Thursday, September 15, 2005

Massachusetts rejects same-sex marriage ban

Excellent news for proponents of the legalization of same-sex marriage from the state I once called home:

In a sign that the legalization of same-sex marriage has changed the political landscape in Massachusetts, the legislature soundly defeated a proposed constitutional amendment on Wednesday to ban gay marriage and create civil unions, an amendment that lawmakers gave preliminary approval to in a raucous constitutional convention last year.

Wednesday's 157-to-39 vote by a joint session of the House and Senate partly reflected the fact that some legislators now consider same-sex marriage more politically acceptable, after a largely conflict-free year in which some 6,600 same-sex couples got married and lawmakers who supported it got re-elected.

The vote also reflected some lawmakers' reluctance to pass a bill that could either withdraw rights from already married couples or create a class of married gay men and lesbians and a class of those unable to marry.

The fight isn't over yet, however:

Last year some legislators who opposed both same-sex marriage and civil unions voted for the amendment because they considered it their best chance at preserving marriage for heterosexuals.

This year, after it appeared that the amendment would fail, many opponents of same-sex marriage started a citizens' petition for a stricter amendment that would ban same-sex marriage without creating civil unions.

The earliest that amendment, endorsed by Gov. Mitt Romney, could become law is 2008. Supporters must get 65,000 signatures, the votes of 50 lawmakers in two consecutive legislative sessions and the approval of voters in a referendum. Both sides expect a difficult fight.

As you may know, especially if you're a regular reader of The Reaction, Canada legalized same-sex marriage over the summer. The fight for what I consider a basic right will be longer and tougher in the U.S., even in more liberal states like Massachusetts, but there is simply no turning back at this point. And rightly so. In the end, gay and lesbian couples will be treated just like their heterosexual counterparts. And America will be all the better for it.

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  • I thought it was hilarious to read a quote from a (Democratic) state legislator who had originally voted to restrict same-sex marriages, but now voted against the ban. He claims that he had his change of heart (and I'm paraphrasing) because he looked into the eyes of the children (I guess with same-sex parents) and decided this was ok. Couldn't have had anything to do with polls that showed most people in Massachusetts were ok with same-sex marriage could it?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:31 AM  

  • Being from Massachusetts, and having a lovely family headed by two men right next door to me may well bias my view... but I think Massachusetts is merely the vanguard of what will ultimately be seen to be necessary legal protection of marriage for ALL Americans. No "civil union" crap unless ALL unions recognized by the state are titled as such. But here, I think the general consensus is that we care about our neighbors and friends and family members who are gay and we want to see them given equal rights and protections. Meanwhile, I suspect that Mitt Romney's public fervor against it has more to do with his eye on national politics than genuine care for the people of his state (that, and his inability to separate his religion from his policies, which is just plain dicey).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:35 AM  

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