Whatever & Ever Today: DOMA Dies, Davis Filibuster a Success, & Chimps Retire

A win for equal rights, a win for abortion rights, and a win for animal rights.

A Great Day For Equality

A day after making a head-scratching ruling that dismantled the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Supreme Court redeemed itself this morning by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 5-4 decision. DOMA was signed into law in 1996 by the Clinton Administration and effectively prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states. The law also disqualified same-sex couples whose marriages were recognized by their home state from receiving federal benefits available to straight married couples.

In another ruling, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the court dismissed a case regarding California’s gay marriage ban Proposition 8 by claiming the proponents of Prop 8 did not have the constitutional authority, or standing, to defend the law in federal courts after the state refused to appeal its loss. The ruling makes same-sex marriage legal in California again.

All in all, it was a good day for progress and equal rights. However, there are still many states left that do not recognize gay marriage. It was a great step forward, but still a far-cry from national equality.

Credit: Gawker Media

Here’s to Wendy Davis and Texas Activists

Yesterday was a very tense and chaotic day in Austin, Texas. After an extraordinary 13-hour filibuster by Texas state Senator Wendy Davis, voting on the controversial legislation that would have closed all but five abortion clinics in Texas has been delayed. Many people from around the world watched the livestream of the filibuster on YouTube provided by the Texas Tribune. Despite its dramatic appeal, the historic event hardly made an impression on network television. Over 180,000 viewers watched democracy in action online, while CNN was talking about the number of calories in blueberry muffins.

This drastic legislation, Senate Bill 5, “would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, required physicians to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of an abortion facility, required abortions, to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, and required doctors to administer drugs that induce abortion in person,” according to the Texas Tribune.

Filibusted or not, the fight is not yet over. Just this afternoon, Texas Governor Rick Perry decided to schedule a 2nd special session of Congress set for July 1 to vote on the bill. Fortunately, pro-choice activists are up for the fight, despite any shenanigans thrown the activists’ way.

Credit: Gerald Herbert/AP

Chimps Ahoy!

In what many animal rights activists are viewing as a major step towards the end of using chimpanzees for biomedical research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is retiring 310 of the 360 chimps currently held for research. The remaining 50 will be available for research, if necessary. The retired chimps will go to a sanctuary to live the rest of their lives in captivity, but free from an array of medical tests. This decision stems from a 2011 Institute of Medicine report, recommending that most of government chimps be retired.

Whatever & Ever Today is written by Josh Terry. You can follow him on twitter, but we don’t recommend it.

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