National News: November 2013

Marriage Equality Now Law in NJ

When Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ordered state officials to begin officiating same-sex marriages on October 21, Governor Chris Christie vowed to appeal.

However, hours after same-sex couples started exchanging vows, Christie announced that he is dropping the appeal, effectively removing the last hurdle to making same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey.

Mayors in cities and towns including Newark, Jersey City, Red Bank, Asbury Park and Lambertville opened their city halls Sunday at midnight to marry couples as soon as the state’s 72-hour waiting period for licenses was over.

Senate Unanimously Confirms First Openly Gay Federal Appellate Judge

The US Senate voted 98 to 0 in favor of approving Todd Hughes for the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He will be the first openly gay federal appellate judge.

Hughes, who currently serves as deputy director of the Justice Department’s commercial litigation branch, will decide on patent issues and veterans’ claims as part of his new responsibilities on the bench. According to The Washington Post, seven openly gay judges have already been confirmed to serve on district courts, which rank one level below the circuit courts.

Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Same-Sex Benefits Bill

Bipartisan legislation was introduced in both chambers of Congress that would guarantee benefits eligibility for the same-sex partners of federal government employees.  Those in domestic partnerships and civil unions would also be eligible for benefits.

Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) cosponsored the Senate version of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. In the House, Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) cosponsored the bill.

California Transgender Protection Law Faces GOP Opposition

The California GOP is backing an effort to repeal the state’s new transgender student protection law.

At a convention in Anaheim in early October, state legislators voted in favor of endorsing candidates who have pledged to oppose the School Success and Opportunity Act that Governor Jerry Brown signed into law in August, which guarantees students the right to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.

Openly gay Republican Vice Chairman Greg Gandrud reportedly warned against trying to repeal the law.

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