Calif. sets date on same-sex unions

SAN FRANCISCO - Barring a stay of a historic California Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples can wed in the state beginning June 17, according to a California directive issued yesterday.

The state said it chose June 17 because the court has until the previous day to decide whether to grant a stay of its May 15 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

The guidelines from Janet McKee, chief of California's office of vital records, to the state's 58 county clerks also contained copies of new marriage forms that include lines for

Party A

and

Party B

instead of

bride

and

groom

.

A group opposed to same-sex marriage has asked the court to stay its decision until after the Nov. 4 election, when voters are likely to face a ballot initiative that would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

- AP

Top geneticist to quit government

WASHINGTON - The government is losing its gene guru: Francis Collins, who helped lead the breakthrough unraveling of the human genetic code - and found common ground between the belief in God and science - is resigning.

Collins, 58, arguably the nation's most influential geneticist, said yesterday that he would leave the National Institutes of Health this summer to write a book and explore other opportunities.

Collins helped translate the complexities of DNA into everyday vernacular. He led the Human Genome Project, which mapped the genetic code. He also became a leading advocate for genetic privacy. Last year, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

- AP

Retrial ordered in 1985 slaying

NASHVILLE - A federal judge yesterday ordered Tennessee to quickly retry or free a death-row inmate whose conviction was questioned after the U.S. Supreme Court said new evidence raised reasonable doubt about his guilt.

Paul House, sentenced to die for the 1985 slaying of Carolyn Muncey, 29, has been in limbo while a prosecutor battles efforts to have him retried. House, 46, maintains that he did not kill Muncey.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Harry S. Mattice Jr. held a hearing to consider conditions for releasing House, who has multiple sclerosis. Instead, he granted House's request to force prosecutors to begin a new trial quickly instead of waiting till November. Mattice said the process must begin by June 17 or House must be freed.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A rule by the Dallas

suburb of Farmers Branch against renting apartments to illegal immigrants was declared unconstitutional yesterday. Policing immigration is the federal government's job, U.S. District Judge Sam Lindsay said.

Two commuter trains

collided and derailed during the evening rush in the Boston suburb of Newton yesterday, injuring about 10 passengers and trapping the seriously injured operator of one train, authorities said. Investigators did not know what caused the wreck.