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Appeals court upholds decision voiding Oklahoma same-sex marriage ban

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By Heide Brandes

Oklahoma City (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a lower court decision voiding as unconstitutional Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage, drawing on a similar decision it made for Utah.

The decision by the three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest in a series of rulings by judges in federal and state courts to find such exclusions violate the U.S. Constitution.

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The appellate court last month upheld a decision that gay couples have a right to marry in Utah. Gay marriage is on hold in both Utah and Oklahoma while appeals are being resolved.

The Oklahoma lawsuit was brought in 2004 by two lesbian couples in long-term relationships. Both couples claim economic harms as a result of the Oklahoma law.

One of the couples, Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, say their inability to marry under the law is “demeaning” and “signals to others that they should not respect our relationship,” according to court documents.

Numerous lawsuits and rulings regarding same-sex marriage bans have followed the U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Utah ruling was the first at the appellate level since the Supreme Court decision.

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There are now 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal. In another nine states, federal judges have struck down bans on same-sex marriage but the rulings have been put on hold pending appeal.

About 76 percent of Oklahoma voters approved the ban on gay marriage in 2004.

“Today’s ruling is another instance of federal courts ignoring the will of the people and trampling on the right of states to govern themselves,” said Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, adding that the decision will be appealed.

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Scott Hamilton, executive director of Cimarron Alliance, an Oklahoma gay rights group, disputed her reasoning, saying a majority in an earlier time supported slavery.

“The Supreme Court has clearly affirmed, and this ruling underscores, that when it comes to rights, privileges, and responsibilities, it is the Constitution – not the people – that prevails,” Hamilton said.

A representative from Tulsa County, the defendant in the Oklahoma case, was not immediately available for comment.

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(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski and Jonathan Stempel; additional reporting by Heide Brandes in Oklahoma; Editing by Bill Trott)


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New testimony adds 2 stunning — and previously unknown — details about the Ukraine extortion

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New testimony released Monday from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the Ukraine scandal included at least two new stunning details about the quid pro quo scheme at the heart of the matter.

Overall, the transcripts for depositions of Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, who were advisers to U.S. envoy Kurt Volker, built on the story of that we already know: that President Donald Trump pushed a shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political opponents, a scheme that involved using his office and military aid as leverage over the country in opposition to the official policy.

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Trump blasted for his ‘Endorsement of Doom’ after Sean Spicer loses on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

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Team Trump had gone all in urging supporters to vote for former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on the game show "Dancing with the Stars."

Votes had been urged by RNC officials and Trump himself had urged his 66 million Twitter followers to vote for Spicer.

Despite the full heft of the Trump campaign, Spicer lost on Monday's show.

Trump deleted his failed tweet urging votes for Spicer -- and instead said it was a "great try" by his former advisor.

Looks like this endorsement was as successful as your last one!

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‘He’s misunderstood’: Nikki Haley tells Fox News how Trump is actually a really good listener

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Former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley defended President Donald Trump during a Monday appearance with Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

Hannity asked the former South Carolina governor if Trump was "misunderstood."

"I do think he’s misunderstood," Haley replied.

"I can tell you, from the first day to the last day that I worked for the president, he always listened, he was always conscious of hearing other voices, allowing people to debate out the issues, and then he made his decision," Haley claimed.

She argued that, "I saw a president that was very thoughtful, looked at all of the issues, made decisions, and it was a pleasure and honor to work with him."

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