State is expected to let gay couples marry

Alabama is set Monday to become the 37th state where gays can legally wed, prompting one couple to pitch a tent outside a courthouse to wait even as the state’s chief justice was making an 11th-hour attempt late Sunday to keep the weddings on hold.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to probate judges ordering them to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses when the courts open for business Monday. Moore wrote that the judges weren’t bound by a federal judge’s ruling Jan. 23 that the marriage ban was unconstitutional.

“Effective immediately, no probate judge of the state of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent” with the Alabama Constitution,” Moore wrote.

But Susan Watson, executive director the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, called the move by the conservative chief justice “grandstanding” and predicted licenses would be issued shortly.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade ruled the state marriage ban was unconstitutional and in a clarification order said that probate judges have a legal duty under the U.S. Constitution to issue the licenses.

— Associated Press

SpaceX cancels rocket do-over

Elon Musk’s SpaceX scrubbed a launch Sunday in which it was to attempt to land the first stage of a rocket on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean. In a tweet, Musk said that an Air Force radar went down, forcing the cancellation, and that the company will try again Monday evening.

The Cape Canaveral launch was the company’s second attempt to land a rocket booster — an event that, if successful, could be a big step toward making space travel far more affordable.

Last month, on the first attempt to land on the floating platform, which Musk calls an “autonomous spaceport drone ship,” essentially a modified barge that is 300 feet long by 170 feet wide, the rocket crashed and exploded into a spectacular fireball.

The delay would give SpaceX an opportunity to fix a first-stage video transmitter, Musk said, which had been having problems leading up to the launch. Although most of the attention has been on the daring attempt to land the rocket, the primary mission is to launch a satellite into space that would monitor space weather.

The attempt Monday would occur at 6:07 p.m. if all systems are go.

— Christian Davenport

Gunman in shooting rampage named: Police say they have identified the gunman who committed suicide after killing four people and injuring two others in a neighborhood near Atlanta. Cedric G. Prather, 33, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after shooting his ex-wife, another adult and two children Saturday in Douglasville, about 20 miles west of Atlanta, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday. Sheriff’s officials identified the adults killed as Latoya A. Andrews and Joseph Terry Brown, both 33. A 7-year-old died at the scene, and a 9-year-old died at a hospital. An 8-year-old and a 15-year-old were in critical but stable condition at a hospital.

— Associated Press