Washington - While closing arguments have ended in California's Proposition 8 trial - a case that will determine the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban - the outcome may not have an impact on states considering similar legislation.
The reason: State budget crises and the upcoming elections have shifted the focus from social issues to fiscal stability, which will sidetrack same-sex marriage legislation in other states, a policy expert said.
"I have also seen this issue pushed aside since the recession started. States are just so focused on budgets and the shortfalls," said Christine Nelson, a program director at the National Council of State Legislatures. "I had a legislator tell me 'Are you kidding? Our state needs money and job creation. So why in the world would we be tackling that?' "
Nelson, who follows the issue of same-sex marriage, said there's been very little legislative activity this year, which she attributes to a year where most legislators are up for re-election.
More than 13,000 gay and lesbian service members have been discharged under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. President Bill Clinton tried to lift the military's ban on gays altogether in 1993, but settled for the "don't ask, don't tell" compromise amid opposition from Congress and the military. Now, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is launching a yearlong study on how to phase out the policy.
Amid the ongoing debate over its effectiveness, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Virginia, said that the number of troops discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" in 2009 was roughly one-third the number dismissed in 2001. "This shows that during wartime, DADT is not being pursued aggressively because one's orientation has nothing to do with their ability to fight," he said in a written statement.
The case of South African athlete Caster Semenya has sparked worldwide interest following reports that she will be tested by sporting officials to determine whether she is male or female.
The 18-year-old won gold in the 800 meters race Wednesday but she may be forced to return the medal if she fails a gender-verification test imposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
According to media reports, the IAAF are testing to see whether Semenya has a rare genetic disorder that means she has female genitalia but male chromosomes.
This condition, known as intersex, is commonly referred to as hermaphroditism. (Some support groups say that the term "hermaphroditism" can be inaccurate and offensive, as it implies that someone is both fully male and fully female, which is a physiologic impossibility.)
As bad as I am at making predictions, I'd bet my career on one bit of soothsaying.
No one will ever peep into my hotel room and videotape me naked.
It just won't happen. If you're waiting for that shocker, go ahead and invite Sasquatch to your next dinner party, too.
I'm not Internet-ogling material. Too husky. Too male. Too fortunate.
Which brings me to ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, who's been victimized by a cowardly pervert. Someone actually peeped into her hotel room, taped her in the nude and put the recording on the Internet. It's a sad and sick incident that has the sports world abuzz, especially the blogosphere, and ultimately, a bunch of dudes dominate the chatter by feigning outrage or making light of an embarrassing situation that men can't possibly understand.
So instead of offering flimsy perspective, I went to KING 5 sports reporter Lisa Gangel and asked for her take. In some ways, Gangel is like Andrews: blonde, female and hoping to be respected rather than gawked. Seeing a colleague suffer struck Gangel on a personal level.
"It deflated me," Gangel said. "You never know what can happen, and in our profession, being so visible, you never know who's watching you. I'm very critical of women in sports because I'm very critical of myself. I'm always looking at them and wondering how I can improve to get to their level, or what I can do better than they do.
Program Note: Tune in tonight for more details from Jeffrey Toobin about legalizing same-sex marriage in America on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
Vermont's House and Senate voted Tuesday to override the governor's veto of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.
The Senate voted 23-5 to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto, according to the Senate office. Shortly afterward, the House overrode the veto on a 100-49 vote. The votes surpassed the number needed - two-thirds of those present - to override the veto.
The action makes Vermont the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriages. The others are Massachusetts, Connecticut and, as of last week, Iowa.
The Wall Street Journal
I often tell friends that a part of me is gay, even though I've been happily married to my wife for 12 years. What I mean is that in April 2003 I donated a kidney to my older brother David, who is gay. The transplant took place at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics - and it was, in a very real sense, a miraculous event for our entire family.
So when David called me last Friday excited about the Iowa Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage legal, I wasn't surprised. "You know what this means, don't you?" he asked. "It means we can visit those we love when they're dying in the hospital; it means we're finally treated like family."
Most hospitals in America only allow spouses and immediate family members to visit a patient during a medical emergency, when a patient is unconscious or in critical condition after a car accident, heart attack or kidney failure, for example. These are the moments when our spouses are most needed, the moments when life and death decisions are made - and, if necessary, goodbyes are said. My brother, whose kidneys failed when he was in his 30s, understands these moments.
Marlene Turnbach is a pro-life Democrat from Hazelton, Pa., who twice voted for George W. Bush over abortion. As she told me a couple of years ago when I interviewed her for a book on women voters, "Bush won because all my friends who are Democrats voted for him and put abortion over everything else."
Though only about 13 percent of those likely to turn out at the polls are true single-issue pro-life voters, I met a surprising number of women, most of them Catholic, who said that they did not expect the Democratic Party to switch its basic position on Roe v. Wade but nonetheless felt increasingly marginalized and unwelcome in the party as dissenters from party orthodoxy on that one issue.
And now? Not so much. With the economy in freefall, abortion opponents afraid even to peek at their third-quarter 401(k) statements suddenly see their way around this obstacle on their road home to the Democrats. In Turnbach's state, where one-third of all voters are Catholic (and six in 10 Catholics describe themselves as pro-life), pro-choice Barack Obama is nonetheless ahead of John McCain, who opposes abortion rights, by 12 points in one poll and 14 in another.
At a rally in Johnstown, Pa., on Saturday, Sarah Palin all but pleaded with pro-life voters to give her party one more chance to deliver on 35 years of pro-life promises: "In times like these with wars and financial crisis, I know that it may be easy to forget even as deep and abiding a concern as the right to life, and it seems that our opponent kind of hopes you will forget that." Yet when I checked back in with Turnbach and others, it was clear that for them social issues are off the table, at least for now.
