TN: Anti-gay marriage bill accidentally legalizes polygamy. TX: Murder charges dropped in self-induced abortion case. Can Biden sway India on Russia support? France: Macron plays catch-up against far-right candidate.
TN: Anti-gay marriage bill accidentally legalizes polygamy
Republican lawmakers in Tennessee have introduced a bill to create a new type of marriage contract which specifically excludes same-sex couples. The bill would allow heterosexual couples to fill out a “marriage contract” that would not have to be submitted to state officials.
The bill’s supporters say it protects the religious rights of clerics and couples who object to gay marriage. Some preachers in the state have ceased performing marriage ceremonies altogether to avoid performing gay marriage rites.
Both Democratic and Republican opponents of the bill say it would expose the state to lawsuits on the grounds that it violates the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. Obergefell v. Hodges entitles gay couples to the same rights, protections and access to state-sanctioned unions enjoyed by heterosexual couples. However, it is unclear how the state could afford the same protections to signers of these marriage contracts since they are not recorded with clerk’s offices.
Initially, the bill’s writers neglected to stipulate any minimum age. This led critics to slam the bill, claiming it would sanction child marriages. Lawmakers have since amended the bill to include a minimum age. Furthermore, a Republican lawmaker says that since there is no mechanism preventing any person from entering more than one of these contracts, it would amount to the state legalizing polygamy.
TX: Murder charges against woman dropped in self-induced abortion case
Last week, Texas woman Lizelle Herrera, 26, was arrested and charged with murder. Herrera was accused of causing “the death of an individual by self-induced abortion”. It remains unclear whether Herrera performed an abortion on herself or assisted another woman’s self-induced abortion.
The local district attorney now says that he will ask the judge to dismiss the murder charge against Herrera. Women’s health advocates welcomed the decision, saying that the initial charges against Herrera signaled the state’s willingness to criminalize adverse pregnancy outcomes.
University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck says that under Texas law, a woman is not guilty of murder if she manages to abort her own pregnancy. But confusingly, Vladeck says, “It is murder in Texas to take steps that terminate a fetus” except under medical supervision. Presumably, that means that if a third party intentionally induces a termination of a pregnancy without the mother’s participation, knowledge or consent, the third party would be guilty of murdering the fetus. But if the mother intentionally induces her own abortion, that is not criminal under Texas law.
Biden attempts to sway India on Russia support
Today, President Biden is meeting virtually with India’s nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ukraine will be at the top of the agenda as the US hopes to dissuade India from supporting Russia’s invasion. India is one of the few major countries that has so far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Although India recently condemned the killing and torture of civilians in Bucha, they did not assign blame or call for charges against the perpetrators.
While many Western countries have ended or significantly reduced purchases of Russian oil, India and China have increased their purchases. The price of Russian oil has dropped dramatically, making it tempting for energy-poor India countries like India to take advantage. Purchases of oil and gas still brings billions of dollars a day into Kremlin coffers. A former aid to Putin recently suggested that a full embargo on Russian oil would bring the war in Ukraine to an end.
India has also long considered Russia to be a military ally. In its 1971 war with Pakistan, the West back Pakistan while Russia backed India. However, India also has a contentious border with China, another putative Russian ally. Modi may hope that Russia will help India if conflict flares once again with China. The US can certainly make a stronger case as an ally against Chinese aggression.
France: Macron plays catch-up against far-right candidate in runoff
The French voted yesterday in their presidential election. In the first round, incumbent Emmanuel Macron won 27.84% of the vote while far-right politician Marine Le Pen garnered 23.15%. Since none of the 12 candidates won an outright majority, Macron and Le Pen will compete in a runoff election on April 24.
While most observers believe Macron will still squeak out a win, most polls are too close to call. Macron is playing catch-up because he did not campaign at all ahead of the first round, while Le Pen campaigned aggressively. Additionally, while Le Pen’s far-right, ultra-nationalist, and Euro-skeptic politics are not appealing to most French, she skillfully distanced herself from extremist rhetoric in campaign speeches. But if Le Pen does win, observers worry about what direction France will take on the international stage. Even since the Ukraine invasion, Le Pen has continued to unabashedly view Putin as an ally.
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