LGBTQ Corner

Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

Putin promises that LGBT folk will be comfortable in Sochi
Russian president Vladimir Putin appeared on Russian television with the International Olympic Committee’s newly elected president, Thomas Bach, to quiet down fears that the country’s ban on homosexual propaganda would threaten the safety of openly gay athletes and spectators who intend to attend the Games in February. Putin told national sport officials that his administration would do everything possible in order to make sure that LGBT athletes and spectators are comfortable.

According to Radio Free Europe, Putin said, “We will do everything to make sure that athletes, fans and guests feel comfortable at the Olympic Games regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation. On my own and on behalf of Russian sports ministers, I have assured Mr. Bach that we will do our best, and our athletes and fans will do their best too, so that both participants and guests feel themselves comfortable at Sochi Olympics regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation. I would like to underline that.”

There have been contradictory messages about whether or not the anti-LGBT laws will impact the Olympics, especially regarding something of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Since Putin signed the laws in June, numerous LGBT Russians and visitors have been beaten, harassed and arrested for supporting the LGBT community.

The violent crackdown on LGBT people has sparked calls for boycotts of Russian products and calls to either move or boycott the Sochi Olympics until the anti-LGBT laws are repealed.

Senate will vote on Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has announced that he intends to hold a floor vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) before Thanksgiving. A precise day was not announced, but many are anticipating sometime within the next two weeks.

Reported by the “Advocate,” Oregon Democratic senator Jeff Merkley said, “I thank Majority Leader Reid for committing to bring ENDA to the floor this work period. Americans understand that it’s time to make sure our LGBT friends and family are treated fairly and have the same opportunities. Now it’s time for our laws to catch up. People should be judged at work on their ability to do the job, period.”

Merkley is a chief sponsor of this legislation that would outlaw employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Several LGBT organizations have applauded this announcement, noting that this legislation is long overdue. This bill has been introduced to almost every Congress since 1994.

Hawaii pushing for marriage equality
It looks like the state of Hawaii is pushing toward marriage equality since a state Senate committee advanced legislation that could legalize gay marriage.

According to the “Honolulu Star-Advertiser,” approximately 1,800 people signed up to testify before the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, which voted 5-2 to move the bill to the full Senate.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie expects to have the bill signed into law within the next week and said that the bill was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.