Massachusetts becomes the first state to legally allow homosexual marriage Monday, with hundreds of couples expected to seek licenses and tie the knot. The state's Supreme Judicial Court cleared the way to same-sex marriages when it declared a state ban on them unconstitutional last year. Friday, the US Supreme Court chose not to consider a legal challenge to that ruling. A federal appeals court will take up the case next month. Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said licenses to out-of-state couples should be limited to those settling in Massachusetts. When San Franciso opened its doors to such weddings earlier this year, couples from all over descended on City Hall. Those marriages, however, were not recognized by the state. The Massachusetts situation inspired a three-day offensive against Arizona's ban on same-sex unions as well as similar protests elsewhere.

The Pentagon vigorously denied a report on the New Yorker magazine's website Saturday that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld had secretly authorized the use of unconventional interrogation methods on prisoners in Iraq. On Wednesday, Army Spec. Jeremy Sivits is due to become the first of four Americans to be court-martialed for alleged abused of detainess at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

President Bush is scheduled to speak Monday at Monroe Elementary School in Topeka, Kan., on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's historic Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which paved the way to public school integration. On Saturday, about two dozen white supremacists rallied near the school, but an estimated 100 counterprotestors moved in, and the supremacists left without violence.

With prices at the pump for unleaded regular gasoline already above $2 gallon in many parts of the US, the average probably will hit $2.10 within weeks, the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas projected. On Friday, the average price reached $1.95, a record in dollar terms, but still below the inflation-adjusted $3 in 1990 in the aftermath of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.

Hispanic voters could decide the 2004 presidential election, Democratic Party leaders said Saturday during get-out-the-vote training for activists in Orlando, Fla. John Kerry, the party's presumed candidate, could win the White House if he receives two-thirds of the 3 million Hispanic voters who have registered to vote since 2000, national party chairman Terry McAuliffe said.

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