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11Colorado Ballot Initiative Will Require Marriage Education Courses Prior to All Weddings in the State

A group in Colorado is causing a stir after proposing a ballot initiative that will require couples looking to get married to go through educational classes prior to actually being allowed to wed.

The ballot, known as the Colorado Marriage Education Act, will make it mandatory for new couples to go through 10 hours of educational courses before getting married. If someone is getting married for the second time, the number of required hours would increase to 20, and for a third time, 30. A widow or widower that is remarrying, however, would only be required to go through 10 hours of classes.

Those in favor of the bill, like David Schel and Sharon Tekolian of the group Kids Against Divorce, say that the point is to, “better prepare individuals going into marriage to fulfill their new roles as spouse and potentially as parent, to furthermore protect children given that marriage is the foundation of a family unit."

Those opposed, however, feel that it is inappropriate to have laws regulating education when it comes to marriage.

"This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard," said the three-time married Alyx Reese-Giles. "The government has no business deciding what education people should or should not get before entering into marriage. Marriage is about communication and being ready to commit, and no class is going to teach you that."

In addition to proposing mandatory classes for couples wanting to get married, the ballot also proposes annual tax cuts for couples that willingly continue the educational courses each year of their marriage, saying that will “reduce the billions of dollars taxpayers spend annually on divorce.”

The group that proposed this ballot initiative say they’ll need 86,000 signatures in order to get the Colorado Marriage Education Act on the voting ballot for November.

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11Colorado Democrats, State Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron, Ousted After Gun Control Recall

Two Democratic lawmakers who supported tougher gun laws were ousted on Tuesday following a recall vote in Colorado.

State Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron were defeated yesterday after gun rights advocates demanded a recall following the enactment of stricter gun legislation due to a number of gun violence incidents in the state last year, including the Aurora shooting that killed 12 people in a movie theater.

Morse, along with Giron, sought and pushed through legislation that banned magazines with more than 15 rounds, as well as required background checks for all private gun sales. Morse made it clear that despite being voted out, he had no regrets for all of the effort he put into gun control.

"I said at the time if it costs me my political career, so be it," said Morse. "That's nothing compared to what the families of victims go through every single day. We did the right thing."

The recall election that took place was the first in Colorado’s history and, according to Giron, was not supported by the majority of Colorado voters.

“I’ve talked to thousands of voters in their homes and at their doors,” said Giron. “They think this forced recall has been an abuse of the law and an outrageous expense. They want their Senator to address all the things they care about, not just a single issue. That’s what I’ve done and that’s what I’ll continue to do after I win this election.”

Giron did not win the election, however, and gun rights activists are celebrating a victory today. Recall organizer Timothy Knight says that it was the people of Colorado who opposed the tight gun laws and that the Democratic Senators who were voted out did not listen to what the majority wanted.

"If the people had been listened to, these recalls wouldn't be happening," Knight said.

Although the two Democratic Senators were voted out of their seats, Morse says that it won’t change anything because Democrats still maintain control of the Legislature, adding that the vote is “purely symbolic.”

Republican lawmakers in the state, however, see it as a message to remaining Democrats.

“This should serve as a warning that the Democrats in the Legislature must be more balanced in the upcoming session,” said Republican state Senator Greg Brophy. “Governor Hickenlooper should also realize that his inability to control the Legislature could be very costly.”

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11Maine Concealed Carry Bill Fails by 1 Vote

A Maine bill that would have allowed gun owners to carry a concealed weapon without a permit barely failed to pass the House of Representatives with a 74-73 vote.

Currently, Maine citizens can openly carry a gun without a permit. Carrying a concealed weapon does require a permit.

The bill might have suffered a narrow defeat, but there is still a chance that it could make its way through the legislature. The Senate will have a chance to rescue the bill with a favorable vote.

"It could go either way,” said David Trahan of the pro-gun group Sportsman's Alliance of Maine.

Gun rights supporters are not the only ones backing the bill. For some, getting rid of concealed carry permits is simply a matter of legal consistency and logic.

Rep. Allen Nadeau relayed a story wherein he was openly carrying a gun on his property, and then wanted to hide the gun under his jacket to protect it from rain. Nadeau said that his wife reminded him not to conceal the weapon because he would have been in violation of the state’s concealed carry law.

"It was my own farm and my own property," he argued.

Rep. Janice Cooper (D) wasn’t moved by her colleague’s story.

"I believe this [bill] would create a climate of fear much greater than we would want to live with," she said.

Other legislators who voted against the bill stated that they would rather fix the flawed permit system rather than get rid of it entirely.

