A Gay Day

A Gay Day

A Gay Day

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Nov. 19 2003 4:33 AM

A Gay Day

The New York Times and USA Today lead with the Massachusetts Supreme Court's ruling overturning the state's ban on gay marriage. The judges gave the state legislature six months to come up with a law allowing gays to get hitched in some way or another. The Washington Post leads with word that the White House is preparing to ask the Security Council to endorse the U.S.'s new sovereignty plan for Iraq. "In the end, we will need a new resolution to bless our exit strategy," said one unnamed administration official. "We could go into Iraq without the United Nations, but it'll be much harder to get out and leave behind a viable government if it doesn't have some form of U.N. approval." The Post, interestingly,notes that at least one top White House source denied that the administrationis planning return to the Security Council. Anyway, says the WP, the White House won't go after the new resolution until after the Iraqi Governing Council presents its timetable for transferring power. The Los Angeles Times leads with Gov. Schwarzenegger unveiling a $15 billion bond proposal—the largest in California's history. The LAT says that the bond measure, which Schwarzenegger proposed putting on the ballot in March, "could eventually drain billions from the state treasury."

Marriage is "among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due-process rights," the Massachusetts' court wrote in the 4-3 decision. "It's an extraordinary ruling," one law prof told USAT. "It could fall short of the word marriage, but it would put civil unions in Massachusetts on the same platform as marriage." (Slate's Explainer column looks at the different options the state's lawmakers have.) The Post says "it probably will be only a matter of time" before people start using yesterday's ruling to challenge the 36 other states' bans on gay marriage. USAT also emphasizes the national implications and has an informative, concise, take on the case.

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The Wall Street Journal goes up high with, and others stuff, the U.S.'s continued heavy weapons offensive against suspected guerrilla hideouts near Tikrit. As the Post describes it, "Apache helicopter gunships and artillery poured fire on targets on Baqubah's outskirts and then ground troops pounded the area with 155mm howitzers and 120mm mortars." The NYT says the strikes "illustrated what military officials said was a new twist to their counterinsurgency campaign," namely attacking apparent guerrilla hideouts "with no warning, using high-altitude bombing or long-range missile strikes." The Journal says the opposite: Soldiers are "going to great lengths" to make sure buildings are empty before they're destroyed. 

The NYT says inside that the U.S. general in charge of monitoring most of Iraq's borders countered the White House's assertions that large numbers of foreign fighters are infiltrating. "I want to underscore that most of the attacks on our forces are by former regime loyalists and other Iraqis, not foreign forces," he said. He said his unit has caught about 20 suspected foreign fighters.

The Post notes on Page One that the pork-filled energy bill passed the House yesterday. The WP describes the bill as "laced with hundreds of provisions sought by energy lobbyists, farm groups, states and localities." The bill faces a close vote in the Senate, where the Post says the GOP has adopted a "strategy of countering opposition to the environmental provisions in the bill by offering a rich trove of subsidies to farmers."

A few weeks ago, in the papers' only significant coverage of this, the WP noticed that the U.S. quietly sent a Syrian-born Canadian citizen suspected of terrorist links back to his birth country, where he was then tortured for months. Today, the Post'sDana Priestreports (on page A28) that a top Justice Department official approved the shipment. The WP adds that the law under which the man was sent to Syria states that such transfers aren't allowed if "it is more likely than not that [suspects] will be tortured." (Here's the State Dept.'s most recent report on human-rights in Syria. Be sure to read section 1C, "Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.")

In an op-ed in Monday's LAT (that TP obviously missed) Erin Brockovich continued with her latest crusade, alleging that oil wells abutting the campus of Beverly Hills High School are making kids sick. "We contend that toxic fumes from oil and gas operations at the campus have caused cancer," Brockovich wrote. Which is a remarkable contention, especially since a lawyer for Brockovich's firm has acknowledged in court that the firm has "no epidemiological study or population study" to support it. (TP knows that because he happens to have been moonlighting, looking into the Beverly case and other suits Brockovich has been involved in. The upshot: Her cases are frequently based on questionable evidence, at best.)

And how would they have verified that? The NYT correction box has an editor's note:

An obituary last Wednesday about Marvin Smith, a leading photographer of Harlem who worked with his identical twin, Morgan, described the closeness of the two men—it was said that they never used the pronoun "I"—and recounted an anecdote about Marvin Smith's response to the illness that caused his brother's death, in 1993.

The article said that Morgan Smith died of testicular cancer and that his brother, in response, had his own testicles removed. That account was given to the Times by a friend of both men. It should not have been published unless it could be verified and attributed.

After the obituary appeared, Monica Smith, the daughter of Morgan Smith, told the Times that her father had had prostate cancer and that her uncle did not have his testicles removed.

Eric Umansky, previously the "Today's Papers" columnist for Slate, is currently a Gordon Grey Fellow at Columbia University's School of Journalism.