National briefs: Gay marriage ban annulled

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge in Kentucky struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage on Tuesday, though the ruling was temporarily put on hold and it was not immediately clear when same-sex couples could be issued marriage licenses.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn in Louisville concluded that the state’s prohibition on same-sex couples being wed violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating gay couples differently than straight couples. The ruling was the latest in a string of victories for gay marriage advocates across the nation, and marked the most recent conservative state to have its ban overturned.

Judge Heyburn previously struck down Kentucky’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages from other states and countries, but he put the implementation of that ruling on hold. That decision did not deal with whether Kentucky would have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Instead, Tuesday’s ruling dealt directly with that question.

With only a single exception, gay rights activists have won 18 cases in federal and state courts since the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013 overturned a key portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, allowing married same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.

State senator indicted

NEW YORK — A powerful Republican New York state senator has been indicted on a charge of lying to the FBI during an investigation into a business deal involving his son, according to court documents unsealed on Tuesday.

Thomas Libous, the deputy majority leader in the New York Senate, was under investigation for allegedly telling an unnamed law firm that it would have to “build a new wing” to handle all the extra business he would bring the firm in exchange for hiring his son Matthew Libous, said the indictment secured by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

A separate indictment was unsealed for Matthew Libous, claiming he failed to report some $280,000 worth of income on his taxes between 2007 and 2011.

Rain worsens flooding

ST. LOUIS — More torrential rain worsened flooding in the Midwest, spawning high water that swept away an Iowa teenager, caused a traffic nightmare near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and threatened to swamp a Missouri town for the fifth time in less than a decade.

More than 3 inches of rain fell over much of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois Monday night and Tuesday morning, and some areas got up to 5 inches of rain, National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fuchs said, capping a week of downpours in the region.

By the weekend, the Mississippi River will be at major flood stage along many Iowa, Illinois and Missouri communities, forecasters said. River flooding could close highways, potentially top levees and threaten some homes and businesses.

Also in the nation ...

The first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season formed on Tuesday and was poised to strengthen into a hurricane, forecasters said, threatening to dampen July Fourth holiday celebrations along the U.S. East Coast. ... The launch of an unmanned Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was called off less than a minute before liftoff on Tuesday morning when the launch pad's water system failed, a live NASA Television broadcast showed.

-- Compiled from news services



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