Equal protection? A federal judge in Michigan declined to rule yesterday on the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, choosing instead to send the issue to trial in February. Several homosexual couples have challenged the ban, an amendment to the state’s constitution voters approved in 2004. The challengers argue the ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. Although they had hoped U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman would decide the issue yesterday, gay marriage supporters say they will provide overwhelming evidence to support their position when the case goes to trial. Until then, state Attorney General Bill Schuette warned county clerks not to issue same-sex marriage licenses until the case is decided. Michigan’s marriage challenge is just one percolating through federal courts in several states after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year. The nation’s high court might have bought itself some time by not ruling on whether states could ban same-sex marriage, but the justices likely will have to make that call in the near future.
Predictable win. Cory Booker, the Democratic mayor of Newark, N.J., won yesterday’s special election to finish the term of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in office in June at age 89. Booker beat his Republican challenger, Steve Lonegan, with 55 percent of the vote. During interviews this morning, Booker brushed off criticism that the margin wasn’t as wide as many expected in a state that leans so heavily toward Democrats. Thirty-three percent of the state’s registered voters are Democrats, and only 20 percent are Republicans. Lonegan emphasized the need for federal spending cuts amid the rising national debt, aligning himself with conservative Republicans behind the partial government shutdown that ended just as voters were going to the polls. Analysts blame Booker’s smaller than expected margin of victory on his light campaign schedule and lingering ethics questions.
Vote disruption. The partial government shutdown might have ended with a whimper last night, but the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives didn’t get recorded without some fireworks. In the middle of the count, a House stenographer had what appears to be a mental breakdown, approaching the speaker’s chair to declare, “Praise be to God Jesus Christ.” Witnesses said she also made references to America not being one nation under God because “Freemasons” wrote the Constitution. Another woman tried to calm her until security arrived, but as officers dragged her off the floor, she screamed, “You cannot serve two masters.” Presiding officer Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., described the outburst as sudden, confusing, and heartbreaking: “She is normally a gentle soul.”
Cookie crack. Although this should be no surprise to anyone who’s eaten one, scientists now say Oreos are as addictive as cocaine, at least for rodents. Researchers from Connecticut College discovered rats fed Oreos spent as much time on one side of a maze as rats injected with cocaine or morphine. But the control groups got rice cakes and saline solution, which makes the findings even less surprising. In order to really test Oreos’ addictive properties, researchers should let rats choose between the cookies and cocaine. While we wait for those results, rest assured you have an excuse for not being able to eat just one.