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Mass. challenges gay marriage ban

Boston

Mass. challenges gay marriage ban

The Massachusetts attorney general asked a judge Wednesday to strike down a federal gay marriage ban, arguing it interferes with the right of states to define marriage and have those marriages acknowledged by the federal government.

The challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act by Attorney General Martha Coakley's office was heard in federal court in Boston.

Assistant Attorney General Maura Healey argued states have historically had the right to define marriage.

She said the 1996 law could result in the denial of Medicaid and other benefits to married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.

A lawyer from the U.S. Justice Department, Christopher Hall, argued the federal government has the right to set eligibility requirements for federal benefits — including requiring that those benefits go only to couples in marriages between a man and a woman.

Hall also pointed to instances where the federal government has regulated the definition of marriage in certain immigration cases.

It is the second time this month that a challenge to the federal law, also known as DOMA, has been heard in a federal court.

Earlier this month, gay rights groups launched their own challenge before the same judge, arguing the law unconstitutionally denies gay couples federal benefits available to other married couples.

An estimated 15,000 same-sex couples have been married in Massachusetts.

Healey argued the federal law not only intrudes on an area of core state sovereignty, but "forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens."

San Francisco

Restraining order out for John Mark Karr

A 19-year-old woman has requested a temporary restraining order against the man who once falsely claimed to have murdered JonBenet Ramsey in 1996.

A San Francisco court commissioner issued the order against John Mark Karr on April 19.

Samantha Spiegel claimed that Karr, who now goes by the name Alexis Valoran Reich, made what was described as "ongoing death threats" and "threats of sexual exploitation to children."

Her lawyer, Robin Sax, said the court has been unable to serve Karr with the order because they cannot find him. She said Karr was last seen in Seattle.

Karr did not return e-mails that were sent to addresses that Sax said belonged to Karr.

Washington

Obama's approval rating climbs

For the first time this year, more people approve of President Barack Obama's performance than disapprove, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

According to Quinnipac, American voters approve of Obama's job by 48 percent to 43 percent, up from April when 44 percent approved and 46 percent disapproved. The overall approval was the first since December, according to the poll.

The findings are based on the survey of 1,914 people from May 19 to May 24. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

Watergate Hotel sold for $45 million

The Watergate Hotel was sold Wednesday to a European real estate group that plans to restore

Mass. challenges gay marriage ban 05/27/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:08am]

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