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UPDATED: Circuit Judge Third To Rule Florida Same-Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

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A Circuit Court judge has just struck down Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, the third to do so in three weeks.

Broward County state Circuit Court Judge Dale Cohen has just ruled that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Cohen is the third Florida state judge to rule the Sunshine State’s ban violates the Constitution. The ruling applies only to Broward County, and the judge immediately issued a stay.

The judge indicated that ‘He was not prepared to grant the divorce without addressing the constitutionality of the same-sex marriage ban — and the same-sex marriage recognition ban,’ according to Nancy Brodzki, Brassner’s attorney,” Equality Florida said in a statement. “Brodzki then filed a motion for the judge to rule on Florida’s constitutional ban.”

The Orlando Sentinel reports that today’s ruling is “unique, however, because it’s the first requiring the state to recognize a gay marriage conducted elsewhere.”

The other two – one July 17 by a judge in Monroe County and another July 25 by a Miami-Dade judge – only required local clerks of court to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Those decisions have not yet been enforced because of pending appeals, meaning no same-sex couple has gotten married in Florida.

In today’s case, a West Palm Beach woman is asking Cohen to give her a divorce. Heather Brassner and Megan Lade were joined in a civil union July 6, 2002, in Vermont, according to Brassner’s attorney, Nancy Brodzki, of Coral Springs.

The couple broke up, and Lade disappeared, Brodzki said. Now Brassner wants to get on with her life.

She filed for divorce last year, but in similar cases, other Florida judges have refused to grant them, citing Florida’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and saying they cannot dissolve a marriage that the state does not recognize.

62 percent of Florida voters in 2008 passed the marriage ban.

“Every win in court brings us closer than we’ve ever been to the freedom to marry in Florida,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “We look forward to the day when all loving, committed couples and their families enjoy the same protections, opportunities and responsibilities of marriage under the law.  Every passing day inflicts real hardships on families who are denied the legal protection and dignity that marriage equality provides.” 

There is yet another case on same-sex marriage for Florida, a federal case expected to be decided soon.

Pam Bondi, the State Republican Attorney General on her third marriage who came under fire for claiming that recognizing out-of-state legal civil same-sex marriages would “impose significant public harm,” play havoc with existing marriage laws in the Sunshine State, and suggested that gays don’t have “stable and enduring family units” has already filed an appeal of the other two Florida cases and is expected to fight all three. 

Bondi is running for re-election this year and has been photographed hobnobbing with GOP elites, including Faith and Freedom Coalition Chairman and anti-gay activist Ralph Reed.

UPDATE: Here’s the full ruling, thanks to the folks at Equality Case Files:

 

Image via Wikimedia

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Trump to Give Long-Delayed Court-Ordered Sworn Testimony to NY Attorney General in Real Estate Pricing Probe

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Donald Trump is scheduled to appear before lawyers in the Office of the New York Attorney General Letitia James Wednesday morning to give sworn testimony in her probe of his real estate pricing practices.

Trump’s long-awaited deposition was originally scheduled for January 7, according to the subpoena he received, Insider reports, but he has successfully managed to push it back more than seven months. Similarly two of his adult children had their depositions pushed back, and then pushed even further after the recent death of their mother, Ivana Trump.

“Trump allegedly misstated property values to win hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and bank loans,” Insider reports. The former president “is scheduled to be grilled in person in Manhattan on what James has alleged is a decade-long pattern of financial misstatements on documents used by the Trump Organization to win hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks and bank loans.”

Fox News adds: “It’s unclear at this time if the former president will be willing to answer all the questions that the lawyers pose him or if he could be asserting his Fifth Amendment right.”

Trump “has also called the investigation by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, a politically motivated witch hunt,” The New York Times reports.

“He repeated his criticism on his Truth Social account. ‘In New York City tonight. Seeing racist N.Y.S. Attorney General tomorrow, for a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history!’ he wrote. ‘My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!'”

