Daily Speed Read: News You Should Know June 20, 2014

By Lisa Keen

Keen News Service

OBAMA MOVES ON FAMILY LEAVE: The Department of Labor will announce this morning that it will propose regulations on the Family and Medical Leave Act to clarify that an employee is eligible for FMLA leave to care for a same-sex spouse even if the employee lives in a state that does not recognize marriages of same-sex couples.

U.S. PENALIZES UGANDA: A spokesperson for the National Security Council announced Thursday that the U.S. is taking action in response to the Ugandan government's enactment of its Anti-Homosexuality Act. The statement from press spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the U.S. would deny entry to the United States by "certain Ugandan officials involved in serious human rights abuses, including against LGBT individuals." It said the U.S. would also discontinue or "redirect" funding for the Ugandan police, health ministry, and public health institute. A separate White House blog statement identified $5.4 million in discontinued or redirected funding but said the Obama administration would not identify which individuals would be barred from the U.S.

CICILLINE INTROS BILL: Openly gay U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RIs) introduced a bill Thursday to bar from the U.S. any foreigner who has "committed or incited gross violations" of human rights of LGBT people. Four of the seven openly gay members of the House signed on as co-sponsors: Reps. Jared Polis, Sean Maloney, Mark Pocan, and Mark Takano.

NOT JUST ANOTHER SPEECH: Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to go above and beyond the call of duty Thursday in delivering remarks to a Pride event of the in-house group Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA). Kerry spoke at length and answered some tough questions. He lavished praise on GLIFFA President Robyn McCutcheon, most recently a foreign service officer in Bucharest. In the Q&A, two GLIFFA members noted that they've seen resistance by many countries to issuing a visa to their same-sex spouse. "This is a serious obstacle that is hurting us in our careers and hurting our families," said one member. Kerry said he has instructed U.S. embassies "to inform governments locally that this is our policy and that they need to honor our policy....And where they don't...at some point in time, we may have to begin to make it clear to them that that can affect one program or another or the choices that we make. It's not going to be a normal relationship."

PRESBYTERIANS VOTE 'YES': The governing body of the 1.8 million-member Presbyterian Church USA voted 371 to 238 Thursday to allow their clergy to conduct wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. The denomination's General Assembly, meeting in Detroit, also voted 429 to 175 to amend its governing constitution to define marriage as a "unique commitment between two people." The constitutional change requires ratification by regional presbyteries. The clergy-ceremony vote takes effect Saturday.

WHEN STRAIGHT PEOPLE TRY TO OPERATE GAYDAR: Here's what former Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, said to a National Journal reporter when asked for his reaction to Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's recent primary loss: "...men in the South, they are a little effeminate....They just have effeminate mannerisms. If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say--and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right--but my gaydar is 60-70 percent. But he's not, I think, so I don't know. Again, I couldn't care less. I'm accepting." Schweitzer later apologized for his "stupid and insensitive remarks."


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