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Argentina legalizes gay marriage in historic vote – Wisconsin Gazette

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentina legalized same-sex marriage Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to grant gays and lesbians all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexual couples.

After a marathon debate, 33 lawmakers voted in favor, 27 were against it and 3 abstained in Argentinas Senate in a vote that ended after 4 a.m. Since the lower house already approved it, and President Cristina Fernandez is a strong supporter, it now becomes law as soon as it is published in the official bulletin.

The law is sure to bring a wave of marriages by gays and lesbians who have increasingly found Buenos Aires to be more accepting than many other places in the region.

The approval came despite a concerted campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups, which drew 60,000 people to march on Congress and urged parents in churches and schools to work against passage.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said everyone loses with gay marriage, and children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother.

Nine gay couples had already married in Argentina after persuading judges that the constitutional mandate of equality supports their marriage rights, but some of these marriages were later declared invalid.

As the debate stretched on for nearly 16 hours, supporters and opponents of held rival vigils through the frigid night outside the Congress building in Buenos Aires.

Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species, insisted Sen. Juan Perez Alsina, who is usually a loyal supporter of the president but gave a passionate speech against gay marriage.

But Sen. Norma Morandini, another member of the presidents party, compared the discrimination closeted gays face to the oppression imposed by Argentinas dictators decades ago.

What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance, she said.

Same-sex civil unions have been legalized in Uruguay, Buenos Aires and some states in Mexico and Brazil. Mexico City has legalized gay marriage. Colombias Constitutional Court granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to health insurance plans.

But Argentina now becomes the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, granting gays and lesbians all the same rights and responsibilities that heterosexuals have. These include many more rights than civil unions, including adopting children and inheriting wealth.

Gay rights advocates said Argentinas historic step adds momentum to similar efforts around the world.

Todays historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic values, and how far the freedom to marry movement has come, as twelve countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality, said Evan Wolfson, who runs the U.S. Freedom to Marry lobby.

He urged U.S. lawmakers to stand up for the Constitution and all families here in the United States. America should lead, not lag, when it comes to treating everyone equally under the law.

Among the opponents were teacher Eduardo Morales, who said he believes the legislation was concocted by Buenos Aires residents who are out step with the views of the country.

They want to convert this city into the gay capital of the world, said Morales of San Luis province.

Ines Franck, director of the group Familias Argentinas, said the legislation cuts against centuries of tradition.

Opposing the measure is not discrimination, because the essence of a family is between two people of opposite sexes, he said. Any variation goes against the law, and against nature.

The president, currently on a state visit to China, spoke out from there against the Argentine Catholic Churchs campaign and the tone she said some religious groups have taken.

Its very worrisome to hear words like Gods war or the devils project, things that recall the times of the Inquisition, she said.

Some opposition leaders have accused her of promoting the initiative to gain votes in next years presidential elections, when Fernandezs husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, is expected to run again.

The vote came after Sen. Daniel Filmus urged fellow lawmakers to show the world how much Argentina has matured.

Society has grown up. We arent the same as we were before, he said.

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Argentina legalizes gay marriage in historic vote – Wisconsin Gazette

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Conservatives blast GOP mayoral candidate over new gay marriage … – New York Post

GOP mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis got hit with friendly fire from the right flank Wednesday.

State Conservative Party chairman Mike Long said he was blindsided by the Staten Island assemblywomans statement that she regretted her six-year-old vote against gay marriage in the state Assembly.

This is the slap in the face to the leaders of the Conservative Party, Long fumed, noting Malliotakis first made the comments during a Post interview.

I had to read about this in the New York Post? Im taken aback by it. The party leaders should have been notified up front.

Malliotakis told The Post about her evolved position Monday about six weeks after the citys Conservative leaders endorsed her candidacy.

When did she change her mind? Last week? Long said. I certainly dont agree with her. Shes sort of created a credibility problem for herself.

Malliotakis became the presumptive GOP nominee for mayor last week after her chief primary rival, real estate mogul Paul Massey, dropped out of the race.

Malliotakis, in the statement to The Post, said, Any legislator has votes that they regret, and just like President Barack Obama, my views on same-sex marriage have evolved.

I voted against the marriage-equality bill in 2011 because I thought the bill would have the unintended consequences of lawsuits against religious institutions that did not want to perform the marriages, she explained.

Since 2011, I have attended two weddings of close friends and support the law as is. In recent years I have voted to expand the rights of same sex couples by voting for: The follow up legislation that amended the estates, powers and trusts law to reflect the provisions of the marriage equality act. Adoption rights for same sex couples. Expanding eligibility for those who receive awards under crime victims compensation to include domestic partners. A ban on sexual orientation conversion therapy upon patients under 18 years of age.

The Conservative Party opposed the same-sex marriage law, which passed both houses of the state Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011.

Malliotakis was a first-term assemblywoman representing Staten Island and southern Brooklyn at the time she cast a no vote. The US Supreme Court has since upheld the legality of gay nuptials.

The Conservative Party made opposition to same-sex marriage a line in the sand issue and pulled the endorsement of Republicans who voted for the law.

But Long admits that gay marriage is now accepted law and is a non-issue in the mayoral race. He said Malliotakis could have said gay marriage is the law of the land without running away from her vote.

Despite the blow-up, he said the Conservative Party will stand by its support of Malliotakis.

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Malta Set to Legalize Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ – Church Militant

VALETTA, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com) – The island of Malta is on its way to becoming the latest country to embrace same-sex “marriage.”

A legalization measure, theMarriage Equality Bill, has passed to initial readings before Parliament. It is widely expected to pass a final vote onWednesday.

Designed to “modernize the institution of marriage,” the billis not a single act, but a series of amendments to existing laws such as the Marriage Act, the Criminal Code and the Civil Code.

In addition to allowing gays to marry, the measure will purge Maltese laws of “gendered” language. References such as “husband” and “wife” will be changed to the gender-neutral “spouse”; “father” and “mother” to “parent”; and in some cases, “mother” to “person who gave birth.”

The Marriage Equality Bill is the latest innovation put forth by the country’s social democratic Prime Minister,Joseph Muscat.

Muscat regards “marriage equality” to be a top priority of his administration; the Marriage Equality Bill was the first measure he submitted to Parliament after his reelection, and he has vowed to expedite its passage.

“Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties,” he told the BBC, “to serve as a model for the rest of the world.”

Traditionally, Malta has ranked among the most conservative countries in the West. It legalized divorce only in 2011, and maintains a total ban on abortion.

But in recent years, Catholic Malta has thrown off its conservatism to become one of Europe’s most permissive societies.

In 2013, voters elected a leftist government, headed by the Labor Party. With Prime Minister Muscat at its helm, Labor quickly set to work on legislation that would play a large part in toppling the traditional social order.

In 2014, Parliament passed a bill legalizing civil unions and establishing adoption rights for same-sex couples. Afterwards, activists vowed to press on until gays were granted full marriage rights.

In 2016, Malta became the first country in Europe to outlaw conversion therapy any treatment aiming to “change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

Under the new legislation, anyone “advertising, offering, performing or referring an individual to another person [who] performs such practices” is subject to fines and imprisonment. Thus, those who desire to be rid of unwanted same-sex attractions have no recourse to professional counselors or psychologists.

Reflecting on the changes sweeping Maltese society, Russell Sammut, a Maltese gay rights advocate, told Timemagazine, “Life has changed a lot for gay people in Malta over the past two years.Up until 2014 we had no rights here, but once civil unions were enacted people changed their attitudes overnight. Everyone is afraid of the unknown, but now they’ve seen there’s no threat to society, they’re fine with same-sex partnerships.”

Indeed, attitudes have been changing.A 2016 poll found that nearly two thirds of the population (61%) supported amending the marriage law.

The liberalizing trend is reflected by developments inside the Maltese Church, where in January, the country’s bishops made headlines with their decision to allow divorced and remarried parishioners to receive Holy Communion.

Malta Archbishop Charles Sciclunais pushing back against the gay marriage law, recently saying “We are not against gays … . But we do not need to change the way in which God created marriage to enable us to say that two men or two women can get married.”

He also described the suppression of terms such as “husband” and “wife” in favor of gender-neutral language “lamentable.”

Archbishop Scicluna once opposed legal recognition of same-sex relationships. In 2014, he came out against the civil unions bill, warning Catholic lawmakers that “to vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.”

But he soon reversed course. In a 2016 video interview with Malta Indep, Bishop Scicluna described civil unions as a “service to the dignity of these people,” saying, “I think that we should support legislation that gives same-sex partners their dignity and their social protection.”

Malta’s Catholic heritage stretches back nearly 2,000 years, to the earliest days of the Church. Saint Paul, regarded as the country’s spiritual father, was shipwrecked on the island while on his way to Rome. Through his ministry, Publius, prefect of Malta, was converted. Publius went on to become the first bishop of Malta, and its first martyr and saint.

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Malta’s Parliament set to legalize gay marriage – CNN

The vote signals the latest in shifting attitudes that have swept across the staunchly Catholic country since the 2011 referendum to legalize divorce.

Since then, the country has introduced civil unions and last year became the first European state to ban “gay cure” therapy.

Last month, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said gay marriage would be one of his priorities after he won a snap election.

“Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties, to serve as a model for the rest of the world,” Muscat told the BBC.

The changes are part of what the Maltese government hopes will be a modernization of marriage that will also allow gay couples to adopt children.

In the bill, references to “wife,” “husband,” “mother” and “father” all scrapped in preference of gender-neutral terms such as “parent” and “spouse.”

“The new law is the missing piece in the puzzle when it comes to family rights in Malta,” she said.

“The use of gender-neutral terms means that everyone is equal and it is much more inclusive, particularly when it comes to the trans community.”

While the measure is expected to pass, some lawmakers have said they would vote against it.

Since then, more than 20 other nations have followed suit, including Spain, Canada, Argentina, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland and the United States.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the vote is happening on Wednesday.

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Malta’s Parliament set to legalize gay marriage – CNN

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David Harsanyi: Fighting for the First Amendment, not against gay marriage – The Union Leader

By DAVID HARSANYI July 04. 2017 11:20PM Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who refused to create a specialty wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado in 2012. The stories dominating coverage distort the publics understanding of the case.

No matter how many times people repeat it, the case isnt about discrimination or challenging gay marriage. But when the news first broke, USA Today, for example, tweeted, The Supreme Court has agreed to reopen the national debate over same-sex marriage. The headline (and story) on the website was worse; it read, Supreme Court will hear religious liberty challenge to gay weddings. Others similarly framed the case.

There is an impulse to frame every issue as a clash between the tolerant and the closed-minded. But the Masterpiece case doesnt challenge the issue of same-sex marriage in America. Gay marriage wasnt even legal in Colorado when this incident occurred.

A person with only passing interest in this case might be led to believe that Phillips is fighting to hang a No Gays Allowed sign in his shop. In truth, he never refused to serve a gay couple. He didnt even really refuse to sell David Mullins and Charlie Craig a wedding cake. They could have bought without incident. Everything in his shop was available to gays and straights and anyone else who walked in his door. What Phillips did was refuse to use his skills to design and bake a unique cake for a gay wedding. Phillips didnt query about anyones sexual orientation. It was the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that took it upon itself to peer into Phillips soul, indict him and destroy his business over a thought crime.

Like many other bakers, florists, photographers, and musicians and millions of other Christians Phillips holds genuine longstanding religious convictions. If Mullins and Craig had demanded that Phillips create an erotic-themed cake, the baker would have similarly refused for religious reasons, just as he had with other costumers. If a couple had asked him to design a specialty cake that read Congrats on the abortion, Jenny! Im certain he would have refused them as well, even though abortions are legal. Its not the people; its the message.

In its tortured decision, the Colorado Court of Appeals admitted as much, contending that while Phillips didnt overtly discriminate against the couple, the act of same-sex marriage is closely correlated to Craigs and Mullins sexual orientation, so it could divine his real intentions.

In other words, the threshold for denying religious liberty and free expression is the presence of advocacy or a political opinion that conflates with faith. The court has effectively tasked itself with determining when religion is allowed to matter to you. Or, in other words, if SCOTUS upholds the lower court ruling, it will empower unelected civil rights commissions which are typically stacked with hard-left authoritarians to decide when your religious actions are appropriate.

