Massachusetts’ highest court ruled yesterday that gay couples have the right to marry under the state’s Constitution. In the 4-3 ruling, the state Supreme Court wrote that marriage is “among the most basic of every individual’s liberty and due-process rights.” Judges gave the state legislature six months to come up with a law making same-sex marriage possible. Vermont established civil unions for gay couples in 2000 but legal experts say the Massachusetts ruling goes a step further by clearly saying same-sex couples have the identical right to marriage as heterosexuals. The ruling could have major ramifications across the country. We’ll have more on the ruling later in the show.
Sierra Club Condemns House Energy Bill
On Capitol Hill, the House approved by a 246 to 180 vote a new energy bill that has been strongly condemned by Democrats and environmental groups. The Sierra Club describes the legislation as “one of the worst disasters for the environment, public health and consumers in years.” The Senate may vote as early as today. According to the Sierra Club, the bill will make oil and gas drilling the dominant use of federal public land. The Clean Air Act will be weakened. Oil and gas companies will be exempted from provisions of the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts. And the coal and nuclear industries will be given billions in tax breaks. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said of the legislation, “It’s the leave-no-lobbyist-behind bill.”
In Iraq, the U.S. Tuesday launched its largest raids since April. F-16 warplanes bombed targets near Samara and Baquba. And U.S. bombings destroyed as many as 12 homes in Tikrit. The attacks came as part of an effort to destroy the Iraqi resistance movement. The military has codenamed the effort Operation Iron Hammer. Reuters is reporting that the codename Operation Iron Hammer was first used by the Nazis during World War II.
U.S. lieutenant colonel Allen West faced a military hearing Tuesday after he was charged with beating an Iraqi detainee and staging a mock execution to scare information out of him.
President Bush met with Queen Elizabeth II today and was scheduled to defend the invasion of Iraq while speaking at Whitehall Palace. On Thursday up to 100,000 anti-war protesters are expected to protest Bush. In both London and the Northern Ireland city of Derry, protesters are planning to build and then topple statues depicting the U.S. president. Among those protesting Bush is Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London. Livingstone described Bush as the “greatest threat to life on this planet that we’ve most probably ever seen”.
Meanwhile, in Rochester New York, over 300 protesters demonstrated Monday outside a convention center where Vice President Dick Cheney was attending a 1,000-dollar a plate campaign fundraiser.
In New Hampshire at a forum sponsored by the AARP, five of the six Democratic presidential candidates attending blasted the advocacy group for backing President Bush’s proposed overhaul to the Medicare system. The candidates charged the bill will aid insurance and drug companies at the expense of seniors. According to the Los Angeles Times, hundreds of AARP members in attendance cheered when the candidates criticized the position of the AARP leadership. AARP plans to spend $7 million on advertising to support the Medicare legislation.
President Bush has nominated the prominent Texas oil lobbyist, James Oberwetter, to be U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He is a vice president at Hunt Consolidated and former head of the lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has begun removing its foreign staff from much of southern and eastern Afghanistan. Over the last month in the region, a French UN worker has been killed and a UN vehicle and building were both bombed.
In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak was forced to stop giving a televised speech today after he suffered what officials describes as a “health crisis.”
In Turkey, police have identified the two men suspected of carrying out Saturday’s twin suicide bombings on Istanbul synagogues where 23 people were killed and 300 were injured. Both men are from Turkey.
In Zimbabwe, the government has arrested more than 100 leading trade unionists and civic leaders who were staging protesting Robert Mugabe’s government.
And in Haiti, thousands celebrated Tuesday the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Vertieres which led to the hemisphere’s first successful slave rebellion and the formation of the world’s first black republic.