Ireland took to the polls on Friday to vote on whether same-sex marriage should be legal, in a referendum that has exposed sharp divisions between communities in this traditionally Catholic nation. "This burden and pressure that's been on (gay couples), living in the shadows -- that can be removed on Friday by voting 'Yes'," Kenny said.
(Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday reaffirmed her earlier ruling that same-sex couples in Alabama have a right to wed under the Constitution, but she put the ruling on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court issues a landmark decision on gay marriage. U.S. District Judge Callie Granade in January overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage, in a ruling that went into effect the following month and led probate judges throughout much of the state to begin issuing licenses to the couples. In March, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses.
By Steve Gorman SANTA BARBARA (Reuters) - The U.S. Coast Guard captain overseeing cleanup of oil spilled from a pipeline rupture that closed two California state beaches and fouled offshore waters near Santa Barbara said on Thursday it may take months to restore the area to its natural condition. Up to 2,500 barrels (105,000 gallons) of crude petroleum, according to latest estimates, gushed onto San Refugio State Beach and into the Pacific about 20 miles (32 km) west of Santa Barbara on Tuesday when an underground pipeline that runs along the coastal highway burst. As much as a fifth of the amount was believed to have reached the ocean, leaving oil slicks that stretched for more than 9 miles (15 km) along the coast.
Claims of anti-Asian discrimination at Harvard reveal a long, complicated fight over affirmative action
(Reuters) - A grand jury has brought charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray from injuries suffered while in police custody, Baltimore City State Attorney Marilyn Mosby told a news conference on Thursday. Gray's death on April 19 set off weeks of largely peaceful protests in Baltimore punctuated by a day of rioting and arson after his funeral on April 27, when rioters threw rocks at police and set buildings and cars on fire.
By Tom Polansek and P.J. Huffstutter IRETON, IOWA/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Measures to control the worst bird flu outbreak in U.S. history are not being enforced at several farms at its epicenter in northwestern Iowa, potentially increasing the risks that the disease could spread further, spot checks by Reuters show. In visits to six affected sites in Iowa last week, a Reuters reporter found procedures at three in Sioux County did not comply with USDA or state protocols for restricting access to infected sites, providing protective gear to workers and cleaning the wheels of vehicles leaving the sites. Burke Healey, the USDA's national incident commander coordinating response to the bird flu, said he was concerned about the findings of lax biosecurity in Iowa after hearing about them from Reuters.
By Marice Richter DALLAS (Reuters) - Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates said on Thursday the group's ban on adult gay leaders needs to end, taking a step toward dismantling a policy that has caused deep rifts in the 105-year-old organization. Gates said at a national meeting of the group in Atlanta he does not plan to revoke the charters of Boy Scout councils that allow gay leaders, according to a text of the speech, which could significantly weaken enforcement of the ban. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained," said Gates, who as U.S. secretary of defense helped end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that barred openly gay individuals from serving in the military.
By Ian Simpson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Florida man who flew a gyrocopter onto the grounds of the U.S. Capitol pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of aircraft violations and breaching some of the world's most restricted airspace. Douglas Hughes, a 61-year-old mail carrier from Ruskin, Florida, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday. The flight of the small, unauthorized aircraft was among the most high-profile of recent security lapses in the U.S. capital.
Prosecutors in Detroit have joined the U.S. federal probe into Takata Corp's defective air bag inflators that are linked to at least six deaths globally. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Fraud Section in Washington "are jointly handling the criminal investigation into Takata," Gina Balaya, spokeswoman for the Detroit office, said on Thursday.
(Reuters) - Domestic violence charges against former NFL running back Ray Rice were dismissed on Thursday, according to ABC. The move comes after Rice completed a pretrial intervention program, ABC reported. Rice, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, had his $35 million contract terminated in September when a graphic video surfaced of him knocking out his then-finance in a New Jersey casino elevator. He filed a wrongful termination grievance after he was cut from the Ravens. (Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Bill Trott)