DISCLAIMER: This liveblog is being compiled from a live audio stream [click “listen” next to “JUDICIARY” to listen.] Therefore, we cannot guarantee the veracity of our account. Some names and direct quotes may be misheard and subsequently mistyped, though we intended to record the truth and the whole truth the whole time. Thanks for bearing with us!
10:14: AND WE’RE DONE! Forward we go! On behalf of Team Autostraddle, the Interns, Gawd and The Gays … goodnight bitches!
10:13: I just want to say that if I was on the NJ legislature I would’ve brought some vitamin water with one part vitamin water, five parts vodka, and I would be WELL INTO HAPPY HOUR RIGHT NOW. ‘Cause it’s going forward. I am going to learn how government works tomorrow. They are still talking BTW.
10:01: Marriage Equality has enough votes to get out of judiciary committee. It’s officially going before the NJ Senate for a vote. (but everyone is still talking)
9:45: “I am understanding right now that I will be the first new jersey legislature to say the following: I vote yes.” (-Senator Baroni) Big applause – standing ovation! IT’S BETTER THAN CATS!
9:40: REALLY? REALLY?!!! It’s 9:30 and you think anyone wants to hear about how gay marriages have different consequences upon children and how we should look at those studies before we move forward.
At this point I am going to say, that I cannot listen to this anymore. Instead, I would like to direct you to our interview with superhawt comedian Nicol Paone.
Then please re-watch this, rinse, and repeat. Thank you.
9:25: Someone wants to talk about how wills overcome stated objections to inheritance issues and so forth so we can hear ONE MORE REASON WHY WE SHOULD NOT ADVANCE THIS BILL — um, dude! You lose! Shut up! GLEE is gonna be on really soon in like 72 hours.
See I am probs going to kill this guy, so I hope his poolboy is already in his will.
9:23: Holy shit. Now some douchebag is suggesting that they put it up for a vote in 2011 instead. Everyone smacks that shit down. There’s laughter.
9:21: THEY ARE VOTING ! JAGER BOMBS FOR EVERYONE!
Apparently this is the longest hearing since OJ. The debate is over as of 9:15 PM.
9:10: THE GUY WHO IS IN CHARGE IS TRYING TO GO HOME NOW, and I approve! “It appears we have 25 opposed and about 70 in favor … with that being said, I think this has been a very fair and deliberative hearing this evening, and what I’m asking from the public, and the sponsors, and perhaps the ranking member of the Republican party — is there anybody here who feels compelled to testify and will have something new to offer this debate? We’ve heard the stories, we understand the frustration and the pain …”
9:00: This is the hearing that never ends, yes it goes on and on my “special friends,” some people started believing it not knowing what ‘gay’ was, and they continued hating us forever just because, this is the debate that never ends, she’s not your wife she’s just your friend, some people started hating us not knowing what G-d was, and they’ll continue hating us forever just because this is the lie that never ends …
8:52: Lesbian Mom is regulating Jersey-style — “MY KID IS AMAZING AND NO ONE IS EVER GONNA TELL ME THAT SHE HAS A PROBLEM OR ISN’T GOING TO BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!”
8:45: Does anyone have a sad story about how a bunch of gay weddings blocked their way to the hospital to be with their dying spouse? No? Okay, let’s wrap this shit up. ‘Cause someone just told the saddest story ever, I can’t even get into it. It involves a woman dying in the hospital and the partner being told to get over the death of her “friend,” the partner killing herself, and then the partner’s parents having no one to take care of them as they aged and died. Yup!
8:35: OH SHIT A SENATOR JUST CALLED THIS AWESOME PRO-EQUALITY GUY Thomas Frole (sp?) A LIAR for saying the Civil Unions Review Commission was unbiased. And he’s an attorney and shit on the New Jersey Bar Association and a professor at the New York School of Law.
Bad Senator: Can you say that review board was unbiased?
Good Thomas: Yes.
Bad Senator: Someone one said to me Law School [I think that’s what he said] is three years of learning to lie effectively but you aren’t lying effectively.
Good Thomas: Are you calling me a liar?
8:27: HOUR SEVEN! I really wish this was on video b/c some of these people sound amazing. No really. Listen I believe in G-d, but can we just like, separate it? I mean can we just quit involving religion in legislature? How hard is this? Can we just make that a forbidden word? Unless someone sneezes?
