3 Children, 1 Man Drown

In Fort Worth Water Gardens

FORT WORTH -- An 8-year-old girl drowned, and her father, her brother and another child died trying to rescue her from a deep, swirling pool at a water garden where "No swimming" signs are posted.

About 2,000 people gathered for a prayer vigil Thursday morning, a day after the deaths of the four, visiting from Chicago to attend a Sunday school convention.

"Today our city extends our wings to enfold and comfort you," Mayor Mike Moncrief told the crowd.

The four had gone to the five-acre Fort Worth Water Gardens because the pool at their nearby hotel was closed, said the Rev. Gerald M. Dew, pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago. The victims were identified as Myron Dukes, 35; his daughter Lauren, 8; his son Christopher, 13; and Juantrice Deadmon, 11.

Two Suits Planned in Mass.

To Challenge Marriage Law

BOSTON -- A dozen Massachusetts cities and towns and eight same-sex couples from other states said Thursday that they will challenge a 1913 state law used to prevent gays from out of state from marrying here.

The groups plan to file two lawsuits Friday in Suffolk County Superior Court, the first such legal challenges since gay marriages began here on May 17.

Both cases will argue that the law, which bans people from outside Massachusetts from marrying in the state if they are precluded from marrying in their own states, is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

"We are asking the court to prevent the state from using the 1913 law as a weapon to deny gay and lesbian couples marriage rights," said Michelle E. Granda, a lawyer with the Massachusetts-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which represents the couples.

Before gay marriages began here a month ago, Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said that licenses granted in defiance of the 1913 law would be considered "null and void."

* TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said that Florida has restored the rights of more than 20,000 ex-convicts in the past year and has substantially reduced the numbers of onetime inmates whose cases have yet to be reviewed. Florida, which is one of a handful of states that does not automatically restore voting and other rights to felons once they leave prison, requires ex-convicts to apply to have their rights restored.

* AKRON, Ohio -- Fawaz Mohammed Damra, the Palestinian-born leader of Ohio's largest mosque, was convicted of lying about his connections to terrorist organizations when he applied for U.S. citizenship. Damra could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, stripped of his citizenship and deported.

* CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. -- Police asked local TV stations to air a surveillance video showing a homeless man who was set ablaze running in a circle as he tried to extinguish the flames. Police were looking for up to eight men in the attack. The victim, Lucas Adama Wiser, 21, was set on fire Tuesday, and he remained hospitalized Thursday.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services