National briefs: Gay marriage ban tossed out

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TULSA, Okla. -- A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Oklahoma's constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage violated the federal Constitution, the latest in a string of legal victories for gay rights and one that occurred in the heart of the Bible Belt.

The state's ban on marriage by gay and lesbian couples is "an arbitrary, irrational exclusion of just one class of Oklahoma citizens from a governmental benefit," wrote Judge Terence Kern of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, in Tulsa, deciding a case that had languished nine years.

The decision will not take effect immediately, and Oklahoma is almost certain to appeal, leaving prospects uncertain for gay couples in the state.

Multinational firms shielded

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday gave multinational companies a stronger shield against lawsuits, throwing out a case against Daimler over a company unit's alleged collaboration in torture and killings in Argentina.

The justices said the parent company didn't have enough ties to California to give courts there the authority to hear the case. The unanimous ruling adds to a line of Supreme Court decisions that have cut the options available to people trying to sue multinational corporations in American courts.

Daimler's Argentine Mercedes-Benz unit was accused of collaborating with state security forces during the "Dirty War" from 1976 to 1983.

Obamacare seeks under-35

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration says it will ramp up Obamacare outreach in 25 cities to lure younger people to the program after a report showed about 70 percent of the initial customers are 35 years of age or older.

The effort by the administration and allied interest groups will focus on a Feb. 15 target to sign up people for coverage beginning March 1, officials said.

The Obama administration wanted people younger than 35 to make up about 40 percent of total enrollment to help offset the cost of care for older and sicker people. Missing the target for "young invincibles" may lead insurers to adjust prices if gains aren't made by the official March 31 end of enrollment.

More electric car issues

DETROIT -- Tesla Motors Inc. announced a recall Tuesday of about 29,000 of its 2013 Model S sedan's adapters because the adapter, cord or wall outlet could overheat during charging and cause fires. The cars were not recalled.

Tesla executives emphasized that their luxury electric vehicle is safe for the road.

The recall, which Tesla is fixing by software updates sent electronically to customers, added to a recent wave of negative publicity surrounding the electric vehicle. Tesla recently submitted to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration inquiry after three Model S sedans experienced fires following high-speed crashes. The NHTSA reaffirmed the car's 5-star crash rating.

Chemical spill aftermath

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Downtown businesses and restaurants reopened Tuesday following last week's chemical spill, but many people waited yet another day for officials to tell them their tap water was safe.

About 38 percent of West Virginia American Water's customers have been allowed to use their water again after Thursday's spill into the Elk River. The emergency closed schools, restaurants and businesses after about 300,000 residents were told not to drink, shower or even wash clothes with the contaminated water.


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