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Backers of Proposition 8 can challenge court ruling

LOS ANGELES — The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that proponents of Proposition 8 — which banned same-sex marriage in California — have legal standing to overturn the challenge of the law by a lower-court judge, after the state’s governor and attorney general refused to defend the proposition.

The ruling was an advisory decision to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which had asked for guidance on how to proceed in the case after Gov. Jerry Brown and the state attorney general declined to defend the constitutionality of the proposition. Lawyers in the case said they expected the federal court to accept the recommendation and move quickly to issue a decision on the merits of the case.

The decision means that the case, Perry v. Brown, is now moving from a legal detour — the circumstances of who should have the right under California law to appear in court on behalf of a proposition under legal challenge — to one on the merits of the case, namely whether a legal ban on gay marriage violates constitutional rights.

Attorneys on both sides proclaimed victory within hours after the decision was released.

—Adam Nagourney and John Schwartz, 
The New York Times

Nude blogger in Egypt stirs partisan waters, right and left

CAIRO — Aliaa Magda Elmahdy apparently thought she was striking a blow for sexual equality and free expression in Egypt when she posted nude photographs of herself on a blog. Instead Elmahdy has triggered a wave of outrage here, stoking conservative Islamist sentiments that many liberals fear will undermine their prospects in the country’s parliamentary election next week.

It is hard to overstate the shock at an Egyptian woman posting nude photographs of herself on the Internet in a conservative religious country where the vast majority of Muslim women are veiled and even men seldom bear their knees in public. In Egypt, even kissing in public is taboo.

Soon the 20-year-old activist found herself at the center of a media storm rocking the foundations of national politics, especially among liberals battling conservative Islamists in the first election since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power.

—Liam Stack and David D. Kirkpatrick, 
The New York Times

Euro debt worries shift to Spain and France

PARIS — Italy, the third-largest economy of the euro bloc, has spent days struggling in the market spotlight. On Thursday, however, investors turned their attention to the No. 2, France, and No. 4, Spain, whose borrowing costs spiked during the day.

Spain auctioned about 3.6 billion euros, or $4.8 billion, in 10-year debt Thursday, but had to pay 6.97 percent — the most it has had to pay since 1997, before the advent of the euro, and well above the 5.43 percent it paid at a comparable auction in October.

Borrowing costs above six percent are considered dangerously high, and at seven percent are considered unsustainable.

France paid 2.8 percent to sell bonds maturing in July 2016, up from the 2.3 percent it paid in October, and the spread between 10-year bond yields in France and Germany, a measure of market confidence, widened to more than 2 percentage points, the widest since the creation of the euro more than a decade ago.

Market intervention from the European Central Bank helped turn around the struggling eurozone bonds, however, and yields fell for the day.

—David Jolly, The New York Times