By Lisa Keen
Keen News Service
MIXED MESSAGES: John Podesta, the former chief of staff to President Clinton who joined the Obama White House just a few weeks ago as Counselor to the President, says an executive order prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination by federal contractors is “under consideration at the White House – we’re looking at that.” He made his comment in a Jan. 31 interview on Bloomberg News’ Political Capital. When host Al Hunt asked him, “What’s the argument against doing it?” Podesta said, “There is no real argument against non-discrimination in the workplace. I think the question is …we’ve been putting forth the effort to get a comprehensive ENDA through the Congress. We’ll see whether that’s possible.” But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a daily meeting with reporters Friday that he didn’t have any updates on “a hypothetical executive order for LGBT non-discrimination” but he said it’s “the wrong approach” and that the president thinks ENDA is “the right way to go here.” LGBT leaders have been pressing President Obama for the executive order since he first took office in January 2009.
HAWAII JUDGE RULES LAW OK: A state circuit court judge in Oahu ruled January 29 that the state’s newly enacted marriage equality law is constitutional. One of the legislators who opposed the law last year, Rep. Bob McDermott, filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. Big Island News says McDermott intends to appeal. The attorney general’s office reports that more than 670 same-sex couples have married since the law went into effect December 2 and another 230 licenses are pending.
NORFOLK HEARING TUESDAY: U.S. District Court Judge Arenda Wright Allen has rescheduled the summary judgment hearing in Bostic v. Virginia for Tuesday, February 4, at 10 a.m. The original hearing had to be postponed after an unusually heavy snowfall forced closure of many public facilities, including the federal courthouse. Bostic is a case brought by the American Foundation for Equal Rights legal team and private attorneys challenging the constitutionality of Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.
HARRISONBURG CASE GETS CLASS: The other lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage in federal court was designated a class action suit Friday. Harris v. Virginia, brought by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, will now proceed to represent the interests of an estimated 15,000 same-sex couples (based on Census data) who cannot marry in Virginia or whose valid marriages elsewhere are not recognized under Virginia law.
STARVING THE SOUTH: A report released Saturday shows that only a tiny percentage of monies contributed to LGBT efforts goes to southern states. “Out in the South,” published by Funders for LGBTQ Issues,” an organization that seeks to promote philanthropic giving to LGBT organizations, estimates that foundations gave $101 million to U.S. LGBT groups in 2012 – $55 million to national groups, $46 million to local and regional groups. And only $4.8 million went to organizations in the 14 southern states. By comparison, organizations in New York City alone received $10 million and those in San Francisco received $4 million.