The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News' Jayce Henderson, Will Cantine and Janine Elliot

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ABC News' Gary Langer: " Record Support For Gay Marriage; Half See It As A Constitutional Right" Record numbers of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll support gay marriage, say adoption by gay couples should be legal and see gays and lesbians as good parents. Most oppose a right to refuse service to gays, including on religious grounds. And, by a closer margin, more also accept than reject gay marriage as a constitutional right. The results continue a dramatic transformation of public attitudes on the issue, led by political, legislative and court-ordered developments alike. Seventeen states now allow gay marriage, and federal courts in four others - most recently Texas and Virginia - have rejected laws banning it. LINK

The Washington Post's Peyton Craighill and Scott Clement: " Support For Same-Sex Marriage Hits New High; Half Say Constitution Guarantees Right" Half of all Americans believe that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll in which a large majority also said businesses should not be able to deny serving gays for religious reasons. Fifty percent say the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection gives gays the right to marry, while 41 percent say it does not. Beyond the constitutional questions, a record-high 59 percent say they support same-sex marriage, while 34 percent are opposed, the widest margin tracked in Post-ABC polling. LINK

RUSSIA // UKRAINE Politico's Josh Gerstein and Burgess Everett: " Ukraine: Why Didn't The U.S. Know Sooner? " Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's history as a tough-as-nails leader bent on restoring Russia's sphere of influence, the U.S. intelligence community failed to read the signs when it came to Ukraine. That has members of Congress asking why there was no clear warning that Russia would respond militarily to the abrupt departure of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych by sending troops into Crimea - and what intelligence agencies plan to do about the oversight. LINK

The New York Times' Peter Baker: " No Easy Way Out Of Ukraine Crisis" For all his bluster and bravado, President Vladimir V. Putin's assurance on Tuesday that Russia does not plan, at least for now, to seize eastern Ukraine suggested a possible path forward in the geopolitical crisis that has captivated the world. Global markets reacted with relief, and the White House with cautious optimism. But the development presented a tricky conundrum for President Obama and his European allies. Even if Russia does leave eastern Ukraine alone and avoids escalating its military intervention, can it effectively freeze in place its occupation of the Crimean Peninsula? Would the United States and Europe be forced to tacitly accept that or could they find a way to roll it back - and, if so, at what price? LINK

The Washington Times' Dave Boyer: " Obama Tells Putin Stop "Meddling" In Ukraine And Withdraw Troops From Crimea" President Obama urged Russia on Tuesday to stop "meddling" in Ukraine and withdraw its troops from Crimea, but a defiant Russian President Vladimir Putin said sanctions threatened by the West won't prevent him from defending his country's interests with its troubled neighbor. As the crisis persisted, Mr. Obama overshadowed his own budget rollout to accuse Mr. Putin of concocting a pretext to invade the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who met with top Ukrainian officials on a visit to Kiev, insisted that Russia is violating international law. LINK

Washington Post's Anthony Faiola: " Europe divided over Russia as NATO meets on Ukraine crisis" NATO members held emergency talks about the crisis in Ukraine on Tuesday and pledged their "solidarity," but there were signs of division in Europe over how to respond to Russia's intervention in Crimea. Among the biggest obstacles to consensus: Fears dating to the Cold War are running up against the economic clout of the new Russia. In the former Eastern bloc, political leaders and the populace are seeing the ghost of the Cold War. LINK

The New York Daily News' Stephen Rex Brown, Erin Durkin and Corky Siemaszko: " Kerry Visits Ukraine Bearing Roses, $1 Billion Energy Aid As Putin Defends Troops Use" Beleaguered Ukraine got some U.S. help Tuesday - a $1 billion energy subsidy package and a bouquet of roses. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivered the flowers himself, laying them at the spot in Kiev that was the epicenter of the revolt against Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. "We will be helping," Kerry told the crowd on Institutska Street, which was still littered with barbed wire and barricades from last month's demonstrations. "We are helping. President Obama is planning more assistance." LINK

