News in Brief

Sadie Clark, News Editor

Congress passes the Respect for Marriage Act 

On Dec. 8, the House cleared legislation mandating federal recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages. The bill was a monumentally bipartisan effort marking a political shift for opinions on LGBTQ+ rights for all Americans. The Respect for Marriage Act redefines the legal definition of marriage as between any two people, regardless of sex, race, ethnicity or national origin. After the Dobbs decision and the overturning of Roe, many have worried about the Supreme Court’s potential motive to push against marriage rights, specifically for same-sex couples. This legislation will allow same-sex couples around the country to receive benefits provided to opposite-sex marriages. The bill upholds religious liberties to deny marriage licenses, and it does not recognize marriages between more than two individuals.

 

Brittney Griner released from Russia 

Brittney Griner, W.N.B.A. player for the Phoenix Mercury, was released Dec. 8 after 10 months of captivity in Russia. Griner was imprisoned on drug charges for allegedly carrying hashish oil – a marijuana concentrate – in her luggage. Griner’s dubious conviction, 9 years in a penal colony, has been largely perceived by the U.S. Government to be in response to the sanctions placed on Russia after their launching of the war on Ukraine. Griner was released in exchange for Viktor Bout, notorious Russian arms dealer also known as “The Merchant of Death,” causing a breath of relief for many. Griner is currently in a U.S. Army hospital located in San Antonio, being reunited with her loved ones. 

 

Members of German Reichsbürger arrested for plots of German coup

Twenty-five people were arrested in Germany on Dec. 7, suspected of belonging to a far-right domestic terrorist group during raids by 3,000 police officers and Special Forces. Plots were uncovered to storm the German Capitol in Berlin, arrest lawmakers, and instate a prince descended from German nobility as the new head of state. The conspiracy group, Reichsbürger, believes that the current German government is an illegitimate corporation created by the Allies after World War II. It’s made up of an estimated 21,000 people, and often represents ideologies of neo-nazism and facism. It takes inspiration from the U.S.’s own QAnon, another far-right political conspiracy. This organization, along with the Washington capitol raid on Jan. 6, demonstrates a concerning trend in political violence as a result of extremist ideology.  

 

Georgia runoff renders a Democratic Senate

Democrat Raphael Warnock won the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia on Dec. 6, marking the end to the U.S. midterms. The House has a Republican majority (221 out of 435), and the Senate is narrowly held by a Democratic majority (51 out of 100). The Democrat win in the Georgia runoff election between Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker marks the end of a pivotal election for both parties. This midterm also marks a continuation in the upward trend of voter turnout since 2016. It’s common for the midterms to flip from the party of the current president, so many have been shocked that this midterm election resulted in a Democratic majority in the Senate. With a split congress, legislation may be in a gridlock for the next couple of years.