Gay marriage President Bush last week announced his support for a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages. Spurred on by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's issuing of marriage licenses to homosexuals in defiance of California law and the demand of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts that the state recognize homosexual marriage, Mr. Bush said that "a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization" (cover story, p. 18).
Former talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell called Mr. Bush's announcement "the most vile and hateful words ever spoken by a sitting president." She told ABC's Good Morning America on Feb. 26 that she and lesbian lover Kelli Carpenter would travel to San Francisco to be married.
But most Americans seem to disagree with Ms. O'Donnell. Alliance for Marriage president Matt Daniels, whose proposed amendment is the model endorsed by President Bush, points to polls showing that "the American people remain strongly committed to the universal concept of marriage as the union of male and female." He said the amendment should easily win approval in state legislatures across the country and in the U.S. House. "Politically," he tells WORLD, "we will rise or fall in the United States Senate" (interview, p. 21).
In the meantime, homosexual marriage is working to undermine real marriage in Scandinavia (story, p. 22), and U.S. judicial rulings that aren't making national headlines are still setting precedents that could erode the legal foundation for the family (story, p. 24).
Presidential politics In the most overlooked primaries of the season, John Kerry swept three Western states on Feb. 24, improving his record to 18 wins in 20 tries. Neither of the major candidates bothered to campaign in Idaho, Utah, or Hawaii, choosing instead to focus on the 10 Super Tuesday states voting March 2.
Mr. Kerry took at least 50 percent of the vote in all three contests, proving again that his bandwagon-steaming along nicely since Iowa-still has some mileage left in it. John Edwards placed a distant second in Idaho and Utah, but finished third behind Dennis Kucinich in Hawaii. Mr. Kucinich, the only candidate to campaign in the 50th state, picked up his first delegates of the long campaign, thanks to a second-place finish there.
Meanwhile, Ralph Nader, blamed by many Democrats for siphoning votes from Al Gore in 2000 and keeping the former vice president out of the White House, announced last week that he will run for the presidency again in 2004. This time, however, he may not be the nominee of the Green Party. If he doesn't have the party's support, Mr. Nader will have to qualify for state ballots independently, a difficult task in states like North Carolina and Texas (story, p. 26).
While Mr. Nader wants to make Democrats compete for liberal votes, some party leaders say likely nominee John Kerry should choose a moderate running mate to appeal to centrist voters. A name mentioned more and more often: Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana (story, p. 29).
Courts With Senate Democrats refusing to allow Senate votes on several judicial nominations, President Bush made another recess appointment on Feb. 20, sending Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals until the next Congress convenes in late 2005 (story, p. 30). The Supreme Court, meanwhile, showed how high the stakes are in such judicial fights: On Feb. 25, the court ruled in Locke vs. Davey that states, in handing out scholarships, could discriminate against students who choose to study theology. "Let there be no doubt," said Justice Antonin Scalia, one of only two dissenters. "This case is about discrimination against a religious minority."
Haiti unrest Haitian fighters surrounded Port-au-Prince and prepared to take the capital even as President Jean-Bertrand Aristide battled to hold onto power. But the head of state is running out of friends. The United States hesitated to support him, even though it sent an invasion force to do just that in 1994. Last week the Bush administration sent 50 U.S. Marines to protect the American embassy and its departing citizens. France, which had called for Mr. Aristide to resign, blamed him for the chaos and 3-week-old rebellion.
The general population, too, has turned on Mr. Aristide, holing up in their homes or turning against his dwindling militias. At least 1,000 police officers have left their posts since the rebellion began. "People did once love him but now they don't want him," said Charles Amicy, a Haitian pastor who fled to the United States for temporary sanctuary in the midst of the unrest (see story, p. 31).
A convicted drug lord, meanwhile, provided damning testimony against Mr. Aristide in a Miami courtroom Feb. 25. Beaudoin "Jacques" Ketant testified that Mr. Aristide profited from cocaine trafficking, allowing Colombian drug cartels to funnel over 40 tons of drugs through Haiti to the United States. "He turned the country into a narco-country," said Mr. Ketant, who is being sentenced to 27 years for money laundering and trafficking.
Sudan A senior State Department official announced an American initiative to bring together Sudanese officials and western Sudan rebel leaders to end what he called "the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today."
Roger Winter, assistant administrator for the State Department's bureau for democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance, returned on Feb. 25 from a trip to Sudan's western Darfur province, where he said he flew over burning villages and visited displaced camps in Sudan where tens of thousands have no food or medical supplies.
At a State Department briefing the next day, he told reporters he believed 3 million people-half the population of Darfur-are affected by the crisis, which began with fighting between rebels and government-armed militias.
Mr. Winter, however, emphasized that victims of the crisis say rebels are not initiating the violence, only the Khartoum-inspired militias. They enter villages on camels and horseback, defeat the underarmed villagers, and ignite their homes and farms-a tactic used before in predominantly Christian areas of Sudan. Mr. Winter described these attacks as "ethnic cleansing."
Bush administration officials, who have placed peace negotiations between Khartoum and southern rebels on the front burner for two years, now must address the Darfur conflict, even though Sudanese President Omar Bashir says he is not ready to come to the table with Darfur leaders. "We have an American initiative," Mr. Winter said. "But we have no solution."