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Gay Marriage: And Then There Were Three... Again.


Today, the state of Iowa joined Massachusetts and Connecticut (and California six months ago) in allowing gay couples to marry. The Iowa State Supreme Court ruled unanimously in its decision in Varnum v. Brien. I'd love to quote from the opinion-which has awesomely been given its own section on the Supreme Court website-but it's currently down. The ruling says that the six gay couples who brought the suit, as well as all other gay couples in Iowa, will be able to wed starting April 24. As we've all seen in California, these victories for gay rights can be fleeting, and so it's probably too early to actually declare that Iowa has embraced gay marriage, but this is obviously a huge and important step.One word of caution: There is already a lot of talk about what it means that a midwestern state has joined liberal coastal states in allowing gay marriage, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Iowa is a pretty solid Democratic state (conservative Democrat, to be sure, but Democrat nonetheless) , and may not be quite the harbinger of change of attitude for middle America that some want it to be. We can talk about that when they do this in Kentucky or Oklahoma.Congratulations to the soon-to-be wed couples in Iowa. I was standing outside the city hall at 12:01 am in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when the first gay marriages in the country were performed, and it ranks up there as the greatest experiences of my life. Come April 24-barring legislative setbacks-there are going to be some great times in Des Moines and Ames and all over that state. Enjoy.Update: Here are the key paragraphs from the decision, the whole of which can be downloaded here:"We are firmly convinced the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective. The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification. There is no material fact, genuinely in dispute, that can affect this determination.We have a constitutional duty to ensure equal protection of the law. Faithfulness to that duty requires us to hold Iowa's marriage statute, Iowa Code section 595.2, violates the Iowa Constitution. To decide otherwise would be an abdication of our constitutional duty. If gay and lesbian people must submit to different treatment without an exceedingly persuasive justification, they are deprived of the benefits of the principle of equal protection upon which the rule of law is founded."
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Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

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For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

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Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

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The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

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