Heather, left, and Jax Collins of West Jordan, Utah, join hundreds of other same-sex couples descending on county clerk offices around the state of Utah on Dec. 22 to request marriage licenses. A federal judge allowed gay marriage to continue in Utah. Last January, President Obama - who had opposed same-sex marriage just nine months before - called for marriage equality in his second inaugural address.
Francisco Kjolseth, The Salt Lake Tribune via AP
A banner supporting Edward Snowden, who leaked top-secret documents about sweeping U.S. surveillance programs, is displayed in Hong Kong's business district on June 21. The former NSA contractor, now 30 and granted temporary asylum in Russia, said he set out to provoke a global debate.
Kin Cheung, AP
Cody Park exhales a cloud of marijuana smoke after taking a hit on a bong at the first day of Hempfest in Seattle on Aug. 16. Residents in cities from Lansing, Mich., to Portland, Maine, voted in November to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, following initiatives that passed the previous year in Colorado and Washington state legalizing recreational use of pot.
Elaine Thompson, AP
Alex Robles joins dozens of sign-holding protesters at a rally against low wages for fast-food workers, in front of a Phoenix McDonald's on Dec. 5. The Occupy Wall Street protests are only a memory, but the economic inequality and suspicion of powerful financial interests that fueled it are now being felt in a resurgence of populism not seen in decades.
Ross D. Franklin, AP
Sen. Ted Cruz talks to members of the media on Oct. 16 after Republican senators met to agree to a plan to end the government shutdown. Cruz, the Tea Party hero and freshman senator from Texas, could not be deterred in his push for a government shutdown in October that ended up damaging the GOP’s standing without winning policy concessions.
H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY
Like this topic? You may also like these photo galleries: