17 years after defeat, Senate advances gay rights bill

WASHINGTON — The Senate moved forward Monday on a bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians in a dramatic 61-30 vote. But opposition from the House speaker means the bill may not get to President Obama’s desk.

The Senate vote was not without suspense. With Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., at a funeral, Democrats needed last-minute support from two Republicans to get the 60 votes necessary to prevent a filibuster. Democratic leaders went into the Republican cloakroom to plead with Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. After half an hour of voting, both voted yes.

The vote clears the way for the Senate to consider the issue for the first time since 1996, when it failed in the Senate by a single vote.

The last House effort to pass the bill succeeded,235 to 184, in a Democratic-controlled Congress in 2007. But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reaffirmed his long-standing opposition to the bill Monday, making it unlikely the House will schedule a vote. “The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small-business jobs,” Boehner press secretary Michael Steel said.

via 17 years after defeat, Senate advances gay rights bill.

Opinion: Workplace fairness for all – Chad Griffin – POLITICO.com

From Main Street to Wall Street, this country’s belief in the American Dream remains strong, even unshakable during the tough economic times of the last few years. This is what is so uniquely great about the United States – our shared commitment to turning that dream into reality.

But for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the uphill climb to economic security has pitfalls along the way. Currently, there are no state laws protecting LGBT employees from workplace discrimination in a majority of states — a fact that most Americans would be shocked to learn. Hardworking and qualified LGBT employees, like all employees, need to provide for themselves and their families, and must have the same opportunity to be judged on job performance and merit — nothing more, nothing less.

Right now, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – or ENDA — would help change that. ENDA simply adds sexual orientation and gender identity to existing employment protections — like those that already exist for race, religion, gender and disability.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/opinion-chad-griffin-workplace-fairness-for-all-99072.html#ixzz2jdJTbDjD

via Opinion: Workplace fairness for all – Chad Griffin – POLITICO.com.

Gay Rights Protesters Target Sochi Olympic Sponsors Coke, McDonalds and Samsung – Forbes

With exactly 100 days to go until the Sochi Olympics, gay rights protesters have launched a handful of social media campaigns against longtime sponsors Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Samsung, voicing concerns over Russia’s anti-gay legislation.

“Sochi potentially is the danger Games,” one marketing executive tells The Chicago Tribune. “With these major world events, companies are looking for a halo effect for the brand. Sochi is big and high profile but such events are becoming platforms for social and political protest.

The International Olympic Committee has already acknowledged that sponsors, who pay roughly $100 million for marketing rights, are concerned about the legislation’s impact.

“I have heard a lot from the sponsors, especially the American sponsors, of what they are afraid of might happen,” IOC marketing commission chairman Gerhard Heiberg told CNN. “I think this could ruin a lot for all of us.”

One current online campaign is calling for Coca-Cola executives to speak out against the anti-gay law.

By Monday, 350,000 people worldwide signed an online petition circulated by SumOfUs.org, a global consumer watchdog organization.

“Coca-Cola is an incredibly important position of power and has the ability to influence both the International Olympic Committee and Russian leaders,” Joe Mirabella, Director of

via Gay Rights Protesters Target Sochi Olympic Sponsors Coke, McDonalds and Samsung – Forbes.

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The Marriage Equality Movement Could Change Dramatically In The Next Two Weeks

WASHINGTON — It’s been less than four months since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and put an end to California’s marriage amendment, but advocates have been busy over the summer — setting the stage for a very busy two weeks that could rock the marriage equality landscape and change the country.

The calendar for the rest of the month is packed with a dizzying array of potential developments: decisions and movement in lawsuits that are multiplying by the week, possible votes from lawmakers being prodded to action by governors in their states, and — for the state of New Mexico — a hearing at the state Supreme Court to resolve once and for all whether same-sex couples can marry in a state that doesn’t specifically ban or allow such marriages.

The coming weeks also will feature the first action in the federal appellate courts since the Supreme Court rulings, with a filing in the 9th Circuit in a challenge to Nevada’s marriage law. The quick reemergence of a marriage case at the appellate level is notable because that’s the path back to the Supreme Court, where marriage equality advocates are still seeking a ruling that would bring marriage equality to all 50 states.

