N.C. voters OK gay amendment
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment on Tuesday defining marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman, making it the 30th state to adopt such a ban.
With 35 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday, unofficial returns showed the amendment passing with about 58 percent of the vote to 42 percent against.
In the final days before the vote, members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet expressed support for gay marriage and former President Bill Clinton recorded phone messages urging voters to reject the amendment.
Opponents also held marches, ran TV ads and gave speeches, including one by Jay Bakker, son of televangelists Jim Bakker and the late Tammy Faye Bakker.
Meanwhile, supporters had run their own ad campaigns and church leaders urged Sunday congregations to vote for the amendment. The Rev. Billy Graham, who at 93 remains influential even though his last crusade was in 2005, was featured in full-page newspaper ads supporting the amendment. Both sides spent a combined $3 million on their campaigns.
North Carolina law already bans gay marriage, like nine other states, but an amendment would effectively slam the door shut on same-sex marriages.
Milwaukee mayor to face Walker
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won the Democratic primary Tuesday in Wisconsin’s historic recall election, leaving him with a short four weeks to make the closing argument that Republican Gov. Scott Walker should be booted from office after 16 contentious months on the job.
Walker easily defeated token opposition in the GOP primary Tuesday, and Barrett’s win set up a June 5 rematch of the 2010 governor’s race.
That election two years ago failed to hint at the turmoil to come. Once inaugurated, Walker almost immediately joined with Republicans who had also retaken control of the Legislature to strip most state workers of their collective bargaining rights.
The move blindsided Walker’s opponents, who proceeded to pack the state Capitol by the thousands for weeks of protest as Democratic lawmakers fled the state in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to block the newly minted governor’s plans.
Walker emerged from the fight as a hero to Republicans nationwide, but a villain to unions and Democrats who responded by collecting more than 900,000 signatures to put Walker back on the ballot less than two years into his four-year term.
“We know that the real battle is ahead and it’s really going to be a battle for the values of Wisconsin,” Barrett told The Associated Press shortly after the race was called. “Our view is Scott Walker has done a lot of damage to the state and Wisconsin can’t be fixed as long as Scott Walker is governor.”
Student loan debate is blocked
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill Tuesday to preserve low interest rates for millions of college students’ loans, as the two parties engaged in election-year choreography aimed at showing each is the better protector of families in today’s rugged economy.
The 52-45 vote to begin debating the legislation fell eight votes short of the 60 needed to proceed and stalled work on an effort both parties expect will ultimately produce a compromise, probably soon.
Whistle-blowers to get protection
WASHINGTON (AP) — There will be no actions taken against two whistle-blower pilots who complained about problems with the F-22 fighter jet, including comments made during a recent “60 Minutes” television interview, the Air Force said Tuesday.
Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday the pilots would get whistle-blower protections.
Because the pilots are members of the Virginia Air Guard, the decision was formally announced by the Guard.
Col. Thomas K. Wark, commander of the Virginia Air Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing, said there would be no disciplinary or administrative actions taken against the pilots.
The pilots spoke out about oxygen-deficit problems with the stealth fighter, which have resulted in pilot dizziness, blackouts and other hypoxia-like symptoms.