Daily Speed Read: News You Should Know April 23, 2014

By Lisa Keen

Keen News Service

OREGON HEARING TODAY: Openly gay U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane convenes a hearing today to hear arguments in two lawsuits challenging Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage. But McShane said yesterday he would not issue his decision until attorneys for the National Organization for Marriage submit a brief attempting to demonstrate NOM has standing to serve as intervenor to defend the ban. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced in February she could not defend the constitutionality of the ban. McShane denied NOM's motion, filed late Monday night, to postpone today's arguments, saying the motion was "untimely" filed. McShane said that, if intervenor status is ultimately granted, he would schedule a second hearing.

LAMBDA SUING GEORGIA: Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in federal court in Georgia Tuesday, challenging that state's ban on same-sex couples marrying. The lawsuit, Inniss v. Aderhold, was filed on behalf of three couples and one widow. It is now one of more than 50 lawsuits pending against state bans around the country. And it reduces to four the number of states that do not have a lawsuit pending against their bans.

PROP 8 BOOK TRIGGERS OUTRAGE: There has been a tremendous pile-on of criticism this week for a book released Tuesday about the Proposition 8 litigation. Critics fault New York Times reporter Jo Becker's Forcing the Spring for exaggerating the credit due to Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin and legendary conservative attorney Ted Olson for winning marriage equality through their organizing of the lawsuit against California's ban on same-sex marriage. Others, including former senior advisor to President Obama David Plouffe, fault the book for various factual errors. See full story

CAROLINA CONFLICT INTENSIFIES: The public College of Charleston staged a musical version of lesbian author Alison Bechdel's Fun Home off-campus Monday night to a cheering standing-room-only crowd. Republican state lawmakers characterized the performance as a deliberate provocation in response to the legislature's cutting the budgets of the college and another public school because they included Bechdel's book as part of their curriculum. According to the Charleston Courier and Post, several state legislators threatened to cut more funds from the college's budget in retaliation for Monday's performance.

THREAT TO VIRGINIA A.G. GETS FINE: A Virginia man who threatened the state attorney general because of his support for allowing same-sex couples to marry was found guilty Monday of a misdemeanor and fined $250. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, the man was initially charged with making a threat over the phone but, in a plea bargain, had the charge reduced to "curse and abuse."

SUPREMES UPHOLD A BAN: The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Tuesday a voter-approved ban in Michigan against considering race when determining who should be admitted to public universities. Lambda Legal joined in a friend-of-the-court brief in Schuette v. Coalition to Defeat Affirmative Action, arguing that the ban should be struck. But Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda, and others said they don't believe the court's willingness to uphold a ban on affirmative action will necessarily mean it will be willing to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage. "The Court," said Davidson, "did not rule that voter-approved constitutional amendments are immune from attack or entitled to more deference than laws passed by legislatures. Instead, a majority of the judges simply (and quite troublingly) do not recognize bans on affirmative action as comparable to invidious discrimination against a minority group."

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