This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And President Obama heads home from the Middle East today after a mixed reception to his four-day visit. Mr. Obama spent much of that time in Israel trying to lay the groundwork to revive the long-stalled peace process with Palestinians. He also traveled to the West Bank and met with Jordan's King Abdullah. NPR's Scott Horsley has a recap.
Supreme Court justices will hear arguments Tuesday on California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage. On Wednesday they'll hear arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Credit Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images
Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin is one of the 15 sitting Democrats who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 but now oppose it.
The soul-searching over the Defense of Marriage Act went viral last week after Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, a social conservative and original co-sponsor of the 1996 bill, sought out CNN to say something no one saw coming.
Portman said he'd decided to oppose DOMA and support same-sex marriage, two years after learning his college-age son was gay.
The Republican and Democratic parties have been in a digital arms race for years. And this week, Republicans frankly admitted that they are losing.
Now, the GOP has ambitious plans to improve its game.
Monday's report from the Republican National Committee puts it bluntly: "Republicans must catch up on how we utilize technology in our campaigns. The Obama team is several years ahead of everyone else in its technological advantage."
Some people in the Grand Old Party think it's time for some new ideas, if Republicans want to win future elections. Host Michel Martin speaks with two GOP insiders - former presidential speechwriter Mary Kate Cary, and Ron Christie, a former assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush. They talk about the future of the Republican party, and reflect on the decade since the US invaded Iraq.
Last week's CPAC event shows conservatives are split. Immigration and guns are two issues that are dividing the American people. South Carolina Republicans are torn over whether to support Mark Sanford's comeback bid. And NPR's Ken Rudin and Ron Elving aren't even sure if they like each other. This week's podcast hopes to solve these disputes.
With his journey, the president temporarily left behind a changing American political scene. The Republican Party is struggling with that change. Public opinion on immigration and gay marriage is changing quickly. That forces Republicans to try a balancing act, as NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports.
The tiny dynamo asking the U.S. Supreme Court to turn the world upside down looks nothing like a fearless pioneer. At age 83, Edith Windsor dresses in classic, tailored clothes, usually with a long string of pearls, and she sports a well-coiffed, shoulder-length flip. She looks, for all the world, like a proper New York City lady.
Proper she may be, and a lady, but Windsor, who likes to be called Edie, is making history, challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA. The law bans federal recognition and benefits for legally married same-sex couples.
Now to the ever-entertaining world of South Carolina politics. Candidates in a special election for Congress include a former governor who gave hiking the Appalachian Trail entirely new meaning. That's Republican Mark Sanford, who wasn't hiking back in 2009, as reported by his staff, but was having an extramarital affair in Argentina that ended his marriage and his political aspirations for a time.
Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 8:36 pm
Yoko Ono, the widow of slain Beatle John Lennon, has weighed in on the issue of gun control by tweeting a photo of the blood-spattered eyeglasses worn by the legendary musician when he was fatally shot by a deranged fan more than three decades ago.
Her tweet, on the 44th anniversary of the couple's marriage:
"Over 1,057,000 people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on 8 Dec 1980."
Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 3:02 pm
The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that avoids a federal shutdown and keeps the government open through the end of the 2013 fiscal year, which winds up Sept. 30. The Senate approved the same measure Wednesday, so the bill now goes to the president for his signature.
The New York Times characterizes the measure, which passed the House on a 318-109 vote, this way:
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, Oscar nominated actress Angela Bassett and film director Antoine Fuqua are here and they will tell us about their latest project, the action thriller "Olympus Has Fallen." It may make you rethink that White House tour you'd been planning. That's later in the program.
But now we want to take another look at the issue of gun rights and gun safety in this country. We've been hearing a variety of perspectives on this program.
The Republican was on the short list for the vice presidential nomination in the last election. While he has not been outspoken on the subject of same-sex marriage, he has consistently opposed it — until now.
Recently, Portman announced that he changed his mind. He says this is because his son Will is gay.
In director Antoine Fuqua's new action thriller, Olympus Has Fallen, the White House — code-named "Olympus" — is invaded by North Korean terrorists. The president and his staff are held hostage in an underground bunker, and their only hope of coming out alive is a disgraced Secret Service agent.
In theaters March 22, the film opens at a politically sensitive time, perhaps by coincidence. North Korea is much in the news for its nuclear threats and its rocky relationship with South Korea.
