Americans for Marriage Equality

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Welcome to A.M. Equality - October 31, 2014

LGBT-RIGHTS ADVOCATE AND FORMER BOSTON MAYOR MENINO DIES AT 71: Yesterday, Former Boston Mayor Tom Menino passed away, leaving behind a legacy that Boston residents, and in particular members of the LGBT community, will not soon forget. A longtime supporter of equality, Menino was an avid advocate for LGBT equality and inclusion. He was the first Boston Mayor to march in a Pride Parade and worked tirelessly on behalf of those living with HIV. An op-ed in the Boston Globe recalls the day marriage equality first came to Massachusetts: “No one knew what to expect that day. Would it be peaceful or violent?...But Menino made it clear from the start — there would be no retreat from the history of that day. For the mayor, this was a moment of enormous pride for Boston and the state, and that spirit would be reflected above all others...Over the years, he would often tell people that day was one of the proudest of his tenure. I’m sure it was, yet there were so many other times that spoke directly to the core values and big heart of this great man.” Thank you, Mayor Menino, for commitment to the great city of Boston and to being a model for equality. You will be missed.

MARRIED AND FIRED IN 11 STATES: Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly announced he was gay yesterday, prompting a discussion on anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace. Huffington Post published a graphic denoting that in 29 states, there are no laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment. What’s more, 32 states lack such laws protecting against gender-identity based workplace discrimination. In 11 of those states, same-sex couples can marry and be fired in the same day (Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana, Utah, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Idaho, North Carolina, Alaska, Arizona and Wyoming). As marriage equality continues to expand, it’s important to remember the fight doesn’t stop here.

MAJORITY SAYS EVEN CHURCHES SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO DISCRIMINATE: A new Harris poll shows that a majority of Americans believe that no institutions -- including religious organizations or places of worship -- should be allowed to discriminate against LGBT individuals in the hiring process. In fact, just 35 percent of those surveyed believe that religious institutions should be allowed to not hire LGBT individuals based on their identity. The poll reports: “Americans simply don't believe that employer exemptions are justified when it comes to basic workplace safeguards for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.” The poll also showed that 65 percent of Americans support a federal law banning workplace discrimination against LGBT people. More here:

NOM TARGETS SEN. PRYOR IN NEW AD: The National Organization for Marriage has a new TV ad running in Arkansas, targeting incumbent Democratic senator, Mark Pryor. In the fearmongering ad, a voiceover says, “Arkansas voters who believe in marriage as the union of one man and one woman cast their votes for Tom Cotton.” Cotton is the Republican candidate challenging Pryor for a seat in the U.S. Senate. This ad comes hot on the heels of another recent advertising campaign that NOM funded in North Carolina, which aimed to “expose” Sen. Kay Hagan for voting to confirm a judge who overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. See the Arkansas ad here:

OLSON AND WOLFSON TALK FUTURE OF MARRIAGE EQUALITY MOVEMENT: In a talk at The Atlantic’s Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday, Ted Olson and Evan Wolfson discussed the future of the marriage equality movement following the Supreme Court’s decision to decline hearing a case this term. Wolfson, who heads Freedom to Marry, and Olson, the former U.S. Solicitor General and lawyer who argued against California’s Proposition 8 in front of the Supreme Court, said the fight for equality has not been won, and noted new challenges without the possibility of a Supreme Court ruling any time soon. “I agonize over the court not making a decision,” said Olson, an attorney one one of the cases the Court turned down. “We give them lifetime appointments, and you’re supposed to make hard decisions. It brings tears to my eyes, actually physically, when I see people suffering ... It seems inhuman to make people wait just for the Court to decide.” The two agreed that advocates must keep up the fight for nationwide marriage equality. “Every day of delay is a day of real hardship for real people,” Wolfson said. “It’s time, and the American people don’t need a delay.”

SUPPORT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY SHIFTS POLITICAL LANDSCAPE: As the midterm elections approach, McClatchy reporter Anita Kumar examines the influence of growing support for marriage equality on the political landscape. With a solid majority of Americans now supportive of marriage equality, politicians are changing their strategies. This month, House Speaker John Boehner flew to San Diego to raise money for an openly gay candidate. Kumar write that Boehner’s decision, made in effort to improve his party’s image and reach out to neglected voters, would once have been an unthinkable move for a leading conservative. Notably, in a recent McClatchy-Marist poll, 83 percent of Americans said whether someone was gay wouldn’t make a difference in whether they voted for that candidate. “This change didn’t come from political leaders,” writes Anita Kumar. “Rather, it was driven by Americans themselves, a ‘rainbow revolution’ propelled by a new generation coming of age in a new era with new attitudes, older people becoming more familiar with gays and lesbians in their families and communities, workplaces that welcome gays, changing messages in popular culture and new conversations in places of worship.”


-KANSAS JUDGE TO HEAR MARRIAGE CASE TODAY: Today, a federal judge in Kansas will hear arguments over a motion filed by the ACLU which asks the judge to order the state to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree of Kansas City, Kansas will hear the request this afternoon, as the plaintiffs seek to align Kansas’ state law on marriage with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ previous pro-equality ruling. More here:

-BUTCH OTTER DOUBLES DOWN: Last night in an Idaho gubernatorial debate, Republican incumbent governor, Butch Otter, reiterated his anti-equality position, and said that he will continue to fight to uphold Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage. Otter said that he is “not ready to surrender to a few folks in black robes.” His opponent, A.J. Balukoff, said that Otter is fighting a “losing battle,” and that “that ship has sailed.” More here, via Towleroad:

-MISSOURI HOUSE FINDS IT CAN’T PROTECT MARRIAGE BAN: Missouri lawmakers are struggling to ensure the protection of the state’s ban on marriage equality as a Kansas City judge’s ruling ordering the state to recognize marriages from out of state becomes final on Monday. After Attorney General Chris Koster declined to challenge the October 3rd ruling, Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones said Republican lawmakers had not found a viable way to step in and defend the state’s constitutional amendment blocking marriage equality. “House research and our House counsel’s office looked into that issue,” Jones said. “They determined that there is no mechanism for this; a constitutional provision that allows the legislature to intervene.” After the judge’s order becomes final, ten days will remain to appeal.

-JASON CARTER TALKS SUPPORT FOR EQUALITY: Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, Jason Carter, joined up with Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin last night to make a pitch to LGBT voters in the state ahead of Tuesday’s election. Carter has already been endorsed by HRC and Georgia Equality, due to his support for marriage equality in Georgia and his wide support of LGBT rights. In a debate earlier this month, Carter also said that any action the state of Georgia takes to oppose marriage equality in court would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, and a “doomed” fight. Last night’s speech was part of a two-day media tour around Atlanta to help drive out likely voters to the polls on Election Day. HRC is also on the road for a “Get Out the Vote” tour, traveling to states campaigning for pro-equality candidates.

-SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY EXTENDS BENEFITS TO SAME-SEX SPOUSES: The Board of Regents at Southeast Missouri State University voted this week to extend university benefits to same-sex spouses of employees and retirees legally married in another state. The decision follows an October 3 order by a Jackson County circuit judge requiring Missouri to recognize out-of-state marriages, university vice president Kathy Mangels said. After Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster declined to appeal that order, the state’s health care and retirement plans began expanding benefits to same-sex couples. A constitutional amendment preventing couples from marrying in Missouri remains intact, although several cases are currently challenging the ban in court.

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