Legislators Discuss Gay 'Marriage'; Massachusetts Leaders Favor Civil-Union Law

Article excerpt

Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Massachusetts legislature, which meets year-round, is in its quiet season - no contentious issues are expected to be taken up before early January.

But behind the scenes, many meetings are being held on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's Nov. 18 ruling, which said same-sex couples were being denied the right to "marry."

The high court stayed its ruling for 180 days "to permit the legislature to take such action as it may deem appropriate in light of this opinion."

Supporters of same-sex "marriage" see the six-month stay as time for lawmakers to rewrite state marriage laws to conform to the decision.

For example, state law bars a woman from marrying her father or brother, said Mary Bonauto of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. The law should be updated to say that a woman also is barred from marrying her mother or sister, said Miss Bonauto, the lead attorney for the homosexual couples who won the right to "marry" in Goodridge v. Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

But state Rep. Vinnie DeMacedo, a Republican who opposes same-sex "marriage," says the discussions he has been hearing about are going in a totally different direction, toward passing a state version of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), defining marriage as the legal union of a man and a woman.

"I know that the administration is working hard to put up a strategy. I know the legislature is working to put up a strategy. But it's not gay marriage. It's 'Make a DOMA and provide a civil union within that,' " Mr. DeMacedo said.

A civil union would allow specific rights and responsibilities to same-sex and other nontraditional couples, but would not call them "marriages."

House Speaker Tom Finneran, a Democrat who opposes same-sex "marriage," has "been quiet, but he's been busy," added Mr. DeMacedo, a co-sponsor of a Massachusetts DOMA bill. …