Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Safe and Sorry: When the Massachusetts Legislature Voted to Place an Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage on the Ballot, It Sacrificed Minority Rights to Appease the Majority

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Safe and Sorry: When the Massachusetts Legislature Voted to Place an Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage on the Ballot, It Sacrificed Minority Rights to Appease the Majority

Article excerpt

From the moment Massachusetts began allowing same-sex marriage on May 17, 2004, antigay groups have tried to put measures on the ballot that would amend the state constitution to ban it. Up until January 2, state lawmakers ignored such attempts, using a variety of parliamentary tricks to avoid voting on the measures (a proposed amendment must pass two legislative sessions before it can be placed before voters). The lawmakers' dodginess seemed a bit disingenuous, but the message that came across was: Been here, done that, let's move on. Which was all good news for gays and lesbians nervous that the one place in the country where we can legally get married might suffer a relapse and move same-sex couples back into the "second-class citizenship" column.

However, faced with 170,000 signatures gathered by amendment supporters and an admonishment from the state's highest court to consider the measure, lawmakers reversed course January 2 and voted. The result? The amendment is now one legislative session away from being decided by voters.

Lawmakers who had seemed cagey for all the right reasons had now become politically correct for all the wrong ones. "I'm very proud we took a vote," said Democratic senator Sue Tucker, who opposed the amendment. …

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