Midday Roundup: Oklahoma marriage law suffers judicial deathblow

by Leigh Jones
Posted 1/15/14, 01:00 pm

Losing court battles. A federal judge in Tulsa declared Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional Tuesday, the second such ruling in the last month. But unlike courts that struck down Utah’s traditional marriage law, Senior U.S. District Judge Terrence C. Kern postponed his ruling from taking effect as the case goes through the appeals process. Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved the ban in 2004, but Kern said the motivation behind the law didn’t pass legal muster: “Moral disapproval of homosexuals as a class, or same-sex marriage as a practice, is not a permissible justification.” Because Oklahoma and Utah are in the same federal circuit—the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals—the cases could be combined to face their uncertain future. Although they agreed to fast track Utah’s case, the appeals court judges declined to stop same-sex ceremonies until the legal question could be settled. That might suggest the 10th Circuit favors the plaintiffs’ arguments. But the cases are certain to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, whose justices unanimously granted Utah’s request to reinstate its same-sex marriage ban, at least temporarily.

Benghazi blame. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi declared the tragedy “preventable” and accused the Obama administration of failing to respond to “ample” warnings about deteriorating security. The report said the intelligence community had enough information to warrant extra protection requested for U.S. personnel, pleas the State Department declined. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, died during the attack. Although Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she hopes the report put “conspiracy theories” about what happened to rest, the findings do contradict administration claims about the attack. The report specifically blasts initial claims the attack began as an impromptu protest over an anti-Muslim YouTube video. But rather than blaming administration officials for perpetuating that narrative, the report cited intelligence officials for not correcting the information quickly enough.

School shooting. New Mexico officials have named the student allegedly responsible for Tuesday’s shooting at a Roswell middle school and said the 12-year-old boy might have warned some of his classmates to stay home from school that day. Seventh-grader Mason Campbell brought a sawed-off, 20-gauge shotgun to the school in a band instrument case and opened fire in a gym full of students. An 11-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl were injured. The boy, who has not been named, has undergone two surgeries and remains in critical condition at a hospital in Lubbock, Texas. Although he has not yet been charged with anything, Campbell already has an attorney. Robert Gorence, who announced yesterday he is representing the suspect, said the boy’s family intended to release a statement today. After an initial hearing Tuesday afternoon, Campbell was transferred to a psychiatric hospital in Albuquerque, N.M.

‘Splash landing.’ Five years ago today, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III and First Officer Jeff Skiles landed US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River after geese took out both of the plane’s engines. In what has been dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson,” rescue crews plucked all 155 passengers and crew members out of the icy water alive. Sullenberger, Skiles, and several passengers plan to meet at the accident site today to commemorate the event.

Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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