8:21: Someone is talking crazy about speeding. Um, now someone is comparing gay marriage to a nut marrying a nut or a bolt marrying a bolt. I CALL WINGNUT.
8:14: We have just been compared to smog. Smog that is in the air when you would prefer for there to be no smog.
8:00: The Gold Standard of marriage is a mother and a father for two decades, says someone else who I believe is wrong. The State should hold up a gold standard for marriage law, he says. Okay, the state should also send me a bunch of gold right now and a unicorn!
7:57: Cute little girl has a gecko, two moms, and some other pets and thinks families are groups of people who love each other. She would like to marry her gecko. JK YOU GUYS NO BEASTIALITY. She goes to Hebrew School and loves GLEE, which inspires more forbidden clapping, and also an opportunity for me to share this video with you:
Adorable Girl: “If you say that the people of New Jersey won’t accept us, I’m here to say that they do, and they have been for a while.”
More forbidden clapping!
7:53: Greg is here defending the ex-gays, talking about a woman in Toledo who was fired for writing a pro ex-gay op-ed in the newspaper or something.
Greg: “What I really see is that we are marginalizing people of faith, we are taking away people’s right of determination if they choose to leave the homosexual lifestyle!”
Even though clapping has been forbidden, all his sheep keep clapping. The guy is asking the sponsors to stop interrupting. Greg is really upset, I think he needs to hang out with Brian Kinney.
7:50: Gregory has brought a packet of info from his “family” group with a bullying brochure for those of you concerned with that. Thank G-d, I need a brochure right about now IF IT HAS A KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN MENU INSIDE IT.
7:45 PM: Oh boy! This is getting really good now! We’ve got some random dude from “The 14th District Coalition for the People’s Voice.” He said Jesus defined marriage, and said that the government is discriminating against them.
Paul: “We know from prison populations in history it is a learned behavior and thus a choice.”
I HAVE EVIDENCE:
7:33 PM: Okay, this is totally not impartial at all anymore, but it’s also kind of amazing, or else I, much like the New Jersey state legislature, am just tired, hungry, and stir-crazy. Carolee Adams, president of the Eagle Forum, a “Jersey Girl for Life” is not a fan of your lifestyle. She wants you all to carry around this prayer something in your pocket (I sort of missed that part).
Senator: What would you suggest to that young gay man who had suicidal thoughts and actions? What should he carry around to legitimize himself? Is there a document that he can have?
Carolee: I understand the severity of that, I mean I have children who have broken hearts because of broken relationships and we know how many children today commit suicide when the loves of their lives leave them. There’s nothing we can give to protect their hearts and lifestyles besides my prayers … he has a mother, and as a minor, his mother takes care of him … when he gets to be an adult, then he could have one of these — am I missing the point here Senator?
Senator: I think you are. Yeah, I think you are. I think you are, ’cause that young boy walks to school and gets harassed —
Carolee: Sinful! [groans abound] I mean, not his lifestyle, it’s sinful that he gets harassed.
Senator: He gets called names, he’s shunned to the side because our society does not allow him to be what he is and accept what he is and in result of that, he and many others, suffer.
Carolee: But that doesn’t relate to marriage, does it?
Senator: What it relates to is equal rights.
Now Carolee is telling a story about her homosexual friend who took her to see a play in New York City and no one harassed him. On the streets of New York. On their way TO SEE A FREAKING MUSICAL.
7:30 PM: SMACKDOWN!
Public Enemy #1: To the church and state issue, there is a preponderance of evidence of the strong religious impetus motivating our founding fathers … it concerns me that the conversation of religion or immorality has been given a short shift … it would have to naturally follow then, that Almighty God is morally bankrupt because His Laws
Senator: Okay Dr.[whatevs, Doolittle?] that’s it. I’ve given you the opportunity — you’re not talking about the bill you’re talking about —
Public Enemy #1: I’m talking about the separation of Church and State —
Senator: You’re going into a lot of different issues and I need you to stay focused on the legislation.
7:25: Senator Sarlo [?] would like her to show how this relates to the actual marriage, all this stuff about taxes which he says is another debate for another day.
Public Enemy #1: “New Jersey might as well put up a sign that says; young marrieds and young college graduates are no longer welcome.”