How could any honest person believe this was the Constitutions intent? There was a time, Im told, when the state wouldnt substantially burden religious exercise and would use the least restrictive means to further compelling interests. Today, the state can substantially burden a Christian because hes hurt the wrong persons feelings.

Judging from the emails and social media reactions Ive gotten regarding this case, people are not only instinctively antagonistic because of the players involved, but also because they dont understand the facts. In this era of identity politics, some have been programed to reflexively side with the person making accusations of status-based discrimination, all in an effort to empower the state to coerce a minority of people to see the world their way.

Well, not all people. In 2014, a Christian activist named William Jack went to a Colorado bakery and requested two cakes in the shape of a Bible, one to be decorated with the Bible verses God hates sin. Psalm 45:7 and Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22, and the other cake to be decorated with another passage. The bakery refused. Even though Christians are a protected group, the Colorado Civil Rights Division threw out the case. The American Civil Liberties Union called the passages obscenities. I guess the Bible doesnt correlate closely enough with a Christians identity.

Or perhaps weve finally established a state religion in this country: Its run on the dogma of social justice.

.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist.

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Catholic Malta On The Cusp Of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage – HuffPost

The predominantly Catholic island nation of Malta, which only legalized divorce six years ago and where abortion remains outlawed, is on the cusp of sanctioning same-sex marriage.

At the urging of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who won his second-straight term in a snap election last month, the Marriage Equality Bill is the first law being debated by the countrys new parliament, which convened for its first sitting on Monday. Muscat, leader of the center-left Labour Party, has vowed to expedite the legalization process, calling marriage equality a top priority for his government.

The first law that we are going to put on the agenda and I hope that it is approved as quickly as possible is that of the Marriage Equality Bill, said Muscat after his swearing-in ceremony on June 5, according to a translation by the website LifeSiteNews. We will make sure that it will be the first law to be placed on the agenda of the parliament, and that it is concluded.

Though labeled an equality bill, Maltas parliament is not mulling a single law but a host of changes to existing legislation including the Marriage Act, the Criminal Code and the Civil Code. As the Times of Malta explained, the aim of the bill is to modernize the institution of marriage so that all consenting adult couples would have the right to enter into marriage. This will include replacing references ofhusband, wife, mother and father in existing laws with gender-neutral terms like spouse and parent.

Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties, to serve as a model for the rest of the world, Muscat told the BBC this week.

The bill is expected to be unanimously approved, reported Malta Today. Simon Busuttil, the center-right Nationalist Party leader who lost to Muscat by a landslide in the recent election, said last week that his party would support the new legislation.

When it comes to social and sexual rights, Malta is a paradox. A country thats 98 percent Catholic,it only legalized divorce in 2011 and even then, to the chagrin of many governmentandreligious leaders.The island nation thats situated between Sicily and the North African coast remains the only country in the European Union where abortion isbanned under all circumstances.

Yet, when it comes to LGBTQ rights, Malta has emerged as a European leader.

In 2014, the Maltese government passed a law recognizing same-sex civil unions, including the right of gay couples to adopt.Last year, Malta became the first European country to make gay conversion therapy illegal, deeming it to be a deceptive and harmful act.

Life has changed a lot for gay people in Malta over the past two years, Russell Sammut, a Maltese gay rights advocate, told Time magazine in December.Up until 2014 we had no rights here, but once civil unions were enacted people changed their attitudes overnight. Everyone is afraid of the unknown, but now theyve seen theres no threat to society, theyre fine with same-sex partnerships.

A poll conducted last year by the Malta Independent found most Maltese people in support of marriage equality. The paper said 61 percent of poll respondents were in favor of gay marriage.

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Colombia Celebrates First ‘Three-Way Gay Marriage’ – Breitbart – Breitbart News

Although the arrangement is being billed by local media as a three-way gay marriage, legally it is closer to a civil union. In 2016, Colombia legalized same-sex marriage, but for the moment it still officially limits the number of partners to two.

This union is very different from a marriage, since the very constitution of the contract is very different, and represents only a declaration of the will of the parties, according to the notary office that formalized the union. The men describe their partnership as a trieja, a made-up Spanish word distinct from the word for couple (pareja).

The brief signing ceremony took place at the Medelln notary office in June, but the three men are planning a larger public ceremony to happen in the next few months.

We want to make whats intimate, public, said 23-year-old Prada, the youngest of the three. We have no reason to hide it. We are just helping people realize that there are different types of love and different types of family.

For his part, Manuel Bermdez demurred when asked how old he was, noting that you never ask the age of a woman or a fag, though it is supposed that he is in his forties.

A similar affair was formalized on Valentines Day 2015, when three Thai men entered into a polygamous gay marriage, though it was sanctioned not by the state but under Buddhist law. On that day, Joke, 29, Bell, 21 and Art, 26 were married in the Uthai Thani Province. While Buddhism recommends that men take no more than one spouse, neither polygamy nor homosexual practice is strictly prohibited.

In Colombia, Prada told local media that the threesomes new union constitutes a polyamorous family.

What prompted me first to do this was the initial proposal of marriage that I made in a theater in 2012, Prada said, who joined the marriage already formed between Bermdez and Rodriguez in 2000, when they were constituted as a legal partner.

Originally this polyamorous relationship included a fourth partner, Alex Esneider Zabala, but he died of stomach cancer in 2012. In that instance, Zabalas mother claimed inheritance rights to the young mans property, but Colombian courts awarded the inheritance to the three remaining partners in the relationship.

The victorious lawyer who defended the three men was Germn Rincn Perfetti, an LGBT activist in Colombia. Rincn has expressed his satisfaction with the partners new legal relationship, saying it constitutes a recognition of the existence of other types of families.

When the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states in 2015, a number of media outlets tried to calm fears of a slippery slope by saying that polygamy would not follow.

Politico, for example, published a piece titled No, Polygamy Isnt the Next Gay Marriage, in which it argued that removing the man-woman requirement for marriage wouldnt lead to legalizing other marital arrangements that people might find appealing.

Unlike gay marriage, it stated, polygamy is not good for women, because it places them in competition with other wives. And while same-sex marriage stabilizes society, polygamy destabilizes it, the article contended.

