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15 states, including Nebraska, press court on gay marriage

WASHINGTON - Eight states where same-sex couples can marry are among 15 states urging the Supreme Court to uphold gay marriage bans and leave the matter to voters and lawmakers.

These states are telling the justices in a brief filed Thursday that the court would do "incalculable damage to our civic life" if it decides that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry nationwide.

The states say they should be free to decide the issue for themselves.

The eight states where gay and lesbian couples can marry after courts struck down bans on gay marriage are Alaska,

Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, Utah and West Virginia.

Seven other states where same-sex marriage remains illegal also joined the brief. They are Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas. — AP

Man reported missing at sea in January is found alive

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A man whose family reported him missing at sea more than two months ago was found off the North Carolina coast, the Coast Guard said Thursday.

Coast Guard officials in Portsmouth said they received word from a German-flagged ship indicating that it spotted a man and his sailboat approximately 200 miles east of Cape Hatteras.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew from North Carolina airlifted Louis Jordan to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia. A spokeswoman said Jordan, 37, had a shoulder injury, but she had no more information.

Jordan had been living on his docked sailboat in South Carolina until Jan. 23, when he told his family he was "going into the open water to sail and do some fishing," said his mother, Norma Davis, of Jacksonville, North Carolina. The family had not heard from him since. — AP

Women arrested on charges of plotting to use bomb

NEW YORK — Two women were arrested Thursday on charges that they plotted to wage violent jihad by building a homemade bomb and using it for a Boston Marathon-type attack.

One of the women, Noelle Velentzas, had been "obsessed with pressure cookers since the Boston Marathon attacks in 2013," according to a criminal complaint.

The complaint unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn names Velentzas and her former roommate, Asia Siddiqui, as the targets of an undercover investigation into the thwarted homegrown terror plot. — AP

Despite ban, N.Y. Boy Scouts hire gay Eagle Scout

NEW YORK - The Boy Scouts' New York chapter said Thursday that it had hired the nation's first openly gay Eagle Scout as a summer camp leader, a direct challenge to the national Scouting organization's ban on openly gay adult members.

The Boy Scouts' national spokesman, Deron Smith, said there was no change in that policy.

The Boy Scouts' Greater New York Councils announced the hiring of Pascal Tessier, 18, who has been a vocal advocate of opening the 105-year-old organization to gay Scouts and leaders. — AP

Secret Service accused of sharing overseer's rejection

WASHINGTON - Senior staffers for a House committee overseeing the Secret Service have asked the Obama administration to investigate complaints that agency employees circulated potentially unflattering and private personnel information revealing that the panel's chairman was once rejected for a job as an agent.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, an outspoken critic of Secret Service managers, confirmed that he unsuccessfully applied for a position as a Secret Service agent in a Western field office. He recalled that it was around 2003.

The committee staff referred the issue Thursday to the Department of Homeland Security. — The Washington Post

Kansans can carry concealed guns without permit

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas will become the fifth state to allow its residents to carry concealed firearms without a permit throughout the state.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill Thursday ending the permit requirement. The change takes effect July 1.

The National Rifle Association said Kansas joins Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming in having such a policy. — AP

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