Thursday, November 6, 2008


Voters approve gay marriage ban

Voters put a stop to same-sex marriage in California, dealing a crushing defeat to gay-rights activists in a state they hoped would be a vanguard and putting in doubt as many as 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted since a court ruling made them legal this year.

The gay-rights movement had a rough election elsewhere as well Tuesday. Amendments to ban gay marriage were approved in Arizona and Florida, and Arkansas voters approved a measure banning unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents. Supporters made clear that gays and lesbians were their main target.

But California, the nation’s most populous state, had been the big prize. Spending for and against Proposition 8 reached $74 million, the most expensive social-issues campaign in U.S. history and the most expensive campaign this year outside the race for the White House. Activists on both sides of the issue saw the measure as critical to building momentum for their causes.

“People believe in the institution of marriage,” Frank Schubert, co-manager of the Yes on 8 campaign, said after declaring victory early Wednesday. “It’s one institution that crosses ethnic divides, that crosses partisan divides. … People have stood up because they care about marriage and they care a great deal.”


Biden to star at Return Day

GEORGETOWN, Del. | A quirky political tradition is bringing Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. back to his home state of Delaware.

Mr. Biden will be the star attraction Thursday for Return Day, a post-election celebration in which victorious candidates and their vanquished foes ride together in horse-drawn carriages and symbolically “bury the hatchet.”

On Election Day, Mr. Biden was a winner two times over. The Obama-Biden ticket carried Delaware easily, and he won re-election to the Senate, defeating Republican Christine O’Donnell. He’ll have to resign his Senate seat, leaving outgoing Gov. Ruth Ann Minner to appoint a replacement.

Mr. Biden will share a carriage with Miss O’Donnell, who plans to attend.

Return Day dates to the late 18th century, when Sussex County voters were required to cast their ballots in the new county seat, later named Georgetown. Voters would then return two days later to hear the results. At modern Return Days, a “town crier” - played since 1990 by former Georgetown Mayor W. Layton Johnson - reads the results.


U.S. speeds up Iraq withdrawal

Spurred on by a continued decline in violence, the U.S. military will reduce its presence in Iraq to 14 combat brigades this month - at least two months earlier than originally planned.

Military officials say two brigades from the 101st Airborne Division will leave Iraq this month, and only one will be replaced. Initially the 3rd Brigade, 101st Division, was scheduled to leave this month, and the 2nd Brigade, 101st Division, was set to leave by February.

On Wednesday, however, the military announced that the 2nd Brigade will instead return to its Fort Campbell, Ky., home base this month, after serving for 13 months, rather than the expected 15.


Myers to resign as assistant secretary

The head of the Homeland Security’s investigative arm announced her resignation Wednesday. It will take effect Nov. 15.

Julie L. Myers had been assistant secretary of Homeland Security in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for nearly three years. Her 2006 recess appointment drew criticism. Critics cited her lack of experience and claimed family connections got her the job.

Despite some controversy surrounding Mrs. Myers’ tenure at ICE, including criticism of illegal immigration raids at work places across the country, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he is “grateful for Julie’s many contributions to the safety and security of our homeland.”

“Under Julie’s leadership, ICE has undertaken exceptional law enforcement operations with unprecedented results,” Mr. Chertoff said. “She has instituted and overseen several key law enforcement programs that have dramatically enhanced the department’s efforts to curb illegal immigration and ensure strong enforcement of customs laws.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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