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United Methodist conferences petition denomination on behalf of LGBT rights

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An Upstate New York bishop has dismissed a 2013 complaint that accused a retired United Methodist pastor of breaking church law by officiating at several same-sex weddings, including his daughter’s.

Bishop Mark Webb’s May 26 decision to dismiss charges against the Rev. Steve Heiss eliminates a costly and controversial church trial, which in other cases has highlighted the denomination’s divisions over ministering to gays and lesbians.

Senate adopts anti-torture amendment backed by Catholics, evangelicals

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The U.S. Senate in a bipartisan vote Tuesday approved a measure that would prohibit all U.S. government agencies and their agents from using torture as an interrogation technique.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, sponsored the anti-torture amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016.

Court lets block on ultrasound law stand; rules on immigration appeals

The Supreme Court on Monday left a lower court ruling intact that blocked North Carolina's law requiring physicians to perform an ultrasound on women seeking abortions, and to show it to the women and describe the fetus' features.

Without comment, the court let stand a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from  December that overturned the 2011 law on First Amendment grounds.

Like it or not, most expect gay marriage will sweep the U.S.

Most Americans — including people from every major religious group — predict gay marriage will be legalized nationwide when a hotly anticipated Supreme Court ruling is announced later this month.

Among those who favor legalizing same-sex marriage, 80 percent think the high court will rule their way, according to a survey by the Public Religion Research Institute released Thursday. And among those who oppose gay marriage, 47 percent say that’s the likely outcome, too.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, visits China

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In other news, Aung San Suu Kyi, arrived in China yesterday for a five day visit. This is Suu Kyi's first trip to China. This is an important moment for the future of Burma, or commonly known as Myanmar, as the country will have general elections in the fall of this year. Suu Kyi's pro-Democracy party, National League for Democracy, is expected to win big.
 

Francis meets a tardy Putin, as U.S. official calls for tougher talk

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Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday, in a visit being scrutinized for meaning and significance as Russia continues taking unilateral military action in Ukraine.

The Vatican press office released an unusually lengthy description of the encounter, saying the discussions between the two leaders were “dedicated principally to the conflict in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East.”

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