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POSTED February 19, 2012 11:10 p.m.

• ARIZONA SHERIFF FACING LONG ODDS AFTER GAY OUTING: FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu built a reputation as a rising, conservative star by taking a hardline stance against illegal immigration, attacking the Obama administration and appearing alongside Sen. John McCain in a 2010 re-election ad in which McCain urged federal officials to just “complete the danged fence.”

But, on Saturday, Babeu’s conservative image took a beating as he was forced to confirm publicly that he is gay and was involved in a relationship with a Mexican immigrant who claims the sheriff threatened to have him deported if he revealed their relationship.

Babeu denies any wrongdoing, and has vowed to continue his battle for the GOP nomination in an extremely conservative rural congressional district. He recognizes he is fighting an uphill battle, especially in a state where family values, as defined by a large evangelical Christian and Mormon population, often battle fierce, anti-immigrant beliefs to define conservatism.

Babeu previously avoided a public stance on gay rights, but came out in favor of them on Saturday.



• ELIZABETH SMART MARRIES AT HAWAII TEMPLE
: SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Elizabeth Smart, the young woman from Utah who was kidnapped at knifepoint at 14 and held captive for nine months by an itinerant street preacher, has married her Scottish fiance at a Mormon temple in Hawaii.

The wedding came several months ahead of scheduled plans for the nuptials after news of her engagement last month drew widespread media attention.

A family spokesman said Smart married Matthew Gilmour, of Aberdeen, Scotland, on Saturday on Oahu’s North Shore.

“Elizabeth’s desire was for what most women want — to celebrate her nuptials in a private wedding with family and close friends,” family spokesman Chris Thomas said in a statement. “She decided, about a week ago, the best way to avoid significant distraction was to change her wedding plans and to get married in an unscheduled ceremony outside of Utah.”



• WHITNEY HOUSTON LAID TO REST AT PRIVATE BURIAL: WESTFIELD, New Jersey (AP) — Whitney Houston was laid to rest Sunday at a brief private ceremony in New Jersey, the end of a weekend that saw the pop star’s family and friends gather at a star-studded funeral to mourn her loss while celebrating her career.

Fans and onlookers gathered in several places along the route the motorcade took from the Newark funeral home to the cemetery about 20 miles (30 kilometers) away in Westfield, where Houston was buried next to her father, who died in 2003.

The 48-year-old singer died Feb. 11 in California, hours before she was to attend a pre-Grammy Awards party.



• AVALANCHE KILLS 3 IN WASHINGTON STATE AVALANCHE
: SEATTLE (AP) — An avalanche near a popular ski resort in Washington state killed three people Sunday, and all those initially reported as missing have been accounted for, a resort official said.

John Gifford, general manager at the Stevens Pass ski area, said he’s unsure how many people were caught up in the slide, or whether there were additional injuries. But he said the death toll remains at three.

The King County Sheriff’s Office earlier said as many as eight people were missing after the avalanche.



• WINTER STORM DUMPS SNOW ON SOUTH, MANY LOSE POWER
: RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A winter storm on Sunday dumped several inches of snow on a band of southern states, triggering accidents on slippery roads and knocking out power to tens of thousands.

The storm brought wet snow to parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

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