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Infant Shot and Killed; Suspected Gunman in Two Murders Identified; Air Traffic Towers Set to Close; March Madness Continues; Pundits Discuss President's Trip to Israel; Church No Longer Marries Straight Couples Until Gay Marriage Legal; New Research Uncovers Age of Universe

Aired March 23, 2013 - 10:00   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN headquarters in Atlanta, this is CNN Saturday Morning.

The lights are on now but not for long. Several of the nation's control towers getting the ax, all thanks to Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did they build this tower? In 2010 they said safety was an issue and now we're 2013 and safety will not be affected.

Plus, a Georgia mom says two kids tried to mug her. Then, she says, they did the unthinkable.

SHERRY WEST, VICTIM: He walked over and shot my baby right in the face.

ROMANS: Now two arrests in this small southern town.

If you want to get hitched, don't come to this North Carolina church. Their congregation says no more straight weddings until gays can say I do.


ROMANS: Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans. It's 10:00 on the east coast, 7:00 in the west. So glad you are with us on this Saturday morning.

First up, President Obama is headed home on air force one. He wrapped up the first official overseas trip of his second term in Jordan, a major U.S. ally in the Middle East. On his final day in Jordan he played tourist, sightseeing on the ancient city of Petra. Mr. Obama also stopped in Israel and the West Bank during the four-day visit. Let's get to CNN Chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin live for us this morning in Jordan. Jessica, is the president going to come home with diplomatic cues to break about?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He is, Christine, in part because of the low expectations you mentioned. In Israel he seemed to have a breakthrough with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a personal level. The two men, as you know, have had an icy history and they seemed like buddies this trip after two days together.

Then the president also wanted to persuade Israeli people that he's personally committed to their security and he understands the Jewish history of persecution. Reviews out of Israel show on that front he largely succeeded especially after that big speech he gave to Israeli youth.

Those are the intangibles. The more concrete accomplishment of the trip, he brokered a truce between the prime minister of Israel and the prime minister of Turkey, two former allies and important military powers in this region, who have been at odds for three years, so he can really crow about that one.

ROMANS: Jessica, tell us more about the implications of the phone call between the Israeli and Turkish leaders.

YELLIN: Right, that's a big one. There was a standoff between Israel and turkey and it began three years ago after Israeli soldiers killed nine Turkish activists who were trying to break a blockade and enter the Gaza Strip. That standoff had a ripple effect throughout the region. It impacted the Middle East peace process and the nuclear showdown with Iran. So thawed relations between Turkey and Israel could help progress on both fronts, and that clearly has strategic benefits not just in this region but also for the U.S.

ROMANS: And Mr. Obama also promising $200 million in additional aid to Jordan to cope with the influx of Syrian refugees. Is this a sign of him taking a harder line against Syria here?

YELLIN: You know, when he was really given an opening to take a harder line on Syria in a press conference and asked pointblank will you take military action, really, he wouldn't go there. The aid is it essentially shore-up an important U.S. ally that is straining under the burden of sharing a border with Syria because the world isn't doing something to take a harder line.

Jordan is taking in up to 7,000 Syrian refugees a day. More than 400,000 have fled here since the violence began. It's taking a huge economic toll on this country, which was frankly already struggling after the Arab spring because since then Arab states have stopped giving this country the money, the same amount of money they used to receive and keep in mind that Jordan is a country without oil. They are really struggling and this is the U.S. stepping up in support.

ROMANS: Jessica Yellin, thank you so much in a windy Jordan. You'll be on your way home soon too I know. Thanks, Jessica.

President Obama is coming home to something he hasn't seen in four years, a budget proposal passed by the United States Senate. This one was approved at 5:00 in the morning by a razor thin margin 50-49 after a marathon overnight session fittingly called vote-o-rama. It went to 101 amendments. The bill is expected to get knocked down when it gets to the House.

