A New Jersey judge ruled Friday to legalize gay marriage in the state, ordering state officials to start officiating same-sex marriages next month. The decision may be short-lived, as Gov. Chris Christie, who has long said he would veto any gay-marriage bill, is likely to seek an appeal. But the argument behind the ruling could provide individuals outside of the Garden State with a model for petitioning their own state governments for marriage equality.
Two court decisions lie at the heart of the case. The first is this summer’s Supreme Court ruling that found the Defense of Marriage Act — which prevented the federal government from extending benefits to same-sex marriages — unconstitutional. The second is Lewis v. Harris, a 2006 decision by New Jersey’s highest court that ruled civil unions must be afforded the same legal rights as other married couples. What both of the decisions have in common is that they ruled same-sex couples were entitled to certain rights and benefits afforded to opposite-sex married couples.
The case, it seems, all comes down to language. Basically, since the federal government extends rights to married same-sex couples the same way New Jersey’s state government extends rights to same-sex couples in civil unions, those unmarried individuals should have the right to marry. Otherwise, New Jersey’s civil union law is blocking citizens from receiving federal benefits.
“If the trend of federal agencies deeming civil union partners ineligible for benefits continues, plaintiffs will suffer even more, while their opposite-sex New Jersey counterparts continue to receive federal marital benefits for no reason other than the label placed upon their relationships by the state,” Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson wrote in her decision.
Similar legislation in Colorado, Hawaii, and Illinois provides civil unions with the same rights, benefits, and protections as same-sex married couples. Legislation that recognizes domestic partnerships, granting them similar rights and benefits as same-sex marriages, exists in California, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin as well as the District of Columbia. It’s too soon to tell if Friday’s ruling will set in motion the legalization of gay marriage in New Jersey, but it may spur other parts of the country to examine their own versions of Lewis.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."