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Brownback won't
block vote on judge who attended same-sex union

Brownback won't
block vote on judge who attended same-sex union

Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback grilled a judge who attended a same-sex union ceremony in 2002 but said he would no longer block her nomination.

Brownback, a Kansas senator who opposes same-sex marriage, last year held up the nomination of Janet T. Neff to be a federal district court judge in Michigan.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had cleared Neff for the post, but Brownback had questions about her role in the same-sex ceremony, which surfaced because of a wedding announcement in The New York Times.

The senator said in December he would stop blocking her nomination if he could question her and get a roll-call vote on the nomination by the full Senate.

Brownback questioned her during a hearing Thursday. Neff said the ceremony, held in September 2002 in Massachusetts, was for the daughter of close family friends and her partner. Neff said she gave a homily but did not preside over the service.

''But the ceremony itself, you would classify as what you would call a commitment ceremony?'' Brownback asked.

''That is, I think, what it was called at the time,'' Neff said.

''And was it a marriage ceremony?'' Brownback asked.

''It was not,'' Neff said.

Michigan has a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that prohibits recognition of civil unions or same-sex partnerships.

Asked whether she believes there is a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry, Neff said she could not answer, because the matter is pending in state and federal courts. (Libby Quaid, AP)

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