In Georgia two teens are charged with murder. Investigators say the 14-year-old and 17-year-old killed a 13-month-old baby boy. That little baby's mother says the boys demanded money and then shot her child strapped in his stroller. Police relied on the mother's description and school attendance records to identify the suspect, but they are still looking for the gun and a motive.

Our Nick Valencia is in Brunswick. Nick, police are confident they arrested the right guys. One of the suspects could have an alibi. Tell us about that.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yesterday the aunt of the elder suspect -- I use that term relatively -- he's 17 years old. The other suspect is 14 years old. His aunt spoke to a local affiliate and said they have the wrong guy, and there's no way they got the right suspect because he was with her the whole time.


KATRINA FREEMAN, SUSPECT DE'MARQUISE, ELKIN'S AUNT: I am devastated. I'm sad because they got the wrong person. I hate what happened to that baby because no baby deserve to go through that. At the same time they are taking someone to jail that is innocent. I'm 100 percent certain he was not at the crime scene and was at my residence.


VALENCIA: I asked the Brunswick police department public information officer Todd Rose about this allegation. He would not respond specifically other than to say in situations like this there are always going to be family members that don't want to believe that their loved ones are doing something like this. This is a travesty that is shocking this quiet neighborhood and quiet town of 15,000 people.

ROMANS: And it must have a terrible effect on the small community. Are they surprised that there's national media? Are they surprised this happened there?

VALENCIA: Absolutely. We're the only national media present here. It was a big story for us to cover. They were shocked that something like this could happen in the neighborhood where it happened. It is a quiet neighborhood, a very good neighborhood for all intents and purposes. The city manager, Bill Weeks, told me that this area does not have a crime problem. He says there has been shootings there in the past. But this area is a mixture of historic homes. It does have public housing in the area. I spoke to residents. One resident putting a teddy bear in the road as a vigil for the boy said she was furious at what happened and residents in the neighborhood will take their community back.

ROMANS: Nick Valencia, thank you very much. It's so heartbreaking to see pictures of the little guy's toys. It's going to be a real painful period for this community, no question.

A dead ex-con linked to two Colorado murders has ties to the state's governor. Evan Ebel was killed after a shootout. Investigators say he may be involved in the murder of Colorado's top prison official Tom Clements and a pizza delivery worker. In turns out Colorado's governor was friend with Ebel's father, an attorney.


GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER, (D) COLORADO: We knew his son growing up just had a bad streak. I think Jack and his wife did everything they could. They kept hoping he would grow out of it.


VALENCIA: CNN's Casey Wian has more on the former inmate's life, who showed early signs of trouble.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Evan Ebel grew up on this quiet street in Lakewood, Colorado, but neighbors say when he was around it was anything but quiet.

VICKY BANKY, FORMER NEIGHBOR: He was an angry kid.

WIAN: Vicky Banky lives across the street from the home where Ebel lived with his father and sister.

BANKY: I could see him running out on the front lawn to come up with his friends, and he would have screaming arguments. One time I saw him take something to the back of his friend's car he was so mad. He just struck me as angry and troubled.

WIAN: Neighbors vividly recall Ebel's violent streak. One time he was seen jumping off the roof of his House here, and another time he was overheard loudly talking about his cocaine use.

Ebel's criminal record dates back to his teenage years. There was a misdemeanor conviction for obstruction of a police enforcement officer, then at least five felony convictions for robbery, menacing, and assault. In 2006 he was convicted of assaulting a Latino prison guard, but nothing like what he's suspected of now, the killing of Tom Clements, Colorado's corrections director, the killing of a Domino's pizza delivery man, and high-speed chase and shootout with police in Texas.

UNDERSHERIFF PAULA PRESLEY, EL PASO COUNTY, TEXAS: Certainly he's the focus of our investigation at this point. We do have investigators in Texas the moment that we heard about the high-speed pursuit and the shooting. We did have investigators pretty much on a plane en route to Texas.

