Sen. Nelson endorses same-sex marriage

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) endorsed same-sex marriage Thursday, the latest in a string of lawmakers to change his position on the issue.

“If we are endowed by our Creator with rights, then why shouldn’t those be attainable by Gays and Lesbians?” Nelson said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “Simply put, if The Lord made homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, why should I discriminate against their civil marriage? I shouldn’t, and I won’t.”

Nelson added that he would sign on to an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

Nelson’s announcement leaves six Democrats in the Senate who have not endorsed same-sex marriage, as several have changed positions over the last couple of weeks.

Two Republican senators, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Rob Portman of Ohio, have also recently backed same-sex marriage. Overall, Nelson is the 51st senator to do so.

— Rachel Weiner

Gov. Malloy signs tough new gun law

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who four months ago broke the news to shocked parents that their children had been slaughtered in an elementary school, signed into law Thursday sweeping new restrictions on weapons and largecapacity ammunition magazines similar to the ones used by the man who gunned down 20 children and six educators in the massacre in Newtown.

Alongside family members of some of the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Malloy (D) signed the bill hours after the General Assembly approved the measure to give the state some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

— Associated Press

new york
Another state official target of bribe probe

For the second time in a week, a political corruption scandal has resulted in the arrest of a New York state politician.

Assemblyman Eric A. Stevenson (D) was arrested in a bribery investigation in which another state assemblyman, Nelson Castro, cooperated against him. Stephenson and four businessmen were charged in part with conspiring to pass a bill in the state legislature to protect a new Bronx adult center from competitors for three years.

Castro, also a Bronx Democrat, notified Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that he was resigning Thursday.

The arrests came two days after federal authorities arrested state Sen. Malcolm A. Smith (D) in an alleged plot to bribe his way into the New York City mayor’s race. Several other politicians also were charged in that case.

— Associated Press

West Virginia
Sheriff’s killer called mentally disturbed

The man suspected of killing a West Virginia sheriff as he ate lunch in his car was mentally disturbed and had no particular vendetta against law enforcement, his father said Thursday.

Melvin Maynard said his son, Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, was exposed to harmful chemicals and injured while working at an Alabama coal mine. He probably did not target Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, he said.

“I know he was off. I know he should have been in a hospital,” he said, adding that his son had previously been in an institution.

Tennis Maynard was shot and wounded by a Mingo deputy in a chase following the attack on Crum and is expected to survive. He has been charged with murder in Crum’s death and attempted murder in the incident with the deputy, authorities said.

— Associated Press

Pardons are voted
for ‘Scottsboro Boys’

Lawmakers voted Thursday to issue posthumous pardons to nine black men who were wrongly convicted of raping two white women more than 80 years ago based on false accusations.

The bill setting up a procedure to pardon the group known as the Scottsboro Boys must be signed by Gov. Robert J. Bentley to become law. He plans to study the legislation but has said he favors the pardons.

All but the youngest member of the group, whose ages ranged from 13 to 19, were sent to death row after their convictions by all-white juries, though all were eventually freed before execution. The case became synonymous with racial injustice and set important legal precedents. The last of the men died in 1989.

— Associated Press

Con man sentenced to death: An Akron, Ohio, judge sentenced a con man to death Thursday for the murder of three men who responded to an ad he placed on the Craigslist Web site for a nonexistent job. Richard Beasley, 53, was convicted in March of kidnapping and killing the three men. Beasley’s teen accomplice, Brogan Rafferty, was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

— From news services