- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 19, 2004

Louisiana OKs ban on same-sex unions

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana voters overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriages” and civil unions, one of as many as 12 such measures on the ballot around the country this year.

With 80 percent of precincts reporting, the amendment was winning approval with 79 percent of the vote and support for it was evident statewide. Only in New Orleans, home to a politically strong homosexual community, did the race appear to be close. Incomplete returns there showed slightly more voters opposing the measure than approving it.

The homosexual-rights group Forum for Equality has already promised legal action. A first round of court fights was turned away by state courts that said an election cannot be challenged until the vote is taken.

Similar amendments are on ballots in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah. Petitions in Ohio are still being verified. Missouri voters approved a similar measure last month.

State wage increase draws Arnold’s veto

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed bills yesterday that would have raised the minimum wage to $7.75 an hour, made Wal-Mart-like megastores more difficult to build and limited schools’ ability to give students random drug tests.

The Republican governor contended that the minimum wage and megastore legislation would have hurt the state’s economy and said drug-testing policies should be left up to school officials.

The minimum-wage bill would have raised California’s minimum wage from $6.75 to $7.25 Jan. 1 and to $7.75 on Jan. 1, 2006. The federal minimum wage is $5.15 an hour.

“Now is not the time to create barriers to our economic recovery or reverse the momentum we have generated,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

2 soldiers charged in Iraqi’s death

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Two soldiers face courts-martial over the reputed drowning of an Iraqi civilian forced to jump off a bridge.

First Lt. Jack Saville and Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Perkins will be tried in a military court on charges of manslaughter, assault, conspiracy, making false official statements and obstruction of justice.

Lt. Saville and Sgt. Perkins, both based at Fort Carson, face 5 years to 26 years in prison if convicted. No dates have been set for the courts-martial, ordered Friday by commanding officer Major Gen. James D. Thurman.

The Army and family members of Zaidoun Hassoun, 19, contend that he drowned Jan. 3 near Samarra, Iraq, when he and his cousin were forced to jump in a river.

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