Three Arizona Republicans change minds, now reject anti-gay bill

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has until the end of the week to decide whether she'll sign or veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gays. (Reuters)
February 24
ARIZONA
Three in GOP change
minds on anti-gay bill

Three Republicans who supported a bill that would bolster the rights of business owners to refuse service to gays and others on the basis of religion reversed course Monday and asked the governor to veto the measure.

State Sens. Adam Driggs, Steve Pierce and Bob Worsley delivered a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer (R) pleading for her to reject SB 1062. They joined Arizona’s two U.S. senators, Republicans John McCain and Jeff Flake, in asking for a veto.

Brewer has until Friday to sign or veto the bill, which the legislature passed last week. She said she hasn’t decided what she will do.

Some opponents of the legislation have threatened to boycott Arizona if the bill becomes law. Gay rights activists, business groups, a coalition of faith-based leaders and politicians from various political persuasions also have blasted the measure.

— Los Angeles Times

The daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy is accused of driving while impaired and crashing her car into a truck. (Reuters)
NEW YORK
Kerry Kennedy
appears in court

A Kennedy family member’s groggy behavior after her 2012 arrest for sideswiping a tractor trailer in New York was not the result of a criminal act but of mistakenly taking a sleeping pill instead of thyroid medication, her attorneys argued at her trial Monday.

Kerry Kennedy, 54, daughter of assassinated senator Robert F. Kennedy and the ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving while impaired.

“This case is about a mistake, plain and simple,” defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt said in his opening statement in Westchester County Court in White Plains, about 35 miles north of New York City. Lefcourt said it was a medication mix-up that led to Kennedy’s arrest after erratically driving her silver Lexus on Interstate 684 near North Castle in Westchester County the morning of July 13, 2012.

Kennedy is expected to take the stand later in her trial, scheduled to run about a week. Her mother, Ethel Kennedy, widow of senator Kennedy, was in the courtroom.

— Reuters

Mansion owner shot
by masked assailant

The politically connected owner of a storied mansion-turned-wedding palace was shot in the head by a masked assailant Monday afternoon while getting into his car in the parking lot of his Long Island venue, Suffolk County police said.

Gary Melius was in surgery at a hospital, Suffolk County police said. A call about shots fired came in about 12:30 p.m., and when officers arrived at the scene, they learned that Melius had been taken to the hospital by a relative. Police said that the shooting did not appear to be accidental and that neither the shooter nor a motive has been identified.

Oheka Castle is a Gilded Age estate on Long Island’s Gold Coast that has become a celebrity wedding site in recent years. Built to resemble a French chateau, the 127-room mansion was one of the nation’s largest private homes when built for financier Otto Hermann Kahn in 1919, according to its Web site. Melius bought the dilapidated property in 1984 and restored it. He sold it a few years later, then regained ownership in 2003.

— Associated Press

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