Massachusetts Kills Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment genre: Gaylingual

Gay Marriage

The Massachusetts legislature has killed a bill that was designed to begin the process of eliminating gay marriage in the state. The bill would have placed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on the ballot for voter consideration in November of 2008. The defeat keeps intact the 2003 ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that mandated the institution of gay marriages.

From The Human Rights Campaign:

WASHINGTON — Today, during a joint session, Massachusetts lawmakers voted 151 to 45 to defeat a measure that would have placed a discriminatory, anti-marriage constitutional amendment before voters on the November 2008 ballot. The proposed amendment threatened to undo the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s historic 2003 decision making the state the first to recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“This proposed constitutional amendment was a misguided attempt to put peoples’ equal rights to a vote. We are grateful that the overwhelming majority of Massachusetts legislators rejected this divisive measure," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Today’s vote is a reaffirmation of Massachusetts’ proud record of choosing equality over discrimination. For the past three years, loving and committed same-sex couples have enjoyed the equal right to marry in Massachusetts. Despite the doomsday predictions of opponents of equality, the sky hasn’t fallen, and no one’s marriage has been threatened. To the contrary, the institution of marriage has been strengthened as same-sex couples and their families have enjoyed the equal rights and protections they deserve under Massachusetts law. The legislature’s action ensures that they will continue to enjoy those equal rights and protections."

The Massachusetts state constitution requires that just one-fourth of elected legislators approve an “initiative amendment" (a proposed constitutional amendment introduced in the legislature by initiative petition signed by a specified number of voters), in consecutive joint legislative sessions before the proposed amendment goes to the voters. Opponents of equality gathered signatures to place the proposed anti-marriage amendment before the legislature by initiative petition. Last January, 62 of the state’s 200 legislators voted in favor of the proposed amendment, which would define marriage “only as the union of one man and one woman." If 50 or more legislators had voted in favor of the proposed amendment today, it would have been placed before the voters on the 2008 ballot.

The vote was always expected to be close and less than a month ago there were concerns opponents of gay marriage may have had the needed votes. In my opinion, the longer residents of Massachusetts live with gay marriage...and realize that it has no real impact on their relationships and their families...the more difficult it will be to overturn. Adding to that rationale is evidence that young voters are overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage...a factor that will increasingly impact the debate as it will behoove politicians to be mindful of public sentiment.

UPDATE:

According to the Boston Globe, opponents of gay marriage will now have to wait until the 2012 election to petition the legislature to allow a similar constitutional amendment. It looks like that will provide some additional time for opposition to wane as well as some much needed breathing room for supporters of gay marriage.

Daniel DiRito | June 14, 2007 | 11:31 AM
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