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Rachel Maddow Looks at the Weird, Weird Week in Gay Rights: VIDEO

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Rachel Maddow takes a look at a bizarre backward/forward week in gay rights: Louisiana's insistence on retaining its anti-gay, unconstitutional sodomy law, contrasted with the Prop 8 defense attorney Charles Cooper's announcement that he is planning his gay daughter's wedding!

Truths Maddow:

"Sometimes the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. But you know what? Sometimes the arc of the moral universe runs around like a chicken with its head cut off."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Wednesday Speed Read: Ohio, India, Cleveland Gay Games, Scott Hines, Louisiana

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

T_blackOHIO STAY NEWS TODAY:

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black is expected to announce today whether he will grant a stay of his April 14 ruling that Ohio’s ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. Briefs from both sides of the Henry v. Wymyslo lawsuit were due Tuesday afternoon.

OHIO BALLOT MEASURE CLEARS HURDLE:

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Monday that he has certified as “fair and truthful” a summary of a proposed ballot measure seeking to treat same-sex marriages the same as heterosexual marriages in the state. The certification is just one of several hurdles FreedomOhio, a pro-gay group, must clear to  put a question on the ballot in November. The proposed language states that marriage “shall be a union of two consenting adults not nearer in kin than second cousins…and no religious house of worship or the religious house of worship’s clergy shall be required to perform a marriage. All legally valid marriages shall be treated equally under the law.”

INDIA RECOGNIZES ‘THIRD GENDER’:

IndiaThe Supreme Court of India ruled Tuesday, “It is the right of every human being to choose their gender” and that people of a “third gender” should be given the rights of citizens. The decision in National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India was written and approved by two different justices than the ones who, in December, upheld the country’s laws against same-sex sexual relations. But this latest opinion concluded, “We, therefore, conclude that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity includes any discrimination, exclusion, restriction or preference, which has the effect of nullifying or transposing equality by the law or the equal protection of laws guaranteed under our Constitution, and hence we are inclined to give various directions to safeguard the constitutional rights of the members of the [transgender] community.”

MUSLIM CABBIES BALK AT ADS:

GaygamesSome taxi drivers in Cleveland are asking that they not be assigned to drive airport cabs that are displaying roof-top advertisements for this summer’s Gay Games. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Tuesday that “some” drivers that work with taxi fleets at the airport object to the ads, saying they violate their Muslim religious beliefs. The cab companies are working with the airport and cab stand operator to replace the drivers in that fleet.

INCUMBENT LOSS IN CALIFORNIA:

MailerRancho Mirage City Council incumbent Scott Hines lost his bid for re-election April 8. Hines won only 17 percent of the nearly 12,000 votes cast. An openly gay candidate serving his first term on the council, Hines was the target of a hostile mailer during the campaign. Someone distributed to voters a postcard with a photo of Hines, the word “Fags,” and a message to “Send Hines Packing Back to Palm Springs, where he belongs.” But the Desert Sun newspaper suggested other factors in Hines’ loss may have been his youth (“in a city where retirees predominate”) and “questions about conflicts of interest.”

LOUISIANA CLINGS TO PAST:

The Louisiana House rejected a bill Tuesday that sought to remove from the state code a law prohibiting sexual relations between people of the same sex. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state sodomy laws in 2003, with its ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. Louisiana can’t enforce its sodomy ban against consensual adults in private, but the House voted 27 to 67 to keep the on the “books.” According to the Times-Picayune, a group called the Louisiana Family Forum sent a letter to legislators saying the “anti-sodomy statute is consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy and immoral."

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Louisiana Votes to Keep Unconstitutional Law Criminalizing Sodomy

The Louisiana House voted 66-27 to reject a bill that would have repealed the state's unconstitutional law criminalizing sodomy, the Times-Picayune reports:

SmithA House Committee passed the legislation onto the body's floor by a vote of 9-6 last week. But one of the state's most powerful lobbying groups, the conservative Christian Louisiana Family Forum, opposes striking the sodomy ban.

