WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama insisted Monday he still wants to scrap what he calls a discriminatory federal marriage law, even as his administration defended it in court.
Justice Department lawyers filed new papers Monday seeking to throw out a lawsuit brought by a gay couple challenging the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, a Clinton-era law denies federal recognition of gay marriage and gives states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Department lawyers are defending the law “as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged,” Obama said in a statement.
Obama said he plans to work with Congress to repeal the law, and said his administration “will continue to examine and implement measures that will help extend rights and benefits” to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples under existing law.
Possible Jeep Wrangler fire risk
The government is investigating a potential fire risk in more than 200,000 Jeep Wranglers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary investigation last week into 2007-08 model year Wranglers with automatic transmissions. The government has received three complaints in the U.S. alleging overheating of the vehicle’s transmission. One complaint said a fire occurred. Another said transmission fluid leaked onto the catalytic converter, leading to smoke.
Fewer initial swine flu shots
The U.S. won’t have nearly as much swine flu vaccine ready by mid-October as long predicted — 45 million doses instead of the anticipated 120 million, a federal official said Monday. It’s not a shortage but a delay, Health and Human Services spokesman Bill Hall said. More will arrive rapidly after that, with about 20 million more doses being shipped weekly until the government reaches the full 195 million doses ordered, he said.
Arizona: Protesters show up to Obama venue with guns
About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the Phoenix convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday, the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president. Gun-rights advocates say they’re exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen. Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday’s event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn’t need permits.
California: Woman indicted in death of 8-year-old girl
A San Joaquin County grand jury has indicted a Sunday school teacher on charges she kidnapped, raped and killed an 8-year-old girl and drugged two other people. Melissa Huckaby, of Tracy, broke down in tears Monday as Superior Court Judge Linda Lofthus read the indictment against her. No trial date has been set. Huckaby, 28, is accused of killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, a playmate of Huckaby’s young daughter, in March.
Wildfires losing their fury
Firefighters are gaining an advantage over two large Northern California wildfires, but hundreds of residents remain under evacuation orders in coastal mountain communities and the Sierra Nevada foothills. The fire in the Bonny Doon area of Santa Cruz County was about 65 percent contained Monday after burning 11 square miles. To the northeast, a blaze in Yuba County was about 25 percent contained after burning more than 5 square miles. The two fires were among 11 burning in California’s drought-choked areas.
Russia: Missing ship found
The Russian-crewed freighter that sparked a high-seas mystery when it disappeared nearly three weeks ago has been found by a Russian naval frigate off the West African coast, the country’s defense minister said Monday. What exactly happened to the ship was not explained, but its crew was said to be well. The disappearance of the 98-meter Arctic Sea perplexed experts and officials across Europe, with speculation about what happened including its being seized by pirates or being involved in a murky commercial dispute.
Kuwait: Groom’s ex allegedly lit wedding fire that killed 41
Kuwaiti authorities apprehended the person suspected of setting fire to a wedding tent and killing 41 people, and said Monday the motive was personal. The Al-Qabas daily said the groom’s former wife, who is 23 years old, poured gasoline on the tent and lit it because she felt her ex-husband mistreated her when they were married. It was still unclear if the bride survived the fire.
From Herald news services