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Obama ties LBJ’s civil rights legacy to LGBT Americans

President Barack Obama embraced Lyndon B. Johnson’s civil rights legacy Thursday in a speech that credited the former president with helping to open the doors to equality for countless Americans, including those who are LGBT.

“Because of the Civil Rights movement, because of the laws President Johnson signed, new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody — not all at once, but they swung open,” Obama said. “Not just blacks and whites, but also women and Latinos; and Asians and Native Americans; and gay Americans and Americans with a disability. They swung open for you, and they swung open for me. And that’s why I’m standing here today — because of those efforts, because of that legacy.” Read more

CPAC plays host to a conservative movement at a crossroads

For a gathering that seeks to foster debate and chart a path forward for the conservative movement, the silence on gay issues at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference was deafening.

In the year since CPAC was last held at the sprawling Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor, Md., much has changed. Three Senate Republicans — Rob Portman (Ohio), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — have come out in support of marriage equality. In 2013, same-sex marriage was legalized in Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii and Illinois. Same-sex nuptials have resumed in California for the first time since 2008, after the Supreme Court refused to hear arguments in the Proposition 8 case, and the federal government’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman has been struck down as unconstitutional, subsequently leading federal judges to strike down same-sex marriage bans in six states and counting. And the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the Senate with the support of 10 Republicans — the most Senate Republican votes ever cast for a piece of gay rights legislation. Read more

‘Religious freedom’ backlash likely to continue as next chapter in LGBT-equality effort

Last August, the New Mexico Supreme Court handed down a ruling that inflamed the religious right.

In a unanimous decision, the state’s highest court found that Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, violated state law when she turned away Vanessa Willock and her partner in 2006 on the grounds that photographing the same-sex couple’s wedding ceremony would violate her religious beliefs.  Read more