No. 17. The Supreme Court of New Mexico issued a ruling Thursday to allow same-sex marriage in the state. With that decision, New Mexico joins 16 other states and the District of Columbia that have legalized gay marriage either through legislation, court rulings, or voter referendums. Before the ruling, eight of New Mexico’s 33 counties had already started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. County officials asked the high court to clarify the law and establish a uniform state policy on gay marriage. The court’s decision comes after the Democratic-controlled state legislature repeatedly turned down proposals for domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and a constitutional amendment that would have allowed voters to decide whether to legalize gay marriage. Conservative groups say they are gathering signatures to present to the state legislature asking for a reversal of the decision. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican who has opposed same-sex marriage, said she would have preferred voters deciding the issue rather than the courts. Under the ruling, clergy who disagree with same-sex marriage can decline to perform wedding ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.
Off to China. President Barack Obama will nominate Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to serve as the U.S. ambassador to China. Obama said Baucus’ experience on trade issues makes him a natural choice to fill the position. Baucus has visited China at least eight times and has been an outspoken critic of China’s trade practices and currency manipulation. He led the design of the Affordable Care Act, but in April correctly predicted that the White House’s implementation of the law would be a “train wreck.” A nearly 25-year veteran of the Senate, Baucus is known as a consensus builder who helped President George W. Bush pass sweeping tax cuts during his administration. Baucus worked with Republicans again in 2004 when Congress pushed through a GOP plan to create a new prescription drug benefit under Medicare.
All that glitters. The price of gold dropped to its lowest amount in three years Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve said it would pull back on its stimulus program. The change reflects how investors are adjusting their expectations for high inflation in the future. Gold went as high as $1,900 an ounce in August 2011 partly because traders feared that the Fed’s efforts to support the U.S. economy with easy money policies would cause inflation. That never happened. The Fed’s decision to slow its bond-buying program has further alleviated inflation concerns.
Falling down in London. Authorities reassured theatergoers Friday that London’s elegant but aging venues are safe after chunks of ornamental plaster fell from a ceiling of the Apollo Theatre, showering patrons with dust and debris and injuring 79 people. Investigators are looking into whether a brief but intense rainstorm was a factor in Thursday’s accident at the century-old building. Witnesses have described chaos and panic as large chunks of plaster, wooden beams, and dust rained down on the audience 45 minutes into a performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. London Ambulance Service said Friday that it had treated 79 people, 56 of whom were taken to local hospitals in ambulances and two commandeered London buses. Of these, 47 were “walking wounded” with minor injuries, while nine “had suffered more serious injuries including head and back injuries.”