WIAN: Ebel had ties to a white supremacist 211 prison gang according to Colorado's Anti-Defamation League. But neighbors say they saw no signs of racist leanings during his rant.

Neighbors expressed sympathy for Ebel's father, a respected Colorado attorney, who had been raising his two children alone. His 16-year-old daughter they say died in an automobile accident in 2006, and now his son has been killed under a barrage of bullets and under suspicion.

Casey Wian, CNN, Denver, Colorado.


ROMANS: Police say a French passenger failed to get a business class seat but instead succeeded in entering the cockpit while posing as a pilot. He never took off though. Police arrested the 61-year-old retired wine maker at the Philadelphia airport. Investigators say he wore an Air France uniform and badge, but the crew could tell something was off since he didn't know how to strap himself into the jump seat.

And 149 air control towers are being shut down thanks to forced spending cuts. Is your security being compromised? I'll ask a former air marshal next.

Also ahead, a bold statement from this North Carolina church, now saying weddings are off the schedule. I'll tell you why.


ROMANS: Good morning, Washington D.C. It's a windy day in the nation's capital. The FAA is planning to close 149 airport control towers around the nation because of forced spending cuts. The agency says it's targeting low to medium traffic airports, but it could affect the big airports with delays of around 90 minutes.

Then there's the safety question, the question of air safety. Joining me now is Darelle Joiner, a former air marshal, and on the phone is Ron Taylor, union president representing air traffic controllers. Thank you both for joining me, gentlemen. Let's start there with public safety. Darelle, do you think public safety will be compromised by closing 149 of these towers?

DARELLE JOINER, FORMER AIR MARSHAL: Good morning to you. Absolutely not. I think our public safety will be intact. There's no concerns for the public as far as safety is concerned. The numbers were revealed that with closures will have somewhere between about 150,000 flights that take off and land per year. To give you an idea of what the percentage is, there's more than 26,000 flights that take off and land every day. So you are talking about 150,000 throughout the year. That number surpasses in six days from that standpoint.

ROMANS: Ron, if you have these towers that have been closed and air traffic controllers who aren't needed there, beyond the impact on that particular control tower and for those workers, will flyers and public safety be affected?

RON TAYLOR, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS UNION: Absolutely air safety will be compromised if the towers are allowed to close down.

ROMANS: Tell me why.

TAYLOR: There will be no one there to control the tower. They'll have nice runways and stuff going on and nobody there to guide the airplanes and sequence them into the airports. ROMANS: Don't we have airports where we don't have an air traffic controller on hand, very small airports where we don't have air control tower, is that true?

TAYLOR: That's true. What we have now is we expanded the program over the last 30 years and pumped federal money and expanded air carrier service and military and general aviation. Now we've reached a point where we can't afford to close down a control tower. Safety is primarily going to be a problem right now.

ROMANS: So clearly you have different takes on how this is going to affect flyers. Some say that maybe you could see more delays. But that air safety is something that the FAA took into consideration in all of this. The FAA says this will not affect passenger safety which raises the question can you cut from these budgets, Darelle, can you cut smartly from these budgets at all?

JOINER: I think so. I think they already demonstrated that by taking a second look at it. They named about 24 airports that are closely in line with some of the bigger hubs with some of the airlines, because they took a look at how many different incidents reported throughout the year and diversions so to speak.

So from a standpoint of safety or concern, obviously I think they are looking at, OK, can we quickly divert. Will we have places intact to assist. But from a safety and security standpoint, everyone will still be safe. We'll have the same TSA checking folks to get on aircraft. Still air marshals flying on aircrafts and pilots I talk to enjoy having the opportunity to actually fly the aircrafts, because, as we know, most are computers these days.

ROMANS: I want to bring something up to you. Frederick, Maryland tower, something built with stimulus money. The government built it and now the government is shutting it down. In some of these cases it's almost ludicrous that you have federal budget fights that are making these decisions and not safety, air safety or national priority for how we're going to grow our aviation in this country.

