Gay marriage bill passed
Lawmakers have voted to legalize gay marriage, making the nation the third country in the Americas after Canada and Argentina to eliminate laws making marriage, adoption and other family rights exclusive to heterosexuals. The law was backed by 71 of the senators in the 92-seat legislature in Wednesday’s vote. The “marriage equality project” was already approved by ample majorities in both houses, but senators made some changes requiring a final vote by the deputies. The law is expected to take effect within 10 days.
Met gets Cubist collection
Cosmetics billionaire Leonard Lauder has given New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art an entire collection of Cubist art that he assembled over four decades. The gift, estimated by the New York Times to be worth US$1 billion, includes 78 works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Leger. The museum will also establish a new research center for modern art, supported by a US$22 million endowment created by donors including Lauder. “Leonard’s gift is truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum,” Met chief executive Thomas Campbell said. The Lauder Collection will be unveiled late next year, the museum said.
Fake Rockefeller convicted
A German-born con man who posed for years as a member of the wealthy Rockefeller family was convicted on Wednesday of the 1985 murder of his California landlady’s son, whose body was found buried in the backyard of a Los Angeles-area home. A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for less than a day before returning a guilty verdict against 52-year-old Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for murdering 27-year-old John Sohus, whose remains were discovered in 1994. Gerhartsreiter’s double life unraveled after he was arrested in 2008 for abducting his young daughter in Boston following a bitter divorce.
Massacre defendants freed
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of 15 people imprisoned for a 1997 massacre in an indigenous Tzotzil village, saying evidence used to convict them was tainted. “Their constitutional right to due process was violated, a matter sufficient to declare their immediate liberation,” the court said. The 15 had been sentenced to 36 years in prison after being found guilty of taking part in an attack on the Chiapas State village of Acteal on Dec. 22, 1997. The accused said authorities had showed witnesses photographs of them and identified them as the attackers, thereby violating the principle of presumption of innocence.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has warned against the dangers of feminism, denouncing “propaganda” that encourages women to take roles beyond rearing children. “I consider the phenomenon called feminism very dangerous,” he said in a speech delivered on Tuesday. “Feminist organizations proclaim a pseudo-freedom of women, which should be manifested outside marriage and family... The man should be focused on matters outside [of the house], he must work and earn money, but the woman is always directed to the inside, toward her children and her home… If that very important function of the woman is broken, then this is followed by the breaking of everything else: family, and in a larger sense, the motherland.”