Australians Vote in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage
After a two-month-long national survey, Australia’s results on legalizing same-sex marriage came in: 61% in favor, 38% against. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there was a 79.5% voter turnout. Every territory and state voted in favor of marriage equality. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared that the survey was “overwhelming[ly]” in favor of same-sex marriage, and called for Parliament to legalize it by Christmas.
According to Turnbull, the people “voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love.”
Political debate now concerns the specifics of a marriage bill. Many conservatives hope to preserve the rights of businesses to refuse services to gay couples on the ground of religious freedom.
Jeff Sessions Continues to Deny Lying to Senate in Hearing
Sessions testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about the Trump campaign’s ties to the Russians. After telling the Senate in October that he did not know of any contact between the campaign and Russia, he admitted that he now remembered a previously-forgotten-about meeting that Donald Trump Jr. took with a Russian lawyer, among others.
Sessions himself also met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on multiple occasions, and he had spoken with two members of the Trump campaign—both of whom have now been indicted by Robert Mueller’s special council—about their trips to Russia. He still maintained that his “answers have not changed.”
Challenges Arise as Republicans Attempt to Pass Tax Plan
Although House Republicans are set to pass their tax cut bill on Thursday, obstacles have emerged within the Senate. Cutting $1.4 trillion in taxes over 10 years, the bill largely rewrites the business tax code. In addition, Republicans added a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate into the bill earlier this week.
Senator Ron Johnson said on Wednesday that the bills presented in both chambers prioritize corporations over small businesses. Senators Susan Collins, John McCain, and others have expressed qualms with the bill’s effect on the middle class and the national debt. Republican Senators are in need of a major legislative accomplishment, and their 52-48 majority means they have little room for defectors.
Military Leads Coup in Zimbabwe
After ruling Zimbabwe for decades, President Robert Mugabe is being confined to his home by the military. They also took over the state broadcaster (ZBC) and blocked some areas of the capital, including around Parliament and other government buildings. There have been reports of gunfire in the areas around President Mugabe’s home.
Despite this, the military was adamant that this was not a military takeover, even going on ZBC to say so. They claim to be persecuting criminals and that Mugabe is safe. This comes in the wake of Mugabe firing his Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa. With him gone, many speculated that Mugabe was paving the way for his wife, Grace, to take power.
In Other News…
A gunman in Northern California killed four people in a shooting rampage before being killed by police. His wife’s body was found later under the floor in his home.
A Scottish Sikh activist has been detained in India without criminal charges, and his lawyers attest that he has undergone “extreme police torture.” These torture claims include electrocution and “body separation techniques.”
Lebanon has accused Saudi Arabia of holding the Lebanese Prime Minister hostage following his abrupt resignation.
U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a former federal inmate can proceed with his lawsuit that a North Carolina federal prison denied him diabetes treatment.
Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, agreed to step down following repeated attacks from Republican legislators. Cordray was nominated by Pres. Obama in 2013, and had been notably tough on financial institutions.