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News Briefs

Census Counts Nearly 1.2 Million Gay and Lesbian Couples

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

Nearly 1.2 million people say they are part of gay and lesbian couples in the United States, and though most live in metropolitan areas, nearly one in six lives in a rural community, according to 2000 Census numbers released Wednesday.

Three Washington-area jurisdictions -- D.C., Alexandria, Va., and Arlington County, Va. -- ranked among the top 10 in concentration of gay or lesbian households, according to an analysis by Urban Institute researcher Gary Gates. The Washington metro area ranked fourth -- behind San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles -- in the number of heavily gay or lesbian neighborhoods.

The census counted nearly as many lesbian couples as gay male couples, a change from 1990, when many more males were recorded. That helps explain the sharp increase in same-sex couples in rural areas, where, the Census shows, lesbians are more likely to live.

Despite the increase, though, advocates say the number of gay couples reported by the Census figures was almost certainly low, because some people are reluctant to tell the government of their relationships, even on a confidential form.

Helms to Retire at End of His Term

THE WASHINGTON POST -- WASHINGTON

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) one of the most powerful conservatives on Capitol Hill for the past three decades and a former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, plans to announce Wednesday that he will retire when his term expires in early 2003, sources said Tuesday.

Helms, who will turn 80 in October, has suffered from a variety of health problems in recent years and has been mulling for months over whether to run for a sixth term, with his family pushing hard for him to return to North Carolina.

The senator’s office declined comment but other sources, including Republicans both here and in North Carolina, said Helms is planning to announce his retirement Wednesday night on WRAL-TV in Raleigh, where he worked as a political commentator before running for the Senate. Helms aides began telling key Republicans of his plans late Tuesday.

Helms’ retirement would deprive the Senate of one of its most ardent champions of conservative causes that ranged from fighting communism abroad to promoting school prayer and combating pornography at home.

Megawati, Arroyo Will Cooperate

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- MANILA, PHILIPPINES

It is a sisterhood of two: The daughters of presidents who themselves became presidents. They were born the same year and rose to replace the allegedly corrupt and inept men who led their countries.

Today, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are the two most powerful women in Southeast Asia.

The two leaders, who together rule more than 300 million people spread among 24,000 islands, met Tuesday for the first time since they both took office earlier this year and pledged to help each other.

“President Megawati and I agreed that since our fathers, President Sukarno and President Macapagal, were like brothers, we should also be like sisters, supporting each other as we seek solutions to problems we inherited,” Arroyo said during a joint appearance at her palace in Manila. The two women represent the new dynasties of Southeast Asian democracy. Arroyo’s father, Diosdado Macapagal, served as president of the Philippines from 1961 to 1965. Megawati’s father was Indonesia’s first president and led the nation from 1945 to 1965.