Conn. Justices Gear Up
For Gay Civil Unions
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- Connecticut's new law allowing same-sex civil unions takes effect next weekend, and justices of the peace are still learning how to handle the new ceremonies.
"On Oct. 1, civil unions become law in Connecticut, but there is not a JP in that room who knows what to do with it," said Saul Haffner, president of Justices of the Peace of Connecticut, which held a conference Saturday on the law. "It's going to be a mess."
Connecticut is the first state to pass a civil union law, which will confer the same rights as marriage, without court pressure. Vermont is the only other state that allows civil unions; Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex marriages.
The Connecticut law does not require justices and clergy to perform civil unions, and some said they would not because of their religious beliefs.
Civil union applications will have spaces for "party 1" and "party 2" rather than "bride" and "groom." And the seals cities and towns use to make licenses official will be changed to say "vital statistics" rather than "marriage, birth or death."
At the end of ceremonies, justices were advised to pronounce couples "partners in life" rather than "husband and wife."
Doctors Clash Over
England's Mental State
FORT HOOD, Tex. -- A psychologist testified that Pfc. Lynndie England suffered from depression and has an overly compliant personality, making her a heedless participant in abuse of Iraqi inmates at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.
Xavier Amador, a clinical psychologist from New York, testified Friday that England's soldier boyfriend, Charles Graner, was her "social accomplice" upon whom she relied unreservedly to guide her behavior.
Prosecutors said England was a willing participant in the 2003 abuse at Abu Ghraib. Maj. Jennifer Lange, an Army psychiatrist called by prosecutors to rebut Amador's testimony, said England was neither clinically depressed nor suffered from other personality disorders.
England, 22, is charged with seven counts of conspiracy and abuse that carry a maximum sentence of 11 years. Closing arguments are scheduled Monday.
* ADA, Okla. -- A teenager who was abducted as she left school Friday was found shot to death Saturday along with a man her mother had once dated. Authorities said it appeared to be a murder-suicide. The bodies of Caitlin Elizabeth Wooten, 16, and Jerry Don Savage, 47, were spotted from an Oklahoma Highway Patrol helicopter. Savage, who had dated the girl's mother, Donna Wooten, reportedly called the girl's grandmother Friday and threatened to harm the teenager, officials said. Savage was recently arrested on charges of trying to kidnap Donna Wooten, who obtained a protective order against him Aug. 30, court records show. He was out of jail on bond when the teenager disappeared.
* CHICAGO -- A federal monitor reviewing hiring practices at City Hall wants an executive order from Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) that protects city employees who cooperate with her investigation. The executive order would send a message "that people who have provided information or may want to do that in the future aren't going to be retaliated against," said Noelle Brennan, the court-appointed attorney. Brennan also wants about 300 city employees and the people who hired them to swear under penalty of perjury that politics played no role in the hiring process.
* MINNEAPOLIS -- A Northwest Airlines flight to Tokyo took off 43 hours late, and passengers were kept on the plane for nine hours over a 24-hour period, the airline said. It cited mechanical problems and lack of a crew for keeping the Boeing 747-400 on the ground since its scheduled departure time of 3 p.m. Thursday.
* LIHUE, Hawaii -- A tour helicopter carrying a pilot and five passengers crashed into the Pacific near a reef, killing three passengers. The helicopter operated by Heli USA Airways was carrying three men and three women when it crashed Friday afternoon, the Coast Guard said.
-- From News Services