This week has already seen a number of exciting developments in LGBT affairs:
- On Tuesday, the Hawaii State Senate overwhelmingly passed marriage equality, 20-4. On Thursday, 14 hours of testimony are scheduled before the State House Judiciary and Finance Committee (which will run until midnight, with any extra testimony to be scheduled for 1 November), and no full vote has yet been scheduled. It is expected to be a close vote. Hawaii already has civil unions which are available to same-sex and opposite-sex couples, but same-sex couples are currently banned from marriage.
- Cory Booker, former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and steadfast LGBT rights ally, has been sworn into office as Senator from New Jersey. A Democrat, Booker will serve out the remainder of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s term in office. Booker is the third African-American senator in U.S. history, after incumbent Tim Scott of South Carolina and current U.S. president Barack Obama of Illinois.
- The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has secured the support of the entire Democratic caucus and two Republican members of the U.S. Senate, and the aforementioned Booker is a likely 57th vote for the bill, as Democratic Senators Nelson, Pryor and Manchin have finally given their support after months of pressure. The bill, which has languished before Congress since 1994, is now 1 vote shy of passage without a filibuster, and advocates are actively seeking for one more Republican endorsement. The bill, which is likely destined for failure in the GOP-controlled House, would protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Terry McAuliffe, the pro-LGBT candidate in the Virginia gubernatorial election, continues to lead the rabidly anti-LGBT candidate Ken Cuccinelli by wildly-fluctuating margins in the most recent polls. McAuliffe’s running mates Ralph Northam (running against the rabidly-anti-LGBT E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor) and Mark Herring (running against the anti-LGBT Mark Obenshain for attorney general) also lead by comfortable margins.
- Momentum continues to build in Indiana against a bill for an anti-equal marriage amendment to the Indiana state constitution, with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the University of Indiana coming out against the bill.