March 18, 2010 at 9:19 am EDT | by Staff reports
National news in brief

Gay congressional candidate finds new momentum

WASHINGTON — A gay candidate running for Congress in California has made the list for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program, giving his campaign extra momentum.

Steve Pougnet, the gay Democratic mayor of Palm Springs who’s running in California’s 45th congressional district, made the list along with 12 other Democratic candidates running for a seat in Congress.

The DCCC’s “Red to Blue” program highlights Democratic candidates running in competitive congressional races throughout the country where Republican lawmakers currently sit. The distinction gives these Democratic candidates additional opportunities for financial and logistical support.

Becoming part of the “Red to Blue” program could be a boon for Pougnet, who’s seeking to unseat the incumbent Rep. Mary Bono Mack. Pougnet is trying to oust a Republican lawmaker in a district that has consistently elected Republicans to Congress since at least 1982.

In a statement, DCCC Chair Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), said outstanding fundraising efforts from Pougnet and the 12 other candidates earned them a position in the “Red to Blue” program.

“These candidates have come out of the gate strong and the Red to Blue Program will give them the financial and structural edge to be even more competitive in November,” he said. “These candidates are generating excitement back home and are making the case to voters that their commitment to creating jobs and standing up for the middle class is far better than turning back the clock to the failed Bush policies of the past.”

Should Pougnet be elected, he would be the first person in a same-sex marriage and the first openly gay parent to serve in Congress.

Although Pougnet has been commended for his fundraising efforts, he still trails Bono Mack in funding. According to the latest information on the Federal Election Commission web site, Pougnet has raised nearly $564,000, while Bono Mack has nearly $993,000 in her coffers. It’s typical for an incumbent lawmaker to out-raise challengers in an election.

Republicans help stall Pa. marriage amendment

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A bill seeking to constitutionally ban same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania was stalled Tuesday in the state Senate after three Republicans joined five Democrats to vote against it.

The chamber’s Judiciary Committee voted 8-6 to table the measure that would have begun a lengthy process to constitutionally define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Tuesday’s vote is expected to be the only vote the bill will see this session.

Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach, a proponent of same-sex marriage, said in a statement that he was pleased the proposed ban was tabled.

“I believe that [this bill] is the antithesis of what Pennsylvanians need and want, and I am happy that the majority of my colleagues agree with me,” he said. “To support a bill that so clearly discriminates against an entire group of people is simply unconscionable and irresponsible.”

ACLU enters anti-gay prom scuffle

OXFORD, Miss. — A high school in Mississippi that chose to cancel its prom rather than let a lesbian student bring her female date has drawn a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union.

In papers filed March 11 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, the ACLU asks the court to reinstate the prom for all students at the school and says Itawamba County School District officials are violating Constance McMillen’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

The filing comes after school officials cancelled the April 2 prom. Before the event was canceled, McMillen was told she could not arrive at prom with her girlfriend, also a student at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Miss.

In a video posted to the ACLU web site, McMillen thanks the thousands of people who are supporting her on Facebook and elsewhere.

“I never thought in a thousand, a billion years that there would be that many people that were supporting something that I was doing,” she says. “And I think it’s great that there’s that many people out there that understand what — the difference between wrong and right.”

From staff and news service reports

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