Same-sex marriage threatened in Massachusetts

Voters may eventually decide whether to overturn the state's legalization of same-sex marriage.

By Tracy Clark-Flory
Published January 4, 2007 1:20AM (EST)

On Tuesday, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was quickly -- and without debate -- pushed forward in Massachusetts' Legislature. Now, if the amendment secures the support of at least 50 lawmakers when the Legislature votes again on the issue, it will be brought before voters on the state's 2008 ballot. The vote amounted to a call to arms for gay rights activists who aren't willing to see the state's legalization of same-sex marriage annulled so quickly. "The price that our children and families will pay is so severe that we simply have to recommit ourselves to fight this some more," Arline Isaacson, co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, told the New York Times.

It seemed at first that the amendment would never even earn a legislative vote; two months ago, the Legislature adjourned without voting on the issue. According to the Times, most predicted that it would be ignored again when it was taken up on Tuesday. But, last week, Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court lambasted the Legislature, calling the vote-sidestepping a breach of "its constitutional duties."

When the amendment is voted on a second time it will face a new Legislature with more same-sex marriage supporters. But, again, it needs only 50 supporters to go on to voters. And if it does make it to the ballot? The Times reports that "polls in Massachusetts have generally found that just over half of the citizens surveyed supported same-sex marriage." Still, "the same number wanted the constitutional amendment to come before voters."

Activists are hardly consoled by the fact that the 8,000 same-sex marriages that have taken place in Massachusetts thus far will not be terminated if the amendment is passed. David Wilson, a plaintiff in the 2004 suit that legalized same-sex marriage in the state, told the Times: "It feels like the rug has been pulled out from under us," he said. "Maybe I'll feel better tomorrow, but today I feel like I've been shot."


Tracy Clark-Flory

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