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DOJ to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages in Utah

Attorney General Eric Holder announced today the Department of Justice will recognize same-sex marriages in Utah while the issue makes its way through the appeals courts.

The 1,300 or so couples that married before a Utah court invalidated them will receive federal benefits.

"I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages," Holder said.

Holder's videotaped statement is here.

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Conservative Utah Offers Residency to Undocumented Workers

While states like Arizona are working hard to pass anti-immgrant bills, the LA Times reports Utah is bucking the trend.

Gov. Gary Herbert last week signed a bill that would give illegal immigrants who do not commit serious crimes and are working in Utah documents that, in the state's eyes at least, make them legal residents. For the law to work, however, the Obama administration would have to permit Utah to make it legal to employ people who entered the United States illegally — a federal crime.

Even if the law is symbolic, perhaps it can reshape thinking on the issue in other states:

"Utah is proof that there is a true silent majority of decent, level-headed Americans," said Paul Mero, head of the conservative Sutherland Institute here. "Conservative Republican members of Congress will be able to take a step back, not be so knee-jerk and caught up in the fear-mongering, and say, 'Look at Utah, the reddest of the red.' "

I've been to Snowbird, Alta and Salt Lake City, all of which I like a lot. Park City is on my list. Moab is also very popular. If you have some tourism dollars to spend, I hope you consider Utah.

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Utah AG Announces Execution Go-Ahead on Twitter

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced his giving the go-ahead for Ronnie Lee Gardner's execution last night in real-time on Twitter.

What progress (not), we've moved from the Executioner's Song to the Executioner's Tweet. "Firing Squad" is now trending on Twitter. At least he didn't post a twit-pic.

What a big black eye for Utah and the U.S. As I wrote last night, even Vietnam outlawed death by firing squad this week.

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Ronnie Lee Gardner Exeucted by UT Firing Squad

Bump and Update: Ronnie Lee Gardner was executed by firing squad just after midnight. He was dead at 12:20.

Bump and Update: The Supreme Court denied a stay Thursday Night. Justices Stephen Breyer and John Paul Stevens, would have granted the request for a stay. At 9:30 pm:

all communication from clergy, attorneys and others was cut off. Gardner continued watching movies at that point. He was 90 feet from the death chamber.

Barbarism is alive and well in the United States.

Barring a last minute reprieve, Ronnie Lee Gardner will be executed by a firing squad in Utah just after midnight. He has eaten his last meal and intends to fast until then. Here's how it will go down:

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Labor Organizer Joe Hill: Executed This Day in 1915

On this date in 1915, songwriter, poet and labor activist Joe Hill was shot in Utah for the murder of a local butcher.

Even before his execution, the Swedish immigrant was widely thought to have been railroaded for his IWW affiliation.

Though state authorities had little use for the worldwide clemency bid whose backers included U.S. President Woodrow Wilson -- powerless to intervene officially, since the execution was a state matter -- Hill walked spryly into his martyrdom.

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