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A federal appeals court in Denver struck down Utah's ban on gay marriage Wednesday, paving the way for a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the issue as soon as next year. The ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals was the first by any federal appeals court on the issue to date.

While the ruling struck down the Utah ban, it applies to the other five states in the circuit: New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma.

ABC News has announced major shakeups in its anchor lineup, as Diane Sawyer steps down from her perch as anchor of the network's evening news. What does her replacement say about the state of the evening anchor job in the world of TV news?

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended his position on Ukraine. In a news conference, Putin denied that Russian troops are in Crimea but reserved the right to use force in Ukraine.

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MELISSA BLOCK: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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And I'm Audie Cornish.

The Senate is still struggling to find a way to pay for an extension of unemployment benefits for those out of work for 26 weeks or more. Majority leader Harry Reid agreed to bring up five Democratic and five Republican amendments in hopes to winning enough Republicans over to get to the 60 votes needed for passage.

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Embattled New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was back in the spotlight today. The annual State of the State speech came at an awkward moment for Christie. The Republican governor had not spoken publicly since apologizing last week for politically motivated lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. Christie acknowledged the unfolding scandal at the start of his speech.

This week, All Things Considered host Audie Cornish traveled to Birmingham, Ala., to cover the 50th anniversary of the tumultuous civil rights protests that happened there. It's all part of NPR's series commemorating the monumental summer of 1963.

Mitt Romney is the most famous Mormon running for office this fall. But he's far from the only one.

In Arizona, two other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — Rep. Jeff Flake and businessman Wil Cardon — are vying for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

All three candidates have said they'll be tough on immigration. And while Mormons in Arizona have been closely identified with conservative politics, the immigration debate has exposed a rare divide on the issue.

Shared Faith, Different Political Views

Maricopa County, Ariz., where 3 out of 5 Republicans in the state live, has become a hotbed of Tea Party activism.

That's where the head of the Original North Phoenix Tea Party lives. His name is Wesley Harris, and he used to manufacture precision rifle barrels. These days, his son runs the business, while Harris spends most of his time as a full-time Tea Party activist.

Running Against Disenchantment

For years, Maricopa County, Ariz., has been ground zero in the debate over immigration.

On one hand, the massive county, which includes the state capital of Phoenix, has a growing Latino population. On the other, it's home to publicity savvy Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has made his name by strictly enforcing, some say overstepping, immigration laws.

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