A similar piece in Time magazine bore the title Polygamy Is Not Next, in which Cathy Young argued on practical grounds that polygamy would be much more complicated to legislate than gay marriage, since the entire existing structure of modern marriage is designed for a dyad.

Unlike the relatively simple substitution of Spouse 1 and Spouse 2 for husband and wife, she states, multi-partner marriage would require a massive overhaul, which would include revising the rules on post-divorce property division or survivor benefits for three, five, or 10 people instead of two.

Yet despite their protests, those wishing to disassociate same-sex marriage from polygamy ran up against some stern competition in the marketplace of ideas and sound reasoning.

In his dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, however, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the majority offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not, suggesting that no rationale against polygamy could exist once marriage has been made a fluid concept divorced from nature.

Limiting partners to two seems completely arbitrary, he went on, once the complementarity of the sexes has been eliminated as a valid consideration.

If not having the opportunity to marry serves to disrespect and subordinate gay and lesbian couples, Roberts asked, why wouldnt the same imposition of this disability serve to disrespect and subordinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships?

Manuel, Alejandro and Vctor Hugo would undoubtedly agree.

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Some German lawmakers may ask court to examine gay marriage – Reuters

BERLIN Some conservative lawmakers in Germany may take the legalization of gay marriage, approved by parliament last week, to Germany’s top court to ascertain if it is unconstitutional, a German newspaper reported on Monday.

Germany was taken by surprise by the vote, which was called suddenly, leaving little time for debate. It came after three parties who could enter a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives after a September election set the legalization of gay marriage as a condition for their support.

But the same-sex bill faces opposition from some members of Merkel’s conservative bloc and others on the right. Merkel herself voted against it on Friday, but it went through with 393 lawmakers in the Bundestag voting in favor versus 226 against.

Now a group of conservative lawmakers is considering taking the issue to the Constitutional Court, German newspaper Die Welt reported.

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party may also file a complaint to the court, said AfD top election candidate Alexander Gauland.

“I’m in favor of taking such a step,” he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Although Germany’s constitution does not explicitly say so, critics argue the term marriage can only apply to a man and a woman.

“For me, marriage in the Constitution is marriage between a man and a woman and that is why I did not vote in favor of this bill today,” Merkel said on Friday.

Merkel is running for a fourth term in a Sept. 24 election. Polls show her conservatives are by far the most popular party but would need a coalition partner – most likely the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), Social Democrats (SPD) or Greens, all of which made legalizing gay marriage a condition for a tie-up.

Johannes Singhammer, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU) – the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s conservatives – said he recommended putting the issue to the Constitutional Court to achieve legal clarity.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also voted against the move. He told Bild am Sonntag that as a trained lawyer he believed it required an amendment to the constitution, a view shared by a former president of the Constitutional Court, Hans-Juergen Papier, according to other media.

Germany is in the process of unwinding a legacy of virulent homophobia. Earlier this year, parliament agreed to grant compensation to thousands of gay men jailed under a 19th century law that was strengthened by the Nazis and only dropped in 1969 when homosexuality was decriminalized in West Germany.

The same-sex bill is expected to get signed into law after July 7. This makes Germany the 23rd country to legalize same-sex marriage, according to gay rights group GLAAD.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

DOHA Qatar announced plans for a steep rise in Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) production capacity on Tuesday that suggested it was ready for a protracted dispute with Gulf neighbors, but Doha said it was doing all it could to reach agreement.

MOSUL/BEIRUT Western-backed forces edged into the final redoubts of the two capitals of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, hampered by fierce resistance from the militants and the presence of human shields.

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Thousands march for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland – Reuters

BELFAST Thousands of people marched in Belfast on Saturday to demand Northern Ireland join the rest of the United Kingdom in legalizing same-sex marriage, a step blocked by the region’s largest party, a key ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The Democratic Unionist Party, one of the most socially conservative in Europe, has repeatedly blocked gay marriage despite opinion polls in recent years showing a majority in Northern Ireland are in favor of it.

“It’s ridiculous that we’re treated differently to everyone else in these islands,” said Belfast resident Sarah, who was at the march with her partner Toni.

“The DUP Dinosaurs are denying us equality and our human rights,” she added, declining to give her surname.

They joined thousands of demonstrators who marched through central Belfast waving rainbow flags and banners saying “Love is a Human Right.”

The march follows a vote by the German parliament on Friday to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Republic of Ireland, long one of the most socially conservative countries in Europe, backed gay marriage in a referendum in 2015.

The social policies of the DUP have been put in the spotlight by its deal this week for its 10 members of parliament to support May’s government, which failed to secure a majority in a snap election.

On Thursday, her Conservative Party was forced to agree to make funds available for abortions in England for women arriving from Northern Ireland in order to secure backing from the British parliament for her policy program.

Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union and the DUP is against easing access.

The DUP has blocked same-sex marriage using a veto meant to protect Northern Ireland’s religious communities, but DUP assembly member Christopher Stalford said on Friday he did not know whether the party would be able to keep using the veto in the wake of a poor showing in regional elections in March.

Supporters of gay marriage have not had a chance to test the DUP’s weakened position yet as the DUP and the second-largest party, Irish nationalist Sinn Fein, have so-far failed to reach an agreement on forming a power-sharing government.

Sinn Fein, which has drawn parallels between efforts to secure equality for its Irish Catholic supporters and equality for the gay community, is trying to secure agreement to legalize same-sex marriage as part of the negotiations.

Human rights violations of Catholics helped fuel three decades of violence in Northern Ireland between Irish nationalists seeking a united Ireland and mainly Protestant unionists who wanted Northern Ireland to remain British.

“I see parallels with 25 years ago and sectarianism when we thought Catholics and Protestants were a different species,” said Reverend Charles Kenny, a Church of Ireland rector from Belfast, who took part in the march.

“We have come a long way on that now and should on marriage equality.”

(Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Helen Popper)

DOHA Qatar announced plans for a steep rise in Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) production capacity on Tuesday that suggested it was ready for a protracted dispute with Gulf neighbors, but Doha said it was doing all it could to reach agreement.

MOSUL/BEIRUT Western-backed forces edged into the final redoubts of the two capitals of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, hampered by fierce resistance from the militants and the presence of human shields.

