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Thursday Speed Read: Pennsylvania, Orrin Hatch, Luxembourg, NOM, Scott Walker, Wisconsin

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

PENNSYLVANIA IS SAFE AS NUMBER 19: Gaffney

A federal judge in Pennsylvania denied a petition Tuesday from a county clerk who asked to serve as intervenor in an appeal to defend the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. The register of wills for Schuylkill County petitioned U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III after Republican Governor Tom Corbett said he would not appeal Jones’ May 20 decision in Whitewood v. Wolf, declaring the state ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. In his June 18 order, Jones said, “If the highest elected official in the Commonwealth chooses to abide by our decision, it defies credulity that we would permit a single citizen to stand in for him to perfect an appeal.”

HatchEXECUTIVE WRESTLING:

Just as President Obama’s staff is putting together an executive order to prohibit discrimination by federal contractors, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) posted a statement Tuesday on his senate website saying he thinks the order should include “the same religious protections that are included” in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that passed the Senate. That would not go over well with a growing number of LGBT activists and groups who are adamantly opposed to the religious exemptions in the current version of ENDA.

LuxembourgLUXEMBOURG MAKES 18:

The Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies voted Wednesday to allow same-sex couples to marry. The vote came after two efforts to block the bill through a citizens’ petition failed to garner the 4,500 signatures necessary, according to Luxembourg Wort newspaper.  Seventeen other countries have marriage equality laws: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, England, and Wales. Scotland’s new law goes into effect later this year.

NOM-logoNOM RALLIES IN WASHINGTON:

Two former, failed, and potential Republican presidential candidates, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, are among the speakers slated for a rally against same-sex couples today in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage. A lot of rancor has been focused on another prominent keynoter: San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. State and local officials in California implored Cordileone to withdraw his participation, as did a number of LGBT groups; but he said he does not consider the event to be anti-gay in nature.

WalkerWISCONSIN GOVERNOR IN HOT SEAT:

Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker is in the hot seat over his refusal to state a position on same-sex marriage. In an editorial Tuesday, the Capital Times newspaper in Madison took him to task: "Here's a politician that used the gay marriage card with reckless abandon during his many election campaigns…. He constantly attacked proposals that would allow a couple other than a man and a woman to marry and was one of the key supporters of the amendment that wrote discrimination against gays into the state's constitution back in 2006…. Now, he says it doesn't make any difference what he believes. We beg to differ.”

BaldwinBALDWIN, OTHERS URGE DOJ HELP:

Openly gay Senator Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Mark Pocan from Wisconsin sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Monday, asking that the federal government recognize the marriages of same-sex couples in Wisconsin even though the state —at the moment— will not. Wisconsin’s Republican attorney general argues that the marriages are not valid because they took place before federal Judge Barbara Crabb’s issued an injunction against enforcement of the ban. Although she declared the ban unconstitutional on June 6, Crabb did not issue her injunction until June 13, the same day she issued a stay of her decision and the injunction.  

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Federal Judge Blocks 'Contrived' Attempt by County Clerk to Defend Pennsylvania's Gay Marriage Ban

Theresa Santai-Gaffney, the Schuylkill County Register of Wills, wanted to intervene and defend Pennsylvania's gay marriage ban after Governor Tom Corbett said he would not following a federal judge's ruling last month.

GaffneyThat judge rejected her request today, Bloomberg reports:

The “deep personal disagreement” with the ruling of Theresa Santai-Gaffney, the Schuylkill County issuer of marriage licenses, doesn’t make her a stand-in for the state, Jones said today. He rejected her request to intervene on its behalf.

“If the highest elected official in the commonwealth chooses to abide by our decision, it defies credulity that we would permit a single citizen to stand in for him to perfect an appeal,” Jones wrote.

Santai-Gaffney, the county register of wills, argued that the decision made the state of marriage law and the scope of her duties unclear.

``Nothing could be further from the truth,'' Jones wrote, saying the decision was clarified in a notice issued by the state Department of Health to clerks that handle marriage licenses.

Said Jones: "There is nothing remotely ambiguous about how Santai-Gaffney must perform her duties relative to issuing marriage licenses. At bottom, we have before us a contrived legal argument by a private citizen who seeks to accomplish what the chief executive of the commonwealth, in his wisdom, has declined to do."


Pittsburgh Mayor Marries 19 Gay Couples in Mass Ceremony: VIDEO

Pittsburgh

In a ceremony in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's City Council chamber over the weekend, Mayor Bill Peduto officiated the marriages of 19 gay and lesbian couples, KDKA reports:

FlagEach couple repeated their vows and exchanged wedding rings, making their marital bliss official.

The couples posed for pictures on the steps of the City County Building, then celebrated by hoisting the rainbow flag.

“It feels great, you know,” said Sameer Samudra. “It’s not just about same-sex marriage, it’s about marriage.”

The celebration continued with all 19 couples leading the annual gay pride parade through downtown.

“I never though Pittsburgh would, we never thought Pennsylvania, we never thought the country, I didn’t dream of marriage,” said newlyweds, Cindy Neitz and Christine Allen-Neitz. “I didn’t think itwas possible in my lifetime.”

