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Associated Press photo
Amy Sandler, right, and Niki Quasney

Furthermore … Couple receives compassion amid lawsuits

Associated Press photo

There was a moment of peace and perhaps even shared compassion in the culture wars this week.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago – the same court that put a hold on a lower court's ruling that had legalized gay marriage in Indiana – granted an appeal on behalf of a gay couple in Munster.

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney had been married last year in Massachusetts, but Indiana law forbade recognizing gay marriages even if they were performed in other states.

When Quasney was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer, the couple faced the possibility that Quasney would die without the state recognizing their marriage, causing a host of problems for Sandler and the couple's two young children.

The office of Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller stood staunchly against a special exemption for the dying woman, arguing that its anti-gay law doesn't allow for “hardship exceptions.”

The couple was granted an emergency exemption by U.S. District Judge Richard Young even before his ruling last month that the entire man/woman-only marriage law was unconstitutional.

But when the 7th Circuit granted Zoeller's request to put the broader ruling on hold, its order invalidated Young's order for special recognition of Sandler's and Quasney's marriage.

Then an amazing thing happened. Instead of using the ambiguous legal situation to add further uncertainty to the Munster family's future, the attorney general's office told the court it would not oppose granting an exception for Sandler and Quasney if the court could find a way to do that.

The court found a way.

Aliens: By the numbers

Here is what the National UFO Reporting Center says about UFO reports. We report these facts because this is the week (July 2, 1947) when a flying saucer supposedly crashed near Roswell, New Mexico.

•Aliens are considerate. They usually arrive in the evening, especially on Fridays, not during sleeping or working hours. It's reasonable, but not very charitable, to suggest that they do buzz Americans during drinking hours.

•For some reason, aliens like the state of Washington, which with more than 50 has the highest number of sightings per 100,000 people in 2000 through 2014. Indiana, by contrast, has 10 to 20 sightings.

•The Economist magazine, in reporting these numbers, helpfully pointed out that in the case of Washington state, those numbers predated the legalization of pot.

•UFOs avoid big cities, which the Economist linked to the presence of many other lights. We're thinking the reason may be the presence of UFO skeptics.

We checked the center's database and found a few UFO sightings from Fort Wayne. One, in April of this year, reported “red glowing globes moving west to east in formation at what appeared to be about 10k feet.” We saw nothing like that, we think, or at least we don't remember it. It did, after all, take place on a Saturday.

VA’s invite adds insult to insensitivity

Examples of Veterans Administration hospital backlogs don't get much worse than this one.

In Boston, WBZ-TV reported that Suzanne Chase just received a letter from the VA saying her husband, Douglas, could be seen by a doctor at a nearby veterans hospital in Massachusetts.

But her husband died of a brain tumor almost two years ago.

Vietnam War veteran Douglas Chase, who had been diagnosed and treated in Boston, asked the VA whether he could be treated at a veterans hospital in Bedford, more convenient to his home in Acton. When he died four months later in August 2012, he had not received a response from the agency.

A few days ago, his wife, Suzanne Chase, received a letter from the VA offering her the chance to set up an appointment for her late husband. Dated June 12, the letter said the VA is “committed to providing primary care in a timely manner and would greatly appreciate a prompt response.”

The VA should have known that her husband was dead, Suzanne Chase told WBZ's Joe Shortsleeve. The agency had denied her request for funeral benefits because he hadn't been treated at one of its hospitals.

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