Gay marriage ban advances
In a suspense-filled final day of the legislative session Tuesday,
Massachusetts lawmakers kept alive a proposed constitutional amendment
that would put a stop to gay marriage in the only state that allows
same-sex couples to wed.
The vote came after weeks of mounting legal and political pressure on
legislators from both sides in the debate.
With a combination of parliamentary maneuvering, flip-flopping and
brinksmanship, lawmakers gave the first round of approval necessary for
the amendment to appear on the ballot in 2008. The measure still needs
the endorsement of the next legislative session.
If the amendment makes it onto the ballot and residents approve it,
it will leave Massachusetts' 8,000 existing gay marriages intact but ban
any new ones.
"This is democracy in action. It's not a vengeance campaign," said
Kris Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a conservative group
that opposes gay marriage.
If lawmakers had failed to act on the amendment Tuesday, the measure
would have died, and opponents of gay marriage who collected 170,000
signatures to try to put the issue on the ballot would have had to start
The pressure on lawmakers came from all sides: Gay rights activists
and Democratic Gov.-elect Deval Patrick called on the Legislature to let
the measure die without a vote.