JOINER: The FAA's priority is to protect the consumer, the flying public. They have airports, they created brand new control towers, and it requires people behind control towers to make sure that everything happens correctly and airplanes land correctly and sequenced correctly. You can have the best TSA in the world to check you for security. What good is any of that if there's not a person in the control tower to make sure that everybody who takes off and lands at an airport does so in a safe and orderly fashion? There's no safety factor involved here.

ROMANS: Let me tell you about a new rule from the TSA allowing knives and other dangerous items onboard. How safe is the public and flight crews in that case. You're a former air marshal. What do you think about people being able to -- so what if the blade can't lock. How concerned are you about having those devices on the plane?

JOINER: As a former air marshal, I'm not necessarily concerned. I'm sure the air marshals will perform their jobs and TSA will do what they need to do preventing folks to get on these aircrafts. I think what the concern are the bad guys through the cracks. So I think with the different filters and intelligence and reports that we get back, that they get back, I think they have a good grip on things. So there's no real concern.

ROMANS: Darelle Joiner, nice to see you. Ron Taylor, thank you for both of you.

Did the Miami Heat do it again last night? LeBron James and the NBA's hottest team went for their 25th straight win against the Detroit pistons. Highlights and the latest from March Madness, that's next in sports.


ROMANS: It's time for sports. First, Major League Baseball filed a lawsuit against a Florida clinic linked to supplying players with performance enhancing drugs. According to the suit, the Biogenesis of America Clinic gave banned substances to a number of current and former pro baseball players. The story links the business to players like Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod's camp denies any connection to the clinic and its owner.

Let's talk basketball. Day two of the big dance is in books and the upsets keep on coming. Andy Scholes joins us with more in today's bleacher report. Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Good morning, Christine. This is one of the craziest first two days in tournament history. Thursday we saw the ivy leaguers Harvard hake down New Mexico, but the biggest upset of round two belonged to Florida Gulf Coast as they shocked the world last night by beating two-seed Georgetown. Many have never heard of Florida Gulf Coast before. That's because it's only second year they've been eligible for the tournament. The Atlantic Sun conference champions went on a 21-2 run to pull away in the second half. They get the win in their first ever tournament game and become just the seventh 15th seed to beat a two seed.


BERNARD THOMPSON, FLORIDA GULF COAST: We just came out there and we just played our hearts out. We knew it was win or go home from here. I just had great feeling and just excited. I don't really know what to do still with myself.


SCHOLES: If your bracket was in bad shape after the Gulf Coast win, it probably only got worse after 13 seed LaSalle beat four-seed Kansas State. They outscored the Wildcats by 18 in the first half and were able to hold on for the win. This result coupled with a Georgetown upset left zero perfect brackets after the over 8 million that were filled out on ESPN.

The action continues this afternoon with round three. We'll see if Harvard keeps their Cinderella run alive as they play Arizona. Another one to keep an eye on is top seeded Gonzaga versus Wichita State.

The Heat streak continues. LeBron James scoring 29 points last night and Miami took down the Detroit Pistons 103-89 for their 25th consecutive win. They are now just eight wins away from tying the 71- 72 Lakers for the longest winning streak in NBA history. They'll host the Bobcats on Sunday. For more on the streak, check out

One upset we didn't get to was Iowa State beating Notre Dame. I'm sure you are excited about that.

ROMANS: Those are my cyclones. Thank you so much, Andy Scholes.

SCHOLES: The Senate burning the midnight oil and got a budget done. But is it all going for not? Maria Cardona and Amy Holmes will break down the next round in the budget battle.


ROMANS: Welcome back. I'm Christine Romans. Here's the stories we're watching for you this morning.

Number one, a Texas homeowner tries to get rid of a snake, but her plan goes up in flames. The local fire chief says the woman doused the reptile in gasoline, then her son lit it on fire. As the snake tried to escape, it ignited some brush which set fire to the woman's House and the House next door which she also owns. No people were hurt. No word on the snake.

