Prop 8, the California ban on same-sex marriage has been ruled unconstitutional. You'll hear from both sides on this historic ruling. Is the well in the Gulf finally dead? But what about all that oil that's already poured into the Gulf? Tom Foreman visited the town of Shell Beach today to find out how they're feeling about the news. And find out how a Facebook page led to a stricter drunk driving sentence, in our Crime & Punishment story. We'll have that plus much more tonight on AC360°.
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We’re covering breaking news tonight out of California, where a federal judge today struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughan Walker said in his ruling: "Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”
The decision was met with strong reaction on both sides.
Chad Griffin, board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which helped bring the case against Proposition 8 said: "Any denial of freedom ... undermines the principles on which this country is founded."
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United for Separation of Church and State: "This is a tremendous step forward for individual freedom and church-state separation. Aggressive and well-funded religious groups conspired to take away the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples in California. That was wrong, and I am delighted that the court has ruled the way it has."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins referred to the 1973 decision that legalized abortion in his response: "This lawsuit, should it be upheld on appeal and in the Supreme Court, would become the 'Roe v. Wade' of same-sex 'marriage."
And this, from Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America: "Marriage is not a political toy. It is too important to treat as a means for already powerful people to gain preferred status or acceptance. Marriage between one man and one woman undergirds a stable society and cannot be replaced by any other living arrangement."
A lengthy legal battle is ahead. Judge Walker granted Proposition 8 supporters a stay, essentially stopping his ruling from taking immediate effect. Many believe the case will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Tonight we’ll have the late reaction, celebration and protests underway right now in California and across the country.
A federal judge in California has knocked down the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. Read the entire ruling here.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Actor/director Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke arrives at the Premiere Of Lionsgate Films' 'The Expendables' at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre on August 3, 2010 in Hollywood, California.
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Update: Beat 360° Winners
"Madame Tussaud called. She wants her wax back."
Ryan from Charlottesville, VA
"BP announced today that if Static Kill fails, they will bring in the big guns to plug the leak– Rambo, the Jackal and the Wrestler– because whatever is holding their faces together works wonders."
Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered an investigation after a man who was in the United States illegally killed a nun in a car crash, authorities said.
Napolitano is trying determine why the man was still in the country because he had been arrested two previous times for drunken driving offenses.
The suspect, Carlos Montano, driving Sunday morning under the influence of alcohol, slammed head-on into three nuns in a Toyota sedan, police said. The three were just a few miles from a monastery in Bristow, Virginia, heading for their annual retreat. Sister Denise Mosier was killed instantly, and the other two remained hospitalized Tuesday.
The suspect has twice been in custody - the first time, almost two years ago in October 2008 - Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said. But both times, Montano was released on his own recognizance pending deportation proceedings, because he was not convicted of a violent felony such as murder, rape, or robbery.
"He was in removal proceedings," Napolitano told CNN on Tuesday. "Why were the removal proceedings taking so long? I do not obviously as of today have the results of that, but I will get them."
Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, said he was furious with how immigration officials have handled the case.
"The long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil" befouling the Gulf of Mexico is at last nearing a finish, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.
"We learned overnight that efforts to stop the well through what's called a 'static kill' appear to be working and that a report out today by our scientists shows that the vast majority of spilled oil has been dispersed or removed from the water," the president told the AFL-CIO executive committee at the labor union's meeting in Washington.
"So, the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end, and we are very pleased with that," he said.
On the cleanup front, 74 percent of the oil that leaked from the well since the drilling rig sank in April has been collected, has dispersed or has evaporated, according to a government report released Wednesday.
The study, from agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of the Interior, says of the total amount of oil that was spewed into the Gulf of Mexico (the most recent estimate is 205.8 million gallons), just 26 percent remains in the water, either on or just below the surface as light sheen and weathered tar balls.
The tar balls are either washing ashore, being collected from the coastlines, or buried in sand and sediment and are in the process of being degraded, the report said.