If that means no-one is gong to be talking about their deck furniture anymore, then please put that shit up.
7:23: According to Douchetastictress Lady #1, gay people are promiscuous and they damage children and people are fleeing New Jersey from the crushing tax burdens of taking care of all the sick, fucked up gay people.
7:20: THE ENEMIES HAVE ARRIVED. They represent ominously named organizations like “Family Policy Council” and um, The Eagles or something.
7:15: The Quakers love the gays! The Reform Jews love the gays! It’s almost time for Chanukah! Let’s spin the dreidel! Also, The New York Times reports:
Hundreds of supporters and opponents of the bill converged on the State House for the long-awaited debate on the measure, filling a committee room, spilling into the hallway and seated in overflow rooms to watch and listen to broadcasts of the hearing.
Lawmakers said they expected the debate to last at least six hours. Senator Paul A. Sarlo, the committee chairman said he believed the measure had enough votes to clear the 13-member panel. If it does, it will be put up for a vote Thursday by the full Senate, where advocates from both sides of the debate say it will face an uphill battle to reach the 21-vote tally it would need to pass.
7:11: What’s up NEW JERSEY! New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen has been called the rock ‘n’ roll laureate by OBAMA.
“You’ve always got to remember, rock and roll’s never been about giving up. For me, for a lot of kids, it was a totally positive force. . . not optimistic all the time, but positive. It was never–never–about surrender.” (THE BOSS)
7:08: An interpretation of the literal words of the Torah do not criticize homosexuality. They do not inflict mandatory meanings upon us. Says The Rabbi.
7:00: Hey! Interested in watching some movies about the intersections of religion and sexuality? We wrote an article about it!
I think we should always have this video on hand for a quick copy-paste:
6:53: Why do my eyes water whenever someone talks about how long they’ve been with their partner? Bob is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Yeah! That’s right! Did you hear that? That was our stereotypes of evangelicals waltzing out the window in a giant wedding train with Bob and his cute boyfriend Ed who snuck up with the clergy just to say that they’ve been together for 40 years and after having been “civilized by New Jersey” he’d like them to let everyone get married!)
6:47: Alex our Design Director, who I will never be legally permitted to marry, would like to share this lovely poster with you, which you can buy for yourself:
6:40: We are now on Act 7000 of The Great Carnival of the New Jersey State Legislature! This act will feature clergy from a range of denominations who are all here in support of the gays! We’ve got reps from United Methodists, the Unity Fellowship Church, Congregation Ner Tamid, the Unitarian Universalists (I LOVE THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS), Quakers and a hospital Chaplin! And more!
6:35 PM: THAT GUY THAT SENDS ME ALL THE F*CKING EMAILS IS HERE! IT’S BRAD FROM THE WILLIAMS INSTITUTE AT THE UCLA SCHOOL OF LAW!
Brad Sears says, “Extending marriage to same-sex couples in New Jersey will benefit the state economy by over 200 million dollars in the next three years.”
6:33 PM: “When we try to explain what a civil union is, they look at us like we’re from Mars” says a child of the gays. When I was a kid, I wanted to be from Mars. Women are from Mars. I read that somewhere.
6:20: More cute, anecdotal gay children stories.
You may have noticed a lack of videos/photos/things that are not words in this liveblog recently. Standby, we’re working on that. Expect more color in your life SOON.
p.s. When will this vote happen omgsomuchtestimony.
6:15: The Knights of Columbus, as represented by Jim White (second name in a row!! G-d knows if they’re spelled right), say thumbs down to the gays. But obvs they are TOTALLY for equality and they think civil unions achieve that. Of course they do.
Oh hey, he cares about the kids, too! White thinks we shouldn’t show them that homosexuality is natural or right.
He just got seriously yelled at by the Senator man in charge for talking too long.
6:09: Katherine Dixon, social worker, is speaking for the children, y’all. (Sidenote: I finally got someone’s REAL NAME!! It’s almost like I know what I’m doing.) “This is not about our value systems and our beliefs and our relationship with God.” It’s about teaching the kids how to play nicely with each other in the sandbox.
6:00: A lady with a gay son is testifying. After her son came out, she realized that civil unions make him a second-class citizen.