It isn't that Turnbach's stand on abortion has shifted any, she says. But her view of the Republican Party's commitment to seeing Roe overturned has: "Even if McCain does get in, he's not going to do anything" that would lead to a reversal of Roe. The legality of abortion "is not going to change," she's concluded, "and I really don't think it should be an issue" in this presidential race.
It seems to me, the answer is an unequivocal "yes." And not just because I've written a book called Why Women Should Rule the World, which comes out tomorrow.
Actually, the book isn't about Hillary Clinton, though I do mention her. And it's not really a case for a woman president, though I think that would be great. Rather it's an argument that more women in public life makes things better, not because women are the same as men, but often because of the ways they are different. It's important to note here that my book isn't "anti-men."
I love men. My father is a man. I'm married to man. And I gave birth to a baby man. I don't think women should replace men; I think they should have more opportunities to shape the world alongside men. What's more, I don't think we should create opportunities for women because it's the "right" thing to do; we should do it because it's the "smart" thing to do.
Empowering women strengthens the economy. It makes our government more responsive. It improves the quality of life for women, children and men. In short, everybody wins.
Morning Folks!!! A tragic story still unfolding at Northern Illinois University. The Chicago papers are reporting now a 7th student has died and the gunman has still NOT identified. Take a look at Top Stories for the latest...
In Raw Politics...Obama took the day off yesterday to celebrate Valentine's day, so Hillary took advantage of the air time and began the attacks....AND Mitt Romney endorsed John McCain. I didn't think they liked each other, go figure!!! BUT make sure you tune into AC360 TONIGHT...Anderson hosts a special Uncovering America: Race, Gender & Politics...
PLUS...gorillas in LOVE...is it What YOU will be talking about TODAY...TGIF!!!
7th person dies in NIU shooting...
A seventh person has died in the shooting, according to DeKalb County Coroner Dennis J. Miller. In addition, he released the identities of four of the victims: Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester; Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero; Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville; and Julianna Gehant, 32, of Meridan.
Professor witness to shooting tells his story...
Northern Illinois University grad student Joseph Peterson was about ten minutes from finishing a geology class he was teaching, lecturing from a stage. Suddenly, a tall white man dressed in dark clothing appeared about 40 feet away from him.
Former student kills five...
A gunman dressed in black stepped from behind a curtain at the front of a large lecture hall at Northern Illinois University on Thursday and shot 21 people, five of them fatally, then shot and killed himself, said university president John Peters.
Al Qaeda recruiting females for suicide missions...
Al Qaeda in Iraq is recruiting female patients at Baghdad's two psychiatric hospitals for suicide missions–with the help of hospital staff–according to the U.S. military.
U.S attempt to shoot down satellite...
The military will try to shoot down a crippled spy satellite in the next two weeks, senior officials said Thursday. The officials laid out a high-tech plan to intercept the satellite over the Pacific just before it tumbles uncontrollably to Earth carrying toxic fuel.
Major immigrant smuggling ring busted...
In a case highlighting this city’s prominent role in the smuggling of illegal immigrants across the border, the authorities conducted a series of raids on Thursday, arresting what they said were the leaders of a ring that helped transport hundreds of people to way stations in Phoenix.
Bush & Congress in spy bill standoff...
With a deadline looming, President Bush and congressional Democrats are locked in a standoff over the government's authority to spy on foreign phone calls and e-mails that pass through the United States.
Clinton sharpens attacks...
Sen. Hillary Clinton on Thursday sharpened her attacks on Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama as she faces what even her supporters admit are must-win situations in Texas and Ohio in the weeks ahead.
John McCain on Larry King Live...
Republican presidential front-runner Sen. John McCain on Thursday defended his statement that U.S. troops could spend "maybe 100" years in Iraq - saying he was referring to a military presence similar to what the nation already has in places like Japan, Germany and South Korea.
The man behind the Obama message...
Sen. Barack Obama strode into a hotel ballroom filled with expectation one recent Tuesday and declared that his quest for the Oval Office, which "began as a whisper in Springfield, has swelled to a chorus of millions calling for change."
More signs of Clinton trouble...
In a fresh sign of trouble for Hillary Rodham Clinton, one of the former first lady's congressional black supporters intends to vote for Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, and a second, more prominent lawmaker is openly discussing a possible switch.
Limbaugh no let up on McCain...
Rush Limbaugh took his show on the road this week, forsaking his main broadcast studio in Palm Beach, Fla., for one in Midtown Manhattan. But the change of scenery did nothing to dampen the Republican-on-Republican smackdown he has been waging from afar against Senator John McCain, the party’s likely presidential nominee, whom Mr. Limbaugh considers too moderate.
Crime & Punishment
Man questioned in therapist shooting...
NYPD investigators on Thursday questioned a man in Pennsylvania in the slaying of a psychologist hacked to death in her office with a meat cleaver, law enforcement officials said.
Keeping Them Honest
There have been at least three accidental drug overdoses and four suicides among soldiers in special units the Army set up last summer to help war-wounded troops, officials said late Thursday.
F.D.A brokes its own rules...
The Food and Drug Administration violated its own policies when it approved for sale a crucial blood-thinning drug without first inspecting a Chinese plant which, along with a plant in Wisconsin, made the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient.
What YOU will be talking about TODAY
Gorillas in a trist...
Leah and George aren't star-crossed lovers caught in mid-tryst. They're western gorillas in Nouabale-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo, observed by primatologists whose interest is far more scientific than it is prurient.