Gay marriage bill passed
Rhode Island senators put the state on the path Wednesday to becoming the 10th state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The gay marriage legislation easily passed the Rhode Island House in January, and the Senate vote was seen as the true test. The bill passed 26-12, and now returns to the House for a largely procedural vote, likely next week, before going to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who supports the legislation.
“This is a historic piece of legislation, one that literally has been in the works for more than 20 years,” said Sen. Donna Nesselbush, D-Pawtucket, the bill’s main sponsor in the Senate. “This is something that undoes centuries of discrimination against gay and lesbian couples.”
While the other five New England states already allow gay marriage, heavily Catholic Rhode Island has been a hold-out.
Immigration reform urged
Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush urged the nation to change its immigration and education systems to ensure a robust American economy in remarks Wednesday before the World Affairs Council in Dallas. A suburb away, former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was delivering her first paid speech since leaving the helm of the State Department earlier this year.
The dueling appearances came on the eve of the opening of George W. Bush’s presidential library, stoking speculation about each of their own political futures. Both are considered strong White House contenders should each seek the presidency in 2016.
Both of their families were gathering for the library dedication on the campus of Southern Methodist University, an event that will put five living U.S. presidents, including President Barack Obama, on the same stage.
BEIT JALA, West Bank
Palestinians appeal to pope
Palestinians in this Christian village are hoping the new pope can succeed where others have failed — pressing Israel to drop plans to build a stretch of its West Bank separation barrier through their picturesque valley.
Since Vatican properties are affected, residents have appealed to the Roman Catholic Church to use more of its significant influence in the Holy Land to reroute the barrier, even as local Catholic leaders hold a special protest Mass in threatened orchards each week.
The Vatican has called on Israel not to seize the lands, but local Palestinian Catholics want the new pontiff to lean more heavily on Israel.
Israel has been building the barrier since 2002 in response to a wave of suicide bombings early last decade that killed hundreds of people. Israel says the barrier is needed to keep out Palestinian attackers.
Marathon quiz show ahead
NBC says it’s planning a 12-day-long, around-the-clock competition show to air this fall.
The network said Wednesday that the trivia-based game show, “The Million Second Quiz,” will air live in prime time from a specially built studio in the heart of Manhattan. This hourglass-shaped complex will also serve as the living quarters of the four finalists.
When the 12 days — or 1 million seconds — draw to a close, the winner could claim a cash prize of as much as $10 million. Viewers will be able to play along in real time and sync to the prime-time broadcast.
NBC’s president of alternative and late night programming calls the show “a game, a social experiment and a live interactive event.” The network didn’t announce a premiere date.