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Legal news from Saturday, February 18, 2012




New Jersey governor vetoes same-sex marriage bill
Michael Haggerson on February 18, 2012 3:20 PM ET

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[JURIST] New Jersey Governor Chris Christie [official website] conditionally vetoed [statement, PDF] a bill legalizing same-sex marriage [Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act, PDF] and called for a voter referendum to decide the issue, rather than the state legislature [official website]. In his veto statement, Christie defended the legal importance of a voter referendum:
The framers of our State Constitution created the referendum process in Article IX as the sole mechanism by which the Constitution can be amended to consider precisely such important issues. I have repeatedly encouraged, and continue to ask that, the Legislature trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on the question of same-sex marriage. This path of amending the State Constitution, which embraces our most cherished democratic ideals and is enshrined in our guiding legal document, is the only way to amend our Constitution and the best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our State.
Christie's veto comes only one day after the New Jersey State Assembly approved the bill [JURIST report]. Christie stated that there was no constitutional right to same-sex marriage and that New Jersey gay couples have all the rights of married couples through civil unions.

The New Jersey State Assembly approved the bill 42-33 and the State Senate approved [JURIST report] the bill 24-16. Approval of the legislation marks a shift from the legislature's previous position concerning same-sex marriage. A similar bill was defeated [JURIST report] in the state Senate last year. In November, a lawsuit [JURIST report] was allowed to continue in New Jersey, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the state's current civil union law as a contravention of both the Fourteenth Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] and the New Jersey State Constitution. On Monday, Washington became the eighth jurisdiction [JURIST report] in the US legalizing same-sex marriage.




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India court confirms charges against Mumbai terror suspects
Michael Haggerson on February 18, 2012 2:41 PM ET

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[JURIST] A New Delhi court on Saturday confirmed the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) [official website] charges against US citizen David Headley and eight others, including Canadian citizen Tahawwur Rana, for their roles in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The agency accused [press release, PDF] the terrorist organizations Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) [SATP backgrounders] of using Headley, a member of LeT, for his "Caucasion looks" and American accent to gather tactical information on potential Indian terror attack sites. Rana allegedly provided financial support to Headley and used contacts which he had gained while doing business for an immigration consultancy group in Chicago. The charge sheet also accuses several Pakistani military officials of providing aid for the terror attack.

In March 2010 an Indian court heard final arguments [JURIST report] in the trial of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab [NDTV backgrounder], the lone surviving gunman, for his role in the terror attack. Kasab requested an international trial, arguing that he could not receive a fair trial in India, but was denied [JURIST report]. He also withdrew his confession, claiming that he was tortured and framed by the police [JURIST report] but the confession was nonetheless admitted against him. Earlier that month Headley pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in the US to 12 counts of federal terrorism for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attack and a plot to bomb the headquarters of Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten [media website, in Danish], which published controversial cartoons [JURIST news archive] depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Headley initially pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] but likely changed his plea to avoid extradition to India, Pakistan or Denmark, or to avoid capital punishment.




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Maryland House of Delegates passes same-sex marriage bill
Jamie Davis on February 18, 2012 11:08 AM ET

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[JURIST] The Maryland House of Delegates [official website] on Friday passed a bill [HB 438 text] that would allow same-sex couples to legally marry within the state. The bill passed by a 72 to 67 vote and is set to move on to the Senate [WP report], where it must pass to receive the governor's approval. Those opposing same-sex marriage in Maryland are expected to put up strong resistance to the bill by holding petition drives that, if they receive enough support, could get the bill placed on the November ballot and give voters the final say. A similar bill was proposed last year in Maryland but failed to pass the House [JURIST report] after it was approved by the Senate. If approved by all parties, Maryland would become the eighth state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow same-sex marriage. Governor Martin O'Malley [official website], who praised the vote [statement text], has promised to sign the bill [WP report] once it passes the Senate.

Maryland is not the only state that has been trying to pass bill that would allows same-sex couples to marry. Earlier this week, Washington legalized same-sex marriage [JURIST report] after Governor Christine Gregoire on Monday signed legislation. New Jersey is also considering legalizing same-sex marriage soon, although it currently has a civil union system in place. In November, a lawsuit [JURIST report] was allowed to continue in New Jersey, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the state civil union law as a contravention of both the Fourteenth Amendment and the New Jersey State Constitution. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports].




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