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Argentina legalizes gay marriage in historic vote – Wisconsin Gazette

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentina legalized same-sex marriage Thursday, becoming the first country in Latin America to grant gays and lesbians all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexual couples. After a marathon debate, 33 lawmakers voted in favor, 27 were against it and 3 abstained in Argentinas Senate in a vote that ended after 4 a.m. Since the lower house already approved it, and President Cristina Fernandez is a strong supporter, it now becomes law as soon as it is published in the official bulletin. The law is sure to bring a wave of marriages by gays and lesbians who have increasingly found Buenos Aires to be more accepting than many other places in the region. The approval came despite a concerted campaign by the Roman Catholic Church and evangelical groups, which drew 60,000 people to march on Congress and urged parents in churches and schools to work against passage. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said everyone loses with gay marriage, and children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother. Nine gay couples had already married in Argentina after persuading judges that the constitutional mandate of equality supports their marriage rights, but some of these marriages were later declared invalid. As the debate stretched on for nearly 16 hours, supporters and opponents of held rival vigils through the frigid night outside the Congress building in Buenos Aires. Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species, insisted Sen. Juan Perez Alsina, who is usually a loyal supporter of the president but gave a passionate speech against gay marriage. But Sen. Norma Morandini, another member of the presidents party, compared the discrimination closeted gays face to the oppression imposed by Argentinas dictators decades ago. What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance, she said. Same-sex civil unions have been legalized in Uruguay, Buenos Aires and some states in Mexico and Brazil. Mexico City has legalized gay marriage. Colombias Constitutional Court granted same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowed them to add their partners to health insurance plans. But Argentina now becomes the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, granting gays and lesbians all the same rights and responsibilities that heterosexuals have. These include many more rights than civil unions, including adopting children and inheriting wealth. Gay rights advocates said Argentinas historic step adds momentum to similar efforts around the world. Todays historic vote shows how far Catholic Argentina has come, from dictatorship to true democratic values, and how far the freedom to marry movement has come, as twelve countries on four continents now embrace marriage equality, said Evan Wolfson, who runs the U.S. Freedom to Marry lobby. He urged U.S. lawmakers to stand up for the Constitution and all families here in the United States. America should lead, not lag, when it comes to treating everyone equally under the law. Among the opponents were teacher Eduardo Morales, who said he believes the legislation was concocted by Buenos Aires residents who are out step with the views of the country. They want to convert this city into the gay capital of the world, said Morales of San Luis province. Ines Franck, director of the group Familias Argentinas, said the legislation cuts against centuries of tradition. Opposing the measure is not discrimination, because the essence of a family is between two people of opposite sexes, he said. Any variation goes against the law, and against nature. The president, currently on a state visit to China, spoke out from there against the Argentine Catholic Churchs campaign and the tone she said some religious groups have taken. Its very worrisome to hear words like Gods war or the devils project, things that recall the times of the Inquisition, she said. Some opposition leaders have accused her of promoting the initiative to gain votes in next years presidential elections, when Fernandezs husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, is expected to run again. The vote came after Sen. Daniel Filmus urged fellow lawmakers to show the world how much Argentina has matured. Society has grown up. We arent the same as we were before, he said.

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Conservatives blast GOP mayoral candidate over new gay marriage … – New York Post

GOP mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis got hit with friendly fire from the right flank Wednesday. State Conservative Party chairman Mike Long said he was blindsided by the Staten Island assemblywomans statement that she regretted her six-year-old vote against gay marriage in the state Assembly. This is the slap in the face to the leaders of the Conservative Party, Long fumed, noting Malliotakis first made the comments during a Post interview. I had to read about this in the New York Post? Im taken aback by it. The party leaders should have been notified up front. Malliotakis told The Post about her evolved position Monday about six weeks after the citys Conservative leaders endorsed her candidacy. When did she change her mind? Last week? Long said. I certainly dont agree with her. Shes sort of created a credibility problem for herself. Malliotakis became the presumptive GOP nominee for mayor last week after her chief primary rival, real estate mogul Paul Massey, dropped out of the race. Malliotakis, in the statement to The Post, said, Any legislator has votes that they regret, and just like President Barack Obama, my views on same-sex marriage have evolved. I voted against the marriage-equality bill in 2011 because I thought the bill would have the unintended consequences of lawsuits against religious institutions that did not want to perform the marriages, she explained. Since 2011, I have attended two weddings of close friends and support the law as is. In recent years I have voted to expand the rights of same sex couples by voting for: The follow up legislation that amended the estates, powers and trusts law to reflect the provisions of the marriage equality act. Adoption rights for same sex couples. Expanding eligibility for those who receive awards under crime victims compensation to include domestic partners. A ban on sexual orientation conversion therapy upon patients under 18 years of age. The Conservative Party opposed the same-sex marriage law, which passed both houses of the state Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011. Malliotakis was a first-term assemblywoman representing Staten Island and southern Brooklyn at the time she cast a no vote. The US Supreme Court has since upheld the legality of gay nuptials. The Conservative Party made opposition to same-sex marriage a line in the sand issue and pulled the endorsement of Republicans who voted for the law. But Long admits that gay marriage is now accepted law and is a non-issue in the mayoral race. He said Malliotakis could have said gay marriage is the law of the land without running away from her vote. Despite the blow-up, he said the Conservative Party will stand by its support of Malliotakis.

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Malta Set to Legalize Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ – Church Militant

