By Joshua Levs, CNN
(CNN) - It's astounding how fast the words of a 22-year-old woman, her life suddenly cut short, have spread across the Internet and into the hearts and minds of people all over the world.
Marina Keegan, a budding writer, was once published by the New York Times and had a job lined up at the New Yorker. Also a playwright, she had a musical slated for a staging in August at the New York International Fringe Festival.
She wrote a moving essay in the Yale Daily News to inspire her fellow seniors as they graduated last week. She died in a car crash a few days later.
That column, in which she strives to remind her peers that "we have so much time," has taken on a tragic, powerful resonance.
Discussing the "immense and indefinable potential energy" many felt as freshmen, she wrote that it's important to remember "we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. ... We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have."
The loss of Keegan is heartbreaking for many reasons. One of them is that she surely would have been among the too few people in the world who chase their dreams and bring them to fruition.
By Bill Mears, CNN
(CNN) - A key part of the law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriage was struck down as unconstitutional by a U.S. appeals court Thursday.
The Defense of Marriage Act - known as DOMA - defines marriage for federal purposes as unions exclusively between a man and woman.
At issue is whether the federal government can deny tax, health and pension benefits to same-sex couples in states where they can legally marry.
"If we are right in thinking that disparate impact on minority interests and federalism concerns both require somewhat more in this case than almost automatic deference to Congress' will, this statute fails that test," said the three judge panel.
Editor's note: Alberto R. Gonzales is the former U.S. attorney general and counsel to President George W. Bush. He is currently the Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law at Belmont University, and counsel at the Nashville law firm of Waller Lansden.
By Alberto R. Gonzales, Special to CNN
The right to vote is a precious privilege.
It provides the opportunity for every citizen to equally affect the future of our government no matter their last name, ZIP code or skin color.
It was my job as attorney general to protect the sanctity of every vote.
Based on my experience, voter identification laws serve as an effective deterrent to fraudulent voting.
I know there are concerns that such laws discourage voting and hurt minorities.
However, we should not abandon our efforts against voter fraud.
Instead, those concerns are best addressed by vigorous enforcement of existing federal regulations and laws, such as the Voting Rights Act, which provide protections against government actions that adversely affect the voting rights of minorities.
I condemn laws that discriminate based on race, and I support reasonable voter identification laws.
At the end of the day, I want to see more Americans voting, and states able to easily facilitate the right to vote.
The Hispanic vote is important in this election and future elections, and from my view, it is not voter ID laws that will prevent them from voting for President Barack Obama but his economic policies.
By Nicole File and Tom Watkins, CNN
(CNN) - The California Senate passed Wednesday a bill that would regulate therapies that purport to be able to change a child's sexual orientation - from gay to straight.
"The entire medical community is opposed to these phony therapies," Sen. Ted W. Lieu, D-Torrance, said after passage of Senate Bill 1172, which he introduced.
SB 1172 would prohibit children younger than 18 from undergoing sexual orientation change efforts.
"Being lesbian or gay or bisexual is not a disease or mental disorder for the same reason that being a heterosexual is not a disease or a mental disorder," Lieu said in a news release. "The medical community is unanimous in stating that homosexuality is not a medical condition."
The bill is expected to go to the Assembly for an initial policy review next month.
By Dave Schechter, CNN Senior National Editor
Editor's note: As President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney court the Latino vote, CNN takes an in-depth look at this complex and diverse community, what matters most to Latino voters, and how their vote will influence the November elections.
Washington (CNN) - The first Latino president of the United States already has been born.
Henry Cisneros, the former San Antonio mayor who was secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration, made the suggestion three years ago in an interview with the Spanish-language news service EFE.
"I don't know if he or she's in elementary school or in law school or is already elected ... to public office, but I believe that that person is already alive, and we're 20 years or less away from having a Latino or Latina president," said Cisneros, whose own path to higher office may have been derailed by personal scandal and who today is executive chairman of CityView, an urban development investment firm.
When the day comes that Cisneros predicted, the man or woman behind the resolute desk in the Oval Office will represent an ever-increasing segment of the population. Latinos (or Hispanics, the official government term) made up 15.5% of the U.S. population in 2010, but by 2050 they're projected to approach 25% of the population.
The American, the online magazine of the American Enterprise Institute, calls the Hispanic electorate a "sleeping giant" yet to wake.
Whether or not Latinos' percentage in the electorate has kept pace with their growth in the population - and the data indicates that at present it has not - it may one day be enough to sway elections from the statehouse to the White House and stops in between.
By Lateef Mungin and Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) –The long-running battle between a Tennessee Muslim community and its critics over a new mosque took a dramatic turn with a county judge's ruling that could bring construction to a halt.
"Everyone is really shocked, many people are crying about this," Imam Osama Bahloul, leader of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, said early Wednesday.
"We did exactly what other churches in the county did," he said. "We followed the same process that other churches did. Why did this happen? Some people feel like it is discrimination."
The judge, Chancellor Robert Corlew, ruled Tuesday that plans for the new mosque that had previously been approved by a local planning commission were now "void and of no effect."
He said the planning commission violated state law by not providing proper public notice. The ruling throws the date of the mosque's completion, scheduled for July, up in the air.
Two Army reservists have sued the Defense Department for excluding women from combat jobs.
"It stigmatizes women's service as not as important as male service," said Col. Ellen Haring, a plaintiff in the case."We're excluded from branches that allow career progression to the highest ranks."
Haring spoke to CNN's Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence for The Situation Room.