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Archive for Thursday, July 8, 2004

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July 8, 2004

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Baltimore

ACLU sues for right of gay couples to marry

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday sued the city of Baltimore and four Maryland counties for the right of same-sex couples to marry.

The lawsuit was filed in Baltimore Circuit Court on behalf of nine couples and a man whose partner recently died. The couples had sought marriage licenses and were denied, said Ken Choe of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project, based in New York.

Maryland law specifically defines marriage as between a man and a woman. In February, Atty. Gen. Joseph Curran sent a memo to state legislators and the 24 clerks of the court reminding them that clerks are not authorized to issue licenses to gay couples.

The ACLU has pending legal challenges in Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, Washington state, California and Nebraska.

Other groups have filed lawsuits in New Jersey and Florida to legalize gay marriage.

Texas

Church groups lead relief trip to Cuba

School buses and other vehicles loaded with medical and office equipment crossed the border Wednesday into Mexico on a relief trip to Cuba that violates the U.S. embargo.

It was the 14th straight year that Pastors for Peace, an American humanitarian aid group, has sought to bring supplies to the impoverished Communist nation in spite of the embargo.

"It's a policy that has no redeeming value," said the Rev. Lucias Walker, a New Jersey pastor who founded Pastors for Peace, of the embargo. "What we're doing is an act of civil obedience to a higher power that says you should love your neighbor."

Border officials at Hidalgo did not try and stop the nine buses, a truck and several minivans loaded with donations. The equipment was gathered by churches and other groups from 127 U.S. cities.

However, they did hand out fliers warning that only three of the group were authorized to travel on to Cuba and the rest were subject to prosecution leading to jail time or fines if they tried to travel to the island.

Arkansas

Clinton to release policy papers early

Former President Clinton will release thousands of domestic-policy records from his presidency nearly a year sooner than the law requires.

Clinton will make 100,000 such documents available to scholars and researchers Nov. 18, the day his presidential library in Little Rock opens, said Skip Rutherford, president of Clinton's nonprofit foundation.

Under the Presidential Records Act, former presidents can withhold the release of records for at least five years and up to 12 years under certain criteria -- sometimes even longer if the documents are a matter of national security.

Clinton announced in 2003 his intention to release most records of confidential advice he received as president. His lawyer, Bruce Lindsey, said at the time that the documents wouldn't include Clinton's legal defense in the Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky-Paula Jones investigations, but would focus on domestic policy.

Texas

Explosion at plant kills one employee

Authorities are investigating the cause of an explosion at an industrial plant in the Panhandle that killed one employee and severely burned another.

Karen Standefer, 41, was killed about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at Titan Specialties Inc. in Pampa.

Another woman who worked there was flown to the burn unit at University Medical Center in Lubbock. A fellow employee at the company that designs and makes equipment for the oil well service industry was slightly injured while trying to help that woman.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the blast.

Titan employs about 135 people at the plant.

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