Wednesday’s deposition marks the third harrowing day for the Republican politician, conspiracy theorist, white nationalist, and, some say, “con man” and “cult-like” figure.

Monday morning FBI agents executed a valid legal search warrant, signed by a federal judge, and confiscated ten cartons of documents which Trump’s press secretary acknowledged included confidential “paper.”

Tuesday a federal appeals court upheld a ruling made by a Trump-appointed lower court judge that allows the powerful House Ways and Means Committee to be granted access to his tax returns.

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Experts Call on Trump to Release Search Warrant and Inventory List as His Supporters Talk of ‘Civil War’

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Legal experts and other experts are urging – or in some cases, daring – Donald Trump to publish a copy of the FBI’s search warrant and the inventory list of the ten cartons of classified documents removed from Mar-a-Lago’s basement Monday, as his supporters openly call for civil war in response to what the former president called a “raid.”

“After the search, the federal agents hauled away roughly 10 more boxes,” The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

That makes the total number of cartons the former president was storing at his Florida home approximately 25, based on reports that 15 cartons had to be retrieved by the National Archives earlier this year.

READ MORE: ‘He Was Going to Sacrifice You’: Pence Mocked for Rushing to Support Trump After FBI Mar-a-Lago Raid

Almost immediately upon news breaking that the FBI had executed a search warrant, Trump supporters went wild. They formed a convoy outside Mar-a-Lago, and online countless threats of violence and “civil war” have been made.

Tuesday morning CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan posted a graph, noting the “big spike in tweets referencing ‘civil war’ right after the news of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago broke last night.”

Dr. Caroline Orr Bueno posted an image of a large number of tweets that call for civil war and other related threats of violence, including: “I already bought my ammo,” “Civil war! Pick up arms, people!” “Civil War 2.0 just kicked off,” “Let’s do the war,” and “One step closer to a kinetic civil war.”

And Tuesday afternoon NBC News reported, “After Mar-a-Lago search, users on pro-Trump forums agitate for ‘civil war’ — including a Jan. 6 rioter.”

READ MORE: ‘God Anointed Him’: Christian Right Expert Explains Conservative Outrage After FBI Raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

Legal experts have made clear they believe FBI’s execution of a lawful federal search warrant is most likely in connection with a national security and counterintelligence operation, not a casual stroll into the private estate of a former U.S. president – and certainly not a political move, like Trump supporters are falsely claiming.

Former Dept. of Justice Inspector General Michael Bromwich, who is also a former Asst. U.S. Attorney at the Southern District of New York (SDNY) notes that “Trump has the search warrant, specifying the crimes being investigated, and the inventory of the items seized.”

READ MORE: ‘Sitting President Asking for Civil War’: Parscale Blames Trump for Insurrection – Says His ‘Rhetoric Killed Someone’

“He has chosen not to share those items publicly although he is free to do so,” Bromwich adds.

Former U.S. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal on MSNBC Tuesday morning:

“Donald Trump, you have a copy of the warrant. It explains what they were looking for, what statutes they think were violated, what judge signed off on that…If you believe this is such an abuse, release the warrant and let us decide for ourselves.”

“By the way,” noted Richard Stengel, a former U.S. Under Secretary of State, “Trump now has the search warrant and the inventory of what was taken in his possession. If this raid was so egregious and unjustified, why not release them?”

“Trump can release the search warrant and the inventory of what the FBI took. Why hasn’t he?” asked Marc Elias, the DNC’s top attorney who successfully fought more than 60 cases of alleged election fraud brought by the Trump team and his supporters.

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, responding to a Fox News tweet with video of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) that reads, “‘WE DESERVE ANSWERS NOW'” wrote: “Some of those questions could be answered if Trump released the search warrant as well as the inventory of items seized, which his team presumably has.”

Politico’s Kyle Cheney tweeting his article titled, “Why the Trump search warrant is nothing like Hillary’s emails,” wrote: “One person who could clear most of it up? Trump. He has access to the inventory of records at Mar-a-Lago and likely received a copy of the search warrant. He would also know the nature of the classified documents at issue.”

