Sexual politics have been at the forefront of both national and DMV news these past few weeks, and the news cycle didn't stop today.
Virginia Senate hopeful Timothy Kaine praised President Barack Obama’s announcement Friday that he would change the administration’s controversial contraception rule so that religious institutions are no longer required to cover contraceptives for employees.
With this change, women will still be guaranteed coverage for birth control but will have to get the coverage directly from their insurance companies if their employers refuse to cover birth control on religious grounds.
Kaine, a former Virginia governor and former Democratic National Committee chairman, came out against Obama’s initial ruling that required religious institutions to cover birth control—a notable break, according to the Post, given Kaine’s closeness to the president.
"I am pleased that the White House has taken further steps to ensure that all women have access to affordable contraception and to ensure that religious organizations will not be asked to violate their beliefs in the process. There are some who have wrongly used this debate to pit women's rights against freedom of religion. The steps taken by the White House show that there is a way to respect both.
And a plug for his Senate campaign against former Gov. George Allen:
"There are too many Americans who believe compromise in Washington is no longer achievable. Today's agreement shows that if we focus on the issues, rather than the politics, we can find common ground and make choices that promote and protect important rights and freedoms instead of pitting those rights and freedoms against each other. That's the kind of leadership I hope to bring to the U.S. Senate as we fight to rebuild our economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class."
NBC’s Ryan Nobles wrote a piece earlier this week on when and why Kaine chooses to part with Obama. Given today’s announcement, the article is still relevant.
It will be impossible for Kaine to completely escape the specter of Obama and he knows it. He once told me that when it comes to he and the president, “I’ve got my own views on some things and he and I some times have some pleasant and some times spirited disagreement on this or that. But on most issues we see things the same way.” That is why the Kaine team welcomes polls like today’s that shows Obama (and them) with a slight lead in Virginia.
But while Kaine wiggles an every so small space between he and Obama, George Allen will continue to pound home his belief that his fellow former governor will be nothing more than a rubber stamp for a Obama agenda.
The bill will likely face a battle in the House where supporters say they are about three votes shy of the necessary 71 votes for passage.
Earlier in the week, eight Maryland religious leaders made a video in support of same-sex marriage in an effort to show that some members of clergy do approve of same-sex marriage.
* Maryland lawmakers discussed Thursday a bipartisan bill that would place some of the harshest penalties in the nation on parents who fail to report a missing or dead child.
The bill comes in response to the high-profile Casey Anthony trial—the now infamous mother who didn't reported her 2-year-old daughter missing and was acquitted last year of murder charges.
* The Washington Post reports that a quotation by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘”clumsily shortened when inscribed in granite on his memorial at the Tidal Basin, will be replaced and his full words restored.”
The complete quote will require shaving off a slice of the memorial a few inches thick, and replacing it with a new slab inscribed with the full quotation.
Interior Secretary Kan Salazar and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said the correction to the quote more accurately reflects the words King spoke in a sermon he delivered two months before he was assassinated.
* The Virginia House gave preliminary approval Friday afternoon to a bill that would change the way teachers and principals are evaluated, essentially making it easier to fire them if they are ineffective.
* A proposal to allow people to carry guns and other weapons into Virginia airport terminals has been tabled until next year because of technicalities that could not be resolved before Tuesday's deadline for each chamber to act on its own legislation.
* Dubbed the "Amazon tax loophole bill," legislation to eliminate the tax loophole that allows online businesses to not collect state sales taxes easily passed the Virginia Senate Friday.