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Arkansas judge orders state officials to recognize 500 same-sex marriages

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Arkansas must recognize as lawful some 500 same-sex marriages that were performed during a six-day window in May 2014, a state judge ruled on Tuesday.

The marriages have been in legal limbo since the Arkansas Supreme Court halted gay marriages less than a week after they began in order to hear the state’s appeal. A lower court had ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the equal protection clauses of the Arkansas and U.S. Constitutions.

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The state subsequently refused to accept joint tax returns from same-sex couples who had wed and declined to enroll the spouses of gay and lesbian government employees in the state health insurance program.

“With shameless disrespect for fundamental fairness and equality, (the state) insists on treating the marriages of same-sex couples who received marriage licenses between May 9 and May 15 as ‘void as a matter of law,'” Judge Wendell Griffen of Little Rock wrote.

His ruling directed the state to accept the tax filings and spousal health coverage applications of gay and lesbian married couples.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, an opponent of same-sex marriage, said she would evaluate Griffen’s order before deciding whether to appeal.

“These marriages do not fall within the state’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman,” she said.

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Tippi McCullough, president of the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats, a gay rights organization, said the group was “thrilled” by Griffen’s ruling.

Griffen was among several state judges who officiated at the weddings of gay and lesbian couples before the higher court stayed the lower court’s finding.

The state Supreme Court has yet to decide the matter. Some of its justices have complained that their colleagues are avoiding the issue in hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court will relieve them of any political fallout with its expected ruling on the issue later this month.

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A federal district judge in Arkansas also struck down the state’s prohibition on gay marriage, but the decision was stayed by an appellate court.

(Reporting by Steve Barnes; Writing by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)

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Matt Gaetz forgot which network he was on: Surprised CNN anchor said ‘I’ve never been called Sean Hannity’

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Rep. Matt Gaetz seemed to confuse cable news networks during a Thursday appearance

Gaetz was interviewed by CNN's Chris Cuomo, who aggressively challenged Gaetz on the facts as the Florida Republican attempted to defend President Donald Trump.

Despite the fact Cuomo's interview was nothing like the puff segments Gaetz is used to on Fox, the congressman seemed confused by the end.

"Congressman, you are always welcome, wherever I am, at nine or eleven, whenever," Cuomo said.

"Thanks Sean," Gaetz replied.

"Did you just call me Sean?" Cuomo asked. "Did you just call me Sean?"

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California lawmaker who chaired Republican Assembly caucus leaving GOP — to become an independent: report

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On Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reported that California Assemblyman Chad Mayes, the former Assembly Minority Leader, is leaving the Republican Party and registering as No Party Preference.

"Instead of focusing on solutions for the big problems that we've got, we focused on winning elections," said Mayes in his announcement. "For me, I'm at the point in my life where I'm done with gamesmanship."

Mayes, a controversial figure who was implicated in an affair with a fellow public official, represents Yucca Valley. He is the second Republican Assemblyman this year to leave the party, after Brian Maienschein of San Diego, who Maienschein of San Diego.

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‘Quantum physics generator’ incident in Ohio results in evacuation — hazmat found no radiation

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Authorities in Columbus, Ohio evacuated dozens of homes after a man called 911 to report being burned by a

"Firefighters say nothing threatening was found in a northwest Columbus garage," WCMH-TV reported. "According to firefighters, a man called and reported that he received ‘RF burns’ while building some sort of ‘quantum physics generator’ in a garage. The man used words like ‘particle accelerator,’ ‘alpha rays,’ and ‘radiation’ while describing how he was burned."

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