And number two, an airport flight display board collapses killing a 10-year-old boy and critically injuring his mother in a new section of the Birmingham airport in Alabama. WIAT reports the display board fell onto the boy, his mom, and three siblings as the father was checking into their flight. The extent of injuries for the other kids is not known at this point.

The Pakistani Taliban is threatening to kill a former leader of the country. Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf's plans to return to his homeland tomorrow, but in a video message appearing online a terrorist group vows to assassinate Mr. Musharraf if he does come back to Pakistan.

You're looking at an Italian castle where an historic lunch date is happening today. Let's look at this new video. We've never seen this before. For the first time a Pope is meeting another Pope. Pope Francis is diving with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at Benedict's castle home on top of the mountain. The 85-year-old Benedict has been living there since resigning last month, citing his age. But he's been following Francis' election as Pope and inauguration before the huge crowds in Rome.

It's time for politics. We start with one of my favorite topics, the budget. Earlier this morning while you were sleeping the Senate passed a budget that came at the end of a marathon session of amendment votes. Joining me now is CNN contributor Maria Cardona, and Amy Holmes, anchor of "Real News" on "The Blaze." Welcome to both of you this Saturday morning.

OK, guys, the Democrats budget bill passed at 5:00 a.m., 5:00 a.m., and it passed by one single vote. Mostly it's symbolic. Maria, how big of a deal is this?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Finally, Christine, we can get on with our lives. No. I think actually in all reality the only thing it really does is take off the table a huge Republican talking point that they've had for three years complaining that Democrats haven't passed a budget.

But now it really focuses on the real work ahead, which is let's pass something that is real, that is based on solutions where both Democrats and Republicans can come together to figure out how we move forward with the big problems that we're facing. And I think that's going to be the real battle, Christine. We've seen Democrats and President Obama are ready to really compromise and to really negotiate putting on the table changes to Medicare and Social Security in addition to real revenue. So the question is going to be what are Republicans willing to do?

ROMANS: Let's talk about it, the big difference between the Senate Bill and Paul Ryan's Republican Bill that passed the House. Ryan's Bill didn't get universal support among the Republicans. In the House, ten Republican members voted no. To the Senate, five more refused to get on board, including Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Amy, are you surprised that Republicans are breaking ranks on the budget talks?

AMY HOLMES, ANCHOR, "REAL NEWS," ON "THE BLAZE": In that case of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz it was because it wasn't conservative enough. Christine, I have to admire you for deciding the budget is one of your favorite topics.

The Democrats as we just saw in the Senate -- the Senate Democrats, as we saw, did not have it on their budget either. I think what Maria is getting at is these are both political documents. They are documents about priorities. On the House side we saw that House Republicans most of them with a couple exceptions said their priority is to balance the budget. What we saw on the democratic side their priority is to raise taxes by $1 trillion, ask Americans to give the government a trillion dollar more without balancing the budget. I don't know if they'll get together on that point because it's really it's a very stark ideological difference.

ROMANS: President Obama came under attack this week for filling out his NCAA brackets. Some said he should have been working on his budget instead. Here's his final four if you're curious. Louisville, Indiana, Florida, Ohio State, two red states, two blue states. He has Indiana winning it all. Maria, I know you have Duke winning it all. I picked Iowa State over the fighting Irish yesterday so it helped my bracket. Back to the subject, Maria, is it a fair criticism of the president if he should be writing a budget and not filling out brackets?

CARDONA: No. Again, that is ridiculous, Christine, in terms of using this as a talking point. We know what President Obama's priorities are in the budget. He's been talking about it nonstop for his first term and nonstop during this campaign. And, by the way, the majority of Americans, the American public, agree with his priorities on the budget. It's one of the reasons why he got reelected.

