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News Briefs

Boston Labor Union Denies Benefits for Married Gays


A Boston labor union representing some 6,000 members has amended its benefit plans to exclude gay married couples from receiving health and pension benefits, evoking fear in some labor unions in Massachusetts that the move will set a dangerous precedent for other unions and employers throughout the state.

Anticipating the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts next week, trustees and administrators of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, issued a “clarification” of the words “dependent spouse” to mean “a person of the opposite sex.” The clarification was announced in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Boston Globe, sent Friday to union members throughout eastern Massachusetts.

“In light of all the changes that are coming, we just wanted to be ahead of the curve and make the clarification,” administrator Russell F. Sheehan explained in an interview yesterday.

Lawyers say the union’s move effectively denying married couples of the same sex the same benefits as married couples of the opposite sex is legal. All employers and unions whose benefit plans are covered under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 can choose whether to extend benefits to spouses of the same sex, said Matt Giuliani, a Boston lawyer specializing in employee benefits.

Marine Convoy Enters Fallujah


In a tiny, carefully choreographed convoy, and with not a shot fired, U.S. Marines on Monday made their way into the embattled city of Fallujah, where a two-star general met for 25 minutes with his anointed local leaders on sullenly quiet streets.

Whether the meeting was a historic breakthrough, as the Marines claimed afterward, or just another step in the American effort to bring some sort of order to a country they have conquered but not fully subdued, remained to be seen.

But what was clear was that it was another shift in the American effort to get control of the situation -- this time, perhaps, by attaching itself to whatever local authority might be seen as legitimate, even if it was a holdover from Saddam Hussein’s rule. Similar efforts appeared to be under way with the Shiite tribal leadership in the south in an attempt to undermine the insurgency led by the rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The foray into the city, the product of intensive and frequently revised planning, was in stark contrast to the American approach through the past month.

The rebellious city had been under military siege since April 5, after four American contractors were brutally slain in an ambush and their bodies defiled by a mob.