LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. – Gay couples exchanged vows in early morning ceremonies in several New Jersey communities today as the state began recognizing their marriages at 12:01 a.m., becoming the 14th state to do so.
The hastily planned first weddings to legally unite longtime couples were planned for a state senator’s grand home in Elizabeth, the boardwalk in Asbury Park and government buildings in small towns and big cities.
In the arts community of Lambertville, Mayor David DelVecchio led the ceremony to marry Beth Asaro and Joanne Schailey.
The weddings came amid a flurry of legal activity after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal government should recognize gay marriages and confer couples with the same benefits that it does for heterosexual married couples.
A state judge last month agreed with advocates who said that by allowing civil unions but not marriage, New Jersey was keeping gay couples in the state from legal equality.
The administration of Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican and possible 2016 presidential candidate, appealed both the ruling and today’s implementation date to the state Supreme Court.
And on Friday, less than 60 hours before the weddings were to begin, the state’s top court refused to delay them while it sorts out the overall case.
Suicide bombing kills 35 in busy cafe
BAGHDAD – A suicide bomber slammed his explosive-laden car Sunday night into a busy cafe in Iraq’s capital, part of a day of violence across the country that killed 45 people, authorities said.
The bombing at the cafe in Baghdad’s primarily Shiite Amil neighborhood happened as it was full of customers.
The blast killed 35 people and wounded 45, Iraqi officials said.
In a village north of Baghdad, a car bomb targeted a police officer’s house, killing his father, brother and five nephews, officials said. Six others were wounded in the blast, which happened when the officer was not home.
Security forces meanwhile foiled an attack on the local council of the western town of Rawah by five would-be suicide bombers disguised in police uniforms, said Muthana Ismail, head of the local security committee. Ismail said two attackers were shot while the rest blew themselves up outside. Two police officers and an official were killed, while 20 people were wounded, he said.
AT&T to lease, sell wireless towers
DALLAS – AT&T is leasing or selling the rights to 9,700 wireless towers for $4.85 billion as it generates cash to buy back stock, fund an acquisition and upgrade its cellular telephone system.
The Dallas company said Sunday that it will lease about 9,100 towers and sell another 600 to Crown Castle International Corp. in a deal that’s expected to close by the end of the year. AT&T, the nation’s largest telephone company, said in a statement that the deal won’t have any impact on its customers.
AT&T will sublease capacity on the towers from Houston-based Crown Castle for at least 10 years, with an option for 50 more.
Crown Castle, which operates wireless communications towers across the U.S. and in Australia, said the deal gives it the ability to add tenants to the towers. It will fund the deal with cash on hand, and equity and debt financing.
The move gives AT&T cash to fund a plan announced in July to buy back 300 million of its shares on top of a repurchase plan that it was just completing.
LIMA, Peru – The Peruvian government has promised to investigate charges by an environmental group that the out-of-control slaughter of dolphins in Pacific coastal waters has put the ocean mammal at risk.
At least 15,000 dolphins annually are being killed off the Peruvian coast by fishermen who use them as shark bait, the environmental watchdog group Asociacion Mundo Azul, or Blue World Association, said late Saturday. The organization conducted a monthslong undercover investigation by placing informants aboard fishing vessels.
Killing of dolphins was outlawed by Peru’s legislature in 1997, but Stefan Austermuhle, executive director of Blue World, said fishermen have continued to target the mammals, which they harpoon.
Sharks, an increasingly coveted catch for meat, which is sold in Peru, and for fins sold on the black market in Asia, are also depleting rapidly, he said.