The law remaining on the books came under national scrutiny last summer when East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriffs' Deputies used the statute to arrest men who agreed to have sex with undercover male law enforcement officers.  The District Attorney declined to prosecute the men, and the sheriff, Sid Gautreaux, under intense criticism, later apologized for the arrests.

Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith, a Democrat who represents Baton Rouge, said she brought the bill, in part, because of those arrests, which drew negative national attention to her community.

The Supreme Court invalidated all anti-sodomy laws with its Lawrence v. Texas decision in 2003 but 17 states have still not formally repealed or revised their laws.


'Family Values' GOP Rep. Vance McAllister Apologizes After Getting Caught Kissing Staffer: VIDEO

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Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA) is apologizing after surveillance video emerged showing him passionately kissing Melissa Hixon Peacock, a married staffer.

McallisterSaid McAllister in the statement:

"There's no doubt I've fallen short and I'm asking for forgiveness. I'm asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether you're a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I've disappointed. From day one, I've always tried to be an honest man. I ran for Congress to make a difference and not to just be another politician. I don't want to make a political statement on this. I would just simply like to say that I'm very sorry for what I've done. While I realize I serve the public, I would appreciate the privacy given to my children as we get through this."

The Times Picayune reports:

McAllister ran on a strong family values platform in the November special election that won him the seat of outgoing U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman. His victory over state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, was a surprise for many, as the latter was endorsed by many in the national and state Republican parties.

The Washington Post adds:

The freshman congressman, who has gone to great lengths to solidify his social conservative credentials, is perhaps best known for inviting a member of the politically-controversial television show "Duck Dynasty" as his guest to the State Of the Union address.

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Louisiana AG Hires Outside Counsel To Help Fight Challenges To State’s Gay Marriage Ban

Earlier this week Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (pictured right) announced that the Bayou State would enlist outside counsel for the sole purpose of helping to defend that state’s ban on same-sex marriage, according to The Times Picayune.

CaldwellCaldwell tapped former Louisiana solicitor general Kyle Duncan to take on the role. Duncan recently worked as general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The announcement from Caldwell’s office directly responded to comments made by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that state attorneys general could choose not to defend their constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, as seven attorneys general have already chosen not to do:

"The Louisiana Constitution is a sober expression of the will of the citizens of Louisiana and I intend to defend every sentence in it," Caldwell said in a statement. "To that end, I've retained Kyle Duncan, a nationally renowned expert in this area of the law, to assist this office in our defense of the Constitution of Louisiana."

Caldwell's office said Duncan will retain the title of "Special Attorney General." But details of the contract with Duncan, including payment, were not immediately available. The office is preparing information regarding the prevalence of hiring of special attorneys general in Louisiana.

The decision to hire outside counsel comes on the heels of a recently announced challenge to Louisiana's gay marriage ban and a federal judge's ruling that Texas's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. You'll recall late last year a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit intending to make marriage equality legal in Louisiana. 

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes previously announced that his state would also hire outside counsel to fight marriage equality.


Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO

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At a press conference on Monday, Freedom to Marry is expected to announce a new $1 million television ad campaign in Southern states in the hopes of swaying public opinion and the judges who will decide the fate of state bans on gay unions. As it stands, there are about two dozen lawsuits challenging bans on gay marriage that are pending before state and federal courts in Southern states. The Washington Post reports:

“Freedom to Marry’s national strategy has always been to build a critical mass of states and support to create the climate for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution. We don’t have to win within every state, but we have to win enough states,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.13.09 AMAtlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will join the group at its Monday press conference. The group will also try to tie same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement, by featuring Rep. John Lewis [right], the longtime Georgia Democrat who ran the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in a testimonial.

“I see the right to marriage as a civil rights issue. You cannot have rights for one segment of the population and one group of people and not for everybody,” Lewis says in the video.

Watch Lewis' video for the new campaign, AFTER THE JUMP...

Co-chairs of the new initiative will include Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), as well as Mark McKinnon, a former senior adviser to George W. Bush and Lance Bass, the ‘N Sync singer.

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