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Gay rights supporters and gay couples salute Supreme Court ruling

Supporters of same-sex marriage burst into cheers, wept openly and chanted “DOMA is Dead” outside the Supreme Court as word reached them that the justices had struck down the federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Some in the crowd hugged and others jumped up and down just after 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday when the decision was announced inside. Many were on their cell phones monitoring Twitter, news sites and blogs for the outcome. There were cheers as runners came down the steps with the ruling in hand and turned them over to reporters
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Supreme Court strikes down federal benefits rule against gay couples

In a historic victory for gay rights, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples and cleared the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California. The justices issued two 5-4 rulings in their final session of the term. One decision wiped away part of a federal anti-gay marriage law that has kept legally married same-sex couples from receiving tax, health and pension benefits. The other was a technical ruling that said nothing at all about same-sex marriage, but left in place a trial court’s declaration that
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So, where is Edward Snowden?

Moscow‘s main airport swarmed with journalists from around the globe Wednesday, but the man they were looking for — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden — was nowhere to be seen. The mystery of his whereabouts only deepened a day after President Vladimir Putin said that Snowden was in the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport. An Associated Press reporter entered the area Wednesday by flying from Kiev, Ukraine, and found ordinary scenes of duty free shopping, snoozing travelers and tourists sipping coffee, but no trace of America’s most famous fugitive. If Putin’s statement is true, it means that Snowden has
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Texas anti-abortion bill shouted down

Despite barely beating a midnight deadline, hundreds of jeering protesters helped stop Texas lawmakers from passing one of the toughest abortion measures in the country. As the protesters raised the noise to deafening levels in the Texas Senate chamber late Tuesday, Republicans scrambled to gather their colleagues at the podium for a stroke-of-midnight vote. “Get them out!” Sen. Donna Campbell shouted to a security guard, pointing to the thundering crowd in the gallery overhead that had already been screaming for more than 10 minutes. “Time is running out,” Campbell pleaded. “I want them out of here!” It didn’t work. The
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Supreme Court gay marriage decision due Wednesday

The Supreme Court is meeting to deliver opinions in two cases that could dramatically alter the rights of gay people across the United States. The justices are expected to decide their first-ever cases about gay marriage Wednesday in their last session before the court’s summer break. The issues before the court are California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies legally married gay Americans a range of tax, health and pension benefits otherwise available to married couples. The broadest possible ruling would give gay Americans the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.
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Can the rabid right-wing GOP stop immigration reform?

Senate Republicans are split over the immigration bill steaming toward approval at week’s end, a divide that renders the ultimate fate of White House-backed legislation unpredictable in the House and complicates the party’s ability to broaden its appeal among Hispanic voters. To some Republicans, the strength of Senate GOP support for the bill is all but irrelevant to its prospects in the House. Conservatives there hold a majority and generally oppose a core provision in the Senate measure, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States illegally. Any such impact is “greatly overrated,” said Missouri Sen. Roy
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Snowden hiding out at Moscow airport

A former U.S. spy agency contractor sought by Washington on espionage charges appeared on Wednesday to be still in hiding at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport and the national airline said he was not booked on any of its flights over the next three days. Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong after leaking details of secret U.S. government surveillance programs, then flew on to Moscow on Sunday, evading a U.S. extradition request. President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he was in the transit area of the airport and he had no intention of handing him to Washington. “They are not flying today
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Russia to Obama on Snowden extradition demand: ‘No way’

Russia’s foreign minister bluntly rejected U.S. demands to extradite National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, saying Tuesday that Snowden hasn’t crossed the Russian border. Sergey Lavrov insisted that Russia has nothing to do with Snowden or his travel plans. Lavrov wouldn’t say where Snowden is, but he lashed out angrily at Washington for demanding his extradition and warning of negative consequences if Moscow fails to comply. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday urged Moscow to “do the right thing” and turn over Snowden. “We consider the attempts to accuse Russia of violation of U.S. laws and even some
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As Snowden succeeds, Obama suffers setbacks

For President Barack Obama, National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s globe-trotting evasion of U.S. authorities has dealt a startling setback to efforts to strengthen ties with China and raised the prospect of worsening tensions with Russia. Indeed, Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday called U.S. demands for Snowden’s extradition “ungrounded and unacceptable.” Relations with both China and Russia have been at the forefront of Obama’s foreign policy agenda this month, underscoring the intertwined interests among these uneasy partners. Obama met just last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland and
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What did the Supreme Court really say about affirmative action?

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the use of racial preferences in college admissions left many questions unanswered: Is the University of Texas‘ admissions policy that uses race as a factor constitutional? And do colleges around the country need to change how they use racial preferences to achieve a diverse student body? Those and other questions will have to wait, at least until the next time the court considers an affirmative action case. But the ruling was nonetheless significant. On the one hand, it validated earlier court rulings that racial diversity is a “compelling state interest” and that colleges may use
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