninth Circuit Grants Stay of Idaho Marriage Ruling, Expedites Appeal

NinthcircuitBY LISA KEEN

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.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Wednesday Speed Read: Pennsylvania, Vietnam, Ted Osius, Primary Results

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

PENNSYLVANIA MARRIAGES: Jones

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.

OsiusAMBASSADOR 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: Sims

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.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Idaho Chapel Would Rather Shut Down Than Marry Gay Couples

A popular wedding chapel in Idaho says that, should marriage equality arrive in that state, it would rather shut its doors for good than marry gay couples. The Hitching Post, located in Coeur d'Alene, has been in business for close to 100 years. The chapel's owner, Donald Knapp, made the statement just days after a federal judge struck down that state's ban of same-sex marriage. A temporary stay by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, requested by Governor Butch Otter, has put those marriages on hold for now.

Pic4-300x225Knapp explained his bigoted reasoning to KXLY-TV. 

"I think the bible is pretty clear that homosexuality is not his way, and therefore I cannot unite people in a way that I believe would conflict with what the bible teaches," Hitching Post owner Donald Knapp said.

"I don't hate those people. I don't think anybody should ever be abusive or mistreat them or anything like that, but I cannot in clear conscience unite such a couple," Knapp said.

The owners of the Hitching Post say they will honor their commitments through the end of the year, but if the ban is lifted they will walk away. If it comes to that they will look into selling the wedding chapel and, if the new owners are willing to host same-sex marriages, they will respect their decision.

The Spokesman-Review points out that, legally, The Hitching Post would not be able to turn away same-sex couples.

Wedding venues that turn away gay couples may violate local laws, such as Coeur d’Alene’s prohibition on discrimination based on sexual orientation. The provision adopted by the City Council last year applies to housing, employment and places of public accommodation, including businesses that render public services.

Take a 30-second video tour of The Hitching Post, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "Idaho Chapel Would Rather Shut Down Than Marry Gay Couples" »


Idaho Gubernatorial Candidate Is A Biker In Favor Of Gay Marriage: VIDEO

Harley Brown

Harley Brown is one of the most colorful contenders for Idaho governor, both in personality and appearance. The Republican biker showed up to the debates last Wednesday in leather gear and a crass attitude that was so over the top it was more entertaining than insulting.

Despite frequent use of slurs and blue language (which appeared to stem from ignorance rather than hate, but still necessitated that the debate be on a 30 second delay), Brown shattered some misconceptions by coming out as very pro-gay and pro-gay marriage. When speaking about the striking down of Idaho's gay marriage ban, Brown said:

I've picked up my fair share of the gay community [as a cab driver in Boise] and they have true love for one another. I'm telling you, they love each other more than I love my motorcycle.  You know, they're just as American as a Medal of Honor winner...I'm glad that judge made that decision...I know I'm not really talking like a Republican.

This stood in remarkable contrast to both Russ Fulcher's "support of Idahoans" and desire to challenge the judicial decision, and candidate and cartoon curmudgeon Walt Bayes immediately launching into scripture from Leviticus.

You can watch the full hour-long debate as well as a supercut of the best clips AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Idaho Gubernatorial Candidate Is A Biker In Favor Of Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Friday Speed Read: Idaho, Maryland, Marriage Anniversary, Houston, Michael Sam

DaleNINTH 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.

OmalleyMARYLAND 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.

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.

ParkerBATHROOM 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.

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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