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Ecuador’s highest court approves same-sex marriage

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Ecuador’s highest court on Wednesday approved same-sex marriage in a landmark ruling in the traditionally Catholic and conservative South American country.

The Constitutional Court said same-sex marriage had been approved in a five-to-four vote of its nine judges in a closed hearing.

Ecuador, where the church is very influential, thus joins Argentina, Brazil and Colombia in recognizing same-sex marriage.

“It means that Ecuador is more egalitarian. It is more just than yesterday, that it recognizes that human rights must be for all people without discrimination,” said lawyer Christian Paula of the Patka Foundation, which provides legal advice for around 10 same-sex couples seeking to marry in the country.

The four dissenting judges argued that in order to recognize same-sex marriage, constitutional reform would have to be debated in the National Assembly.

Gustavo Medina, a former Supreme Court president, told AFP that Ecuadoran authorities were obliged to abide by decisions of the Constitutional Court, which were “binding and mandatory.”

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Ecuador has recognized de-facto civil unions for same-sex couples since 2015.

The Constitutional Court approved same-sex marriage as it ruled on lawsuits by two pairs of men who wanted to wed.

The men in one of those couples are named Efrain Soria and Javier Benalcazar.

“I want to say hello to Javier, who is in Guayaquil. Honey, I love you,” Soria told reporters in the capital Quito.

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He urged other gays to stop hiding and “enjoy the happiness that comes from being equal, like anyone else.”

Ecuador’s current constitution, ratified in 2008, defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman. It also bars same-sex couples from adopting children.

The Constitutional Court judges that approved same-sex marriage said they based their decision on the idea that all people are equal. They also said they sought to counter any kind of discrimination.

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‘No locks’: GOPer says kids at migrant camps are ‘free to leave anytime’ but they don’t because they like it

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Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) argued on Monday that children at border detention facilities are "free to leave" if they do not like the conditions.

In an interview with MSNBC's Chris Hayes, Burgess said that he has not personally seen the appalling conditions that media often describe for the children at the centers.

"So you think this is fictional?" Hayes asked.

"I don't know if it's hyperbole," Burgess replied. "Hatred for this president is so intense that people are liable to say anything."

"I've been to the [detention center] at Casa Padre," the congressman added. "Yes, it's a restored K-Mart. But you know what? There's not a lock on the door. Any child is free to leave at anytime but they don't. You know why? Because they are well taken care of."

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Kushner’s ‘Time Square Dream’ real estate project is failing: report

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In 2018, Jared Kushner's real estate empire was in serious trouble — 666 Fifth Avenue, which Kushner had purchased at the top of the market just before the financial crisis, was hemorrhaging money and unable to rent out all its space. The company averted disaster with a bailout from Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian company with ties to the state investment fund of Qatar.

Now, according to Bloomberg News, Kushner's company is in trouble again as yet another New York property is bleeding red ink.

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Moderate Dem lawmaker tells CNN why Trump’s ‘appalling behavior’ changed his mind on impeachment

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Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), a moderate Democrat and a member of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, went on CNN on Tuesday to explain why he has changed his mind and now supports starting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

In an interview with CNN's John Berman, Himes said that Trump has regularly shown that he doesn't care about obeying the law, as evidenced by his decision to completely shrug off his own Office of Special Counsel's finding that adviser Kellyanne Conway has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act.

"Kellyanne Conway had clearly broken the law and she should be removed from office," Himes said. "And the president said, 'Ah heck, that doesn't matter.'"

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