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Marriage on Trial in San Francisco Federal Court

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It is a fascinating thing going on up in a San Francisco federal court: marriage is on trial.

Specifically, the state's Proposition 8 is on trial. That measure -- approved by voters last November -- bans gay marriage in California. Here's the twist: before Prop 8 passed, gay couples in this states actually had been granted to right to a civil marriage, so the new law was in the awkward position of taking away rights.

And so opponents of the ban have taken to federal court.. There, yesterday, during closing arguments, something miraculous broke out: a thoughtful discussion on the nature of marriage and the role that government has in promoting it.

Presiding Judge Vaughn Walker asked the lawyer defending Prop 8 just what this marriage thing was all about. Attorney Charles Cooper's response boiled down to: making babies. And the state's interest in this? Babies without a mom and dad get into trouble later, and the state has a duty to promote societal stability.

Facing firing squad, death row inmate asks for temporary stay

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Hours away from his scheduled execution by firing squad, Utah death row inmate Ronnie Lee Gardner has asked Gov. Gary Herbert for a temporary stay, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Gardner, 49, faces execution by firing squad shortly after midnight Friday (2 a.m. ET) for a shooting death during a botched escape attempt from custody in 1985 at a Salt Lake City, Utah, courthouse.

He would be only the third person to die by firing squad in the United States in 33 years.

More lesbian bashing in Denver archdiocese

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No doubt, you remember the story of the children in Boulder being denied a Catholic education because their parents are lesbians. Boulder, of course, is part of the Denver archdiocese where Archbishop Charles J. Chaput seems to cover in the name of Catholic orthodoxy some Christian notions about compassion and the need to shy away from judgments. (“Judge not, lest you be judged” - Lk 6: 27-38).

Well,there's more anti-gay activity going on in the Denver archdiocese. Gays, of course, are easy targets, easy scape goats for other failings. This time the firing of an out-of-closet lesbian theology teacher after 28 years of service to the church.

What makes these prelates so insecure?

Charles Curran: 'Banned by the Pope'

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I've recently returned from the Catholic Theological Society of America's annual convention. On the final night, the CTSA awarded its prestigious John Courtney Murrary Award to the popular Fr. Peter Phan, theologian at Georgetown University. Phan is the last on a list dating back to 1972 when the CTSA gave the award for the first time to Fr. Charles Curran, who now teaches at Southern Methodist University, having been forced out of Catholic University of America by an unfavorable judgment on his teachings by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and now Pope Benedict XVI.

Obama Getting Back on Track

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I noted yesterday that President Obama’s speech was off-target, although I liked his interest in the Rite of Blessing of the Fleets. But, there was another religious angle that he has failed to deploy effectively: Religious groups nationwide are deeply and profoundly concerned about environmental protection. Groups like Faith in Public Life have held conference calls with religious leaders in support of climate change legislation. The USCCB is on board. Last January, in his annual World Day of Peace message, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated the entire speech to the need to protect the environment.

Note to Obama speechwriters: Instead of “eco-system” and “environment” say “Creation.” Voters who are animated by environmental concerns are already with the President. But, the word “creation” resonated with those religiously motivated swing voters who voted against Kerry in 2004 and for Obama in 2008.

A new worst-case scenario?

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"It seems we've found a new worst-case scenario," says Sharon Astyk at ScienceBlogs writing about the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mother Jones (Is the BP Gusher Unstoppable?), The Slatest (Worst-Case Oil Spill Scenario Terrifies Readers) and Gawker (What if We Can't Stop the BP Oil Leak? The Nightmare Scenario) all picked up on a lengthy guest post on The Oil Drum, a respected group blog about the future of energy edited by engineers, physicists, and energy analysts. The posting says basically: We ain't seen nothing yet.

According to the post, the pressure building in the oil reserve that the Deepwater Horizon rig was tapped into is building and may soon erupt through the ocean floor.

That would send 150,000 barrels of oil a day into gulf waters.

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