December 20th, 2013
10:56 AM ET

Wait Until You See This Man With Down Syndrome Find Out He's Going To College

In today's edition of the "Good Stuff," a special needs man lights up after finding out he's been accepted to college.

Rion Holcombe,20, has down syndrome, but he knows no bounds.

So he applied to a program at Clemson university designed for students with special needs, and just the other day, got a letter saying he was in.

See his reaction above and if you have #GoodStuff news, let us know!

Leave a comment, post on Facebook, or tweet to @ChrisCuomo & @NewDay using #NewDay and submit your story on iReport.

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December 20th, 2013
10:36 AM ET

Methodist Minister Defrocked for Officiating Son's Same-Sex Wedding

A Pennsylvania minister was defrocked after he was found guilty in a church trial for officiating his son's same-sex wedding, according to church officials.

Frank Schaefer, 51, the pastor at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon, had already been suspended for 30 days in November after a jury of 13 clergy members found him guilty of officiating a same-sex wedding and being disobedient to the discipline and order of the church, according to Cathy Husid-Shamir, a Schaefer family spokeswoman.

During his 30-day suspension, Schaefer was to decide whether his advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community would prevent him from fully complying with church law in the future, according to a statement from Bishop Peggy Johnson of the United Methodist Church.

Schaefer told the Board of Ordained Ministry that he could not uphold the church's Book of Discipline in its entirety because it discriminates against gay people.

Schaefer was asked to immediately surrender his credentials, but he refused, forcing church officials to defrock him, the statement said.

"I am somewhat in shock still," Schaefer said at a news conference Thursday.

"When I went into the hearing this morning," he said, "I was hopeful that it wouldn't come to what it has come to."

Schaefer appeared on "New Day"  and said his son, Tim, asked him to officiate his wedding seven years ago, and he decided to do it "out of love for him."

Although he once believed that homosexuality was incompatible with his Christian beliefs, Schaefer said his views on the controversial topic evolved.

"By the time our son came out, I was ready to embrace him," Schaefer said.

The complaint was filed by one of Schaefer's church members, and the church leadership decided to act upon it, according to Schaefer.

The church told Schaefer he could avoid a trial if he agreed never to perform another same-sex marriage. He refused.

"I can't commit to a statement like that, especially in light of the fact that I have two more children that are gay," said Schaefer, who has four children.

He said he has already filed an appeal and hopes to become reinstated to the Methodist clergy.

Schaefer's case will now be reviewed by the appeals committee of the United Methodist Church's northeast jurisdiction. It could also go to the judicial counsel which is equivalent to the supreme court of the church, according to Schaefer's attorney, Bill Ewing.

"I have been a part of this church for more than 20 years," Schaefer said Thursday. "Being a United Methodist minister is the only kind of minister I know how to be."

Ewing expects the appeal to be tried some time in 2015.

Schaefer said, "You try to work for change from within, and that's what I'm trying to do with my church."

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December 20th, 2013
10:24 AM ET

'Duck Dynasty' Family Stands by Suspended Patriarch

The family behind A&E's "Duck Dynasty" rallied around its patriarch Thursday, one day after the network suspended Phil Robertson over controversial remarks he made about gays and blacks in a magazine interview, CNN's Nischelle Turner reports.

"While some of Phil's unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Phil would never incite or encourage hate," the Robertsons said in a statement.

The family called into question the future of the show.

"We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty," it said.

Radio host Michael Medved weighed in on the controversy on "New Day" Friday and called  the network's decision a mistake.

"There are going to be just tons of other networks waiting to provide a new home for "Duck Dynasty," he said.

In the January issue of GQ, Robertson said homosexuality is a sin and puts it in the same category as bestiality and promiscuity.

"It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical," he's quoted as saying.

When asked what he thought was sinful, Robertson replied: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

But homosexuals aren't alone, Robertson said. "Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers - they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

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December 20th, 2013
10:14 AM ET

Astronauts Set to Make Emergency Spacewalks at ISS

Tomorrow, astronauts make the first of three emergency spacewalks to fix a crucial cooling system at the International Space Station.

Two pumps are used to cool the station. The failure of either is considered critical. The first spacewalk attempting to repair the system will be Saturday and the last one will happen on Christmas morning.

According to NASA, a similar incident back in 2010 has given them confidence this time.

“Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins will spend about twenty hours in space, removing the 780-pound failed cooling pump, and replacing it with a spare. Much of the time, Mastracchio will be dangling from the end of the station's robotic arm,” CNN’s John Zarrella reports.

But the risky fix comes at a tense time as the last astronaut to attempt a spacewalk nearly lost his life. NASA still has not determined what went wrong, though they don’t expect the problems from that attempt to repeat.

Astronaut Mike Massimino weighed in on "New Day" Friday and described the experience as "the most incredible thing a person can do.'


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