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North Carolina Senate overrides governor’s veto of gay marriage opt-out bill

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Larry Ferri (R) and Brandi Morris (C) hold large rainbow flag as gay couples marry outside of Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds office in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 13, 2014. REUTERS/Davis Turner

A measure that would allow some public officials in North Carolina to opt out of performing gay marriages moved closer to becoming law on Monday, when lawmakers voted to override Republican Governor Pat McCrory’s veto of the bill.

The Republican-led state Senate reached the three-fifths majority needed to override McCrory’s veto in a 32-16 vote. The legislation now goes back to the Republican-controlled state House of Representatives, which passed it in February by a margin wide enough to override the veto.

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The bill allows magistrates and other officials to refuse to perform marriages or issue marriage certificates by citing a “sincerely held religious objection.” Once they have asked to opt out in writing, magistrates would be barred from performing any marriage, gay or heterosexual, for six months.

Senate leader Phil Berger said the bill struck a balance between the legal ruling that allowed same-sex marriages to begin in the state last year and the rights of state employees to exercise their religion.

“If the federal courts say they will be performed, they will be performed,” Berger said before Monday’s vote. “But if someone takes a job, they don’t park their First Amendment rights at the door. They are entitled to exercise those rights.”

Democrats said the measure would likely delay marriages for gay couples, making the state vulnerable to lawsuits claiming unfair treatment.

“We want to be on the right side of history, not creating loopholes for unlawful discrimination,” Democratic Senator Floyd McKissick said.

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Announcing his veto last week, McCrory said public officials who swore to defend the Constitution and perform their duties of office should not be exempt from upholding their oath.

Similar bills were filed in several states this year, although none has become law yet, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

Gay marriage is legal in 37 states and Washington, D.C. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide by the end of June whether same-sex marriage should be legal nationwide.

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2020 Election

Trump officials could face criminal charges for USPS sabotage — and the president may not be able to pardon them

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Members of the Trump administration could face legal jeopardy over efforts to sabotage U.S. Postal Service operations to interfere with the 2020 presidential elections.

"Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) made a criminal referral to the New Jersey Attorney General on Friday night, asking him to impanel a grand jury to look at possible breach of state election laws by President Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and others for 'their accelerating arson of the post office,' he said. Alarming headlines have emerged in recent days as many states prepare to facilitate widespread mail balloting due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump openly admitted he was withholding federal aid from the postal service to prevent mail-in voting, and USPS has notified 46 states and D.C. that it will struggle to deliver some mail ballots on time," The Daily Beast reported Friday.

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Maddow reveals how one state stood up to Trump’s USPS cuts — and won

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MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow's opening segment on Friday focused on a positive story of political pressure stopping one of the Trump administration's attacks on the U.S. Postal Service.

Maddow reported how NBC Montana reporter Maritsa Georgiou had doggedly reported on the removal of postal boxes in Missoula, where she is based. Missoula has been a long-time Democratic Party stronghold.

Montana has a competitive U.S. Senate election in 2020, with Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock challenging first-term Republican Sen. Steve Daines.

As Georgiou chased the story, she learned there were also plans to remove boxes in the battleground of Billings. And more planned for the blue town of Bozeman. And other towns.

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Chad Wolf’s authority is ‘illegitimate’: Hispanic Caucus chairman demands DHS chief ‘resign in disgrace’

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Immigrant rights groups and Texas Democrats are urging a review on the legality of Trump administration immigration policies after a government watchdog found two of the White House’s top immigration officials are not legally eligible to serve in their respective positions.

The Government Accountability Office on Friday determined that Chad Wolf, acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, and Ken Cuccinelli, a senior official performing deputy secretary duties, aren’t legally qualified to hold those posts.

United We Dream, an advocacy group pushing for immigration reform, said the GAO’s conclusion calls into question the latest guidance from the DHS on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program that was initiated in 2012.

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