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Florida appeals court rejects state attorney general’s bid to delay ruling marriage equality

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By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) – An appeals court in Florida on Thursday rejected a motion by its attorney general that urged the state’s top court to delay a ruling on its same-sex marriage ban until the U.S. Supreme Court eventually decides on the issue.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi argued that the debate about gay nuptials involves issues central to the U.S. Constitution, and that therefore only the nation’s highest court has the authority to make a decision.

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In a brief ruling, a judge in Florida’s Miami-based Third District Court of Appeal rejected Bondi’s motion.

On Wednesday, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal asked the state Supreme Court to rule on what it said was a matter “of great public importance and will have a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout the state.”

A week ago, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Florida’s Northern District in Tallahassee became the fifth judge in Florida to rule against the ban, which was approved by voters in 2008, and the first on the state’s federal bench.

Hinkle found that the prohibition on gay nuptials violated equal protection and due process protections under the U.S. Constitution.

At least 30 state and federal courts have ruled against same-sex marriage bans since last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down parts of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

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The Supreme Court is expected to take up the issue in its coming term, which starts in October and ends in June. It will likely be the most momentous civil rights case in years.

(Reporting by Zachary Fagenson; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler)

[Image: ‘Gay male couple kissing in the park on their wedding day, via Shutterstock]

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John Dean says Gordon Sondland just had his ‘John Dean moment’ by flipping on Trump: ‘The truth has come out’

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Former White House aide John Dean on Wednesday compared his testimony against President Richard Nixon to the testimony of European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

"This has been called by some commentators a John Dean moment," CNN host Jake Tapper noted during a break in the testimony. "And there is no person I can think of who is better qualified to weigh in on that than John Dean."

"Is he the John Dean of this impeachment inquiry?" Tapper wondered.

"His statement certainly caught the Republicans off guard," Dean replied. "They didn't pick away -- just a few little picky points."

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‘The worst day with the most damning evidence’: CNN’s Tapper explains how Sondland was very bad for Trump

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European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony before the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry on Wednesday generated several startling revelations, including confirmation of an explicit quid-pro-quo deal involving investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden.

CNN's Jake Tapper described Sondland's testimony as " a monumental and historic moment on what may turn out to be the worst day with the most damning evidence for President Trump in the impeachment inquiry."

He then laid out all the ways that Sondland has been very bad news for the president.

"Sondland directly implicated the president in directing the operation to pressure Ukraine," Tapper explained. "Sondland is testifying that there very clearly was a quid pro quo -- this was for a White House visit for the Ukrainians in exchange for an announcement about an investigation into the company Burisma and the Bidens. Now, Sondland later said it became clear to him that the quid pro quo also, he presumed, was tied to the holdup of hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid that Ukraine desperately needed."

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Here are the most important moments from Gordon Sondland’s bomshell impeachment inquiry testimony

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EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a key actor in President Donald Trump's effort to pressure Ukraine for dirt on his political rivals, was in the hot seat Wednesday as Democrats built their case for impeaching the US leader.

Here are some of the key quotes from his opening statement.

- Following Trump's orders -

- "As a presidential appointee, I followed the directions of the president. We worked with (Trump's personal lawyer Rudy) Giuliani because the president directed us to do so.

"We had no desire to set any conditions on the Ukranians. Indeed, my own personal view -- which I shared repeatedly with others -- was that the White House meeting and security assistance should have proceeded without pre-conditions of any kind."

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