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3:49 AM Sat, Nov. 17th

Supreme Court upholds state ban on gay marriage

PHOENIX – A gay couple's challenge to Arizona's ban on same-sex marriages has been turned away by the state Supreme Court.

Without comment Tuesday, the state's highest court let stand an appeals court ruling that upheld the 1996 state law.

Phoenix couple Don Standhardt and Tod Keltner in December asked the high court to review the Court of Appeals decision, arguing the statute discriminates against gay couples and their children by violating the state Constitution's privacy and equal treatment clauses.

The Court of Appeals had held in October that there is no fundamental constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

It found that the state has a rational basis for prohibiting same-sex marriage because of goals related to procreation and child-rearing.

Standhardt and Keltner were denied a marriage license in Maricopa County, according to their original lawsuit, filed July 7.

"With it being a pressing civil rights issue here, we thought they would see the injustice in the law being what it is," Standhardt said after hearing decision.

The Attorney General's Office urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, contending the ban was based on legislative policies and not discrimination.

In San Francisco, California Supreme Court justices listened skeptically to arguments that San Francisco's mayor had the right to defy state law when he issued marriage licenses to 4,000 gay couples earlier this year.

A ruling on whether the mayor abused his powers is expected within 90 days.

The justices are not likely to decide the validity of the 4,000 gay and lesbian marriages that were performed before the high court put a stop to the practice in March.

And the high court has said it will not use this case to decide the constitutionality of the state's ban on gay weddings.

Across the country, in Massachusetts, two city clerks confirmed they are issuing marriage licenses to out-of-state gay couples, even as three other clerks temporarily stopped the practice under pressure from the governor.

Republican Gov.

Mitt Romney has stated that no gay couples from other states can marry in Massachusetts based on a 1913 statute that prohibits unions that would not be legal in a couple's home state.

Democratic Attorney General Thomas Reilly ordered clerks on Monday in Provincetown, Somerville, Springfield and Worcester to cease and desist from issuing marriage licenses to out-of-state couples.

All except Provincetown, a gay tourist mecca on Cape Cod, stopped issuing such licenses while they explore legal options.

Provincetown officials met Tuesday night but delayed announcing any decision until Wednesday.