“Everyone who is voting against this bill, I want you to come over to my house for dinner. When you meet my eldest son I want you to wish him a long happy marriage, when you meet David, I want you to wish him the same. When you meet my youngest son Tom, I want you to explain why he can’t get married.”
5:53: On to the Espicopalians! Yay, they love us! “Homosexuality is not a matter of lifestyle, it is a matter of identity… We don’t choose our identity, we claim our identity for God.” Ok, this guy is great! “Countless people have been taught to hide their identity at the cost of their soul.” Damn it, I wish I had gotten his name….
5:35: This is not going so well. The Rabbi (probs?) of some synagogue somewhere in NJ is testifying. He has said homosexual like 8 million times. This bill would “compromised religious freedom” and would cause “erosions in the traditional conception of family.” AWESOME.
5:32: The Jewish panel is up! Probs it’s the people in that photo down there. Standby for their views!
5:25: Now the nice female Senator is bringing up the fact that civil unions vs. marriages is just another form of separate but equal. I’m not sure why this argument isn’t a trump card. Shouldn’t the debate end with that? She’s also responding to some questions I can’t hear because people don’t understand microphones.
5:21: One of the Republican (I assume) Senators on the committee just spent fifteen minutes questioning the legal panel and twisting a bunch of things around. He brought up the polygamy argument! How original! Obvs one guy marrying four women is the exact same thing as two women marrying each other.
But then the guy running the session got fed up and said that conversation was over. Thank god, I couldn’t keep listening to that.
5:05: The guy from the Bar was asked if there was a way to close all of the loopholes involved in civil unions and make them equal to marriage. No, he says, because there is discrimination in our society that cannot be fought unless the language itself is equal. Hear, hear!
4:52: The New Jersey Bar Association thinks this bill is great and the current laws are discriminatory. “The existing civil union laws have not done enough.” Not only is the system extremely hard to navigate, but it’s unfair. The representatives of the bar say that the current legal system is a two-tiered system that has created a second-class of citizenry.
4:38: Ruh-roh. Another medical disaster story. Let’s reform health care or something.
4:36: Someone named John just said to let the people decide, we all know how that goes, and then he told us to have a Merry Christmas. HANNUKAH ME AND WEINBERG ARE CELEBRATING CCHHHANUKAHH. Also, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas, but I actually mean it!
4:20: Everyone in Vermont loves ice cream, each other, homosexuals, have never been happier.
NJ Republican Cornali: Are you afraid of the people?
Vermont Republican: No I am not.
NJ Republican: Then why would you object to them having the right to vote on so important an issue, you obviously think this issue is important … this is the first time I’ve seen a legislator from Vermont come talk to us —
Vermont: I’d come more often if —
I LOVE THAT HE CUTS HER OFF HERE
NJ Rep: You think important issues should be decided by some elite legislative group or are they better entrusted to the people?
Vermont: The people elect their legislators to make important decisions on their behalf.
4:08: Lesniack says 150 people who are in favor won’t get to speak ’cause we gots to get home, but they all voted yay. From now on everyone gets two minutes each. This means everyone is actually just starting to talk REALLY F*CKING FAST. It’s like Win Lose or Draw. I think it’s time we all sit back and enjoy some highlights from Wildwood, NJ:
4:00: Bishop Rep says, “there’s many things in life that individuals would like to do that they cannot do.”
3:59: The Bishop Rep is being called out for being a flip-flopper — by saying that he is cool with Civil Unions when actually he was totes here against it. That’s right. He should follow the Laws of Shaggy and just say, “it wasn’t me,” but instead he says: “Instead of bringing up all these terrible situations, it oughtta just be enforced. What that doctor did [referring to Naomi Cohen & Gina Postino’s story] was against he law of New Jersey.”
Weinberg wants to know what the Bishop might say to the Rabbi. This reminds me of a joke I once heard …
3:50: Now the Bishop Rep and the Senator are fighting. The Bishop Rep says the Civil Union bill gives everything but marriage already so we’re good to go. The Senator is “trying to determine — is it the label of marriage that you object to a same-sex couple having, or are there substantive rights & privileges that you think should be reserved for married heterosexual couples.” He says he’s against all discrimination. Except for THIS KIND.
