News roundup: Marriage, Markey and more

gavel4While you were having a great time at the beach, on vacation, or trapped in an office, the rest of the world was having a pretty busy couple of days. Here’s what you may have missed if you weren’t glued to C-Span or the Associated Press’s Twitter feed.

Supreme Court rules on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8

Photo courtesy of Michael Lehet/Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Michael Lehet/Flickr.

In two separate decisions handed down yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the favor of marriage equality advocates. In overturning a nearly two-decade federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, the Supreme Court decided that gay couples are eligible for the same federal benefits as all other married couples.

This landmark decision was followed by the Court’s announcement that gay marriage in the state of California must be allowed to proceed as planned, siding with a federal appeals court decision overturning Proposition 8. “Prop 8,” a measure passed in 2008, sought to ban gay marriage in the state of California. By ruling that the Court did not have jurisdiction to decide the case, gay marriage must proceed as originally promised in California.

Photo courtesy of Victoria Pickering/Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Victoria Pickering/Flickr.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick praised the decision and said, “Freedom includes keeping government out of people’s most personal and intimate choices and affirming human dignity.”

However, the question of gay and lesbian couples' constitutional right to marry remains up in the air, positioning the 37 states in which gay marriage is not legal for a new era of debate. The Human Rights Campaign set a goal of legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states within the next five years.

Massachusetts elects its next U.S. senator

Photo courtesy of Freddy Wheeler/Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Freddy Wheeler/Flickr.

Congressman Edward J. Markey won the special election to fill the remainder of now Secretary of State John Kerry’s term in the United States Senate. Defeating Republican challenger Gabriel Gomez, a private equity investor and former Navy Seal, 54.8 percent to 44.8 percent, Markey will join Senator Elizabeth Warren to round out Massachusetts’s Senate delegation.

The morning after his victory, Markey remarked, "It was a tremendous victory. I know that it was about the issues. I know that it was about the differences that existed between me and my opponent."

Markey on election night with BC alums.  Photo courtesy of Rory Cuddyer.

Markey on election night with BC alums.
Photo courtesy of Rory Cuddyer.

A staunch progressive, Senator-elect Markey graduated from Boston College in 1968 and Boston College Law School in 1972, paying for his tuition by driving an ice cream truck in his hometown of Malden, Massachusetts. On election night, celebrating his victory, Markey led a rendition of “For Boston” with other BC alums that worked on his campaign.

President Obama outlines his plan to combat climate change

Following through on a campaign promise, President Barack Obama laid out on Tuesday a piece-by-piece approach to a new energy policy. The president pledged to use whatever executive power the White House has, in regards to a gridlocked and intransigent Congress.

Photo courtesy of Chuck Kennedy/Wikimedia Commons.

Photo courtesy of Chuck Kennedy/Wikimedia Commons.

In the nearing term, the president will work to ensure that the United States reduces its emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, a measure that was enacted as a part of the Copenhagen Accord. To get the U.S. back on track to reach this mark, Obama has empowered the Environmental Protection Agency to propose carbon emissions standards for coal-and-gas-fired power plants by summer 2014.

The EPA’s goals would emphasize efficiency, a decrease in reliance on coal, and an increase in renewable power. President Obama reiterated that, “Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction. The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it is too late.”

Other Notable News

Accompanying this trifecta of news developments, Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with the murder of a 27-year-old Dorchester man, former mob boss “Whitey” Bulger’s trial continued, and cooking show host Paula Deen was fired amid a scandal over racist conduct.

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