 

 

 

 

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‘He Was Going to Sacrifice You’: Pence Mocked for Rushing to Support Trump After FBI Mar-a-Lago Raid

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Former Vice President Mike Pence, who was by Donald Trump‘s side constantly promoting and defending him when he was President, and who was subjected to Trump’s support of rioters and insurrectionists calling to “hang Mike Pence,” is being highly criticized and mocked for again rushing to defend Trump in the wake of the FBI’s raid at Mar-a-Lago.

Experts have made clear they believe FBI’s execution of a lawful federal search warrant is most likely in connection with a national security and counterintelligence operation, not a casual stroll into the private estate of a former U.S. president.

But not according to Pence, who is strongly believed to be organizing a 2024 presidential run.

READ MORE: ‘God Anointed Him’: Christian Right Expert Explains Conservative Outrage After FBI Raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

“I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump. No former President of the United States has ever been subject to a raid of their personal residence in American history,” he writes.

“After years where FBI agents were found to be acting on political motivation during our administration, the appearance of continued partisanship by the Justice Department must be addressed,” he claims, which is at best a twisting of facts. No FBI agent was found to have taken official action based on personal political beliefs.

“Yesterday’s action undermines public confidence in our system of justice and Attorney General Garland must give a full accounting to the American people as to why this action was taken and he must do so immediately,” Pence demanded.

READ MORE: ‘This Is a National Security Issue’: Former FBI Agents Note Key Details About ‘Raid’ on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago

Pence could have made the exact same demand of Donald Trump, who has a copy of the lawfully executed search warrant and inventory of the likely hundreds or thousands of documents that are the rightful property of the U.S. government, and recovered by the FBI from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home.

Meanwhile, Pence was singing a very different tune int he weeks before he was elected Vice President.

We call on the FBI to immediately release all emails pertinent to their investigation,” he tweeted about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on October 28, 2016. “Americans have the right to know before Election Day.”

Trump “and I commend the FBI for reopening an investigation into Clinton’s personal email server because no one is above the law,” Pence added just hours later.

Responses to Pence’s remarks on Tuesday were strong.

“Mike he was going to sacrifice you,” tweeted Daily Kos staff writer Gabe Ortíz.

“No President has ever attempted to have an armed mob assassinate his Vice President either,” wrote journalist Marcy Wheeler.

Trump sent a “violent mob to murder you so he could end [the] republic,” tweeted economist David Rothschild. “Trump took boxes of classified documents from White House & is known to destroy documents.”

“Trump won in 2016 because FBI intervened on his behalf over ‘concern’ about Clinton’s document retention & security,” he continued. “Not investigating & prosecuting former president who flaunts breaking law, including leading coup against US, undermines rule-of-law for all of US.”

“You don’t know what the FBI’s warrant said or what evidence was presented to the judge who authorized it,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). “Your suggestion that Trump should be beyond accountability to the law, like your silence when Trump called for imprisonment of his opponents as president, harms our country.”

Talking Points memo editor and founder Josh Marshall writes, “this is a good reminder of who Mike Pence is. None of this happened. The FBI never plotted against Trump. To the extent it has org bias it’s toward the right. Everyone knows this. Pence is just repeating anti-‘deep state’ propaganda invented to give Trump cover for his crimes.”

“The pervasive rightwing lie and conspiracy theory that the FBI is controlled by Biden for political purposes is based on the assumption that everyone in the Biden admin, the FBI, the department of justice, the media and secret service is corrupt and abusing power—and trump is not,” wrote Condé Nast legal affairs editor Luke Zaleski.

Vox’s legal expert, Ian Millhiser asks, “Is there anyone on earth more pathetic than Mike Pence? Donald Trump egged on a lynch mob that wanted Pence hanged, and Pence is still Trump’s toady.”

 

 

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