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American Scene: Ample petitions secured for Washington marriage measure

- - Wednesday, June 6, 2012

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

School withholds diploma because of cheering

CINCINNATI — A suburban Cincinnati high school is withholding a graduate's diploma and requiring community service as punishment for what it describes as overly boisterous cheering by his family during his graduation ceremony.

Mount Healthy City Schools Superintendent Lori Handler told WCPO-TV families agree to avoid ceremony disruptions. She said they are unfair to others who want to hear their students' names called and then cheered.

She says the extended cheering for football player Anthony Cornist disrupted the May 24 ceremony.

His mother, Traci Cornist, said the cheering wasn't unusually loud or disruptive. She said her son shouldn't be penalized for his family and friends cheering.

The school says he has legally graduated, but it's requiring 20 hours of community service by him or his family before handing over his diploma.

NEVADA

Desert tourist town seeks incorporation

LAUGHLIN — Something strange is going on in the small gambling mecca of Laughlin.

In this notoriously anti-government state, residents here are clamoring for more bureaucracy.

Laughlin voters are expected to vote to incorporate the tourist town on June 12. The move is unusual in Nevada, where most of the state is unincorporated and many people prefer to live far from government centers.

Laughlin is a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, where the Clark County Government Center is located.

Many residents say they are fed up with having to drive 100 miles to get building permits and address their elected officials. They want a mayor, city council and independent police, fire and parks departments.

Critics warn more government will cost more money.

Laughlin attracts 2.3 million annual visitors to the Nevada-Arizona border.

PENNSYLVANIA

Beauty contestant resigns, claiming pageant rigged

PITTSBURGH — Pennsylvania's representative at the Miss USA pageant is stepping down because she says the contest was rigged, while pageant officials counter she just disagrees with the organization's decision to allow transgender contestants.

A posting on Sheena Monnin's Facebook page dated Monday says she's resigned. In another post, Miss Monnin claims another contestant saw the list of top 5 contenders on Sunday morning, hours before the show was broadcast.

Pageant organizers confirm Miss Monnin has resigned, but not for the reason she claims. A statement from the organization includes text from an email it says Miss Monnin sent, citing the decision to allow natural-born males into the competition as the reason she's resigning.

Miss Monnin, of Cranberry, did not immediately respond to a Facebook message from the Associated Press.

ALASKA

Seasonal bore tide draws surfers, viewers

GIRDWOOD — Mother Nature put on a show near Anchorage, and it had nothing to do with Venus and the sun.

The largest bore tide of the summer arrived in Turnagain Arm on Tuesday evening, drawing hundreds of people to highway pullouts south of Anchorage.

It also drew a few surfers and kayakers hoping to take advantage of a real wave in Alaska.

One of those was surfer Sue Ives of Anchorage. She says it was a "pretty great ride."

The bore tide is a true tidal wave, caused by the tide and the gravitational influence of the sun and moon. All those aligned Tuesday night in Turnagain Arm, just south of Anchorage, for a pretty impressive show.

KTUU reported three men looking for a better viewing perch got stuck on rocks when the tide came in. The Anchorage Fire Department had to deploy a boat to rescue them.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports