The Vatican celebrated the holiday season with the traditional lighting of the tree in St. Peter's Square – and a reminder from the pope about what happened when the "lights" of God were turned off in past atheistic regimes. The same day, the Vatican released a statement from the pope again opposing marriage equality.
When the tree was lit Dec. 14, singers from the Molise area sang traditional local songs, and a Vatican band played Christmas melodies.
Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl has given his final speech from the floor of the U.S. Senate.
The retiring Democrat delivered brief farewell remarks on Dec. 13. He remembered some of his late colleagues with whom he served in his 24 years as a senator, and he thanked his current colleagues for their service.
Republican Congressman Todd Akin was outspent more than 3-to-1 and owes almost $270,000 after his unsuccessful challenge of Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, according to federal finance reports available online.
Akin’s committee spent a little over $6 million on his Senate campaign, far shy of the $19.3 million spent by McCaskill.
Guinness World Records listed the top record-breaking events of 2012, including a viral Tweet from the president's re-election campaign, a viral video from a South Korean pop star, as well as a death-defying leap from space and a remarkable meet-up.
The list from Guinness, in no particular order:
Stephen Hawking and other eminent scientists are calling on the British government to pardon computer pioneer Alan Turing, who helped win World War II but was later prosecuted for homosexuality.
In a letter published on Dec. 14 in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Hawking and 10 others urge Prime Minister David Cameron “formally to forgive the iconic British hero.”
The nation's largest LGBT civil rights group on Dec. 14 responded to the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said, "The entire HRC family mourns today’s horrific tragedy in Newtown. We extend condolences, thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims as well as to the entire state of Connecticut which is still reeling from this senseless act violence. We note with sadness that it was less than a week since two innocent lives were lost at a mall in Oregon, and we offer our well-wishes and support to law enforcement officials investigating these truly heinous crimes."
A Texas man will serve life in prison without parole after his capital murder conviction in the deaths of his daughter’s girlfriend and the girlfriend’s mother.
The Austin American-Statesman reports a Travis County jury deliberated about an hour before returning its verdict against Jose Alfonso Aviles.
UPDATED Dec. 13: Charlie Crist, who has become a Democrat after being a Republican and an independent, says he regrets his anti-gay positions when he served as governor of Florida.
Crist, in a conversation with reporters on Dec. 13, said he regretted supporting a campaign to amend the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage. He signed the petition supporting the amendment but said he wouldn't have signed the same petition today.
The policy arm of the Catholic Church in Illinois is lining up opposition to gay marriage legislation that lawmakers plan to call early next month.
Robert Gilligan is executive director of Catholic Conference of Illinois, which represents nearly 4 million Catholics in the state. He says marriage is unique because it's a union between two genders and "same-sex marriage goes against nature."
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has announced a challenge grant of $50,000 for Equality Wisconsin to work on marriage equality, the organization announced Dec. 14.
Abele, in a statement from EW, said, "I'm proud to support Equality Wisconsin in their effort to allow gay and lesbian couples to celebrate their love and commitment to each other. I know Wisconsin is ready to embrace the idea of fidelity for everyone and allowing longtime partners to make a lifetime commitment to each other."
U.S. Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin, D, will serve on several high-profile committees in the 113th Congress.
She’s assigned to the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; the Budget Committee; the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris and state Sen. Heather Steans, the chief sponsors of the state's gay marriage bill, said Dec. 13 that they want to call for a vote on the measure in early 2013.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, D, has said before that he'd like to sign the proposed measure – the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act – as early as January.