VALETTA, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com) – The island of Malta is on its way to becoming the latest country to embrace same-sex “marriage.” A legalization measure, theMarriage Equality Bill, has passed to initial readings before Parliament. It is widely expected to pass a final vote onWednesday. Designed to “modernize the institution of marriage,” the billis not a single act, but a series of amendments to existing laws such as the Marriage Act, the Criminal Code and the Civil Code. In addition to allowing gays to marry, the measure will purge Maltese laws of “gendered” language. References such as “husband” and “wife” will be changed to the gender-neutral “spouse”; “father” and “mother” to “parent”; and in some cases, “mother” to “person who gave birth.” The Marriage Equality Bill is the latest innovation put forth by the country’s social democratic Prime Minister,Joseph Muscat. Muscat regards “marriage equality” to be a top priority of his administration; the Marriage Equality Bill was the first measure he submitted to Parliament after his reelection, and he has vowed to expedite its passage. “Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties,” he told the BBC, “to serve as a model for the rest of the world.” Traditionally, Malta has ranked among the most conservative countries in the West. It legalized divorce only in 2011, and maintains a total ban on abortion. But in recent years, Catholic Malta has thrown off its conservatism to become one of Europe’s most permissive societies. In 2013, voters elected a leftist government, headed by the Labor Party. With Prime Minister Muscat at its helm, Labor quickly set to work on legislation that would play a large part in toppling the traditional social order. In 2014, Parliament passed a bill legalizing civil unions and establishing adoption rights for same-sex couples. Afterwards, activists vowed to press on until gays were granted full marriage rights. In 2016, Malta became the first country in Europe to outlaw conversion therapy any treatment aiming to “change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” Under the new legislation, anyone “advertising, offering, performing or referring an individual to another person [who] performs such practices” is subject to fines and imprisonment. Thus, those who desire to be rid of unwanted same-sex attractions have no recourse to professional counselors or psychologists. Reflecting on the changes sweeping Maltese society, Russell Sammut, a Maltese gay rights advocate, told Timemagazine, “Life has changed a lot for gay people in Malta over the past two years.Up until 2014 we had no rights here, but once civil unions were enacted people changed their attitudes overnight. Everyone is afraid of the unknown, but now they’ve seen there’s no threat to society, they’re fine with same-sex partnerships.” Indeed, attitudes have been changing.A 2016 poll found that nearly two thirds of the population (61%) supported amending the marriage law. The liberalizing trend is reflected by developments inside the Maltese Church, where in January, the country’s bishops made headlines with their decision to allow divorced and remarried parishioners to receive Holy Communion. Malta Archbishop Charles Sciclunais pushing back against the gay marriage law, recently saying “We are not against gays … . But we do not need to change the way in which God created marriage to enable us to say that two men or two women can get married.” He also described the suppression of terms such as “husband” and “wife” in favor of gender-neutral language “lamentable.” Archbishop Scicluna once opposed legal recognition of same-sex relationships. In 2014, he came out against the civil unions bill, warning Catholic lawmakers that “to vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.” But he soon reversed course. In a 2016 video interview with Malta Indep, Bishop Scicluna described civil unions as a “service to the dignity of these people,” saying, “I think that we should support legislation that gives same-sex partners their dignity and their social protection.” Malta’s Catholic heritage stretches back nearly 2,000 years, to the earliest days of the Church. Saint Paul, regarded as the country’s spiritual father, was shipwrecked on the island while on his way to Rome. Through his ministry, Publius, prefect of Malta, was converted. Publius went on to become the first bishop of Malta, and its first martyr and saint. Have a news tip? Submit news to our tip line. Like our work? Support us with a donation.

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Malta’s Parliament set to legalize gay marriage – CNN

The vote signals the latest in shifting attitudes that have swept across the staunchly Catholic country since the 2011 referendum to legalize divorce. Since then, the country has introduced civil unions and last year became the first European state to ban “gay cure” therapy. Last month, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said gay marriage would be one of his priorities after he won a snap election. “Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties, to serve as a model for the rest of the world,” Muscat told the BBC. The changes are part of what the Maltese government hopes will be a modernization of marriage that will also allow gay couples to adopt children. In the bill, references to “wife,” “husband,” “mother” and “father” all scrapped in preference of gender-neutral terms such as “parent” and “spouse.” “The new law is the missing piece in the puzzle when it comes to family rights in Malta,” she said. “The use of gender-neutral terms means that everyone is equal and it is much more inclusive, particularly when it comes to the trans community.” While the measure is expected to pass, some lawmakers have said they would vote against it. Since then, more than 20 other nations have followed suit, including Spain, Canada, Argentina, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland and the United States. This story has been corrected to reflect that the vote is happening on Wednesday.

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David Harsanyi: Fighting for the First Amendment, not against gay marriage – The Union Leader

By DAVID HARSANYI July 04. 2017 11:20PM Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who refused to create a specialty wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado in 2012. The stories dominating coverage distort the publics understanding of the case. No matter how many times people repeat it, the case isnt about discrimination or challenging gay marriage. But when the news first broke, USA Today, for example, tweeted, The Supreme Court has agreed to reopen the national debate over same-sex marriage. The headline (and story) on the website was worse; it read, Supreme Court will hear religious liberty challenge to gay weddings. Others similarly framed the case. There is an impulse to frame every issue as a clash between the tolerant and the closed-minded. But the Masterpiece case doesnt challenge the issue of same-sex marriage in America. Gay marriage wasnt even legal in Colorado when this incident occurred. A person with only passing interest in this case might be led to believe that Phillips is fighting to hang a No Gays Allowed sign in his shop. In truth, he never refused to serve a gay couple. He didnt even really refuse to sell David Mullins and Charlie Craig a wedding cake. They could have bought without incident. Everything in his shop was available to gays and straights and anyone else who walked in his door. What Phillips did was refuse to use his skills to design and bake a unique cake for a gay wedding. Phillips didnt query about anyones sexual orientation. It was the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that took it upon itself to peer into Phillips soul, indict him and destroy his business over a thought crime. Like many other bakers, florists, photographers, and musicians and millions of other Christians Phillips holds genuine longstanding religious convictions. If Mullins and Craig had demanded that Phillips create an erotic-themed cake, the baker would have similarly refused for religious reasons, just as he had with other costumers. If a couple had asked him to design a specialty cake that read Congrats on the abortion, Jenny! Im certain he would have refused them as well, even though abortions are legal. Its not the people; its the message. In its tortured decision, the Colorado Court of Appeals admitted as much, contending that while Phillips didnt overtly discriminate against the couple, the act of same-sex marriage is closely correlated to Craigs and Mullins sexual orientation, so it could divine his real intentions. In other words, the threshold for denying religious liberty and free expression is the presence of advocacy or a political opinion that conflates with faith. The court has effectively tasked itself with determining when religion is allowed to matter to you. Or, in other words, if SCOTUS upholds the lower court ruling, it will empower unelected civil rights commissions which are typically stacked with hard-left authoritarians to decide when your religious actions are appropriate. How could any honest person believe this was the Constitutions intent? There was a time, Im told, when the state wouldnt substantially burden religious exercise and would use the least restrictive means to further compelling interests. Today, the state can substantially burden a Christian because hes hurt the wrong persons feelings. Judging from the emails and social media reactions Ive gotten regarding this case, people are not only instinctively antagonistic because of the players involved, but also because they dont understand the facts. In this era of identity politics, some have been programed to reflexively side with the person making accusations of status-based discrimination, all in an effort to empower the state to coerce a minority of people to see the world their way. Well, not all people. In 2014, a Christian activist named William Jack went to a Colorado bakery and requested two cakes in the shape of a Bible, one to be decorated with the Bible verses God hates sin. Psalm 45:7 and Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22, and the other cake to be decorated with another passage. The bakery refused. Even though Christians are a protected group, the Colorado Civil Rights Division threw out the case. The American Civil Liberties Union called the passages obscenities. I guess the Bible doesnt correlate closely enough with a Christians identity. Or perhaps weve finally established a state religion in this country: Its run on the dogma of social justice. . David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. Business Politics Social issues Courts Oped

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Catholic Malta On The Cusp Of Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage – HuffPost

The predominantly Catholic island nation of Malta, which only legalized divorce six years ago and where abortion remains outlawed, is on the cusp of sanctioning same-sex marriage. At the urging of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who won his second-straight term in a snap election last month, the Marriage Equality Bill is the first law being debated by the countrys new parliament, which convened for its first sitting on Monday. Muscat, leader of the center-left Labour Party, has vowed to expedite the legalization process, calling marriage equality a top priority for his government. The first law that we are going to put on the agenda and I hope that it is approved as quickly as possible is that of the Marriage Equality Bill, said Muscat after his swearing-in ceremony on June 5, according to a translation by the website LifeSiteNews. We will make sure that it will be the first law to be placed on the agenda of the parliament, and that it is concluded. Though labeled an equality bill, Maltas parliament is not mulling a single law but a host of changes to existing legislation including the Marriage Act, the Criminal Code and the Civil Code. As the Times of Malta explained, the aim of the bill is to modernize the institution of marriage so that all consenting adult couples would have the right to enter into marriage. This will include replacing references ofhusband, wife, mother and father in existing laws with gender-neutral terms like spouse and parent. Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties, to serve as a model for the rest of the world, Muscat told the BBC this week. The bill is expected to be unanimously approved, reported Malta Today. Simon Busuttil, the center-right Nationalist Party leader who lost to Muscat by a landslide in the recent election, said last week that his party would support the new legislation. When it comes to social and sexual rights, Malta is a paradox. A country thats 98 percent Catholic,it only legalized divorce in 2011 and even then, to the chagrin of many governmentandreligious leaders.The island nation thats situated between Sicily and the North African coast remains the only country in the European Union where abortion isbanned under all circumstances. Yet, when it comes to LGBTQ rights, Malta has emerged as a European leader. In 2014, the Maltese government passed a law recognizing same-sex civil unions, including the right of gay couples to adopt.Last year, Malta became the first European country to make gay conversion therapy illegal, deeming it to be a deceptive and harmful act. Life has changed a lot for gay people in Malta over the past two years, Russell Sammut, a Maltese gay rights advocate, told Time magazine in December.Up until 2014 we had no rights here, but once civil unions were enacted people changed their attitudes overnight. Everyone is afraid of the unknown, but now theyve seen theres no threat to society, theyre fine with same-sex partnerships. A poll conducted last year by the Malta Independent found most Maltese people in support of marriage equality. The paper said 61 percent of poll respondents were in favor of gay marriage.

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Colombia Celebrates First ‘Three-Way Gay Marriage’ – Breitbart – Breitbart News

Although the arrangement is being billed by local media as a three-way gay marriage, legally it is closer to a civil union. In 2016, Colombia legalized same-sex marriage, but for the moment it still officially limits the number of partners to two. This union is very different from a marriage, since the very constitution of the contract is very different, and represents only a declaration of the will of the parties, according to the notary office that formalized the union. The men describe their partnership as a trieja, a made-up Spanish word distinct from the word for couple (pareja). The brief signing ceremony took place at the Medelln notary office in June, but the three men are planning a larger public ceremony to happen in the next few months. We want to make whats intimate, public, said 23-year-old Prada, the youngest of the three. We have no reason to hide it. We are just helping people realize that there are different types of love and different types of family. For his part, Manuel Bermdez demurred when asked how old he was, noting that you never ask the age of a woman or a fag, though it is supposed that he is in his forties. A similar affair was formalized on Valentines Day 2015, when three Thai men entered into a polygamous gay marriage, though it was sanctioned not by the state but under Buddhist law. On that day, Joke, 29, Bell, 21 and Art, 26 were married in the Uthai Thani Province. While Buddhism recommends that men take no more than one spouse, neither polygamy nor homosexual practice is strictly prohibited. In Colombia, Prada told local media that the threesomes new union constitutes a polyamorous family. What prompted me first to do this was the initial proposal of marriage that I made in a theater in 2012, Prada said, who joined the marriage already formed between Bermdez and Rodriguez in 2000, when they were constituted as a legal partner. Originally this polyamorous relationship included a fourth partner, Alex Esneider Zabala, but he died of stomach cancer in 2012. In that instance, Zabalas mother claimed inheritance rights to the young mans property, but Colombian courts awarded the inheritance to the three remaining partners in the relationship. The victorious lawyer who defended the three men was Germn Rincn Perfetti, an LGBT activist in Colombia. Rincn has expressed his satisfaction with the partners new legal relationship, saying it constitutes a recognition of the existence of other types of families. When the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states in 2015, a number of media outlets tried to calm fears of a slippery slope by saying that polygamy would not follow. Politico, for example, published a piece titled No, Polygamy Isnt the Next Gay Marriage, in which it argued that removing the man-woman requirement for marriage wouldnt lead to legalizing other marital arrangements that people might find appealing. Unlike gay marriage, it stated, polygamy is not good for women, because it places them in competition with other wives. And while same-sex marriage stabilizes society, polygamy destabilizes it, the article contended. A similar piece in Time magazine bore the title Polygamy Is Not Next, in which Cathy Young argued on practical grounds that polygamy would be much more complicated to legislate than gay marriage, since the entire existing structure of modern marriage is designed for a dyad. Unlike the relatively simple substitution of Spouse 1 and Spouse 2 for husband and wife, she states, multi-partner marriage would require a massive overhaul, which would include revising the rules on post-divorce property division or survivor benefits for three, five, or 10 people instead of two. Yet despite their protests, those wishing to disassociate same-sex marriage from polygamy ran up against some stern competition in the marketplace of ideas and sound reasoning. In his dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, however, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the majority offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not, suggesting that no rationale against polygamy could exist once marriage has been made a fluid concept divorced from nature. Limiting partners to two seems completely arbitrary, he went on, once the complementarity of the sexes has been eliminated as a valid consideration. If not having the opportunity to marry serves to disrespect and subordinate gay and lesbian couples, Roberts asked, why wouldnt the same imposition of this disability serve to disrespect and subordinate people who find fulfillment in polyamorous relationships? Manuel, Alejandro and Vctor Hugo would undoubtedly agree. Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter P.S. DO YOU WANT MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE DELIVERED RIGHT TO YOUR INBOX?SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY BREITBART NEWSLETTER.