TEXAS GOP ABC News' Arlette Saenz: " GOP Establishment Safe In Texas Primaries As Tea Party Falters" Two years after Ted Cruz upset the political establishment in the Lone Star state by winning election to the Senate, Texas voters helped two major Republican establishment candidates secure their posts in the state's primaries today. Sen. John Cornyn, the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate, crushed his primary opponents with well over the 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a run-off May 27. The Associated Press called the race for Cornyn, who is seeking his third term in the U.S. Senate, shortly after polls closed tonight. LINK

The Hill's Cameron Joseph: " Top Texas Tea Party Challengers Flame Out" Texas's most high-profile Tea Party challengers flamed out in Tuesday's primaries, falling far short of their goals to knock off powerful incumbents. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) beat back Rep. Steve Stockman's (R-Texas) quixotic challenge by more than 40 percentage points, while Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) crushed local Tea Party leader Katrina Pierson (R) by a two-to-one margin. One of their keys to victory - the two influential GOP leaders took their challengers seriously and ran strong campaigns, raised and spent millions and left little ideological room for their challengers to attack them. Cornyn topped $10 million raised and ran hard, bringing in a top ally of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to help run his campaign. Sessions raised and spent $1.5 million for the race. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Molly Hennessy-Fiske: " Republican Sen. John Cornyn Of Texas Defeats Tea Party Challenger" Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas fended off a tea party challenge in Tuesday's primary, easily outdistancing U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman and other GOP candidates to capture his party's nomination. The Associated Press declared Cornyn the winner as early votes showed the incumbent winning more than 6 in 10 votes. Stockman, a Houston-area congressman, drew national attention for walking out on President Obama's last State of the Union address and calling for his impeachment. He waged an anti-establishment campaign against the Senate's second-ranking Republican leader that was peppered with incendiary speeches and gags, but at times alienated tea party activists who complained he was not campaigning hard enough. LINK

BUDGET Bloomberg's Derek Wallbank and Roger Runningen: " Students To Highways Benefit In Obama's Budget Proposal" President Barack Obama's $3.9 trillion budget proposal would benefit low-income families, college students, researchers and highway users, setting the tone for Democratic priorities in an election year. In turn, Obama is asking more from airline passengers, U.S. multinational companies and high earners who would pay a "fair share tax" to pick up the tab for the added spending. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Damian Paletta: " Obama Scales Back Budget Goals" The White House offered a tax and spending plan Tuesday that was largely absent of lofty new policy goals, acknowledging the limited ambition of both political parties to renew a fight over the budget with midterm elections looming. President Barack Obama's $3.9 trillion budget for the year beginning Oct. 1 focused on targeted measures, many of which have been previously proposed, including tax increases on upper-income Americans and companies such as oil and gas concerns. It also called for spending increases for education, infrastructure projects, and research and development, and included proposals to aid low-income workers and the unemployed, such as expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for more childless workers. LINK

REP ALAN GRAYSON ABC News' John Parkinson: " Rep. Alan Grayson Denies Pushing Estranged Wife In Weekend Altercation" After being slapped with a temporary protective injunction barring him from contact with his estranged wife, Rep. Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat serving his second term in the House, today denied that he battered her during a spat at the couple's home over the weekend. "It simply isn't the way she described it," Grayson told a small group of reporters as he left the House chamber after casting votes. "She hit me and I retreated. That's what happened." Asked whether he looked forward to putting the incident behind him once he appears before a judge March 20, Grayson worked to downplay the altercation, saying, "It's not an incident at all." LINK

USA Today's Catalina Camia: " Rep. Alan Grayson Denies Allegations He Shoved His Wife" Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., is denying allegations made by his estranged wife that the congressman shoved her during a weekend dispute. Grayson's office issued a statement Tuesday after a Florida judge granted a temporary protective order at the request of Lolita Grayson, who said she was pushed against a door and then fell to the ground. The Orlando Sentinel was first to report about the court order and an Orange County sheriff's department document about the domestic violence investigation involving Alan Grayson. LINK

BOOKMARKS The Note: LINK ABC News Politics: LINK George Stephanopoulos' Blog: LINK ABC News on Twitter: @ThisWeekABC | @ABCPolitics ABC News Mobile: LINK ABC News Apps: LINK ABC News YouTube: LINK

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