The votes for the bill mostly went along party lines, but a few people jumped the fence. Rep. Timothy Marks (D) was the only Democrat who backed the bill. He pointed to the overwhelming lack of police protest.

"That's sign that they don't care," Marks said. "Nobody showed up."

The Democrats hold a slight majority in the Maine Senate. Another party line vote would be the final nail in this bill’s coffin. 

Source: KJ Online

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11Boy Scouts of America Vote to Allow Gay Youth Members

In a monumental decision on Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America voted to end the organization’s controversial policy of banning gay members – a move that ultimately puts to rest a multi-year debate between opposing sides.

Boy Scouts of America reported over 60 percent of the organization's 1,400 delegates had voted to lift the ban.

"Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone," the BSA said in a statement following the vote.

"The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote."

Thursday’s vote overturned a 22-year ban restricting openly gay scouts. Anti-gay groups had commonly referenced a line from the 1911 Boy Scouts of America’s oath that referenced “morally straight” values – an excerpt many believed didn’t align with homosexual values.

"On my honor I will do my best….to keep myself physically strong, mentally alert and morally straight," the passage reads.

While Thursday’s win was a huge stepping stone for gay rights groups, stakes are currently high for the Boy Scouts of America – which boasts roughly 3 million youth participants. The measure could result in significant repercussions for the organization.

"I'm not happy as a parent," Rusty Tisdale, an assistant scoutmaster in Mississippi, told NBC News. "The gay activist isn't happy and will not be until homosexuals can be leaders, etc. So there will be more pressure, and more fighting, And more acquiescence. No thanks."

"There are other activities for my kids to do," he added. "There are other organizations that I can support with my time and money."

Thursday’s measure, which is slated to go into effect on January 1, 2014, didn’t lift the organization’s ban on gay adult Scout leaders, who are still barred from holding positions.

Sources: USA Today, NBC

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11House Republicans Vote To Repeal ‘Obamacare’ For 37th Time

The House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act for the 37th time on Thursday afternoon. The Republican-led House has made it their mission to de-fund or reduce “Obamacare” even though the Senate will not support it.

Republicans think that by continually attacking the bill, they will have a better chance of ultimately defeating it. If the Obama administration has problems getting the new law working over the next few months, the GOP’s hope is that those issues will cause people to vote in a way that will help them recapture the Senate in next year's midterm elections, Fox News reported.

Protesting the Affordable Care Act also gave newly elected Republicans a chance to sound off on the bill.

“This may be the 37th time that the House has taken up the repeal of what is known as Obamacare. But this is my first time,” said Rep. Tom Rice. “The constituents that sent me here want my vote recorded, to repeal this poorly crafted, job-killing law.”

House Democrats are getting tired of voting on the topic, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.

“Here we go again. This vote is more than just a sideshow. It’s an embarrassing spectacle that has consumed House Republicans for more than two years,” said Rep. Sander M. Levin. “Republicans . . . have their legislative heads in the sand and their feet in cement.”

Sources: Fox News, The Washington Post

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11Louisiana Teachers Can Continue To Teach Creationism

Creationism will be staying in the classrooms of Louisiana, for now at least. An attempt to repeal legislation that permits teachers to bring creationist textbooks into the classroom was defeated by a 3-2 vote.

The effort to eliminate the Louisiana Science Education Act was started by teenage activist Zack Kopplin. Sen. Karen Carter Peterson was also involved in the attempted repeal. Kopplin previously launched legal bids to repeal the Science Education Act in 2011 and 2012.

Kopplin is not giving up.

“For the past few months we’ve been organizing relentlessly and having people contact their elected officials to ask them to vote to repeal Louisiana’s creationism law,” Kopplin said.

“We lost again this year, but we’re making progress. We gained a second vote. And on top of this, it was clear that we will eventually win and repeal this vote. It’s up to the legislators to choose which side of history they want to stand on.”

Sen. Elbert Guillory had reservations about repealing the act. He said that eliminating it could “lock the door on being able to view ideas from many places, concepts from many cultures.” Part of the reason he opposed repealing the law was because of an experience he had with a spiritual healer, the Inquisitr reported.

“Yet if I closed my mind when I saw this man – in the dust, throwing some bones on the ground, semi-clothed – if I had closed him off and just said, ‘That’s not science. I’m not going to see this doctor,’ I would have shut off a very good experience for myself,” Guillory said.

The Louisiana Science Education Act certainly has its fair share of detractors, though.

"The LSE Act is a bad law, not because of its spirit, but because of its failure to provide the necessary restrictions, standards, and guidelines required in order for the original intent to be successfully realized," said Tammy Wood, a teacher who won the 1991 Louisiana Presidential Award for science education.

Sources: Inquisitr, The Times Picayune

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