By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
(CNN) - Sunday was a big day for Catholics in North America. Thousands of miles away in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI named 17th century Mohawk Kateri
Tekakwitha the first Native American saint.
Another newly named saint is Marianne Cope, a German-born woman who emigrated to the United States as a child, became a nun and went on to devote 30 years of her life helping lepers in Hawaii.
Their canonization, along with that of five other saints, was celebrated at a special Mass in St. Peter's Square Sunday morning.
"This is a great weekend for America in the Vatican, and it's really a great weekend for Native Americans. Sainthood is the guarantee that this person is close to God," said Vatican senior communications adviser Greg Burke.
"There's a vast history of people the Catholic Church has made saints over the centuries. Holiness is absolutely a matter of equal opportunity, but this certainly is special because it marks the first time a Native American becomes a saint."
(CNN) - Move over Pocahontas and Mulan. Sofia está aquí.
Disney's first Latina princess, featured in the movie "Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess," has received backlash as well as support from media outlets, especially the Latino community. Is Disney's new princess a milestone for Latinos or a culturally irrelevant character?
Disney's spokeswoman provided a recent statement to CNN to help clarify what exactly makes "Princess Sofia" Latina:
"The range of characters in 'Sofia the First' - and the actors who play them - are a reflection of Disney's commitment to diverse, multicultural and inclusive storytelling, and the wonderful early reaction to 'Sofia' affirms that commitment. In the story, Sofia's mother, Queen Miranda, was born in a fictitious land, Galdiz, a place with Latin influences. Miranda met Sofia's father, Birk Balthazar, who hailed from the kingdom of Freezenberg, and together they moved to Enchancia, where Sofia was born."
"Sofia the First" is a television movie and series set to debut November 18 on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior, aimed at children ages 2-7.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Measuring the nation's gay population has always been tricky. Those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender are still subject to social stigma, and many are not comfortable answering questions about their identity.
But in the largest survey of its kind conducted by Gallup, 3.4% of all Americans identified themselves as part of the LGBT community.
Gallup interviewed 120,000 Americans and found that the highest percentages of LGBT identification occurred among non-white, younger and less educated Americans.
Demographer Gary Gates said the survey sheds light on the diversity and complexity of the LGBT community.
"They offer an unprecedented resource for informing LGBT-related debates like those regarding marriage, parenting and workplace discrimination with much-needed facts rather than stereotype or anecdote," said Gates, a scholar with the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute, which researches sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
The survey differs from the 2010 census, which for the first time measured sexual orientation. But the census counted same-sex partners and same-sex spouses - 516,396 households.
By Jim Roope, CNN
(CNN) - “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?"
That commonly-asked question of modern presidential elections is being answered in the negative by some African-Americans.
“The last four years for me, have been difficult. They’ve been hard," said Angela Collins, a mother of six. She has a 12-year-old and a 16 year-old still at home, two more kids in college and two grown kids out on their own.
Collins is a hairdresser at a salon called, Hairitage, in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Inglewood. Collins' business is also way down and she says her family has had to cut back to bare necessities.
She says she’s disappointed that President Obama did not deliver on many of his promises to improve the economy and education.
Still, African-American support of Obama is at 90%.
Editor's note: Carole Simpson is the leader-in-residence at Emerson College’s School of Communication in Boston, where she teaches journalism and communications classes. She is the first woman or minority to be the sole moderator of a presidential debate and chronicled her 40 years as a broadcast journalist in her memoir, "Newslady."
By Carole Simpson, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Should there be any doubt now that women can handle presidential debates as well as men? That they can conduct a live television event that lasts for 90 minutes before an audience of 60 million viewers? That they can be smart, bold and professional in dealing with the men who would be president and vice president of this great nation?
No. There should be no doubt at all. CNN’s Candy Crowley and ABC’s Martha Raddatz have finally banished that old false notion that “men are better” to the grave it deserves.
