Groups sue to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois

Posted May 30, 2012, at 9:29 p.m.

LOS ANGELES — Illinois on Wednesday became the newest battleground in the nation’s fight over gay marriage, with the filing of lawsuits seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.

The suits, brought on behalf of more than two dozen gay and lesbian couples were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the New York advocacy group Lambda Legal, a spokesman for the latter group said by telephone. Lambda represents 16 of the couples.

The couples seek to overturn Illinois’ ban on same-sex marriage. The state is one of the approximately 30 where voters have approved amendments limiting marriage to one man and one woman.

In effect, couples are seeking from the courts what they are not likely to get immediately from the state legislative process. A measure to eliminate the bar to same-sex marriage is pending in the state Legislature, but it is unlikely to be acted on before the end of the week when state law-makers are scheduled to go home.

Romney wins 105 Texas delegates on big night

WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney won 105 delegates in the Texas primary on the night he clinched the Republican nomination for president, giving him more than two-thirds of the delegates up for grabs in the contest.

The former Massachusetts governor has 1,191 delegates, according to The Associated Press count, putting him above the 1,144 delegates needed to win the GOP nomination at the party’s national convention in August.

Texas had 152 delegates at stake in Tuesday’s primary. Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who has stopped campaigning in primaries but is still accumulating delegates, won 18. The rest were sprinkled among candidates who dropped out of the race weeks or even months ago.

Texas awarded delegates in proportion to the statewide vote, and candidates could win a delegate with as little as 0.4 percent of the vote.

The low threshold gave Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who dropped out of the race in January, her only delegate. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who also dropped out in January, won his second.

Romney has won about two-thirds of the delegates at stake in primaries and caucuses since January. His next closest rival, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, has won 16 percent. Santorum suspended his campaign April 10.

IRS: 1 in 189 high earners paid no US taxes in 2009

WASHINGTON — The percentage of U.S. taxpayers reporting adjusted gross income exceeding $200,000 who paid no U.S. income taxes increased in 2009 to 0.53 percent from 0.51 percent, meaning that one in 189 high earners avoided taxation, an Internal Revenue Service study found.

The filers reported tax-exempt interest along with deductible charitable contributions, medical expenses and other items to legally reduce their taxable income. They avoid the alternative minimum tax, which was created in 1969 in response to a report that 155 people earned $200,000 and paid nothing in taxes.

“High-income returns are more often nontaxable as a result of a combination of reasons, none of which, by itself, would result in nontaxability,” the IRS wrote in a report released Friday.

The annual report comes amid a debate over the fairness of the U.S. tax code and particularly how it applies to those at the top of the income scale. President Obama has proposed the so-called Buffett rule, which would impose a 30 percent minimum tax on high earners; a congressional proposal implementing the rule set the threshold for the 30 percent tax at $2 million.

SpaceX’s historic mission set to end with a Thursday splashdown

LOS ANGELES — SpaceX’s Dragon space capsule, which last week became the world’s first privately built and operated spacecraft to dock with the International Space Station, is scheduled to return to Earth on Thursday morning.

The unmanned capsule is set to splash down at 11:44 a.m. EDT in the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles west of Southern California. It will be the culmination of a historic mission carried out by the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company, officially known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

The Dragon’s departure from the space station will be webcast on NASA TV starting at 3:30 a.m. The spacecraft will be separated from the space station using the station’s robotic arm, and is scheduled to be released at 6:10 a.m.

The craft will then make its way back to Earth by firing its Draco thrusters to de-orbit. Much of this will be out of range of live television, so coverage will be cut off until 10:15 a.m., NASA said.

According to the schedule, once the Dragon enters the atmosphere it will deploy parachutes around 11:35 a.m. to slow its descent into the ocean.

After splashdown, the craft will be retrieved by a ship.

If successful, this will be the second time that SpaceX has launched a space capsule into orbit and had it survive a fiery re-entry. The company previously pulled off the feat in December 2010.

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