Conservative groups have criticized Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway's recent decision to not appeal a judge's ruling that struck down part of the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Conway, a Democrat, announced Tuesday that he will not be appealing a Feb. 12 ruling by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II that determined Kentucky must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. Conway said in a statement that he has chosen not to appeal Judge Heyburn's ruling because doing so would be "defending discrimination." Shortly after his announcement, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, also a Democrat, said the state will hire outside attorneys to appeal Heyburn's ruling.
Beshear said in a statement that the definition of marriage "will be and should be ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in order to bring finality and certainty to this matter," adding that "the people of this country need to know what the rules will be going forward. Kentucky should be a part of this process." more >>
As Oscar Pistorius' trial continues, more is being revealed about what happened the day he allegedly shot his girlfriend, Reva Steenkamp, to death. One witness has now testified that Pistorius prayed over Steenkamp's body as she lay dying.
"It was obvious that she was mortally wounded," radiologist Johan Stripp testified. "I tried to assist her. I tried to open an airway. I went near her and as I bent down, I also noticed a man on the left, kneeling by her side. He had his left hand on her right groin, and his right hand, the second and third fingers in her mouth."
Stripp said that he saw a wound in Steenkamp's right thigh, upper arm, and the right side of the head. He tried to help in whatever way he could until authorities arrived, but Steenkamp didn't survive the shooting. more >>
A former Tenn. judge who previously ordered a mother to change her son's name from Messiah to Martin has been found guilty of five counts of bias.
On Monday, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct Disciplinary Counsel censured former judge Lu Anne Ballew, saying she disobeyed her obligations of impartiality when she ordered a mother to change her son's name from Messiah to Martin in 2013. The state's board of judicial conduct said censuring Ballew was the harshest form of punishment they could administer, as the judge already lost her job over the incident that took place in May last year.
According to WBIR-TV, a "public censure" means that Balew's violation of conduct will be put on record, and she may be required to "follow a specified course of corrective action." The news outlet adds that a censure is considered to be a stronger punishment than a public reprimand. more >>
Rachel Canning had her first day in court and was called "spoiled" by the judge, who also denied her request for child support and payment for her private high school. Another hearing is set to further examine the case, but the family is still distraught over the proceedings.
"Do we want to establish a precedent where parents live in basic fear of establishing rules of the house? If they set a rule a child doesn't like, the child can move out, move in with another family, seek child support, cars, cell phone, and a few hundred grand to go to college" Judge Peter Bogaard said from the bench. Reports also state that Judge Bogaard referred to Rachel, 18, as "spoiled" upon denying her request for $650 in weekly child support.
"Have you ever in your experience seen such gross disrespect for a parent? I don't see it in my house," Judge Bogaard said after reading an explicit message from Rachel to her mother, Elizabeth. "What kind of parents would the Cannings be if they didn't try to set down some strict rules? I think everyone needs to take a step back and realize this family and Rachel in particular are well worth the effort to salvage or attempt to." more >>
Texas inmate Ray Jasper is scheduled to be executed in two weeks and decided to speak out about his experience inside the prison system. He previous wrote to a website as part of a collection of letters about life on death row, and this is his second piece about the system, which he says is comparable to slavery.
"Without any questions, you've given me a blank canvas," Jasper wrote to Gawker. "I'll only address what's on my heart. Next month, the State of Texas has resolved to kill me like some kind of rabid dog, so indirectly, I guess my intention is to use this as some type of platform because this could be my final statement on earth."
"The justice system is truly broken beyond repair and the sad part is there is no way to start over. We look at slavery like its a thing of the past, but you can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery. People need to know that when they sit on trial juries and sentence people to prison time that they are sentencing them to slavery," Jasper continued. more >>
A group of former and current Republicans are filing an amicus brief, encouraging a federal court of appeals to overturn same-sex marriage bans in Oklahoma and Utah. They argue that the conservative values of freedom and liberty fall in line with gay marriage support.
It remains unclear which current Republican lawmakers have signed the 30-page argument but The Associated Press, which received a draft of the brief, named former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, who has been known to be socially liberal and once described himself as a "RINO," or "Republic In Name Only," as part of the group. Simpson has also stated his support for same-sex marriage, telling MSNBC's Chris Matthews in 2011, ahead of the GOP presidential primaries, that he wouldn't stand behind pro-traditional marriage candidates like Rick Santorum "who are homophobic."
Another Republican named on Tuesday's brief is former Rep. Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, who changed her opposition to same-sex marriage last year. more >>