Weekly roundup: Arizona, Texas, and Ohio, plus 100,000 homes

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‘Tis the last day of February, which means we are hurtling towards spring at the rapid pace of a…distracted hare. Just in case you missed the news this week because you were too distracted with the promise of spring, this is your weekly roundup.

Let’s start in Ohio, a new round of voting restrictions recently passed. The Ohio legislation focuses on early voting, which tends to disproportionately affect minority, elderly, and poor voters. Democratic members of the legislature are trying to reverse the Republican-led effort to put severe limits on early and absentee voting. (See the U.S. Catholic story about voting here.)

In Arizona this week, a bill passed the state legislature that would make it legal for businesses to deny service to a person based on “religious beliefs.” The law, which would make it legal for businesses to openly deny service to gay and lesbian individuals and couples, was vetoed by Republican governor Jan Brewer, after a number of state senators changed their minds, and a number of businesses urged her to reject the bill. 

In Texas and Kentucky this week, federal judges ruled that the states’ bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Those states join Utah, Ohio, New Mexico, and Virginia in the list of states whose same-sex marriage bans have been overturned by federal judges.

Also in Texas, some new developments in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted and executed for  setting a fire that killed his three young children in 1991. The new evidence does not necessarily exonerate Mr. Willingham, but it does bring into question one important testimony that was used to convict him. 

In some really good news, it turns out that housing homeless people costs less than just ignoring them. The 100,000 Homes campaign is working to get 100,000 chronically homeless individuals into homes by July 2014. 

 

And now for the pontifical rapid fire roundup.

This week, Pope Francis:

 

That about wraps up this week's roundup. Have a great weekend, and enjoy Winter's last (?) hurrah! As always, if you're looking for something to do, check out our survey about marijuana