EU court advisor: Same-sex couples entitled to residency rights

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A legal advisor to the European Union’s highest court on Thursday said gay couples should receive the same residency rights that married couples have in the European Union.

The Associated Press reported European Court of Justice Advocate General Melchior Wathelet issued an opinion that he said is not about whether European Union countries should extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Wathelet did say, however, they should extend spousal benefits in a way that does not infringe “on the rights of citizens of the (European) Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the member states.”

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Same-sex couples in Australia begin to marry

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Same-sex couples began to legally marry in Australia on Tuesday.

SBS News reported Diana and Deanne Ribeiro tied the knot shortly after midnight local time in the Melbourne suburb of Balaclava. The Sydney Morning Herald reported Kylie and Lisa Caro — a lesbian couple who began dating in 2014 and are raising a daughter together — are among the other same-sex couples who exchanged vows on Tuesday.

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Mississippi gay marriage law affects college baseball

By : wire report
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Photo from State University of New York Stony Brook athletics web site

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — College baseball is affected by a Mississippi law that lets government clerks or private business people cite their own religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples.

The Sun Herald reports the University of Southern Mississippi was supposed to play three games in Hattiesburg in late February against Stony Brook University. The games were canceled because New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned all non-essential state travel to Mississippi after Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law in 2016.

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White House: Trump backs ‘religious liberty’ in Cakeshop case

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump backs the U.S. solicitor general in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

Hours after oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case concluded Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump backs the position articulated by the U.S. Justice Department that bakers should be able to put up signs saying they won’t serve gays.

Sanders made the comments in response to a question from the New York Times on whether Trump backs the view posed by U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco during his first time in that role presenting arguments before the Supreme Court.

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Judge threatens to block all birth certificates over LGBT discrimination

By : wire report
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge’s threat to block the state from issuing any birth certificates if lawyers don’t quickly fix a law that was found discriminatory could open up a new fight with a state Supreme Court that was criticized over its handling of a gay marriage case. It could also prompt a new debate in a legislature that had planned to focus on the budget, not LGBT issues, when it meets next year.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox last week gave attorneys for the state and three same-sex couples until Jan. 5 to come up with language to strike from the state’s birth certificate law after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with his finding that it illegally favors heterosexual couples. If the attorneys can’t come up with a fix, Fox said he’ll prevent the state from issuing any more birth certificates until the Legislature addresses the issue.

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Malta same-sex marriage law takes effect

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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A law that allows same-sex couples to legally marry in Malta took effect on Friday.

Gabi Calleja, coordinator of the Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, a local advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Friday during a telephone interview that same-sex couples can now fill out a marriage application with local officials. Calleja noted there is a 6-week waiting period under Maltese law before they — and any other couple — can legally tie the knot.

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Hawaii LGBTQ couples seek equal access to fertility treatment

By : Wire Report
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HONOLULU (AP) – Sean Smith and his husband paid more than $20,000 for a fertility procedure when they decided to have a child using a surrogate mother. They did not know at the time that if they were a heterosexual couple, they might have saved that money.

Now, Smith and other members of Hawaii’s LGBTQ community are lobbying for equal access to the financial help married, heterosexual couples enjoy under state law.

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Walmart settles same-sex benefits discrimination lawsuit for $7.5 million

By : Wire Report
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BOSTON (AP) – Lawyers for a former Walmart employee who sued the retail chain for denying her same-sex spouse health benefits have asked a federal court judge to approve a $7.5 million class-action settlement.

Jacqueline Cote sued Walmart in 2015, saying the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company repeatedly denied medical insurance for her wife before 2014, when it began offering benefits for same-sex spouses.

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Romania to consult with European court over same-sex case

By : Wire Report
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BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) – Romania’s constitutional court said Nov. 29 it would consult with a European court regarding the case of a same-sex couple who want their marriage abroad to be legally recognized in Romania.

Court president Valer Dorneanu said he was seeking information from the European Court of Justice to see how other EU countries where same-sex marriages are not legal handled similar cases. The court set the next hearing for March 30.

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Mississippi asks court to uphold anti-LGBTQ rights law

By : Wire Report
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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is asking a federal appeals court to uphold a state law letting merchants and government employees cite religious beliefs to deny services to same-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked the law before it was to take effect July 1, ruling that it unconstitutionally establishes preferred beliefs and creates unequal treatment for LGBT people.

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North Carolina judges can still refuse to marry same-sex couples

By : Wire Report
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal judge has dismissed a challenge to a North Carolina law that says magistrates with religious objections can refuse to marry same-sex couples.

The judge ruled the three couples who brought the case – two gay and one interracial – lacked legal standing to sue and lacked evidence showing they were harmed directly by the law that took effect in June 2015.

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Trial to begin for man in same-sex parental kidnap case

By : Wire Report
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) – Federal authorities will being making their case against a Virginia businessman accused of interfering in a same-sex couple’s child custody fight.

Opening statements are expected in U.S. District Court in Buffalo Sept. 21, in the trial of Philip Zodhiates, who prosecutors say helped a woman and her daughter flee the country in 2009 when it was clear the woman was losing a custody battle to her former partner.

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