Federal Government Will Extend More Legal Benefits to Same-Sex Couples: Attorney General Eric Holder announced at a gay rights advocacy event on Saturday that the federal government will extend further benefits to same-sex couples. Holder spoke about this provision to recognize same-sex marriage to the greatest extent possible under the law, which is a continuation of the Supreme Court case from last year, in which the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional to refuse federal benefits to married same-sex couples. The provision will increase benefits relating to bankruptcy, prison visits, and survivor benefits, and will apply to 34 states that currently do not recognize same-sex marriage, although the benefits will only extend to areas where the federal government has jurisdiction.
Michael Sam Has the Potential to be the First Openly Gay Player in the NFL: Missouri All-American football player Michael Sam came out in an interview with ESPN this Sunday. Sam, a defensive end who is expected to be a mid-range NFL draft pick, says he came out to his teammates and coaches back in August. A number of NFL players have come out after retiring, including Kwame Harris and David Kopay, but if Sam is drafted, this announcement would make him the first openly gay player in the NFL.
International Criticism and Technical Difficulties Plague the Sochi Olympics: The Sochi Olympics started this Friday among international criticisms about Russia’s treatment of the LGBT community, the ban on protesting in Sochi, and the treatment of migrant workers on construction sites. In addition to the international outrage over these policies, the Olympics have been troubled by technical difficulties, including the longest torch relay in Olympic history, with the torch going out a record number of times, as well as a malfunction during the Opening Ceremonies that resulted in only four of the five Olympic rings being displayed. However, Russia was restored to prominence during the new team figure skating competition, in which it took first place, its first gold medal of the Sochi Games.
Former Police Officer Denied Bail for a Movie Theater Shooting: Curtis Reeves, 71, a former Tampa police officer, was denied bond on Friday after being charged with second-degree murder. Reeves was charged with shooting a man in a showing of Lone Survivor, in which Reeves allegedly shot the man for texting during the movie. Reeves pleaded that he shot the man in self-defense.
Contentious Farm Bill Passed in Congress: Congress passed the $1 trillion Agricultural Act of 2014 this week, after the bill was hotly debated as part of the continuing debate over government spending. Ultimately, a compromise between deficit-concerned Republicans and Democrats wanting to protect safety-net programs resulted in the passage of the bill. The Act includes policies for crop subsidies, nutrition programs, conservation, and food stamps, as well as cockfighting, biofuels, climate change, and farmer’s markets. President Obama described the bill as an economic, environmental, and agricultural bill condensed into a single bill. The program will cut food stamps by $8 billion over the next ten years, rather than the $40 billion in cuts initially approved by the Republican-controlled House. The bill also ends the controversial practice of direct payments to farmers, which allows farmers to receive federal subsidies regardless of their output.