Watch KDKA's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Pittsburgh Mayor Marries 19 Gay Couples in Mass Ceremony: VIDEO" »


Tuesday Speed Read: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Wendy Davis, Massachusetts, Medicare

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

CrabbWISCONSIN MARRIAGES CONTINUE:

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb denied a motion Monday from the Wisconsin attorney general for a stay in her June 6 ruling that the state ban on same-sex couples marrying is unconstitutional. But in an odd twist, Crabb told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “I never said anything about whether any county clerk could go forward and issue a marriage license. That hasn't been decided." Crabb’s June 6 decision in Wolf v. Walker indicated she would issue an order later this month concerning enforcement of her ruling. But clerks in about half the counties around Wisconsin began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last Friday. The next hearing for the case is June 19.

GaffneyLONE CLERK SEEKS PENNSYLVANIA APPEAL:

Taking a cue from a county clerk in Virginia, a county clerk in Pennsylvania petitioned a federal court judge Friday to allow her to appeal the judge’s decision striking the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. Judge John Jones III issued his opinion in Whitewood v. Wolf on May 20, and Republican Governor Tom Corbett said he would not appeal. Private attorneys filed both the motion to intervene and a motion to stay Jones’ ruling on behalf of Theresa Santai-Gaffney, register of wills for Schuylkill County.

CorbettMAJORITY AGREES ON CORBETT NON-APPEAL:

A poll showed that 56 percent of 835 Pennsylvania registered voters agreed with Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s decision not to appeal a federal district court opinion striking down the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The poll, by Public Policy Polling, was conducted May 30 to June 1, just one week after Corbett announced he would not appeal the decision. According to realclearpolitics.com, Corbett has been trailing his Democratic challenger Tom Wolf by more than 20 points in various polls. Wolf’s campaign website prominently touts his support for marriage equality.

2_davisWENDY DAVIS WOULD SIGN EXECUTIVE ORDER:

Texas’ Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis told reporter John Wright in the Observer last week that she would be willing to sign an executive order to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, though she suggested the governor’s power to implement such an order is fairly limited. Davis has been running about 12 points behind Republican attorney general Greg Abbott in the race, according to realclearpolitics.com.

HealeyMASSACHUSETTS AG POLL MOSTLY UNDECIDED:

Lesbian attorney Maura Healey held a three-point lead over former state Senator Warren Tolman in a recent poll for the Massachusetts Democratic primary for attorney general. The June 4-7 Suffolk University poll surveyed 450 likely primary voters and had a plus-or-minus 3.5 margin of error.  It showed Healey, in her first electoral run, with 21 percent, and Tolman with 18 percent. But the vast majority of respondents, 59 percent, said they were “undecided.” Two percent refused to answer. Male voters are split between the two; but women voters are leaning Healey.

NO MORE AUTOMATIC DENIALS:

MedicareAn administrative appeals board at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ruled recently that automatic denial of Medicare coverage for transsexual surgery as a treatment “is not valid under the ‘reasonableness standard’.” The ruling means transgender people seeking treatment for gender dysphoria will be able to have their applications for coverage considered “just like anyone seeking coverage for any other medical treatment,” noted a joint statement from GLAD, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the ACLU. The HHS Departmental Appeals Board decision was made in an appeal from an “aggrieved party.” ABC News identified the person as a 74-year-old Army veteran who said she hopes to spend the rest of her life “in congruence and not distress.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


GOP Rep. Charlie Dent: 'Life is Too Short to...Stand in the Way' of Gay Adults Who Want to Marry

Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA) has come out for marriage equality in a statement to the Washington Post:

Dent"Life is too short to have the force of government stand in the way of two adults whose pursuit of happiness includes marriage," Dent said in a statement provided first to The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Quoting from the Pennsylvania ruling, "in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage," Dent said that in "conversations with my family, I have come to realize that they already see the world through that lens."

Dent continued:

"As a Republican, I value equality, personal freedom and a more limited role for government in our lives," Dent said in his statement. "I believe this philosophy should apply to the issue of marriage as well."

Dent's announcement comes following a federal judge's ruling striking down the state's ban on gay marriage.

Dent joins GOP Senators Rob Portman, Mark Kirk, Lisa Murkowski, and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Richard Hanna in voicing support for marriage equality.

Dent is one of seven Republican co-sponsors of ENDA and was a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act.


Catholic School Sends Invites with Ellen DeGeneres's Photo, Recants, Promises to Destroy Them

EllenOscarInvite

A Catholic school principal in Bucks County, Pennsylvania has apologized to parents for sending a student-dance invitation featuring a photo of Ellen DeGeneres. 

Philly.com reports:

It was "completely wrong" to use DeGeneres' picture because the lesbian celebrity "lives her life outside the teachings of the Catholic Church," St. Andrew Elementary School principal Nancy Matteo wrote in an email to parents on Tuesday.

...

In the email, Matteo says she was "obviously NOT thinking" when she let the invitation to the June 8 dance be distributed with DeGeneres’ photo.

"Perhaps I was distracted by the Oscar," she wrote, calling the entertainer a "poor role model."

"A role model, as defined by Webster's Dictionary, is a person who is unusually effective or inspiring in some social role, job, position, etc.," the email says. "This does not describe her at all. We work so hard to be good role models and then I go and do something stupid!"

Matteo said that she wants all students to return their invites so that she can personally detroy them.

Read the full story at Philly.com.


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