July 8, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
National news in brief

Wisconsin high court upholds state’s marriage ban

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously ruled June 30 to uphold the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Justices determined in a 7-0 decision that the ban was consistent with state constitutional standards in 2006 when it was put to voters for a referendum.

In the case of McConkey v. J.B. Van Hollen, plaintiffs argued the initiative violated a state rule limiting referendum questions to a single subject and contended same-sex marriage and civil unions were different issues.

But Justice Michael Gableman wrote in the decision that both portions of the ban “carry out the same general purpose of preserving the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin as between only one man and one woman,” according to the Associated Press.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the only out lesbian in Congress, said in a statement she was “disappointed” with the ruling.

“Regrettably, Wisconsinites, including many LGBT families, must live with a state constitution that enshrines discrimination,” she said. “While the effect of this ruling is a setback in our effort to repeal the discriminatory constitutional amendment banning marriage equality and civil unions, we will continue our quest for equality.”

Speier: ENDA passage within 5 years

SAN FRANCISCO — A pro-LGBT lawmaker has said it may take five years for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, according to the Bay Area Reporter.

The San Francisco-based LGBT newspaper reported this week that Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) suggested ENDA may not pass by the end of the year when, during a speech, she said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “is doing all she can to ensure a majority for next year so we can pass ENDA.”

In an interview following her public comments before San Francisco’s Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, Speier reportedly said in regard to ENDA’s prospects that passage this year ”is in question.”

“There’s no question ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will be history this year,” Speier was quoted as saying. “ENDA, we will have that law for sure within the next five years.”

Speier reportedly added that she was “being realistic” in her assessment.

No murder charge for man arrested in SF shooting

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco man arrested in connection with a fatal shooting at a Gay Pride event is no longer considered a suspect in the death.

The Associated Press reported that authorities said the .357 revolver found on 20-year-old Ed Perkins was not the weapon used to kill 19-year-old Stephen Powell in San Francisco’s Castro district June 26. Witnesses did not place Perkins at the scene of the shooting.

Perkins initially was arrested on suspicion of murder, but now faces charges of possessing a concealed weapon and possessing a loaded weapon. Police have said they believe Powell knew his shooter.

Fire destroys Gay Pride float in Anchorage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Anchorage authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a Gay Pride float intended for a July 4 parade.

KTUU-TV reported that witnesses told investigators that moments before the fire began July 2 they saw someone running from the driveway where the float was being constructed.

Neighbors and the float’s builders said they fear the incident was a hate crime. Investigators said they’re still working on the matter. A report that concludes the fire was set would lead to a criminal investigation.

The builders planned to improvise a float using the ashes and charred pieces of the original.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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