NORTH CAROLINA

Clergy group fights gay-marriage ban

A coalition of clergy members is challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriages, filing the first lawsuit to claim such laws violate their religious freedom.

Led by the United Church of Christ, a rabbi and ministers from Lutheran and Unitarian Universalist Churches in the Charlotte area said they should not be penalized for following their faith. The lawsuit is the first to attack same-sex marriage bans on the grounds of religious freedom, the United Church of Christ said.

State law bars same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses and makes it a misdemeanor, with a $200 fine, for clergy to perform a ceremony without the license.

"We are taking a stand," the Rev. Geoffrey Black, president of the United Church of Christ said at a news conference where a banner read "Jesus didn't reject." The denomination has nearly a million members nationwide. - Reuters
SOUTH DAKOTA

Plane crash kills 4

A small airplane heading back to South Dakota after a Texas cattle sale crashed into a wind farm in foggy weather, killing the pilot and three passengers. A spokesman for NextEra Energy Resources said the wreckage was found at the 27-turbine South Dakota Wind Energy Center. The FAA said the single-engine Piper found Monday was registered to Donald J. Fischer of Gettysburg, S.D. Funeral homes confirmed the deaths of Fischer and cattlemen Brent Beitelspache and Logan Rau. The fourth person wasn't named. - AP

LOUISIANA

No post-scandal run

Rep. Vance McAllister, caught on camera kissing a married female aide, said Monday he has failed his family, let down his district, and doesn't intend to run for reelection this fall. In a statement, McAllister (R., La.) apologized for conduct he called a "personal failure." The married father of five had won a special election in November. - AP