3:42: The Catholic Bishops of New Jersey are in the house. Since I am listening on the radio I can only imagine what they look like, probs this:
3:40: Gina Postino lives in Montclair, NJ with her partner Naomi Cohen and their two children. Howevs, New Jersey ain’t getting any of their health insurance money ’cause Civil Unions don’t offer the shit they need to get themselves well.
The Rabbi is pissed he had to counsel this couple about discrimination instead of comforting them in their time of grief at the hospital.
Can we have New Jersey people cover all our issues b/c I love a good pissed off New Jersey accent.
3:35 PM: Senator Gill says instead of asking for Bond’s autograph, she’s gonna ask him some questions. We’re sort of gonna have a history lesson right now, which I bet is making the anti-gays want to stick sporks into their eyes. She wanted him to take a moment to talk about Bayard Rustin, a gay black man who organized the March on Washington:
3:30 PM: Time for the Q&A with the guest speaker Julian Bond.
Q: You would label any state that doesn’t commit same sex marriage as sort of racist? Is that really the comment that you made?
Bond: No, I’m sure there are many states with racists in them against same-sex marriage but I wouldn’t characterize all the people in any of those states in that way.
Q: So if we did not pass this, you would not consider us racist?
Bond: I would never consider the people of New Jersey racist.
Senator Beck: You said the NAACP has not taken a public position?
Beck: Can I ask why?
Bond: It’s never come up.
3:30 PM: Bond points out that The Bible said the races were separated by continents, which was used against interracial marriage.
He also points out that despite his introduction specifically noting his journey to the Jerze from Georgia, he lives in D.C. BAM.
3:17 PM: They are calling someone who’s “come all the way here [on a midnight train from] Georgia,” the chairman of the NAACP and an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, Julian Bond.
“Black people, of all people, should not oppose equality … it does not matter no people of good will should oppose marriage equality, and they should not think civil unions are adequate … at best, it’s separate but equal, and we all know separate is not equal.”
3:12 PM: Mr. Wrong is trying to ’cause trouble, saying it’s not fair that the bill will automatically transfer civil unionized couples into marriage unless they request otherwise. Then what we will have next is the apocalypse and the end of mankind when all the unicorns will become wildabeasts who eat gay eyeballs and spit out lounge singers.
Also Mr. Wrong says it should be up to the people not to the Judiciary Committee. Lesniack says HELL NAW.
3:03 PM: Obvs people who mention Britney Spears are always on MY SIDE, but I feel like we need a new example or someone is gonna call us out for recycling anecdotes. LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE LEAVE HER ALONE!
2:55: This dude wants to add an amendment to the bill to protect all religious societies, organizations or institutions should be compelled to provide anything relating to the celebrations etc of same-sex marriage and that we cannot penalize any churches who don’t want to do it.
Loretta Weinberg, Primary Sponsor, says she’ll take a look at it in writing and probs will accept it because the amendment does demonstrate more “artfully and legally” what the “intent of the bill really is.”
So now they are going to type that shit up because they are “friendly amendments.” I wonder if they are hiring typists in New Jersey b/c I’M REALLY F*CKING FAST.
2:50: Maine voted against it, says Mr. Republican, and we should give the state of New Jersey a chance to vote against it too. “Put it to the only poll that counts … the people.” I want to make a joke about the people of New Jersey, I’ll just say at least we know Bethenny Frankel is on our side.
2:47: The top Republican is saying that it’s “no secret” that they are rushing this bill through before Corzine leaves office, and saying that “to attempt to engage in controversial, far-reaching almost civilization changing policy decisions speaks to a character flaw beyond comparison. If Corzine signs this … he’ll confirm the public’s worst fear about him ...”
YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS SHARK ATTACK
2:43: Only 2% of New Jerseyans believe this is an important issue says the dude talking right now, but it’s super important to those 2% and we have to protect everyone. Civil unions are not enough. People really like to talk about funerals at these hearings. It’s sort of depressing. Remember Six Feet Under? That was such a good show. Remember this quote?
Keith: “You’re in my will, I’m in yours. We basically are married, even if the law refuses to recognize it. But then again, I refuse to recognize most of the Bush administration. I guess it all evens out.” (Six Feet Under, best show ever)
The dude says that he has a friend who’s boyfriend died of AIDS in the hospital and his parents refused to visit because they were ashamed of his homosexuality.
