- - Thursday, June 30, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Pastor who conducted Reagan’s burial dies

MISSION VIEJO — The Rev. Michael Wenning, who was Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s longtime pastor at Los Angeles’ Bel Air Presbyterian Church and presided over the 40th president’s sunset burial, has died. He was 75.

Mr. Wenning died from leukemia and kidney failure Tuesday at his Mission Viejo home, said his wife, Freda.

The Reagans had attended Bel Air Presbyterian in the Santa Monica Mountains for decades, dating back to when Ronald Reagan was governor of California.

Mr. Wenning, who was pastor of the 2,500-member church from 1995 to 2001, regularly visited Reagan’s home and Century City office when the Alzheimer’s disease-stricken former president stopped appearing in public.

Reagan was 93 when he died June 5, 2004.

It was Mr. Wenning who conducted the nationally televised hilltop burial service for the former president at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. And it was Mr. Wenning who comforted the anguished former first lady.

MAINE

Gay marriage supporters planning state referendum

LEWISTON — Gay marriage supporters in Maine are laying the groundwork for another referendum on the issue, one day after Rhode Island lawmakers approved civil unions for gay couples.

Gay marriage supporters say many have changed their minds since state voters overturned a same-sex marriage law in 2009. They said Thursday they are filing a written application with election officials to start the process of gathering 57,000 signatures to put the matter on the November 2012 ballot.

Matt McTighe of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders says polls show 53 percent of Maine residents now support gay marriage. In 2009, gay marriage was rejected by the same margin.

Gay marriage supporters hope to build in momentum in Rhode Island and in New York, which earlier this month became the sixth state to allow gay marriage.

MASSACHUSETTS

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