Typically, my posts bring you all the bad news, but today I actually have a couple of good news pieces, starting with the news that as I write this, Brittney Griner is on a plane heading home to the U.S. after some ten months imprisoned in Russia. President Biden announced early this morning …
“Moments ago, standing together with her wife Cherelle in the Oval Office, I spoke with Brittney Griner. She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home after months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances. Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.”
Ms. Griner was arrested in February on “drug smuggling” charges, for having inadvertently packed a vaporizer cartridge containing less than a gram of cannabis oil. For this, she was sentenced to nine years in prison in August. A rather harsh sentence for what wouldn’t even be a crime in the U.S., but that’s Russia. Negotiations for her release, as well as another U.S. citizen being held by Russia, Paul Whelan, have been ongoing and today she was released in a one-to-one prisoner swap with Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Negotiations for Mr. Whelan’s release are ongoing.
Welcome home, Ms. Griner!
And huge kudos to the House of Representatives today for passing the Respect for Marriage Act (FfMA) that will protect same-sex and interracial marriages by a vote of 258-169. Last month, the bill passed in the Senate by 62-37 with 12 Republicans voting for it. Today, 39 House Republicans joined all Democrats in passing this legislation! This came as a surprise to me, especially after the 12 Republican senators came under serious criticism by their party for working across the aisle.
The bill doesn’t go as far as we might like, as it would not force states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples but it will require that people be considered married in any state as long as the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. The bill also would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA). In addition to defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, DoMA allowed states to decline to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. That law has remained on the books despite being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor and its 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which guaranteed same-sex couples the fundamental right to marry.
Next, the bill heads to the Oval Office for President Biden’s signature, which is all but guaranteed. 👍👍
And that’s the good news of the day, my friends! No doubt tomorrow I will return to my usual snarky self. Meanwhile, just a few cartoons …