Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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A rash of church fires in the South, most of them at black churches, has religious leaders and civil rights activists concerned, particularly on the heels of the June 17 shooting at the Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina that left nine African Americans dead. Arson is suspected in some but not all of the fires, and authorities have not yet found evidence to suggest the fires were racially motivated.

Here's what we know and don't know:

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With concerns raised over Backpage.com's role in facilitating sex trafficking, Mastercard and Visa have stopped doing business with the classified ad site and users will no longer be able to use the credit cards to place ads.

Their decisions come days after the two companies received letters from Cook County, Illinois Sheriff Thomas J. Dart urging the Mastercard and Visa to cease their credit cards' transactions on the site.

"The use of credit cards in this violent industry implies an undeserved credibility and sense of normalcy to such illicit transactions and only serves to increase demand," Dart wrote in the letters sent Monday.

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Gay couples can now seek marriage licenses in every state in the country, thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision, but that doesn't mean they'll get a warm welcome.

A woman waiting in line in the clerk's office in Sioux Falls, South Dakota -- one of the states where same-sex marriage wasn't legal until Friday's ruling -- says she overheard the clerk comparing gay marriage to beastiality.

Ellee Spawn, who was waiting at the Minnehaha County treasurer's office with her daughter Monday, told KSFY the county clerk was discussing the same-sex marriage ruling with a person ahead of Spawn in line.

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Marriage equality advocates filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging an executive order Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) signed last month. The complaint alleges that Jindal acted beyond his constitutional authority as governor in signing the order, known as the "Marriage and Conscience Order."

Jindal signed the order after a legislative proposal that would have prevented the government from taking action against individuals or business for their religiously-motivated opposition to same-sex marriage failed to advance in the state House.

Though there was some confusion what exactly the order would do when it was initially signed, Tuesday's complaint alleges that, in light of the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision, it would create a special class of people who would be allowed to deny gay couples their constitutionally-protected right to marry.

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Rather than grant licenses to gay couples in light of the Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, at least two county clerks in Kentucky are not issuing marriage licenses to any couples -- gay or straight -- for the time being.

The clerks offices of Casey County and Rowan County confirmed to TPM Tuesday that at the moment the clerks are not granting any marriage licenses. The Clinton County clerks office would only tell TPM "no comment" when repeatedly asked whether marriage licenses of any type were being issued there.

Casey County Clerk Casey Davis told The Courier-Journal that his religious convictions precluded him from granting same-sex marriage licenses to gay couples and that according to the county attorney, he could refuse licenses to anyone besides minors, who are required to have licenses in the counties where they live.

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Last week’s Supreme Court decision declaring marriage a constitutional right for same-sex couples has left gay marriage foes grasping at straws. While some states stepped out of the way so gay couples could marry, others have slow-rolled implementing the Supreme Court's ruling, using legal procedural maneuvers, religious freedom arguments, or even by contemplating giving up on marriage altogether.

Here are the five main ways gay marriage foes are resisting the Supreme Court's decision.

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With the Texas attorney general suggesting local officials with religious objections can opt out of granting gay marriage licenses, a state Democratic lawmaker is calling on the Department of Justice to monitor Texas' implementation of the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

"Officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution should not be able to deny Texans' constitution rights with the backing of state legal guidance," state Sen. Rodney Ellis wrote to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch Monday.

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Over the weekend, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton suggested that local clerks with religious objections could opt-out of granting marriage licenses to gay couples in light of the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage. But at least one Texas clerk who opposes gay marriage on religious grounds doesn't see a need for the exemption.

“Personally, same-sex marriage is a contradiction to my faith and belief that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Denton County Clerk Juli Luke said in a statement Sunday, according to the the Denton Record-Chronicle. “However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family Bible to uphold the law, and as an elected public official, my personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”

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While a case the Supreme Court decided in favor of the death penalty Monday focused on the use of a singular execution drug, Justice Stephen Breyer broke new ground in a dissent joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing that it was “highly likely” that capital punishment as a whole violated the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“[R]ather than try to patch up the death penalty’s legal wounds one at a time, I would ask for full briefing on a more basic question: whether the death penalty violates the Constitution," Breyer wrote.

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A special panel called to potentially discipline an African-American Kansas lawmaker for calling her colleagues racist voted unanimously to dismiss the complaint, but not without things getting "wild," according to local news reports.

State Rep. Valdenia Winn, a Democrat from Kansas City, faced possibly being censured or even expelled from the statehouse for what her fellow lawmakers said were inflammatory remarks. In the special hearing called Friday to weigh a possible punishment that the committee could have advanced to the House floor for a vote, the panel instead chose to dismiss the complaint.

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