2:38: More Weinberg! “If you had been lucky enough to meet [my late husband Irwin] you would’ve known he was a great husband, and great father … losing him was the greatest adversity I’ve ever faced. What we’re voting on today is the right for everyone to have what Irwin and I had, the right to know when your partner or your child is sick, you won’t have to fight nameless bureaucrats … the right to attend parent-teacher conferences … the right to wear a wedding ring…”
Quoting President Kennedy: “We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures, and is as clear as the American constitution. the heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, and treat our fellow Americans as we like to be treated.”
Weinberg is pointing out that we are not a religious country, and so it shouldn’t be a religious country and that we must check our religious beliefs at the committee room door.
2:32: Weinberg is up! “I never thought I’d say it, but it might actually be easier to be on the budget committee than the judiciary committee today.”
2:29 PM: AND WE BEGIN! I’m listening to this not watching it, is there a place to watch it? “People on both sides of this issue have very strong deeply rooted beliefs … people’s positions are based upon a number of factors … regardless of a person’s position on this legislation, this issue still comes down to being a matter of personal belief … everyone’s position today deserves respect, passion and understanding. I ask everyone here today to maintain an environment of respect and courtesy during this hearing.”
2:21 PM: RECESS! Go contact your senators, Dirty Jersey!
2:16 PM: Heroin bla bla marijuana bla bla society bla bla let’s do drugs right now hey what’s up people worried what MTV’s New Show The Jersey Shore is going to do to New Jersey tourism, you should maybe look into a new source of tourist dollars JUST SAYING.
2:13 PM: In case you’re wondering, here’s what this will mean, via Queerty:
“New Jersey’s State Senate Judiciary Committee will today debate whether homosexuals should be able to marry other homosexuals. It’s expected to pass, though we don’t know what “expected” means anymore. Then, by the end of the week, perhaps on Thursday, the full Senate will vote on the bill. That’s great news, except: The State Assembly must also pass its own bill, and they’ve got nothing on the docket as yet. Which they really should, if only to give New Jersey a superlative worth having: the state with the biggest population with gay marriage.”
206 PM: OH SNAP HE JUST SAID “One more bill until the REAL BILL everyone’s here for!”
1:55 PM: I am learning way more about the Alumni Association of something something in New Jersey than I ever wanted to know.
1:36 PM: Because they expect the same-sex marriage hearing to take forever and ever, they are moving it to last on the agenda. Clapping and calling out is forbidden, y’all! Listen up.
1:33 PM: “Shmetel, you’ll never guess who’s here!”
1:28 PM: Live-streaming has not begun, but NJ.com reports: “More than a thousand supporters of gay marriage surrounded the Statehouse today before filing into the Statehouse Annex and making a beeline for the Senate Judiciary Committee for what is expected to be a long, contentious hearing.”
It’s called the “Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act and the bill’s language includes zingers like: “The Legislature has an interest in encouraging stable relationship” and “It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this bill to end the pernicious practice of marriage discrimination in New Jersey.”
This particular notice from the NJ State Legislature website concerns me, as I was hoping for a lot of tearjerkers/a potential live-blog o’ feelings:
“Persons permitted to testify at the discretion of the Chairman on S-1967 will be limited in time allowed. Persons are encouraged to provide written testimony in advance to the Committee Aide via fax or e-mail as noted above. Persons who bring written testimony to the meeting are asked to provide 20 copies.”
It’s like school kinda! And no one should be limited in the time they are allotted to make cold-hearted anti-equality haters potentially muster up actual real human feelings! Although I suppose this should also limit the time I must spend listening to people wax poetic about the word “marriage,” which I honestly just learned to spell last year.
Anyhow, the gay marriage bill will be up we’re estimating around 1:30, following bills about juvenile deliquency records, expunging fines for people in jail, and a particularly interesting little bit which would make restraining orders also apply to email stalking. It’s about time.
In other news:
ENDA/DADT: Gay House Members Say Gay-friendly Bills Are Near: [Emily Sidenote: I misread this title as a ‘gay house’ like a house for gay people then I read this:] “Two of Congress’s three openly gay members said Saturday that the U.S. House is poised to pass bills to provide health coverage for the same-sex partners of gay federal workers and to protect all gay and transgender employees from job discrimination.” (@associatedpress)