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LIn brief: awmakers reject gay marriage vote

Fri., June 15, 2007

Massachusetts lawmakers threw out a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday that would have let voters decide whether to ban gay marriage in the only state that allows it.

The vote was a devastating blow to efforts to reverse a historic 2003 court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

“Today’s vote is not just a victory for marriage equality. It was a victory for equality itself,” said Gov. Deval Patrick, who had lobbied lawmakers up until the final hours to kill the measure.

The ban needed 50 votes in consecutive sessions of the 200-seat Legislature to secure a place on the 2008 statewide ballot. At the end of the last session in January it passed with 62 votes, but this time it garnered just 45.

More than 8,500 gay couples have married there since it became legal in May 2004.


Astronauts turn off shuttle equipment

The shutdown of two key computers that control navigation and oxygen production on the Russian side of the International Space Station forced astronauts Thursday to turn off equipment in the docked shuttle Atlantis to conserve energy.

The measures were necessary to make sure Atlantis had enough power to stay at the station an extra day, if needed, to help with repairs.

NASA Assistant Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier said Thursday that the situation was “stable” and that engineers were homing in on a solution.

“We’ve got a plan to go work the problem,” Gerstenmaier said during a briefing Thursday at Johnson Space Center in Houston. “I don’t consider this critical.”

He added that the chances of the crew having to abandon the station were “extremely remote.”

NASA officials said they suspected the computer problems were caused by a faulty power supply from a newly installed station truss.


Surgery planned on TB carrier

Surgeons said Thursday they will remove a tennis-ball-size section of lung from Atlanta attorney Andrew Speaker, the air traveler who set off a worldwide scare when it was revealed that he carries an extremely drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.

Removing the damaged lung tissue that contains most of the bacteria responsible for Speaker’s TB will allow antibiotics to be more effective and eliminate the damaged tissue that serves as a breeding ground for the bacteria, surgeons said.

The surgery will be performed sometime in July.


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