Editor's note: Jim Buckmaster is president and CEO of Craigslist, the most used classified advertising service in any medium, relied on by more than 50 million Americans each month for finding jobs, housing, secondhand items, friendship, romance, services, events and local community information.
Special to CNN
As all people of conscience will agree, human trafficking and child exploitation are utterly despicable and horrendous crimes.
In contrast with the epidemic numbers often cited for the nation as a whole, the incidence of such crimes is low and getting lower on Craigslist because of the comprehensive preventive measures we have taken. Some experts now liken the relative rarity on Craigslist to "looking for a needle in a haystack."
Nevertheless, any misuse of our site whatsoever in facilitating such unspeakable crimes is unacceptable, and we will continue to work tirelessly, in tandem with law enforcement and key nonprofits, to ensure that any victims receive the assistance they desperately need and deserve, and that those responsible are imprisoned.
We believe Craigslist is one of the few bright spots and success stories in the fight against these terrible scourges. We've been told as much by experts on the front lines of this fight, many of whom we have met with, and many of whom have shared helpful suggestions that we have incorporated in our approach. Even politicians looking to advance their careers at the expense of Craigslist's good name grudgingly admit, when pressed, that we have made huge strides, and that Craigslist is virtually alone among advertising venues in vigorously combating these problems.
A federal judge in California on Wednesday overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, saying the voter-approved rule violated the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.
The decision, issued by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco, is an initial step in what will likely be a lengthy legal fight over California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
At stake in the trial was whether California's ban on same-sex marriage violated the constitutional rights to equal protection and due process of two gay couples that want to marry.
The case was watched closely by both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage, as many say it is likely to wind its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. If it does, the case could end in a landmark decision on whether people in the United States are allowed to marry people of the same sex.
"We are thrilled with today's ruling, which affirms that the protections enshrined in our U.S. Constitution apply to all Americans and that our dream of equality and freedom deserves protection," said Geoff Kors, executive director for Equality California, shortly after the decision.
Kristin Perry and Sandy Stier, along with Jeffrey Zarrillo and Paul Katami, are the two couples at the heart of the case, which if appealed would go next to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before possibly heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Outside a San Francisco courthouse, a small group of same-sex marriage supporters waited for the decision. They waved flags and carried signs that read: "We all deserve the freedom to marry." Rallies were planned for later in the day.
Proposition 8 is part of a long line of seesaw rulings, court cases, debates and protests in California over the hotly debated issue of same-sex marriage. It passed with some 52 percent of the vote in November 2008.
Prior to Wednesday's decision, Rick Jacobs, founder of the Campaign Courage, which supports same-sex marriage, said he was hopeful about the possibility of victory, but prepared for a long legal battle.
David Gewirtz | BIO
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute
What does it say about our current congressional leadership when senators from South Carolina, Kentucky, and Arizona appear to be giving serious consideration to repealing the Constitutional amendment that gave citizenship to slaves?
To me, it's just another way to say, "business as usual in Washington".
OK, so here's the story. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States has a section that gives certain rights to Americans. It gives citizenship to people born or naturalized in the United States. It also allows everyone in the U.S. the protection of due process.
Back before the Civil War, due process wasn't available to everyone, and certainly not enslaved people. In fact, in the Dred Scott decision of 1857, the Supreme Court held that African Americans weren't citizens (and never could be) and weren't subject to any sort of protection under the Constitution.
Blacks were fair game prior to the 14th Amendment.
Now, Senators Graham, McConnell, and Kyl are talking up the idea of taking back the protections afforded by the 14th Amendment. They're trying to turn the clock back 150 years.
Yes, yes we do have a black president. No, of course there's no connection (or so they'd have you think).
Instead they're firing off this political trial balloon to appeal to the anti-immigration forces arrayed throughout America. They're asking just why someone should get the protection of America just because he or she was born on our soil?
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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