The US Supreme Court has rejected conservative groups’ attacks on Massachusetts’ status as the only state that sanctions same-sex marriages. The lawsuit was filed by the Florida-based conservative law group Liberty Counsel on behalf of Robert Largess, vice-president of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts and 11 other state lawmakers.

The group asked judges to overturn the year-old decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court legalising same-sex marriages in the state.

The groups challenged the November 2003 ruling by the highest court in Massa-chusetts, saying it violated the constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of government in each state.

Mathew Staver, the attorney for the groups, said in the constitution should protect the citizens of Massa-chusetts from their own state’s usurpation of power.

But Merita Hopkins, a city attorney in Boston, told justices in court papers that groups have not proven they suffered an injury, and therefore could not bring a challenge to the Supreme Court.

Deeply felt interest in the outcome of a case does not constitute an actual injury, she said.

The groups lost at the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

I think this decision underscores the need for Supreme Court justices who will restrain the activist impulses of ideologues on the bench, executive director of the Catholic Action League, C.J. Doyle, said. This was one skirmish, one battle in a much larger issue.

Massachusetts attorney-general Tom Reilly told justices that voters can adopt a constitutional amendment to overrule the supreme judicial court.

At least 3,000 same-sex marriages have taken place in Massachusetts in the last year, although voters may have a chance in 2006 to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage and allow civil unions.

Voters in 11 states approved constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage on 2 November. President Bush has promised to make a federal anti-gay marriage amendment a priority of his second term.

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