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Religious groups want gay judge removed from Prop-8 trial

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After a columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle claimed that Judge Vaughn Walker is gay, some religious groups are clamoring that he recuse himself from presiding over the federal trial for Proposition 8.

Several groups opposed to gay rights have issued statements that a homosexual justice constitutes an unacceptable bias in a case over California’s ban on gay marriage.

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“The revelation that Judge Walker apparently chooses to engage in homosexual conduct, if true, would explain much of his bizarre behavior throughout this trial,” said Matt Barber in a press release from Liberty Counsel, a non-profit religious and political organization.

Barber referred to Walker’s decision to broadcast video from the trial online as an example of the “circus-like atmosphere” he has created, though that decision was overturned later.

Shortly after Prop 8’s passage in November 2008, Barber wrote a column titled “Counterfeit marriage and its counterfeit movement,” praising African-Americans for voting against “the sin that dare not speak its name.”

In a letter addressed “Dear Friend of Marriage,” National Organization for Marriage Director Brian Brown accuses Walker of “egregious and damaging” bias.

“We have no idea whether the report is true or not,” Brown said. “But we do know one really big important fact about Judge Walker: He’s been an amazingly biased and one-sided force throughout this trial, far more akin to an activist than a neutral referee. That’s no secret at all.”

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The San Francisco Chronicle released several columns arguing that Walker should be allowed to stay on the bench during the trial. In an editorial titled “Gay judge has proven record of impartiality,” the editors point out:

Vaughn Walker almost lost his chance to reach the federal bench because of claims that he was anti-gay and hostile to civil rights. Two dozen House Democrats, led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, opposed his nomination because of his alleged “insensitivity” to gays and the poor.

The New Yorker and The Washington Post released similar opinions. But Ruth Marcus offered an obvious caveat in her Washington Post column.

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“I hope the plaintiffs win and that Walker rules that the same-sex marriage ban violates their constitutional rights,” Marcus said. “At the same time, I’ve got to acknowledge: If I were on the side supporting the ban and found it struck down by a supposedly gay judge, I’d have some questions about whether the judicial deck had been stacked from the start.”

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Britain’s Prince Andrew denies meeting sex accuser

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Britain's Prince Andrew has said he does not remember meeting Virginia Roberts, one of disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein's alleged victims, who says she was forced to have sex with the royal.

But Andrew admits in an interview with the BBC due to be broadcast on Saturday that his decision to remain friends with Epstein after he was convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2008 was a serious error of judgement.

"I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," Andrew told BBC interviewer Emily Maitlis, according to extracts from "Prince Andrew and the Epstein Scandal" released ahead of the program's broadcast.

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Administration blaming Lt Col Vindman for White House lying to America about the first Ukraine call

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On Friday, President Donald Trump released the rough transcript of his first phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Upon the release, many White House watchers noticed that the transcript was nothing like the summary of the call that the administration released on the day the two leaders talked.

The exchange released by the WH does not appear to be an exact transcript as it does not include talk of U.S. support of Ukrainian sovereignty and a desire to root out corruption there, two things specifically highlighted in the White House read out of the call released in April.

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Massive anti-coup protests explode across Bolivia ‘against the many violations to Democracy’

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"Do you think we are ignorant?"

Chanting "resign now" to Bolivia's interim, self-declared president Jeanine Añez, protesters across the Latin American country on Friday made their displeasure with the overthrow of the government by right-wing Christian extremists last Sunday known.

Thousands of demonstrators marched through the cities of La Paz and El Alto. Friday's protests follow days of unrest as the Bolivian people rejected Sunday's coup, which forced democratically-elected President Evo Morales to resign and flee the country.

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