From a Wednesday hearing in Michigan to a hearing regarding a challenge to Virginia’s marriage law on Oct. 29, here’s what you need to know:

via The Marriage Equality Movement Could Change Dramatically In The Next Two Weeks.

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Shutdown took $24 billion bite out of economy – Oct. 16, 2013

The United States may have dodged an economic catastrophe by raising the debt ceiling and opening the government, but it didn’t emerge from the political debacle unscathed.

The 16-day government shutdown took a $24 billion chunk out of the U.S. economy, according to an initial analysis from Standard & Poor’s.

As a result, the rating agency projects that the U.S. economy will grow 2.4% in the fourth quarter — as opposed to the roughly 3% growth rate predicted prior to the shutdown.

via Shutdown took $24 billion bite out of economy – Oct. 16, 2013.

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Barilla Earns Gay Boycott, Learns Taking Sides Is Bad For Business – Forbes

Barilla Pasta  stepped  on a landmine this week telling Italian media the company would never feature or market directly to gay couples. If they had a problem with that, said its chairman, they could eat another brand of pasta.

I pity the fool who messes with the purchasing power of the LGBT community.

The remarks as widely reported, were made by Guido Barilla on La Zanzara, an Italian radio program.

I would never make a spot with a homosexualfamily. Not out of a lack of respect but because I do not see it like they do. (My idea of) family is a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role.

He went even further saying, “Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role. If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand,” according to a Reuters translation.

Competitor Bertolli Germany lost little time presenting itself as that very option, as told  by AdWeek. Posting a photo and caption that translates to “pasta and love for all” on its Facebook page and resurrecting a commercialfrom 2011 featuring gay couples.

via Barilla Earns Gay Boycott, Learns Taking Sides Is Bad For Business – Forbes.

New Mexico county begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses amid pending court battles – The Washington Post

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gay couples rushed to a courthouse in Las Cruces on Wednesday after the county clerk decided to issue same-sex marriage licenses in a surprise move that came as several legal challenges on the practice make their way through the courts.

“I was in a coffee shop grading dissertations when my partner sent me an email saying, ‘you want to get married?’” said Char Ullman, 51. “I went home to brush my teeth and headed to the courthouse.”

Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said his office had provided 35 licenses to same-sex couples compared to four or five given on an average day to heterosexual couples.

“It’s a happy office today. Lots of happy people,” he said. “One of the first couples that came in today said they had been waiting 31 years. Another couple says they’ve been waiting 43 years. It’s time to stop waiting.”

Jeff Williams, a public information officer in the county’s government and a reverend with Universal Life Church, said he was marrying same-sex couples all day long while wearing his rainbow-colored tie.

Outside the courthouse, television reporters were busy interviewing the people getting married and there was no sign of any protesters.

Ellins said he had carefully read state laws and concluded the “state’s marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not expressly prohibit Dona Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples.”

Later in the day, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he had no plans to challenge the move by Ellins or another other county clerks who might allow the practice.

Ellins said he had been considering issuing the licenses since June, when King released a position paper saying state laws don’t allow same-sex marriage. King had asked county clerks to hold off on issuing licenses, even though he believes the laws are unconstitutional.

Ellins, however, said “any further denial of marriage licenses to these couples violates the United States and New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Human Rights Act.”

via New Mexico county begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses amid pending court battles – The Washington Post.

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SANTA FE, N.M.: Court rules against photographer in gay bias case | National Elections | Macon.com

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico’s highest court has ruled that a commercial photography business violated a state anti-discrimination law by refusing to take pictures of a gay couple’s commitment ceremony.

Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, opposes same-sex marriage and had refused to photograph the 2006 event because of her religious beliefs.

The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday the business’s refusal to photograph the ceremony between two women violated New Mexico’s Human Rights Act “in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

via SANTA FE, N.M.: Court rules against photographer in gay bias case | National Elections | Macon.com.

Social Security begins limited implementation of DOMA ruling – Poliglot

The Social Security Administration has begun processing limited benefits and payments for some same-sex couples in compliance with the Supreme Court’s invalidation of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the agency announced Friday.

“Social Security is now processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due,” Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, said in a statement.

via Social Security begins limited implementation of DOMA ruling – Poliglot.