And so I think right now the focus moving forward is going to be where can we come together? Amy made an interesting point about how Ted Cruz and Rand Paul did not go with this budget because it wasn't conservative enough. I think Republicans have to focus on the fact that they have to get with priorities of the American people. American people agree that there does need to be additional tax revenue on the table before we completely put the hatchet on programs that middle class Americans and that poorest and most vulnerable are programs they depend upon.

It's all about moderation and how we do this with actually compromising. And people like Ted Cruz and rand Paul are not for compromise. The majority of Americans are.

ROMANS: Amy, I'm sorry your Princeton Tigers, by the way, aren't in it. You must love that little Ivy League upset from Harvard. You have to love that.


ROMANS: I want to move past the final four. That is a talking point that's been around all week. Let's move on to what the president was doing this week. He was in the Middle East. He spent a couple days in Israel. Why do you think it's his second term to go to Israel and do you think that was a successful trip for this president?

HOLMES: Well, the president launched his presidency in the first term by going to Cairo and reaching out to the Arab world. I think he found out that those efforts were not well received. And so I am thankful the president went to Israel. The White House lowered expectations because I think in their experience they now know that it takes two negotiating partners to make peace in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians, and the Palestinians basically snubbed the White House when they went to the U.N. to get recognition against the United States' wishes because that was a point of negotiation.

I actually applaud the White House for going to Israel and not trying to push a peace deal top down from the United States, sort of giving their orders about how this is going to happen, and try to let this happen organically between the two parties. I'm actually not a critic of the president on his trip to Israel. I think it was if not well- timed, at least appreciated.

ROMANS: I thought what was interesting about this was the tone and tenor from the president. He kept talking about what hard work it would be. You don't begin the peace process with results. You have negotiations. It's almost as if he really was using where they aren't to try to start the thing again.

CARDONA: I think that's right. I actually agree with Amy. I do think it was very smart of him to talk about Israel's priorities and where the end game should be and really focus on trying to get people to the table. And I thought what was so interesting was this last speech he gave to Israeli university students where he basically focused on where he knows the majority of Israeli public is in terms of supporting a two- state solution. I think to your point that really put the onus on everybody involved here on where we need to go from here and that it is going to be really hard to work. If you keep your eye on the prize, there is hope for everybody to come together and hopefully try to make this happen at some point in the coming years.

ROMANS: Thanks Maria Cardona and Amy Holmes, nice to see you.

CARDONA: Thank you.

HOLMES: Have a nice weekend.

CARDONA: Happy budget.

ROMANS: Happy budget. Another political hot topic next, a pastor joins me to explain why his church refuses to perform straight weddings.


ROMANS: A church in North Carolina is refusing to marry any couple, won't marry any couple until same-sex marriage is legal. Not only is it illegal in North Carolina but voters approved making marriage strictly between one man and one woman in the state constitution last year.

It's a United Methodist church and denomination doesn't allow for same-sex marriage either. But listen to this church's statement. It reads, "We, the leaders of Green Street Church, see people in same-sex relationships as completely worthy of the sacrament of marriage. We completely reject any notion that they are second-class citizens in the kingdom of God."

Joining us now from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is Kelly Carpenter, senior pastor of the Green Street Church. Reverend, thank you for joining us to talk about this obviously controversial move. You made a decision just weeks before the Supreme Court hears arguments on the issue. Why are you making this statement now?

REV. KELLY CARPENTER, SENIOR PASTOR, GREEN STREET METHODIST CHURCH: It was a process that took place. We studied it over the last few months. We wanted to get things out of the way before Holy Week, which begins tomorrow. But we're also aware of what was being faced with the defense of marriage act that is under review before the Supreme Court. We wanted the people to know that there's not just an issue in the legal sphere but also in the sphere of the church as well.

ROMANS: You know, the interesting thing to me here is that the Methodist church doesn't allow for same-sex church, am I right?

CARPENTER: That's correct.

ROMANS: So you have issues with politics of government but also politics within your own church. Are you angering any of your Methodist members right now?