Of course, after former PBS anchor Jim Lehrer lost control of the first presidential debate in Denver, Raddatz and Crowley were masterful in comparison. Lehrer, the journalist who was moderating his 12th presidential debate, at times threw up his hands in exasperation as President Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney ignored the guidelines on time limits for statements and rebuttals. The testy rivals wrested the debate away from Lehrer, and he was pretty much reduced to the role of a potted plant.
New York (CNN) - A federal appeals court in New York became the nation's second to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, finding that the Clinton-era law's denial of federal benefits to married same-sex couples is unconstitutional.
The divisive act, which was passed in 1996, bars federal recognition of such marriages and says other states cannot be forced to recognize them.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined Thursday that the federal law violates the Constitution's equal protection clause, ruling in favor of a widow named Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old lesbian who sued the federal government for charging her more than $363,000
The case centered on the money Windsor wanted back, but raised the more looming question of whether the federal government can continue to ignore a state's recognition of her marriage and financially penalize her as a result.
"Homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public," wrote Dennis Jacobs, a conservative judge in New York.
A federal appeals court in Boston made a similar ruling in May, but the moves are considered largely symbolic as the issue is expected to eventually be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - She was the first deaf, African-American woman to earn a doctorate from Gallaudet University. It seemed Angela McCaskill was the perfect choice to serve as that university's chief diversity officer.
And she was, until last week when the president of Gallaudet, the nation's leading higher education institution for the deaf, placed McCaskill on paid administrative leave.
Because a faculty member had informed the school that McCaskill admitted to signing a petition that put Maryland's same-sex marriage law to a statewide vote.
McCaskill kept her silence for many days but Tuesday, she came out swinging, demanding compensation from Gallaudet for the stress and harm done to her reputation. She insists she is not anti-gay; she simply wanted to exercise her political rights. FULL POST
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - The presidential candidates discussed immigration at the Univision forum a month ago, but Tuesday night’s debate gave the hot button issues a major prime-time stage, and it wasn't pretty.
In one of the most tweeted moments, the candidates addressed audience member Lorraine Osorio's question: "Mr. Romney, what do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards (who) are currently living here as productive members of society?"
The candidates had trouble with Osorio's name, and people went wild on social media.
Lynda (@Lyngay) October 17, 2012
“This is a nation of immigrants," GOP nominee Mitt Romney said. "We welcome people coming to this country as immigrants. My dad was born in Mexico of American parents. Ann's dad was born in Wales and is a first-generation American. We welcome legal immigrants into this country.”
By Emily Smith, CNN
(CNN) - In Tuesday's presidential debate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney highlighted the number of women in the unemployment lines during President Barack Obama's term.
"In the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years," Romney said.
The picture he painted is dire, but a bit dated.
The Romney statement would imply that between January 2009 (when Obama took office) and September 2012 (the most recent month for which we have statistics), that 580,000 women have lost their jobs.
According to the monthly jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 66.1 million women on nonfarm payrolls in January 2009. In September 2012, that number was 65.8 million. That's a loss of roughly 300,000 jobs - 283,000, to be precise.
So where does the 580,000 jobs lost claim come from? It could be 6 months old.
In March, 65.5 million women were employed - a net loss of 583,000 jobs since January 2009. That would give Romney the magic number. But, since March, 300,000 jobs have been added to the economy, reducing the jobs lost number to 283,000.FULL STORY
By Moni Basu and Daphne Sashin, CNN
(CNN) - It was a homecoming rally to cheer on the Waverly Wolverines football team. They were undefeated this year. Everyone was proud.
Then, in the midst of the cheers and a sea of red and white pom poms came a 30-second skit that, for some, turned an afternoon of school pride into one of shame.
Three white male students involved in the skit made light of domestic violence, and they did it in racist manner, say some.
Two were in blackface as they re-enacted a 2009 domestic abuse incident in which singer Chris Brown assaulted then-girlfriend Rihanna. The student who played Brown was vying for the school's "Mr. Waverly" title - a school tradition in which skits are performed and the one that garners the most applause wins the title.
On Monday, Waverly alum Matthew Dishler posted a photograph of the skit on CNN's iReport. He says someone shared the image on Facebook.
The photo went viral.