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CHICAGO (AP) - Some county clerks say they won't rush to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples just because Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told them they can.
 
The state's new gay marriage law takes effect June 1. But Madigan said this week that licenses can be issued now.
 
About a dozen clerks tell The Associated Press they are waiting. They say they don't want to open themselves up to lawsuits and want to protect the couples from legal challenges.
 
Macon County Clerk Stephen Bean says he hopes to start issuing licenses as early as Friday. But he says he will tell the couples they could face legal challenges to their marriages.
 
Clerks in Cook and Champaign counties have decided to go ahead after a court ruled Cook County could do so.
Published in Local News
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A federal judge has struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban, saying it is unconstitutional.
 
U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued a 53-page ruling Friday saying Utah's law passed by voters in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples' rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
 
Shelby says the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way, and the state's unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify deny allowing same-sex marriages.
 
Attorneys for the state argued that Utah's law promotes the state's interest in "responsible procreation" and the "optimal mode of child-rearing."
 
The lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples in Utah.
 
Many similar court challenges are pending in other states, but Utah's has been closely watched because of the state's history of staunch opposition to gay marriage as the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
 
Published in National News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House Republican says he intends to seek articles of impeachment against Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

   Nick Marshall, of Parkville, referred to the governor's executive order directing officials to accept joint tax filings from same-sex couples who are legally married, the release of the names of concealed gun permit holders to a federal agent and driver's license procedures.

   Marshall says he believes the governor's administration has violated the law and that his motivations are not political or to gain attention. He has not spoken to House leaders.

   A Nixon spokesman declined to comment. The Missouri attorney general's office has said the tax filing policy appears to follow the requirements of Missouri tax law.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois lawmaker is engaged to his partner just hours after the state Legislature approved same-sex marriage legislation.

State Rep. Sam Yingling of Round Lake Beach proposed to his partner during a celebration Tuesday at the Governor's Mansion. The couple has been together three years and has three children.

Yingling tells The Associated Press they'll get a marriage license as soon as the law goes into effect in June.

The Democrat says he's been carrying a ring back and forth to Springfield for about a year, waiting for the chance to propose.

He says the two grew up in Illinois and wanted to get married in their home state.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll the bill this month. Illinois will become the 15th state to allow gay marriage.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled against a Highway Patrol trooper's same-sex partner who sought survivor benefits.

Patrol Cpl. Dennis Engelhard died in December 2009 when he was struck by a vehicle while investigating an accident on Interstate 44 in Eureka.

Missouri law entitles surviving spouses of Highway Patrol officers killed in the line of duty to an annuity. Engelhard's partner, Kelly Glossip, did not receive the benefit.

In a 5-2 ruling Tuesday, the Supreme Court said Glossip was denied benefits because he and Engelhard were not married - not because of his sexual orientation.

The court noted that Glossip had not challenged Missouri's prohibition of same-sex marriage.

 

Published in Local News

   LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge in Los Angeles ruled Thursday that a lesbian Army veteran and her spouse should be entitled to disability benefits given the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

   U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall said that a federal code defining a spouse as a person of the opposite sex is unconstitutional "under rational basis scrutiny" since the high court's decision allowing legally married gay couples the right to health care benefits.

   "The court finds that the exclusion of spouses in same-sex marriages from veterans' benefits is not rationally related to the goal of gender equality," in the code, Marshall wrote in her four-page ruling.

   The Department of Veterans Affairs denied an application from veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris and her spouse seeking additional money and benefits that married veterans are entitled to receive. Cooper-Harris suffers from multiple sclerosis and receives disability benefits.

   She and Maggie Cooper-Harris got married in California during the brief period in 2008 when same-sex unions were legal in the state. The plaintiffs' attorneys had said previously the couple would receive about $150 more a month in disability payments, and Maggie Cooper-Harris would be eligible for about $1,200 a month in survivor's benefits if her wife died.

   The Justice Department had asked for Cooper-Harris' case to be tossed out on the grounds that veterans' claims can only be heard by an administrative Board of Veterans' Appeals. But Marshall said the case could move forward.

   The law on VA benefits specifically defines spouse and surviving spouse as someone of the opposite sex, which has prevented same-sex married couples from accessing such benefits as enhanced disability or pension payments.

   In a letter to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. earlier this month, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki said no court had deemed the provision unconstitutional, nor has Congress taken up a bill to change the definition of spouse. He noted, however, that if spousal definitions were determined to be unconstitutional, the agency would be prepared to update its policies.

   The Defense Department has said that same-sex spouses of military members will be eligible for the same health care, housing and other benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex spouses starting Sept. 3.

 
Published in National News

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