Legislators defeated a proposed amendment 151 to 45 to change the Massachusetts constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Massachusetts is the only state in the US where same-sex marriage is legal and has been since May 2004. Five other states provide civil unions or their equivalent. The amendment would have required 50 favorable votes in order to be approved for a referendum in the November 2008 election.
“In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure,” Governor Deval Patrick (D) told the New York Times. Patrick, a strong supporter of same-sex marriage rights, added that a 2008 referendum would have distracted voters from other important state issues.
In the state legislature last year, some 62 lawmakers supported the amendment. With the election of more pro-gay and lesbian rights legislators and Gov. Patrick, and intense work by national and local lesbian and gay rights groups, the amendment was defeated. “This was the focus of our national community,” Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told the New York Times. “Frankly, a loss today would have been very demoralizing.”