June 2, 2007 in Nation/World

Nation in brief: Tuberculosis victim offers apology

The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

In this ABC News image, Andrew Speaker and his wife, Sarah, are interviewed in Denver on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

The Atlanta lawyer quarantined with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis apologized to fellow airline passengers in an interview aired Friday, and insisted he was told before he set out for his wedding in Europe that he was no danger to anyone.

“I’ve lived in this state of constant fear and anxiety and exhaustion for a week now, and to think that someone else is now feeling that, I wouldn’t want anyone to feel that way. It’s awful,” Andrew Speaker, speaking through a face mask, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” from his hospital room in Denver.

Meanwhile, questions arose as to whether the wedding even took place. The mayor of the island of Santorini in Greece, Angelos Rousso, told the Associated Press: “There was no wedding. They came for a marriage but they did not have the required papers.” He said the couple stayed in a hotel for three days and then left.

In Denver, Speaker’s doctors said he could be in the hospital for up to two months, and that if antibiotics fail to knock out the extremely drug-resistant infection, he may have to undergo surgery to remove infected lung tissue, about the size of a tennis ball.

Speaker is the first infected person quarantined by the U.S. government since 1963. In the TV interview, Speaker, wearing street clothes, repeatedly apologized to the dozens of airline passengers and crew members now anxiously awaiting the results of their TB tests.

“I don’t expect for people to ever forgive me. I just hope that they understand that I truly never meant to put them in harm,” he said, his voice cracking.

Sacramento, Calif.

Same-sex partners get conjugal visits

California has begun allowing overnight visits for gay and lesbian partners of prison inmates to conform to the state’s domestic partnership law.

California is one of just six states that allow overnight family visits, which take place in trailers or other housing on prison grounds. But attorneys, gay rights advocates and corrections officials said they know of no other state that permits conjugal visits by same-sex partners.

Since the 1970s, immediate family members have been able to visit many prison inmates for up to three days at a time.

The privilege is being expanded to registered domestic partners under a law signed by former Gov. Gray Davis that took effect in 2005. It requires state agencies to give the same rights to domestic partners that heterosexual couples receive.


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