Same-Sex Marriage Ban Moves Forward in Massachusetts

Same-sex marriage advocates were delivered a major blow on Tuesday when the Massachusetts legislature voted to advance a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and woman. Three-years ago, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled that same-sex marriage should be legal. However, last week the same court proclaimed that lawmakers should weigh in on the amendment, thus spurring the legislative vote. In a joint session with the House and Senate, the proposal passed by a 132 to 62 vote. Same-sex marriage proponents convinced the legislature to reconsider the amendment, but the second vote yielded a similar 134 to 62 defeat.

The amendment will now move to another vote in the 2007-2008 session. It must be approved by 50 legislators in order for it to be added to the ballot in November 2008. If Massachusetts voters pass the amendment, same-sex marriages performed since May 2004 would still be honored but no new unions would be permitted.

This proposed amendment is important for both the old and new residents of the governor’s mansion. Outgoing Governor Mitt Romney (R) has pushed for marriage to be defined as a union between a man and a woman, working closely with same-sex marriage opponents to push for a vote within the legislature. Incoming Governor Deval Patrick (D) is opposed to the ban. He lobbied throughout the State House and held a press conference to encourage legislators to cast a “No” vote on the measure. The New York Times reported that Governor-Elect Patrick strongly objected to the constitutional amendment process, saying, “I believe that adults should be free to choose whom they wish to love and marry,” and that an amendment should not be used “to give a minority fewer freedoms than the majority.”
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Boston Globe 1/3/07; New York Times 1/3/07

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