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Gay marriage foes block start of law

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Washington's gay marriage law was blocked from taking effect Wednesday as opponents filed more than 200,000 signatures seeking a public vote on the issue in November.

Preserve Marriage Washington submitted the signatures just a day before the state was to begin allowing same-sex marriages. State officials will review the filings over the next week to determine whether the proposed referendum will qualify for a public vote, though the numbers suggest the measure will make the ballot easily.

"The current definition of marriage works and has worked," said Joseph Backholm, chairman of Preserve Marriage Washington.

The law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year, would make Washington the seventh state, New York among them, to have legal same-sex marriages.

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Steps taken to help manage student loans

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Obama is taking steps to help thousands of Americans better manage their federal student loan debt.

Details of Obama's plan were announced Wednesday by the White House. They include streamlining the application process for those who want to enroll in income-based repayment plans.

The repayment plans were first authorized in 2007 and set a cap on student loan payments based on income. An estimated 700,000 people are currently participating, but officials believe many more qualify.

The administration also plans to create new online and mobile resources that will provide information about federal student aid.

The interest rate on new federal student loans is scheduled to double July 1. Congress is battling over whether and how to avert that increase.

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Official doubts chaos if health law rejected

CHICAGO (AP) -- Americans should not expect chaos if the Supreme Court rejects all or part of the sweeping health care law, the incoming president of the nation's largest physicians group said Wednesday.

Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, who takes over as the American Medical Association's president later this month, isn't making any predictions on a high court decision.

He told the Associated Press his preference would be for the court to uphold President Obama's health care overhaul. But if it doesn't, he said, "I don't see doctors just throwing up their hands or patients not being able to get taken care of."

Health insurance coverage "and how that influences the cost of health care, and whether everyone gets a fair shot at getting coverage -- those will be challenges. But I don't think it will be chaotic," he said.

Lazarus, 68, a Denver psychiatrist, takes over the AMA on June 19. The AMA has supported Obama's health care overhaul, though a vocal contingent of doctor-members has urged the group to back off that stance.