In brief: Judge rejects request to halt same-sex weddings in Utah

TUESDAY, DEC. 24, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal judge on Monday allowed gay marriage to continue in Utah, rejecting a request to put same-sex weddings on hold as the state appeals a decision that has sent couples flocking to county clerk offices for marriage licenses.

Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage Friday, ruling the voter-approved measure is a violation of gay couples’ constitutional rights. The state then asked him to put a stop to the weddings, but he rejected the request.

Shelby’s ruling is far from the end of the legal wrangling on the topic. The state quickly filed a request with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put gay marriage on hold, and that court could rule as soon as Monday evening or today. The same court, in Denver, likely will hear the full appeal of the case several months from now.

Nearly 700 gay couples have obtained marriage licenses since Friday.

Jewell rejects Alaska land swap

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday rejected a proposed land swap with the state of Alaska to build a road through a remote Alaska national wildlife refuge that shelters millions of migratory waterfowl.

The contentious decision on whether to build a one-lane gravel road to provide those in a remote village with medical evacuation access to an all-weather airport came after four years of analysis, including a visit late last summer by Jewell to Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

Jewell’s decision affirms a rejection of the proposal last February by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and her predecessor Ken Salazar.

Jewell said even though the proposed swap would bring more acres of land into the refuge system, the department’s analysis indicated it could not compensate for the unique values of existing refuge lands or the anticipated effects a road would have on the refuge.

The lagoon is home to the world’s largest known bed of eelgrass and provides fodder to Pacific brant, endangered Steller’s eiders and other migratory waterfowl.

California bus crash injures 13

BALDWIN PARK, Calif. – A tour bus heading back from a Southern California casino crashed on a freeway east of Los Angeles early Monday, injuring 13 people, authorities said.

The bus went off the shoulder of an Interstate 10 off-ramp in Baldwin Park shortly after 4:30 a.m., California Highway Patrol Officer Christian Cracraft said.

The bus went into a small drainage ditch and came to rest against a fence and light pole but remained upright.

Eleven people received minor injuries and two received moderate injuries, the station reported, citing the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Federal employees get first pay raise in three years

HONOLULU – President Barack Obama issued an executive order Monday granting civilian and military employees a 1 percent pay raise in 2014.

Military employees have received a raise each year that Obama has been in the White House, but civilian pay has been flat over the last three years as members of Congress have tangled over the budget and the federal deficit.

Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., called the cost-of-living adjustment “a modest, but important step by the president.”


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