In a victory for same-sex marriage, the Massachusetts legislature rejected a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage but legalize civil unions last week. In only two hours of deliberation, the state House and Senate voted against the amendment 157-39. The legislature had passed the amendment 105-92 just last year, but the amendment needed approval of two consecutive sessions of the legislature to go on the statewide ballot in 2006.
State Senator Brian Lees, a Republican former co-sponsor of the amendment, told the Associated Press, “Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry. This amendment, which was an appropriate measure or compromise a year ago, is no longer, I feel, a compromise today.” Conservatives have said they will introduce a stricter ban, one that does not allow for Vermont-style civil unions, as early as 2008.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 65 percent of the 6,142 same-sex couples who have married since May 2004, when Massachusetts first began allowing same-sex couples to wed, were women.