American Scene: Ample petitions secured for Washington marriage measure

WASHINGTON

Leaders of a traditional-marriage group turned in more than 200,000 signatures Wednesday to allow voters a say on the gay-marriage law passed by lawmakers earlier this year.

Preserve Marriage Washington needed 120,577 signatures to get their Referendum 74 on the November ballot. If their efforts are approved, as expected, by state election officials, voters will be able to vote on the referendum and approve or reject the new gay-marriage law.

“If this law goes unchallenged,” Preserve Marriage Washington said, “voters would have no say, and marriage would be changed for every person in our state from being the union of one man and one woman to being a genderless institution.”

In February, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a law to permit same-sex couples to marry and apply state marriage laws without regard to gender. The law, which was to have gone into effect June 7, made Washington state the seventh in the nation where lawmakers have legalized gay marriage.

This year Maryland became the eighth state to legalize gay marriage. However, as happened in Washington state, residents decided to mount a campaign against the law. In May, the Maryland Marriage Alliance turned in 120,000 signatures, more than twice the number needed to force a vote on the issue in November.

Gay marriage is legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, New York and the District of Columbia.

MASSACHUSETTS

Teenager convicted in texting-while-driving fatality

HAVERHILL — A Massachusetts teenager is the first person in that state to be convicted of causing a fatal traffic accident while texting.

A judge sentenced Aaron Deveau of Haverhill to 2 1/2 years behind bars with a year to serve and the rest suspended.

A jury convicted Deveau of motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation while texting in the February 2011 crash that took the life of 55-year-old Donald Bowley Jr. of Danville, N.H., and seriously injured Bowley’s girlfriend.

Prosecutors say the then-17-year-old high school student sent 193 text messages the day of the crash, including some just a minute or so before impact and dozens more after it.

Deveau apologized to Bowley’s family, but testified previously he wasn’t texting when the crash occurred, but was thinking about homework.

OHIO

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