The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has decided to abolish a celibacy requirement for gay and lesbian clergy after decades of debate that has divided the denomination and split Protestants worldwide. The church adopted the new policy at its national assembly last year, but needed approval from the majority of its 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies. The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., cast the key vote in favor of the change Tuesday night. About 100 of the 11,000 Presbyterian churches have broken away in anticipation of the vote.
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Japan lowers its nuclear ambitions
Japan will scrap a plan to obtain half of its electricity from nuclear power and will instead promote renewable energy and conservation as a result of its ongoing nuclear crisis, the prime minister said Tuesday. Naoto Kan said Japan needs to "start from scratch" on its long-term energy policy after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was heavily damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
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Democrat resists disclosure rule
The second-ranking House Democrat said Tuesday he opposes a White House proposal to require anyone seeking government contracts to disclose political contributions. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the party whip, placed himself on the same side as Republicans and the business community and against liberal groups demanding more disclosure. Hoyer said contractors should be chosen on their applications, their bids and their capabilities, not on their political donations.
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Deal reached on imperiled species
The Obama administration on Tuesday announced a deal with environmentalists to work through a backlog of more than 250 imperiled animals and plants and decide which merit greater protections. Most would likely be proposed for threatened or endangered status if a federal judge approves the agreement, Interior Department officials said. The deal could lay the groundwork for a spate of future conflicts over industrial development, water management and residential expansion wherever humans are encroaching into the natural world.
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GOP gay group fights 'don't ask'
A Republican gay rights group is again asking a federal appeals court to immediately lift the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. armed forces. Lawyers for Log Cabin Republicans told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in legal papers filed Tuesday that Congress still could derail the ongoing effort to rescind the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Several Republican lawmakers have proposed amendments to a defense bill a House committee is set to consider today that would either slow or block the repeal.
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Luxembourg: Gay couples in civil partnerships should enjoy the same pension rights as heterosexual married couples, the Court of Justice of the European Union said Tuesday in a landmark ruling.
Nevada: Google, a pioneer of driverless cars, is quietly lobbying for legislation that would make Nevada the first state where they could be legally operated on public roads.