Arkansas first Bible Belt state to issue same-sex marriage licenses a day after ban lifted

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EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. -- Gay marriage arrived in the Bible Belt on Saturday, beginning with two women who had traveled overnight to ensure they'd be first in line.

"Thank God," Jennifer Rambo said after Carroll County Deputy Clerk Jane Osborn issued a marriage license to her and Kristin Seaton, a former volleyball player at the University of Arkansas. The Fort Smith couple wed moments later on a sidewalk near the courthouse; the officiant wore a rainbow-colored dress.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza paved the way Friday with a ruling that removed a 10-year-old barrier, saying a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed by voters in 2004 banning gay marriage was "an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality."

Yatsenyuk seeks sweeping reforms: When new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk invited anti-corruption activists to his apartment in Kiev, Ukraine, last month, the first thing he showed off was his toilet. "See for yourself," Yatsenyuk joked. "It's not gold." It was a jab at ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, who along with his government cronies had a notorious penchant for gaudy luxury. Yatsenyuk's interim government is seeking to carry out sweeping reforms to break from a culture of self-interest, cynicism and corruption that left the country on the verge of bankruptcy.

Hot air balloon accident: A second body was recovered Saturday from the crash of a hot air balloon in Doswell, Va., carrying three people that drifted into a power line and burst into flames in front of horrified spectators. The bodies were discovered just under a mile apart. The only person identified was Natalie Lewis, a University of Richmond women's basketball team staff member. Witnesses said they heard the anguished pleas of the passengers Friday night as the balloon touched the power line and erupted into flames.

Egypt charges militants: Egypt's chief prosecutor charged 200 suspected militants Saturday in Cairo with carrying out over 50 terrorist attacks, killing 40 policemen and 15 civilians and conspiring with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, in the first mass trial of a Jihadi group since the country's recent turmoil. The defendants, 98 of whom remain on the run, are all suspected members of the al-Qaida-inspired Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group, or Champions of Jerusalem, which has claimed responsibility for the bloodiest attacks since a wave of violence picked up following the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last summer.

Police officer fired: Officials in a small Central Texas town voted Saturday to fire a police officer who shot and killed an armed 93-year-old woman during a confrontation at her home. The city council of Hearne unanimously voted to dismiss Officer Stephen Stem after a meeting that lasted less than 30 minutes, KBTX-TV reported.Mayor Ruben Gomez had said he would recommend the termination of Stem, who shot and killed Pearlie Golden on Tuesday night. Hearne police have said in a statement that Golden "brandished a gun" when Stem arrived, but have declined to comment further. Stem was on administrative leave while Texas Rangers investigated.

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  • I don't get it. What on Earth is it about law-abiding, taxpaying adult Gay couples getting married that terrifies so many people? These are couples who are in love, who have made a commitment to one another's happiness and well-being. These are couples who in most cases already share a life together. Unless the Constitution (especially the 14th Amendment) applies only to people who are Straight (i.e. heterosexual), I can see no justification for denying law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the same legal benefits and opportunities that Straight couples have always taken for granted.

    What are people so fearful of? The marriage equality movement was never some sinister effort to make homosexuality compulsory for everyone. It won't cause otherwise Straight people to marry other persons of the same sex. It will not require anyone to attend weddings for Gay couples. Conversely, denying Gay people the right to marry is not going to make Gay people turn Straight!

    What are people so fearful of? Is not love and commitment far more preferable to loneliness and promiscuity? Why does the joy of Gay couples getting married make so many people angry?