Mike McConnell (left) and Jack Baker -- the couple in the <em>Baker v. Nelson</em> case — attempt to get a marriage license in Minneapolis in May 1970. The AP <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/jack-baker-michael-mcconnell-minnesota-gay-marriage_n_2271573.html">reported in December 2012</a> that the two are still together.
Credit R. Bertraine Heine/Minnesota Historical Society / AP
Doris Dennis, a volunteer handing out literature for the Save Our Children group headed by Anita Bryant, gets into a debate with Alan Rockway, a volunteer handing out literature for a gay rights group, at a shopping center in Miami in 1977.
Credit Bill Hudson / AP
Suzanne Rotondo of New York holds daughter Phoebe while kissing Kristi Habedanck after they receive a marriage license in Provincetown, Mass., on May 17, 2004.
Credit William B. Plowman / Getty Images
Richie Beanan of Los Angeles puts a sign on a bus in support of California's Proposition 8 gay marriage ban after a rally in Sacramento in October 2008.
David Wilson (left) and Rob Compton embrace after being married by a Unitarian minister at the Arlington Street Church in Boston on May 17, 2004. They were one of the first couples in Massachusetts to be legally wed.
Credit Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., (left) and Jim Ready pose at their wedding reception on July 7, 2012. Frank married his longtime partner in a ceremony officiated by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in Newton.
Credit Jaime E. Connolly/Fotique / AP
Missouri state Rep. Kevin Engler, a Republican, speaks during a rally for a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on May 3, 2004, in Jefferson City, Mo.
Gays and lesbians have adopted the phrase "it gets better" as a kind of slogan to assure young people that life won't always be so tough.
Looking back, life has gotten dramatically better for LGBT people in the United States in a very short period of time. The modern gay rights movement began less than 50 years ago. Today, supporters of same-sex marriage outnumber opponents.
Now, the Supreme Court is about to hear two big cases that could shift the landscape for gay rights again.
In Congress this week, there's a lot of action related to the federal budget. Today, the Senate approved a measure known as the continuing resolution. It would avoid a shutdown, keeping government operations funded through September. The House is expected to sign off on the same measure quickly. Also this week, both the House and Senate are expected to pass budget resolutions.
Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio conservative Republican who recently said he now supports same-sex marriage because he has a gay son, evidently has plenty of company.
A new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press suggests that many Americans have changed their minds — going from opposing to supporting same-sex marriage — because they personally know someone who is gay.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington. A double-switch on gay marriage, Sanford back in the South Carolina sun, and you think Reince Priebus has been listening to the show? It's Wednesday and time for a...
REINCE PRIEBUS: Stuffy old men.
CONAN: ...edition of the Political Junkie.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDINGS)
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: There you go again.
VICE PRESIDENT WALTER MONDALE: When I hear your new ideas, I'm reminded of that ad: Where's the beef?
This is TELL ME MORE, from NPR news. I'm Michel Martin. Today, we are going to spend some time across North Africa and the Middle East. It's the first day of spring, and that means it's the Persian New Year. We are going to celebrate Nowruz later in the program, with a comedian who's putting a new spin on the holiday. That's in just a few minutes.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep. Good morning.
Horizontal hydro-fracking has transformed the energy market. Drillers get natural gas out of the ground by drilling down, then sideways, using water pressure to unlock energy - natural gas. But for all the money coming out of the ground in some places, the technique is contentious and New York does not allow it; which causes landowners to feel they're being left behind.
Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 4:04 pm
One of the most interesting observations we've seen regarding the Republican National Committee's latest effort to win the hearts and minds of minorities, women and young voters was to be found on a blog that promotes a
Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 2:48 pm
The prospects of an assault weapons ban emerging as part of any post-Newtown gun control law looks highly unlikely after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opted not to include it in a Democratic proposal to be offered on the Senate floor in coming weeks.
"My understanding is it will not be [part of the base bill]" to be introduced on the Senate floor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said after meeting with Reid on Monday, according to Politico. "The leader has decided not to do it."
Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 12:02 pm
Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky doubled down Tuesday on a previous call for a path to citizenship, telling a major Hispanic business group that his message to the nation's illegal immigrants is: "If you wish to live and work in America, then we will find a place for you."
Conservatives, he told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, must "become part of the solution" to immigration, including dealing with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now living in the U.S. In his Washington speech, Paul said: