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Shocks As Senate Advances Bill To Protect Same-Sex Marriage In Federal Law, Clears Way For Final Passage

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The Senate on Wednesday advanced the Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine marriage equality into federal law, clearing the way for the bill’s final passage in the chamber this week.

In a 62-37 vote, senators agreed to end the debate on the bill and advance it. Twelve Republicans joined all 50 members of the Democratic caucus to vote in support of the bill, surpassing the 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster.

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Democrats have warned since June that federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, as well as other rights, could be at risk after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which for nearly 50 years had guaranteed the right to an abortion in the United States.

“Today, the Senate is taking a truly bold step forward in the march toward greater justice, greater equality, by advancing the Respect for Marriage Act,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said before the vote Wednesday. “It’s a simple, narrowly tailored, but exceedingly important piece of legislation that will do so much good for so many Americans. It will make our country a better, fairer place to live.”

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In July, the House passed the Respect for Marriage Act, but the Senate delayed its vote on the bill until after the midterm elections. The decision to postpone the vote was negotiated on a bipartisan basis and was made to ensure that there were enough votes to pass the measure.

“Marriage equality is too important an issue to risk failure,” Schumer said Wednesday. “So I chose to trust the members who worked so hard on this legislation and wait a little bit longer to give the bipartisan process a chance to play out.”

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The Respect for Marriage Act would require that people be considered married in any state as long as the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed. The bill would also repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman and allowed states to decline to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. That law has remained on the books despite being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Speaking on the Senate floor in support of the bill Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said it was time to “remove the cloud” over same-sex and interracial couples who might worry that their marriage would not be recognized in another state.

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“Some have said that this bill is unnecessary because there is little risk that the right to have a same-sex or interracial marriage recognized by the government will be overturned by the Supreme Court,” Collins said. “Regardless of one’s views on that possibility, there is still value in ensuring that our federal laws reflect that same-sex and interracial couples have the right to have their marriages recognized regardless of where they live in this country.”

Collins also noted several churches and religious groups had come out in support of the bill, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Seventh-day Adventists, and the National Association of Evangelicals.

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Collins was part of a bipartisan group that had been trying to find 10 Republican votes necessary for the bill to pass in September, and who ultimately negotiated a delay on the vote until after the midterm elections. The group — which also included Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) — also worked on an amendment to the bill to allay some Republicans’ concerns about protecting religious liberty.

Among other things, the amendment clarifies that the bill does not authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriages and confirms that nonprofit religious organizations would not be required to provide “any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.”

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Portman noted Wednesday that the bill would not require any state to perform same-sex marriages if it chooses not to.

“As you can see, the bill is very narrow,” the Ohio Republican said. “It’s constitutional and it does not infringe on state sovereignty.”

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Among the Republicans voting to advance the bill was Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2012.

“While I believe in traditional marriage, Obergefell is and has been the law of the land upon which LGBTQ individuals have relied,” Romney said in a statement. “This legislation provides certainty to many LGBTQ Americans, and it signals that Congress — and I — esteem and love all of our fellow Americans equally.”

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If the Senate passes the bill with the bipartisan amendment, the amended version would return to the House for another vote before it could go to President Biden to sign into law.

In his June concurrence with the decision to overturn Roe, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the high court should also examine previous rulings that legalized the right of married couples to buy and use contraception without government restriction (Griswold v. Connecticut), same-sex relationships (Lawrence v. Texas) and marriage equality (Obergefell v. Hodges).

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“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Thomas wrote. “Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous’ … we must ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents.”

“After overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions guarantee the myriad rights that our substantive due process cases have generated,” he added.

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Thomas’s opinion set off alarm bells among proponents of marriage equality, particularly with the prospect of a Republican-controlled Congress after the midterm elections. However, Republicans drastically underperformed expectations last Tuesday, and Democrats will retain their majority in the Senate. A Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia — between Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) and Republican Herschel Walker — will determine whether Democrats gain a 51st Senate seat.

Republicans are expected to win a narrow majority in the House, though several races remain undecided.

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BREAKING! Gunmen assassinate Labour Party women leader in Kaduna

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By Francesca Iwambe

The women leader of the Labour Party in the Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Mrs Victoria Chimtex has been assassinated by unknown gunmen.

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She was said to have been killed on Monday night by the gunmen who invaded her residence at about 8pm and shot at her.

The victim’s husband was also said to have been shot also and was rushed to the hospital.

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Although the police authorities were yet to confirm the incident, however, the Chairman of the Labour Party in Kaduna, Peter Hassan confirmed that the victim was a very hard working and very ‘Obidient’ women leader of the party in the Kaura Local Government Area.

Hassan disclosed that the gunmen shot the victim several times on her leg and spinal cord which led to her immediate death.

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He also explained that the gunmen rejected the monetary offer made by the husband of the victim for them to spare her life.

On November 18, 2019, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) women leader, Salome Abuh was shot and set ablaze at her residence in the Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State.

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The Labour Party is gaining mileage among the youths who are majorly rooting for the party’s presidential candidate Peter Obi.

A High Court sitting in Idah, Kogi State in March 2021 subsequently convicted one of the suspects, Ocholi Edicha, to 12 years and six months in prison for culpable homicide.

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Nigeria, Benin Rep embark on sensitisation campaign to foster unity and tackle insecurity +Photos

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The National Boundary Commission, NBC and its Beninese counterpart has embarked on a joint sensitisation campaign geared towards cementing the historical bond that existed between both countries prior to the colonial rule.

The campaign which took place at Kosu Bosu, Baruten Local Government of the Kwara State sector of the Nigeria-Benin International Boundary featured socio-cultural activities such as sporting activities as part of its efforts to promote peaceful co-existence between the dwellers along the international boundary of the two countries.

Director-General of the NBC, Surv. Adamu Adaji noted during the exercise that the lack of a clear-cut demarcation of the boundary between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin has largely contributed to the issues arising from the claims and counter claims by the border communities of both countries.

Adaji posited that the lack of demarcation of the international boundary between Nigeria and the Republic of Benin has led to the problem of insecurity along the border corridors as bad elements have capitalized on the non-clarity of the boundary to perpetuate criminal activities in the communities.

“The height of insecurity in these communities is very worrisome as the problem has become a hydra-headed monster which has proven difficult for the security agents of both countries to intervene because of the fear of crossing into the other’s sovereign territory”

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He also said that this ugly situation has significantly disrupted genuine economic activities amongst the border dwellers adding that the high level of insecurity has caused both countries enormous human and material resources which are the bedrock of sustainable development.

“It is therefore pertinent that both Nigeria and Benin Republic must join hands and rise up to the challenges posed by these criminal elements that threaten the economy, peace, security and stability of both countries”.

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He asserted that to achieve this goal there is the need to need to swiftly address the issue of the recognized boundary that constitute the administrative limits of the two sister nations.

Adaji assured that both the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Benin Republic were not resting on their oars but working assiduously to resolve the issue of the non-clarity of the boundary in order to determine where in lies the administrative limit.

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The Director-General noted that despite the separation of kith and kins in Nigeria and Benin Republic by administrative boundaries done by the colonial masters that the people have continued to relate and interact well through inter-marriages and other social economic activities stressing that we must strive to maintain this cordiality and not allow the inherited boundaries to create barriers amongst our people.

He further maintained that African countries must seek closer ties and cooperation in order to increase opportunity for trade and development as well as form alliance capable of mitigating the negative influence of globalization insisting that African must reduce the weight of its borders. He added that the border communities are considered as gatekeepers to the nation and constitute the building blocks for cooperation.

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The Director-General enjoined the communities to continue to play pivotal roles in ensuring the welfare and protection of the border communities adding “the responsibility of delivering peace and security in our borderlands in not only the responsibility of the Federal agencies but also the local authorities and traditional rulers as well as the youths, women and community leaders.

His counterpart Director-General ABeGIEF, Marcel Baglo said that the artificial boundaries created by the Europeans are traps that has caused setbacks at the border communities.

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Baglo urged the border communities to overlook these traps and be involved in the process of ensuring safety stressing that security is everyone business, and everyone should play a part in alerting the security official when necessary.

He commented the NBC on its continuous efforts in fostering peace and unity between both countries.

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The Emir of Okuta Alhaji Abubakar Idris lauded the initiative of the use of culture and sporting activities to strengthen the bond between Nigeria and Benin Republic.

He said that the two border communities speak the same language, have the same culture and tradition he therefore canvassed that the sensitization programme be extended to the provision of basic amenities and infrastructural development of the communities.

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The Emir stated that border insecurities has threatened both sides of the border and he had severally had to intervene to ensure peace amongst the communities.

The Chairman Baruten Local Government, Hon. Abdurasheed lafia applauded the several interventions of the National Boundary Commission even as he encouraged them not to relent in its efforts until they attain full restoration of peace in the area.

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Just In: Court sends IGP Usman Baba to three months jail

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Kayode Sanni Arewa

The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has been sentenced to three months improsonment by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.

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The court presided over by Justice M. O. Olajuwon gave the sentence on Tuesday, November 29, after Baba was found guilty of disobeying a valid court order.

NaijaBlitzNews.com reports that the court held that the IGP should be committed to prison and detained in custody for a period of three months, or until he obeys an order it made since October 21, 2011.

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“If at the end of the three months, the contemnor remains recalcitrant and still refuses to purge his contempt, he shall be committed for another period and until he purges his contempt”, the court held.

The IGP’s committal followed a suit that was filed by a police officer, Mr. Patrick Okoli, who was unlawfully and compulsorily retired from the Nigerian Police Force.

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Justice Olajuwon noted that though the Police Service Commission, PSC, recommended Okoli’s reinstatement into the Police, a decision that was affirmed by the court, the IGP, refused to comply with the order.

The court had also ordered the payment of N10million to the Applicant, being special and general [email protected] for the unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional denial of his rights and privileges as a Senior Officer of the Nigeria Police Force from 1993 till date.

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