Five stories that have North Texas talking: high schoolers could graduate without passing exams; get ready for “The Big Screen” with KERA; it’s the Year of the Sheep; and more.
Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant married Thursday morning in Austin and by the afternoon, state officials blocked all future gay marriages in Texas from this day forward. On Tuesday Travis County Judge Guy Herman ruled the state’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional. Shortly after, Attorney General Ken Paxton requested an emergency order for the Texas Supreme Court to block the ruling. Actions escalated rapidly on Thursday when Goodfriend and Bryant were married around 10 a.m. and then hours later, the high court prohibited same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses. A key reason the one-time court order was given to the Austin couple: Goodfriend has ovarian cancer. Thursday’s ruling doesn't invalidate the marriage. However, Paxton says he is seeking to void their license through other means. [KUT and KERA]
Listen to Goodfriend and Bryant on the landmark day:
- Texas high school seniors might not have to make the grade to graduate. State lawmakers discussed a proposal Thursday that would allow seniors to fail standardized exams in English, U.S. history, biology and algebra and still get a diploma. The Texas Tribune reported: “Senate Bill 149 by state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Armarillo, would allow districts to set up panels made up of educators, counselors and parents to weigh factors like grades, college entrance exam scores and attendance to determine whether a student should graduate despite failing state standardized exams.” [Texas Tribune]
- Defense attorneys rested their case on Thursday afternoon in the murder trial of Eddie Ray Routh. After several testimonies this week from Routh’s mother and sister as well as a forensic psychologist. All three cited Routh, a former Marine corporal, exhibiting extremely strange, even schizophrenic, behavior leading up to the killing of Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL. The Dallas Morning News reported Routh has confessed to the murder but pleads not guilty by reason of insanity. “Prosecutors will call expert rebuttal witnesses Friday,” according to DMN. The trial resumes 9 a.m. today. [Dallas Morning News]
- KERA has you covered for The Oscars on Sunday. The 87th annual Academy Awards presents some stiff competition this year, especially among the Best Picture contenders. Brush up on the films you haven’t seen and learn new things about those you have in the special series, “The Big Screen.” KERA’s Stephen Becker can fill you in on this year’s best, including “Boyhood,” “Birdman,” “Still Alice,” and more before the big night. Also, you can watch the awards on a big screen for free here. [KERA]
- It’s the Year of the Sheep. Or is it the goat? Or the ram? Although there is some confusion on the exact translation of “yang” in Mandarin, the sheep is the eighth animal in the Chinese zodiac’s 12-year cycle, according to an article in The New York Times. Thursday marked the Chinese New Year, but there are a few local events happening this Saturday to celebrate. Until then, read KERA reporter Doualy Xaykaothao’s feature on 2014---the Year of the Horse. [KERA]