Judge Throws Out Ban On Same-Sex Unions

BATON ROUGE, La. -- A state judge Tuesday threw out a Louisiana constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, less than three weeks after it was overwhelmingly approved by the voters.

District Judge William Morvant said the amendment was flawed as drawn up by the Legislature because it had more than one purpose: banning not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions.

Michael Johnson, an attorney for supporters of the amendment, said he will appeal the ruling.

The gay rights group Forum for Equality had challenged the amendment on several grounds, arguing among other things that combining the question of same-sex marriage and the issue of civil unions in one ballot question violated state law.

Seventy-eight percent of those voting favored the amendment. The vote was part of a national backlash against same-sex marriage, which followed last year's Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling allowing gay couples to wed.

* CHICAGO -- A former employee of the Illinois secretary of state's office was sentenced to four months in prison for taking bribes from motorists trying to get their licenses reinstated. John H. McGowan Jr. pleaded guilty in April to attempted extortion, admitting he tried to shake down five drivers. He faced a maximum of 14 months.

* BOSTON -- Biologists on Cape Cod escorted a great white shark back to the open ocean Monday, ending a two-week visit by the 1,700-pound female shark to a lagoon on Naushon Island. Officials used water hoses to help propel the shark across a long sandbar that apparently had blocked her return to the ocean after she entered the lagoon. To protect the shark, the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game enacted an emergency ordinance banning the harassment or harpooning of great white sharks.

-- From News Services