The Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act in a 61-36 vote Tuesday, protecting same-sex and interracial marriages at the federal level. This is Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin: “I want to recognize the millions of same-sex and interracial couples who have truly made this moment possible by living their true selves and changing the hearts and minds of people around this country. Many of these same-sex and interracial couples are fearful. They’re worried that the rights, responsibilities and freedoms that they enjoy through civil marriage could be stripped away.”
The law would not stop individual states from banning same-sex marriage if the conservative-led Supreme Court overturns Obergefell v. Hodges, but it would force those states to recognize marriages from another state. Of the 12 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill, Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis said she was “vilified” for supporting the measure. The bill will now go back to the House, which is also expected to pass it, then to President Biden’s desk for signing.
The House of Representatives is voting today to impose a deal that would block a rail strike, after President Biden warned of devastating economic consequences. Four out of 12 rail unions, representing tens of thousands of workers, have opposed the deal, struck in September, which raised wages by nearly 25% but did not address the need for paid sick days and workers’ grueling schedules. Lawmakers separately will vote on a proposal to add seven days of paid sick leave to the agreement, after mounting pressure from labor groups and progressive lawmakers, who oppose the imposition of the existing agreement. Rail workers are asking for 15 days of paid leave.
The U.S. announced an additional $53 million in aid to Ukraine to support its energy infrastructure amid ongoing attacks by Russia. Also on Tuesday, NATO reiterated its commitment to grant eventual membership to Ukraine. Meanwhile, earlier today, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen proposed a special court to try Russia over its crimes in Ukraine.
Ursula von der Leyen: “Russia must pay for its horrific crimes, including for its crime of aggression against a sovereign state. And this is why, while continuing to support the International Criminal Court, we are proposing to set up a specialized court, backed by the United Nations, to investigate and prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression.”
Kyiv has been pushing international actors to establish a tribunal to hold Moscow accountable for its invasion.
This comes as President Volodymyr Zelensky warns Russian forces are “planning something in the south” as they try to advance in the region. Ukrainian officials said at least five civilians were killed in strikes in the Donetsk region Tuesday.
In Washington, D.C., a federal jury convicted Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes of seditious conspiracy for plotting to keep Donald Trump in power after the 2020 election, resulting in the deadly January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Kelly Meggs, who led the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, was also convicted of seditious conspiracy. Rhodes and Meggs are the first defendants in almost three decades to be found guilty at trial of seditious conspiracy, which can carry a sentence of 20 years. Three other insurrectionists — Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell — were found guilty of other felonies.
In related news, CNN is reporting former Trump adviser Stephen Miller on Tuesday became the first known witness to testify to a federal grand jury about January 6 since the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to oversee the Trump investigations earlier this month.
In more news about the 2020 election, D.C. federal Judge Emmet Sullivan on Monday refuted Trump’s claim to have “absolute immunity” in a lawsuit brought by civil rights groups and others over Trump’s attempt to disenfranchise voters.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of South Carolina ordered former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to testify before the grand jury investigating Trump’s effort to overturn his election loss in Georgia.
A Qatari official who is overseeing the FIFA World Cup has placed the number of migrant workers who have died while working on related projects “between 400 and 500” people. Hassan al-Thawadi cited the figures during an interview with Piers Morgan.
Piers Morgan: “What is the honest, realistic total, do you think, of migrant” —
Hassan al-Thawadi: “The numbers” —
Piers Morgan: — “workers who have died from — as a result of work they’re doing for the World Cup, in totality?”
Hassan al-Thawadi: “The estimate is around 400.”
Piers Morgan: “Four hundred.”
Hassan al-Thawadi: “Between 400 and 500. I don’t have the exact number. That’s something that’s being discussed.”
Piers Morgan: “I mean, there will be people, Hassan, who say that’s a lot of people. That’s” —
Hassan al-Thawadi: “One death is too many, Piers. It’s as simple as that.”
Piers Morgan: “But they may say 400 is a price too big to pay. What do you say to that?”
Hassan al-Thawadi: “What I will say is that one death is a death too many.”
The committee overseeing the games had previously said there were only three fatalities related to work on the World Cup. Steve Cockburn of Amnesty International said, “The continued debate around the number of workers who have died in the preparation of the World Cup exposes the stark reality that so many bereaved families are still waiting for truth and justice.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department approved a $1 billion sale of arms to Qatar during Tuesday’s match between the U.S. and Iran. The sale would include 10 defensive drone systems, 200 interceptors and other equipment. The U.S. team won against Iran 1-0.
Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin has died at the age of 96. Jiang became president in 1993 and is credited with mending China’s ties with the international community and overseeing its economic boom following the country’s isolation after the bloody 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests. Jiang’s passing comes amid a series of rare public protests against the government, triggered by Beijing’s stringent COVID-19 policies.
In Afghanistan, at least 15 people, including children, were killed and several others wounded Wednesday after a bomb exploded at a religious school in the northern Samangan province. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In Missouri, 37-year-old Black father and grandfather Kevin Johnson was executed Tuesday evening by lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his last plea for a stay of execution. A special prosecutor had asked the Missouri Supreme Court to halt Johnson’s execution in order to fully investigate evidence of pervasive racism in his prosecution, but that request was denied Monday. Johnson was sentenced to die for the 2005 murder of a Kirkwood police officer. Johnson was only 19 years old at the time of the incident. His 19-year-old daughter Khorry Ramey had filed a lawsuit with the ACLU challenging a Missouri law that banned her from witnessing her father’s death because she’s under the state’s age threshold of 21.
Virginia Democratic Congressmember Donald McEachin died Monday after a battle with colorectal cancer. In their tributes, his colleagues in D.C. noted McEachin’s commitment to social and environmental issues. McEachin had just been reelected earlier this month; his seat will now be filled in a special election.
In Hawaii, Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, is erupting for the first time in nearly four decades. Its neighbor, Kilauea, has been erupting for over a year. This is the first time the two volcanoes have erupted together since 1984.
Here in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams said police and emergency medical workers will start hospitalizing people with mental illness against their will, even if they pose no threat to others.
Mayor Eric Adams: “A common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent, suicidal or presenting a risk of imminent harm. This myth must be put to rest.”
Rights groups swiftly condemned the announcement. The New York Civil Liberties Union said, “The Mayor’s attempt to police away homelessness and sweep individuals out of sight is a page from the failed Giuliani playbook. With no real plan for housing, services, or supports, the administration is choosing handcuffs and coercion.”
In Puerto Rico, 16 municipalities have filed a lawsuit against Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and other corporations, accusing them of contributing to the climate crisis by pushing a multibillion-dollar fraudulent marketing scheme that downplayed the catastrophic impacts of fossil fuels. The suit also blames Big Oil companies for the billions of dollars in damages after a devastating hurricane season in 2017. Hurricanes Irma and Maria killed thousands of people and destroyed critical infrastructure in Puerto Rico.