Gay couples flood Little Rock courthouse for marriage licenses; AG seeks stay
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Dozens of gay couples, some of whom waited in line overnight, received licenses to marry from county clerks Monday, while lawyers for the state of Arkansas asked its highest court to suspend an order gutting a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.
“When we heard the news in Arkansas, we had to jump in the car to get here,” 51-year-old Shelly Butler of Dallas said shortly before receiving the first license in Little Rock, the state’s largest city. Butler met her partner, 48-year-old Susan Barr, at Southern Arkansas University in 1985. They arrived at the courthouse at 6:30 a.m. and were allowed to go to the front of the line because Butler has muscular dystrophy and is in a wheelchair.
“I am just in shock, I think. You go from being so private and hidden to such a public display of commitment. It’s just so nice,” Barr said.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza tossed out Arkansas’ gay marriage ban after business hours Friday, setting up Monday’s run on courthouses in Little Rock and Fayetteville as same-sex marriage arrived in the Bible Belt. As he arrived at work Monday, Piazza walked up to a colleague performing same-sex weddings in the courthouse rotunda and shook his hand. Piazza declined to talk to reporters.
“I have already spoken my opinion,” Piazza said.
NC entrepreneur in close primary with ‘Idol’ singer Clay Aiken dies at home in fall
ASHEBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina entrepreneur who was locked in a too-close-to-call Democratic Party primary with former “American Idol” singer Clay Aiken died Monday, said the president of the textile company he founded.
Keith Crisco, 71, died from “some type of fall” at his home, according to Robert Lawson, president of AEC Narrow Fabrics.
Crisco’s sons, who work for the company, told Lawson about their dad’s death.
It wasn’t immediately clear what will happen in the Democratic primary. Fewer than 400 votes separated Crisco and Aiken, who was leading, after the contest last Tuesday. The spokesman and the executive director of the State Board of Elections did not return messages.
The winner will face Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers in November in the GOP-leaning 2nd Congressional District.
Studies point that parts of West Antarctic ice sheet beginning slow, alarming collapse
WASHINGTON — The huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a glacially slow collapse in an unstoppable way, two new studies show. Alarmed scientists say that means even more sea level rise than they figured.
The worrisome outcomes won’t be seen soon. Scientists are talking hundreds of years, but over that time the melt that has started could eventually add 4 to 12 feet to current sea levels.
A NASA study looking at 40 years of ground, airplane and satellite data of what researchers call “the weak underbelly of West Antarctica” shows the melt is happening faster than scientists had predicted, crossing a critical threshold that has begun a domino-like process.
“It does seem to be happening quickly,” said University of Washington glaciologist Ian Joughin, lead author of one study. “We really are witnessing the beginning stages.”
It’s likely because of man-made global warming and the ozone hole which have changed the Antarctic winds and warmed the water that eats away at the feet of the ice, researchers said at a NASA news conference Monday.
By wire sources