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Inside Politics: Obama stays with Scouts despite group’s stance on gays

NEW YORK — When it comes to gays and the Boy Scouts, President Obama and the youth organization he serves as honorary president have agreed to disagree.

The White House said Wednesday that Mr. Obama opposes the youth organization's recently reaffirmed policy of excluding gays as members and adult leaders. He has no plans to resign as honorary president, White House spokesman Shin Inouye said.

The Scouts said in a statement that they respect Mr. Obama's opinion and think "good people" can disagree on the subject and still work together to "accomplish the common good."

American presidents have been honorary presidents of the Boy Scouts for a century. Mr. Obama became the Scouts' honorary president in March 2009, shortly after taking office

Last month, after a confidential two-year review, the Scouts reaffirmed their long-standing policy, which has been the target of numerous protest campaigns. The White House didn't comment on the Scouts' decision for three weeks. On Wednesday, the press office issued an email to the Associated Press on the subject.

"The president believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century," the White House statement said. "He also opposes discrimination in all forms."

NEW JERSEY

Romney crashes wedding site, poses for pictures

LAKEWOOD — Mitt Romney crashed a New Jersey wedding.

The Republican presidential contender's motorcade rolled into a fundraiser Wednesday evening as a bride and groom were posing for pictures in the parking lot outside the hall in Lakewood. Several guests in yarmulkes who were standing around turned their cameras away from the couple, and a few chased the motorcade around the corner.

A Romney aide said Mr. Romney met the bride and groom and took pictures with them before his fundraiser, which raised $1.5 million. Guests to Mr. Romney's event were advised that they needed to leave promptly. The wedding was set to start at 6 p.m.

NEW YORK

Romney aide: His plan would have covered woman

NEW YORK — Mitt Romney's spokeswoman said a cancer-stricken woman discussed in a Democratic TV ad would have had health care under the Republican presidential candidate's health plan in Massachusetts.

During a Fox News interview Wednesday, spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Mr. Romney's Massachusetts plan would have covered a woman who lost her health insurance after her husband was laid off from a company taken over by the private equity firm Mr. Romney once led.

The woman's story is featured in an ad by Priorities USA Action, a group aligned with President Obama.

Conservatives criticized Mr. Romney's campaign. The Massachusetts plan requires people to buy health insurance, a policy also in Mr. Obama's national law. Mr. Romney has avoided discussing his health plan on the campaign trail, though he says it was the right plan for Massachusetts.

JUSTICE

New prosecutor position focuses on whistleblowers

The Justice Department's inspector general has appointed an experienced federal prosecutor to ensure that whistleblower complaints are addressed quickly and thoroughly and that investigations of retaliation claims are monitored closely.

As whistleblower ombudsman for Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, Robert Storch will work within the Justice Department to educate employees about the importance of whistleblowers in uncovering waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement.

Mr. Horowitz said that through the newly created position, department officials will be alerted to the possible repercussions of retaliation against whistleblowers. Mr. Horowitz said the ombudsman will serve as a liaison to other federal agencies with whistleblower responsibilities and to private whistleblower advocacy groups.

Mr. Storch has been a federal prosecutor for 25 years.

HAWAII

Federal court upholds state's marriage law

HONOLULU — A federal judge Wednesday upheld Hawaii’s marriage laws as constitutional, saying changes to permit same-sex marriage should be made by lawmakers or a vote of the people.

In his decision, U.S. District Judge Alan Kay said the state had legitimate reasons for its marriage laws and the court should not "pre-empt" the democratic process of deciding whether or not to authorize same-sex marriage.

The case was brought by two lesbians and a gay man who said their federal constitutional rights to marry were violated by Hawaiian marriage laws, including a voter-passed constitutional amendment that says only lawmakers can define marriage. The lawsuit also challenged Hawaii's new civil-union law.

The Hawaii Family Forum defended the marriage laws. But Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie agreed with the gay plaintiffs, and the state attorney general had to both support the lawsuit and defend the laws on behalf of defendant Department of Health Director Loretta Fuddy, who supported the marriage laws.

"The people of Hawaii adopted a constitutional amendment to uphold marriage, and the court rightly concluded that the democratic process shouldn't be short-circuited by judicial decree," said Dale Schowengerdt, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the Hawaii Family Forum.

A lawyer for plaintiffs Natasha Jackson, Janin Kleid and Gary Bradley said they would appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

CAMPAIGN

Adelson files lawsuit accusing group of libel

NEW YORK — Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has filed a defamation lawsuit in New York against the National Jewish Democratic Council and top officials, saying they made libelous statements regarding his political contributions.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan seeks $60 million in damages. Mr. Adelson is chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp. and donates to Republican campaigns.

The lawsuit alleges the Washington-based Jewish council said Mr. Adelson personally approved of prostitution in resorts owned by Sands China Limited, a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands. The suit accuses the council of "assassinating" Mr. Adelson's character.

 

The council said its reports referenced mainstream press accounts and were "wholly appropriate." The press accounts described claims by a fired former Sands China executive. Adelson has denied the claims.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to push protection from cyberattacks

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said the White House may take steps to get U.S. businesses to protect themselves from computer attacks if they are responsible for providing critical services such as water or electricity.

Mr. Brennan told the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday that President Obama is considering using executive powers to encourage U.S. industry to meet minimum standards to repel such attacks on computer systems by hackers or foreign governments. Senate legislation meant to do the same thing failed last week.

Mr. Brennan said the White House is looking at possible additional guidelines or changes in policy but did not indicate whether such measures would be mandatory or voluntary, encouraged by industry incentives.

The Senate will take another stab at passing the cybersecurity bill in September.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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