CARPENTER: I'm sorry, I didn't hear the question.

ROMANS: Are any of your members that are Methodist angry? Does everyone in the congregation agree with the decision of the leadership?

CARPENTER: As far as I know they have. The congregation has been unusually unified. The leadership council is around 18 members and all of those 18 members voted unanimously for the statement. We are an unusual congregation. We have a number of gay and lesbian members. A quarter of members on Sunday morning are probably LGBT. We have a number of couples in our church that have been together for a long time, and their loving relationship is an example to all of our members in our congregation.

ROMANS: What are you hoping to achieve? Are you hoping to make a statement for Methodist and the country as a whole? What do you hope to achieve from this?

CARPENTER: Well, we hope to be a witness to our own denomination. We know that we have great statements to be administered with gay and lesbian people. All too often that welcome that we say we are about to welcoming LGBT people, we're part of a reconciling network, which is a group that works for greater inclusion in the United Methodist Church, and this is one way a church can stand in solidarity with both gay and lesbian couples.

ROMANS: In other Christian denominations and Protestant denominations as well, they are reconciling in Christ or reconciling congregations like yours who decide that they are going to take a particular stance on this issue that is different from the national leadership of their church. So within a lot of Lutheran, Episcopalian, Methodist churches, there's this big discussion going on. In some churches like yours, they do relationship blessings for couples. Explain that to me.

CARPENTER: Yes. So a marriage ceremony as we understand it is one that rings are exchanged, vows are exchanged and pronouncement of a couple. And there are things we can avoid in a ceremony and do a service of relationship blessing. So we've done one of those at Green Street, and we're going to be offering those to both straight and gay couples.

ROMANS: You know what's interesting, I just want to get your thoughts on this. When you hear people talk about this debate and they talk about religion and the debate of same-sex marriage, a lot of people knee-jerk reaction is the bible condemns this. The bible condemns this. What do you say to that?

CARPENTER: Well, certainly if you look for scripture, you are certainly not going to find anything about gay marriage. You're going to see scattered passages about homosexuality, certainly it doesn't condone homosexuality, and we're not arguing that. But because scripture is silent on long-term monogamous relationships between same-sex couples, we need to understand it. The Bible says as much about gay marriage as it does about the Internet. We are living in a different time. And our church is a witness to couples who are powerfully in love with each other and witnessing in their faith. One of the things we say in the wedding ceremony in the united Methodist liturgy is the couple creates a new ministry for the church. Our congregation has been blessed by the witness of gay and lesbian couples who have been in those long-term relationships who have a deep commitment. It's about love. It's not about other things that people want to raise up around issues with scripture.

ROMANS: All right, so until same-sex marriage is legal, you say there will be no straight marriages at the Green Street Methodist church. Kelly Carpenter, senior pastor there.

CARPENTER: That is the plan. Thank you.

ROMANS: Thank you very much. So nice to see you this morning.

All right, want to see a snapshot of the oldest light in the known universe? A super telescope peered back into time and snapped a baby picture of the universe right after the big bang, and revised our understanding of space and time. More on that next.


ROMANS: All along the east coast, a bright streaking fireball caught people's attention last night. You can see it captured by a dash cam in Washington. Experts say it probably was a meteor. The flash lasted several seconds. It happened around 8:00 eastern and lit up social media with sightings reported from Florida to Quebec.

Speaking of outer space, I want you to look at one of the most important baby pictures you'll ever see. It's maybe not the cutest thing. That's a snapshot of the universe at the dawn of time. Before there were stars, galaxies, planets like ours. That's right. That's actually some of the oldest light in the universe. It's invisible to the naked eye of course but not to the European space agency's space telescope. It detects cosmic microwave background radiation, the light left over from the big bang.

Here's why it is such a big deal. It tells us the universe is actually 100 million years older than we thought. In other words, 13.82 billion years old. And ordinary matter, all of the stuff we see today like planets and stars makes up only 4.9 percent of the universe. The vast majority is a complete mystery. Two invisible things called dark matter and dark energy, it's so cool.

And Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist from Cal Tech, he is here to tell us what these numbers mean. Some of our theories and our numbers about the world had to be revised this week. You say the biggest thing to come from this study is actually how accurate the old numbers were. Tell me about it.

SEAN CARROLL, THEORETICAL PHYSICS AND ASTROPHYSICS: I think it's a great accomplishment that we can build this telescope. We look at leftover light from the big bang and we definitely learned a lot. We had better numbers now than we had before. Basically we're right. We kind of understand what the universe is doing. We don't know why it's doing that. We don't understand the ingredients it's made of very well. But it's nice to know we have a good starting point to think of what the universe really is.

ROMANS: How do these red, yellow and blue dots in this baby picture of our world, how do they help scientists understand how the universe evolves. Walk me through what we're seeing there.

CARROLL: What we see there is a snapshot of the universe about 380,000 years after the big bang. It was a very, very smooth, almost featureless plate. So these images where you get the red and green and blue, these are very, very enhanced so you can see the ripples, the deviations in temperature. In reality, it would be almost invisible if you just saw the image without the contrast knob turned way up.

But those tiny ripples grow over time. If there's more stuff in one region than in another region. That region is going to keep accumulating matter and that's going to make a galaxy or a star or a planet.

ROMANS: Take us back to the very beginning. What happened right after the big bang? What was going on in the universe in this picture?

CARROLL: Well, it's expanding very rap rapidly. It was very dense. If you think about the universe today, it's this huge thing, 100 billion galaxies. You wind that clock back and everything was closer together bumping into each other and it was glowing like your oven glow which is you heat it up. It was giving off a tremendous amount of radiation.

And that picture that we get is from the moment when the universe became transparent and that radiation canal zoomed through space until it lands in our telescope and the exact pattern of ripples we're able to go back and say, OK, how does that match on our theories and therefore how much matter do we need and how much dark matter and how much dark energy.

ROMANS: How long after the big bang did it take for the planets and suns and galaxy to start forming?

CARROLL: Well, it was not a threshold. It's not a clear demarcation. It took billions of years. But it's interesting. One of the major challenges in astronomy now is to fill in what we call dark ages between that picture you see of the cosmic microwave background and stars that we can get images of. It takes a billion years or so. We're trying our best with new technology with the upcoming space telescope to peer into that intermediate time when the stars are forming and we hope to learn more.

ROMANS: I want to bring back my pie chart, because now we know that dark matter and dark energy make up 95 percent of everything in the universe. The things that we are still exploring and that we still vastly don't understand is about four percent. Look at that, five percent the ordinary matter with planets and galaxies and stuff. I'm not a physicist. What is that on the chart?

CARROLL: This pie chart is one of the towering accomplishments of history. This is inventory of what the universe is made of. And 1,000 years from now, they are going to believe in that pie chart. We'll hopefully know better what the ingredients are. We have ordinary matter that is you and me and planets and sun and moon and stars.

Dark matter is some kind of matter, some kind of particle, but it's just invisible. It's transparent. We can't see it. We never made it in the laboratory. All of the particles we can make here on earth, we know they don't do the job of being the dark matter. So this is telling us that there's something to physics, to the fundamental architecture of reality that we haven't yet seen here on earth. So that's very exciting.

And then the dark energy is much more mysterious than that. The dark energy isn't even matter. It's something that is just filling all of space. A kind of energy that just is there persistent and does not dilute away as the universe expands. It does not collect in galaxies and cluster of galaxies and provides an impulse, a push that's making the universe accelerate. This is already the subject of at least one Nobel Prize, and I think it will be a major focus for cosmology in the future.

ROMANS: Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist from Cal Tech joining us from Los Angeles, thank you. What a great conversation. So much more ahead. We have much more in the next hour of CNN Saturday Morning, which starts after this very quick break.