- The Washington Times - Friday, March 19, 2004

Same-sex ‘marriage’ to hit fast track

PORTLAND, Ore. — Both sides in the state’s dispute over same-sex “marriage” said yesterday they have agreed to speed the issue to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Portland is currently the only major U.S. city where homosexual couples can get a “marriage” license.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it plans to file a lawsuit by April 14 seeking a declaration that any marriage law that excludes same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

The Defense of Marriage Coalition, which opposes same-sex unions, has already filed an initiative for a ballot measure for a state constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to a man and a woman.

About 2,000 homosexual couples from across the nation have flocked to Portland to be married since Multnomah County, the state’s most populous, decided earlier this month it would be unconstitutional to deny them.

The state has said it won’t try to compel the counties to stop, effectively placing the issue in the hands of the Oregon Supreme Court.

Bishop apologizes for hit-and-run

PHOENIX — Bishop Thomas O’Brien apologized in court yesterday to the family of the pedestrian he killed in a hit-and-run last year, saying: “I know there is no one to blame for this but me.”

The 68-year-old cleric spoke during a presentencing hearing. He could get anything from probation to three years and nine months in prison when he is sentenced March 26 in the death last June of Jim Reed.

In court papers, prosecutors asked Judge Stephen Gerst to sentence the bishop to six months behind bars and four years of probation. Bishop O’Brien asked the judge for probation.

The bishop said he had not realized he hit a person but apologized nevertheless to the victim’s family. Mr. Reed’s family, in court for the hearing, declined to comment .

Governor insists he’s not guilty

HARTFORD, Conn.— A day after an antiques dealer said he helped facilitate a sweetheart real estate deal for Gov. John G. Rowland, the governor insisted yesterday he had committed no crimes and done nothing to compromise his office.

“All I’m asking for is due process and an opportunity to tell my side of the story,” Mr. Rowland told reporters after a speaking engagement in Willimantic. “That has not happened yet.”

Mr. Rowland is being investigated by the federal government and a state legislative committee who want to know whether he and state contractors traded favors. The governor has acknowledged receiving gifts from employees and contractors, but has said he did not provide anything in return.

Wayne Pratt, an expert on New England furniture and a regular contributor to the PBS program “Antiques Roadshow,” pleaded guilty Thursday to filing a false tax document.

In 1997, Mr. Pratt bought a condo from Mr. Rowland at more than twice the market value. Mr. Pratt said he was acting as the front man for a state contractor.

War protesters march through city

SAN FRANCISCO — Hundreds of war protesters marched through the city yesterday morning, flashing peace signs and wearing colorful masks on the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The protests were mild compared with last year, when an estimated 20,000 people demonstrated and police arrested 2,300.

Police yesterday arrested 19 demonstrators, two of them for assaulting an officer, police spokeswoman Maria Oropeza said. It was not immediately clear if the officer was injured.

Six persons were arrested for tying themselves together to block an entrance at the headquarters of Bechtel Corp., an engineering firm that holds major contracts for reconstruction work in Iraq.

Police estimated that less than 1,000 people participated in the protests, which started around 7 a.m. and had dissipated by midmorning.

Allen pledges millions to pursue aliens

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, one of the richest men on Earth, pledged yesterday to donate $13.5 million for research into extraterrestrial life.

With the contribution, Mr. Allen will have given $25 million for the construction of the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a network of 350 radio telescopes being built to find signs of life in space, said Thomas Pierson, director of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute.

The radio telescopes will measure the density of the early universe, the formation of stars and magnetic fields.

They will also be capable of searching for “possible signals from technologically advanced civilizations elsewhere in the galaxy,” according to a SETI statement.

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