Montpelier, Jan. 4-Vermont's Supreme Court has rejected out a challenge to the civil unions law granting gay couples many of the rights and benefits of marriage. In a Dec. 26 order signed by all five justices and released Thursday, the court turned aside claims brought by taxpayers, legislators, and town clerks.

They had made two main claims. One asserted that the civil unions law is invalid because 14 House members who supported it bet on the outcome of a preliminary House vote. In the other, town clerks argued that the law is unconstitutional because it forces them to violate their religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong by issuing civil union licenses to couples.

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