Thursday, May 10, 2007

Massachusetts Lawmakers Against Postpone Marriage Amendment Vote

With less than a week until gay activists celebrate the third anniversary of marriage for same-sex couples in Massachusetts, lawmakers on Beacon Hill yesterday again debated the future of a proposed Constitutional amendment to ban these unions. This contentious debate has continued in the Commonwealth since the Supreme Judicial Court issued its landmark Goodridge decision in 2003. Lawmakers, true to form, postponed a vote on the proposed amendment until June 14.

The case can be made activists need to again make the case for marriage for same-sex couples after the legislature voted to approve the amendment during their Constitutional Convention earlier this year. The SJC ruled a few days before the vote the Constitution mandates a vote on the amendment and other citizen-sponsored petitions. Activists suffered a stinging defeat because their strategy had relied on the use of parliamentary tactics to block a vote. Nearly six months later, they continue to lobby lawmakers in key legislative districts with Gov. Deval Patrick's approval and the support of other key legislators. The tide has certainly changed with the Deval administration and Senate President Therese Murray. Activists and their supporters, however, cannot fall back into a false sense of security that seemed to dominate past debates. More than 8,000 couples have married in Massachusetts since Goodridge became law in 2004. The sky has truly not fallen onto the Commonwealth and activists will have something additional to celebrate next May 17 if they successfully kill the amendment.

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