The New York Timesand USA Todaylead with, and everyone else fronts, the New Jersey Supreme Court declaring same-sex couples have to be awarded the same rights as married heterosexuals. The Court gave state lawmakers 180 days to decide if two people of the same sex can officially marry or if a parallel form of civil unions should be created. The Washington Post and Los Angeles Timesgive big play to the New Jersey decision, but lead, and the Wall Street Journal tops its worldwide newsbox, with President Bush's news conference in which he declared dissatisfaction with the situation in Iraq but also insisted the United States is winning the war.
The three dissenting judges in the 4-3 New Jersey ruling said homosexual couples should be given the right to wed. USAT and the WP go high with the effects this ruling could have on the Nov. 7 elections, with some conservatives predicting it will help encourage social conservatives to vote. But some analysts say the fact that the Court did not directly institute marriage for same-sex couples will minimize how much Republicans can use the rulings to galvanize their base. (Slate's Mickey Kaus agrees with this sentiment and says the Court has "denied Republicans the powerful base-mobilizing weapon that a ruling mandating gay marriage would have given them." Dahlia Lithwick insists that despite what others might say, "there is nothing 'activist' about this decision" and declares those who are against the ruling "aren't opposed to judicial activism. They are opposed to judges.")
Bush's news conference came hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said he would not accept any timelines imposed by the U.S. government and dismissed the plan as a "result of elections taking place right now that do not involve us." In a separate Page One story, the Post points out that the war has become a liability for many GOP candidates, and many prefer not to even mention Iraq. With his news conference, though, Bush decided to face the issue directly (for the second time in two weeks) and recognize the doubts many Americans seem to have with the war. Democrats immediately seized the opportunity to say how the news conference illustrated Bush and the GOP's desperation, as the election nears.
An analysis piece in the LAT says that with his news conference, "Bush all but begged voters to blame him for the war's problems." At the same time, he insisted the elections would be decided on local issues and not Iraq.
USAT goes inside with a new in-house poll that reveals most Americans think there will be major changes if the Democrats take over Congress. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed said Congress would likely set a timetable for U.S. troops to leave Iraq, while 63 percent think federal income taxes will be increased. But in a Page One piece, the LAT says changes in Congress may not be as great as some hope (or fear) because many of the Democrats running for office are quite conservative.
A day after the WP put Tennessee's Senate race on its front page, both the NYT and the WSJ front their own stories on the contest between Harold Ford Jr. and Bob Corker. While the NYT focuses on an attack ad by the Republican National Committee that has raised a few eyebrows, the WSJ takes a look at how migrants to the South from other parts of the country could be what help Ford win the election. But ultimately, just as the WP article from yesterday, they both pay attention to Ford's race and mention that if he wins, he will be the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.
USAT fronts, and the WP reefers, the latest report from the National Association of Realtors that signaled a sharp decrease in the price of homes. The price of existing homes fell 2.2 percent last month, while the median price of a single-family home fell 2.5 percent from September of last year. This marked the largest annual decrease since the NAR started tracking prices in 1969.
The NYT fronts, while the LAT and WP go inside with, the result of a new study concluding that annual CT scans could save millions of lives by detecting lung cancer early. The study's lead author says 80 percent of deaths could be prevented by the scans. Others, however, say the study's results are not conclusive because it did not include a control group of people who did not receive the scans to compare the results.
Russia and China have been presented with the draft text of a resolution against Iran's nuclear program. But who presented the document? Depends on who you believe. The NYT says the draft resolution was presented by "the United States and three European allies" while the Post names France, Britain, and Germany but specifies "the White House declined to endorse a European-backed draft resolution" out of fear that it was too weak to actually be effective. For its part, the WSJ says, "the Bush administration has raised sharp but unspecified objections" to the draft. TP finds all this quite confusing, especially since the NYT has the State Department spokesman on record saying, "we fully support this draft, and we look forward to its adoption." The Times also suggests the "bickering … has largely been tactical" to figure out the best way to get Russia and China to agree on sanctions. The NYT is alone in mentioning the draft resolution has a provision that prevents Iranian students from studying nuclear physics at foreign universities.
Spent my whole life wanting to be talked about … All the papers mention that Madonna went on Oprah's show yesterday to talk about her adoption of a Malawian baby. The singer criticized the media saying the coverage might discourage others from adopting African orphans. The prize for snarkiest article goes, as usual, to the Post's Lisa de Moraes. Meanwhile, a day after TP criticized the NYT's Alessandra Stanley for weirdly comparing Michael J. Fox's campaign video to images of hostages in Iraq, today she has the most unique angle to the over-reported story by putting Madonna's appearance side-by-side with Bush's press conference. "The president and the pop star went on television yesterday looking more like victims of circumstances beyond their control than visionaries," Stanley writes.