Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursday Must Read: Obama Declares Anti-Gay-Marriage Law Unconstitutional; Snow Could Hit Bay Area Tonight

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 6:56 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. In a major victory for gay rights, the Obama Administration reversed its position yesterday on the federal anti-gay-marriage law, calling it unconstitutional. Attorney General Eric Holder said the administration would no longer defend the law in court, adding that it would be up to members of Congress to do so. Obama has opposed the anti-gay-marriage law but has said that his administration was obliged to defend it. The White House said that the president’s position on gay marriage is evolving. Obama’s announcement also could prove problematic for Republicans, because some libertarian Tea Party members support equal rights for gays.

2. The administration’s announcement also could boost the effort to overturn Prop 8, California’s anti-gay-marriage law, the Chron reports. Attorney Ted Olson, who represents gay couples attempting to overturn Prop 8 in federal court, immediately seized on the Obama’s administration’s announcement, noting that the Justice Department had concluded that the federal law, which is similar to California’s, cannot survive the constitution’s “heightened scrutiny” standard.

3. A fast-approaching snowstorm could hit the Bay Area tonight, and snowflakes could start falling at sea level during tomorrow’s morning commute, the Chron reports. It would be the first snow fall at sea level in the Bay Area since 1976.

4. The price of liberty in the Middle East is spreading, as gas prices could soon surge above $4 in California, the Trib and LA Times report. The popular uprising in Libya, which is a major oil producing country, is already sending gas prices upward. And if the political unrest extends to oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia and Iran, it could push gas prices to $5 or $6 a gallon.

5. The California Public Utilities Commission, which has been sharply criticized for its lax oversight of PG&E, is considering a rule that would place new reporting requirements on gas lines in which pressure accidentally spikes — but not on lines in which the utility purposely spiked pressure, the Chron reports. PG&E has come under fire for purposely spiking pressure in the San Bruno gas line that exploded and killed eight people. Former PUC president Loretta Lynch said the new rule “stacks the deck in favor of PG&E.”

6. State lawmakers are considering a new bill that would retroactively illegalize efforts by cities and counties to tie up redevelopment funds, SFGate reports. Many local governments, including Alameda County, have recently sought to commit redevelopment funds out of fear that Governor Brown’s plan to kill redevelopment agencies will go through.

7. And Republicans in the state Legislature are hardening their opposition to the governor’s proposal to put a tax measure on the June ballot, the LA Times and SacBee report.

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