National News Explained: February

Sheila Gregory, Co-Editor

Suspension of Gay Marriage
In late December of 2013, gay marriage became legal in Utah. This allowed thousands of same-sex couples to finally wed. Judge Robert Shelby of the Federal District Court independently decided to permit civil unions — 17 days later, the Supreme Court overruled him. The marriages had to have an officiator and two witnesses. Many perks of marriage are things such as getting on a spouse’s health care plan or, for women, if one is pregnant, both could be parents instead of one being the birth parent and the other having adopt the child.
Why is this a big deal? With the flood of newlyweds, it is uncertain if the once legally officiated marriages are now void. There is also the question of health care, adoption and taxes for the couples now in this unprecedented situation. If it is declared that all marriages in that two-week period are void, then there will most certainly be a protest from the gay community around the country.

Recreational Marijuana
On Jan. 1, large crowds lined up in Denver to obtain legal recreational marijuana — total sales exceeded $1 million on the first day. Stores like these are the first of their kind, and Colorado is currently the only state allowing pot to be used for non-medicinal reasons. Washington will follow later this year. The cannabis is locally grown and has an elevated tax rate, which goes to school systems and other government functions to help funding. In the first week, consumers spent $5 million on marijuana, and within the second week, stores’ supplies had been depleted.
Why is this a big deal? It is a groundbreaking business model which sets the precedent for the future of recreational marijuana. If it succeeds, then similar stores will be set up sky-high all over the country, maybe even the world. If it fails, it becomes a cautionary tale for the rest of the world that legalizing pot for fun won’t work and should be avoided.

Chris Christie Scandal
Under the jurisdiction of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the George Washington Bridge shut down two of its three lanes September 9 through 12. The bridge, which connects New Jersey to New York, experienced major backup, late commuters and delay of emergency vehicles to 911 calls. A woman died because EMTs couldn’t cross the bridge to reach her in time. The closure of the lanes wasn’t a big deal until emails and texts were leaked saying Christie’s Chief of Staff had intentionally shut down the lanes to spite Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who did not endorse Christie’s campaign. Christie said he knew nothing of the plot and immediately fired any members involved in the planning.
Why is this a big deal? Many view Christie as front-runner for the 2016 presidential election, and an incident of this sort could prevent him from being considered or excelling in the primary election rounds. It looks extremely unprofessional on his part and calls for a serious re-evaluation of his staff and who he can trust. If evidence of his involvement turns up, then it means political suicide for the governor. But as of right now, he, like the commuters, remains a victim in this scandal.

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber was arrested for drag racing, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and resisting arrest on Jan. 23. Bieber’s bail was posted at $2,500.
Why is this a big deal? This signifies the mental decline of Justin Bieber, and, hopefully, we’ll be rid of him soon.