In brief: Gay marriage bill enters showdown
ALBANY, N.Y. – After a day of more closed-door negotiations, New York’s Senate left unsettled a bill to legalize gay marriage, setting up a pivotal showdown today as lawmakers look to end the legislative session and national groups look for a sign of things to come on the divisive issue.
The vote in the New York Legislature is seen as a critical moment in the national debate over same-sex marriage.
The Assembly has already passed Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bill, and the issue appears to be one vote shy from approval in the Senate, if the Republican caucus which mostly opposes gay marriage allows the measure to the floor for a vote.
Negotiations continue over additional religious protections that some undecided Republicans have sought, and progress appears to have been made in closed-door talks.
Forest rangers die in wildfire flare-up
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two Florida forest rangers were killed when a small, smoldering wildfire flared up and trapped them, state officials said Tuesday. Two comrades trying to rescue them also were injured.
It’s the first time since 2000 that a forestry division employee has died fighting a wildfire. The rangers were plowing with bulldozers Monday to contain a 12-acre blaze on the Georgia line that’s among 400 wildfires. The Blue Ribbon Fire about 85 miles northeast of Tallahassee had previously been declared contained, but it flared back up.
Forestry officials and the local sheriff’s office are investigating exactly how the fire killed 31-year-old Josh Burch of Lake City and 52-year-old Brett Fulton of White Springs, authorities said.
Gingrich campaign $1 million in debt
ATLANTA – Newt Gingrich’s top two fundraising advisers resigned on Tuesday, and officials said the Republican candidate’s hobbling presidential campaign carried more than $1 million in debt.
The departures of fundraising director Jody Thomas and fundraising consultant Mary Heitman were the latest blow for the former House speaker who watched 16 top advisers abandon his campaign earlier this month.
Campaign officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the campaign’s inner workings, said the former Georgia lawmaker racked up massive travel bills but money had only trickled in since he got into the race earlier this spring.
The officials said he is at least $1 million in debt. The current fundraising quarter ends June 30, and Gingrich will have to disclose his campaign finances by July 15. He is personally wealthy and could fund his campaign out of his own pocket, at least in the short term, to keep his campaign afloat.
Gingrich refused to discuss the latest defections Tuesday night, dismissing them as “campaign gossip” that’s being publicized to detract attention from his policy ideas.