On April 30, Texas became the 37th state to pass a Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage to be a union only between a man and a woman. Conservative forces fear the courts could nullify the 37 state DOMA laws as well as the 1996 federal DOMA law. To counter possible court rulings right-wing federal legislators plan to introduce an amendment to the US Constitution soon called the Federal Marriage Amendment.
365Gay.com reports that Massachusetts is currently considering a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The Massachusetts proposal goes beyond defining marriage as between a man and a woman. It would also prevent state recognition of civil unions and prohibit domestic partners from receiving health benefits, even if employers were inclined to offer them. A similar measure brought up in Massachusetts by a voter-generated petition was defeated last year in a procedural move to adjourn. This year’s constitutional amendment was introduced by state Rep. Philip Travis and drafted by the right-wing Massachusetts Family Institute. Because it is being sponsored by a state lawmaker, 50 percent of a state Constitutional Convention comprised of the House and Senate must support the amendment in two consecutive sessions, making 2006 the earliest the measure could be on the ballot.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is now considering a case challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, contending that it violates the state constitution. The case prompted some state legislators to announce support for the amendment banning gay marriage to the state constitution if the Supreme Judicial Court makes gay marriage legal in order to invalidate the court’s ruling. This case is also one of the court proceedings that has motivated conservative forces to look to a US Constitutional amendment to ensure that same-sex marriages are prohibited throughout the country.