WASHINGTON – The Obama administration said Wednesday it will stop enforcing a law that blocks benefits to partners of military veterans in same-sex marriages.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Attorney General Eric Holder said that a provision in federal law on benefits to veterans and their families defines spouse to mean a person of the opposite sex. He says that definition leaves out legally married same-sex couples and runs afoul of a June Supreme Court ruling.
The court declared unconstitutional a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act restricting the words marriage and spouse to apply only to heterosexual unions.
Decisions by the Executive not to enforce federal laws are appropriately rare, Holder told Congress. Nevertheless, the unique circumstances presented here warrant non-enforcement.
1 dead, 3 hurt after fight in Texas school
A fight inside a Houston-area high school escalated into a series of stabbings Wednesday that left a 17-year-old student dead and three others wounded, sheriff’s officials said.
The stabbings happened during a fight between several students in a school corridor. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said 17-year-old student Luis Alonzo Alfaro pulled a knife during the fight and fatally stabbed one student and wounded three others.
Alfaro admitted to the stabbing under questioning by sheriff’s homicide detectives and was charged with murder, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Sentence appealed in teacher rape case
State prosecutors on Wednesday appealed as illegal a 30-day sentence handed down by a Montana judge to a former teacher for raping a student who later killed herself.
The announcement came after District Judge G. Todd Baugh received widespread condemnation for the sentence and his comments that the victim was older than her chronological age.
Defendant Stacey Rambold, 54, last week received 15 years in prison with all but a month suspended for his months-long sexual relationship with Billings Senior High School student Cherice Moralez. Earlier this week, Baugh scheduled a resentencing hearing for Rambold for Friday.
Judge bars hospital from forcing chemo
A judge has again blocked an Ohio hospital from forcing a 10-year-old Amish girl to resume chemotherapy after her parents decided to stop the treatments.
The order siding with the parents comes just a week after an appeals court sent the case back to the judge and told him to give more consideration to the request by Akron Children’s Hospital.
Papal envoy faces sex abuse probe
Authorities in the Dominican Republic will look into allegations of child sex abuse against the papal envoy to the Caribbean country following his abrupt removal from his post by the Vatican, the attorney general said Wednesday.
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito was careful to note that his office is aware only of rumors about the papal nuncio, Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, and that it has not received any accusations.
A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that Wesolowski had been removed from his post and that the church was conducting an investigation of him.
Officials want aid to Egypt suspended
President Barack Obama’s top national security aides have recommended that the U.S. suspend hundreds of millions of dollars in military and economic assistance to Egypt in response to the Egyptian military’s ouster of the country’s first democratically elected leader, U.S. officials said.
The officials say the recommendation has been with Obama for at least a week, but they don’t expect him to make a decision until after the full Congress votes on his request for authorization for military strikes on Syria.