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Some German lawmakers may ask court to examine gay marriage – Reuters

BERLIN Some conservative lawmakers in Germany may take the legalization of gay marriage, approved by parliament last week, to Germany’s top court to ascertain if it is unconstitutional, a German newspaper reported on Monday. Germany was taken by surprise by the vote, which was called suddenly, leaving little time for debate. It came after three parties who could enter a coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives after a September election set the legalization of gay marriage as a condition for their support. But the same-sex bill faces opposition from some members of Merkel’s conservative bloc and others on the right. Merkel herself voted against it on Friday, but it went through with 393 lawmakers in the Bundestag voting in favor versus 226 against. Now a group of conservative lawmakers is considering taking the issue to the Constitutional Court, German newspaper Die Welt reported. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party may also file a complaint to the court, said AfD top election candidate Alexander Gauland. “I’m in favor of taking such a step,” he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper. Although Germany’s constitution does not explicitly say so, critics argue the term marriage can only apply to a man and a woman. “For me, marriage in the Constitution is marriage between a man and a woman and that is why I did not vote in favor of this bill today,” Merkel said on Friday. Merkel is running for a fourth term in a Sept. 24 election. Polls show her conservatives are by far the most popular party but would need a coalition partner – most likely the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), Social Democrats (SPD) or Greens, all of which made legalizing gay marriage a condition for a tie-up. Johannes Singhammer, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU) – the Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s conservatives – said he recommended putting the issue to the Constitutional Court to achieve legal clarity. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also voted against the move. He told Bild am Sonntag that as a trained lawyer he believed it required an amendment to the constitution, a view shared by a former president of the Constitutional Court, Hans-Juergen Papier, according to other media. Germany is in the process of unwinding a legacy of virulent homophobia. Earlier this year, parliament agreed to grant compensation to thousands of gay men jailed under a 19th century law that was strengthened by the Nazis and only dropped in 1969 when homosexuality was decriminalized in West Germany. The same-sex bill is expected to get signed into law after July 7. This makes Germany the 23rd country to legalize same-sex marriage, according to gay rights group GLAAD. (Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky) DOHA Qatar announced plans for a steep rise in Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) production capacity on Tuesday that suggested it was ready for a protracted dispute with Gulf neighbors, but Doha said it was doing all it could to reach agreement. MOSUL/BEIRUT Western-backed forces edged into the final redoubts of the two capitals of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, hampered by fierce resistance from the militants and the presence of human shields.

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Thousands march for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland – Reuters

BELFAST Thousands of people marched in Belfast on Saturday to demand Northern Ireland join the rest of the United Kingdom in legalizing same-sex marriage, a step blocked by the region’s largest party, a key ally of British Prime Minister Theresa May. The Democratic Unionist Party, one of the most socially conservative in Europe, has repeatedly blocked gay marriage despite opinion polls in recent years showing a majority in Northern Ireland are in favor of it. “It’s ridiculous that we’re treated differently to everyone else in these islands,” said Belfast resident Sarah, who was at the march with her partner Toni. “The DUP Dinosaurs are denying us equality and our human rights,” she added, declining to give her surname. They joined thousands of demonstrators who marched through central Belfast waving rainbow flags and banners saying “Love is a Human Right.” The march follows a vote by the German parliament on Friday to legalize same-sex marriage. The Republic of Ireland, long one of the most socially conservative countries in Europe, backed gay marriage in a referendum in 2015. The social policies of the DUP have been put in the spotlight by its deal this week for its 10 members of parliament to support May’s government, which failed to secure a majority in a snap election. On Thursday, her Conservative Party was forced to agree to make funds available for abortions in England for women arriving from Northern Ireland in order to secure backing from the British parliament for her policy program. Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union and the DUP is against easing access. The DUP has blocked same-sex marriage using a veto meant to protect Northern Ireland’s religious communities, but DUP assembly member Christopher Stalford said on Friday he did not know whether the party would be able to keep using the veto in the wake of a poor showing in regional elections in March. Supporters of gay marriage have not had a chance to test the DUP’s weakened position yet as the DUP and the second-largest party, Irish nationalist Sinn Fein, have so-far failed to reach an agreement on forming a power-sharing government. Sinn Fein, which has drawn parallels between efforts to secure equality for its Irish Catholic supporters and equality for the gay community, is trying to secure agreement to legalize same-sex marriage as part of the negotiations. Human rights violations of Catholics helped fuel three decades of violence in Northern Ireland between Irish nationalists seeking a united Ireland and mainly Protestant unionists who wanted Northern Ireland to remain British. “I see parallels with 25 years ago and sectarianism when we thought Catholics and Protestants were a different species,” said Reverend Charles Kenny, a Church of Ireland rector from Belfast, who took part in the march. “We have come a long way on that now and should on marriage equality.” (Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Helen Popper) DOHA Qatar announced plans for a steep rise in Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) production capacity on Tuesday that suggested it was ready for a protracted dispute with Gulf neighbors, but Doha said it was doing all it could to reach agreement. MOSUL/BEIRUT Western-backed forces edged into the final redoubts of the two capitals of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, hampered by fierce resistance from the militants and the presence of human shields.

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