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Maryland Senate votes to ease marijuana penalties

Maryland pot lawThe politics of Maryland lawmakers are increasingly reflecting the shift in public opinion on marijuana use, as today the Maryland Senate passed a bill, 36 to 8, that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of the drug.

If the bill passes the House, it means those found with less than 10 grams of on their person would not be charged with a crime, and would only be subject to a civil fine of $100.


Federal judge rules that Tennessee must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages

Tennessee must recognize out of state gay marriageTennessee must recognize the legal same-sex marriages of three couples who wed in other states, a federal judge in Nashville ruled on Friday in a limited decision that echoed a similar case in neighboring Kentucky.

Judge Aleta Trauger granted the couples a preliminary injunction that requires Tennessee to recognize their marriages pending a final decision on the constitutionality of Tennessee’s ban on same-sex nuptials.


Sam Adams pulls sponsorship from Boston St. Paddy's parade

Sam Adams pulls St. Patrick's day sponsorshipSam Adams has decided to withdraw its sponsorship from the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade Sunday after negotiations to allow a gay group to march in the parade broke down.

Boston Beer Company, which makes Sam Adams beers, said it was pulling its participation from the parade after pressure from Club Cafe, a popular South End gay bar.

Club Cafe had issued a statement Thursday on its Facebook page, announcing it would no longer serve Sam Adams so long as Boston Beer Company continued its sponsorship of the parade and the parade continued to refuse to allow LGBT people to march openly.


Safety group claims 303 deaths linked to recalled GM cars

GM airbag deathsAn auto safety group says federal data show there were 303 deaths in recalled General Motors cars in which airbags did not deploy, but GM says the report misrepresents raw information about crashes.

The Center for Auto Safety, a public interest group started by Ralph Nader and Consumers Union, has written to federal safety regulators charging that the number of accidents is far greater than being admitted by GM.


U.S. lifts ban blocking BP from new government contracts

BP ban liftedThe U.S. government lifted a ban on Thursday that excluded BP from new federal contracts, after the British oil major filed a lawsuit saying it was being unfairly penalized for its 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.

The Environmental Protection Agency and BP said they reached an agreement ending the prohibition on bidding for federal contracts on everything from fuel supply contracts to offshore leases after the company committed to a set of safety, ethical and corporate governance requirements.


Eight same-sex couples sue Florida for not recognizing out-of-state marriages

Rick ScottThe American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Florida filed a lawsuit against the state Wednesday night on behalf of SAVE, an LGBT rights organization, and eight same-sex couples whose out-of-state marriages Florida does not recognize.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, the same-sex marriages legally offered in 17 states gained recognition from the federal government. SCOTUS did not rule on section 2 of DOMA, however, which allows states to choose whether or not to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states, and in 2008, Florida voted to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.


Obama orders review of US deportation practices

US deportationSeeking to pacify frustrated immigration advocates, President Barack Obama is directing the government to find more humane ways to handle deportation for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, the White House said Thursday.

With prospects for an immigration overhaul in Congress appearing ever dimmer, immigration advocates have been ramping up pressure on Obama to halt all deportations — a step Obama has insisted he can't take by himself. By announcing he's open to changing how the U.S. enforces its current laws, Obama is signaling he may be growing more inclined to test the limits of his authority in the face of congressional inaction.


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