Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Victory for Same-Sex Marriage Advocates

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Victory for Same-Sex Marriage Advocates

Article excerpt

After more than five years of contentious debate over the definition of marriage in Massachusetts, lawmakers handed same-sex marriage advocates a victory June 14 by defeating an amendment that would have rolled back civil-marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

On Jan. 2, the marriage amendment garnered the support of 62 lawmakers. But this time the vote was 45-151, falling short of the 50 necessary to advance the measure to voters in November 2008. Two consecutive sessions of the Legislature must approve ballot measures before the voters have their say.

"Marriage is secure in Massachusetts," said attorney Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

Bonauto argued the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. On Nov. 18, 2003, the court found no "rational basis" to exclude gay and lesbian couples from the responsibilities, benefits and duties of civil marriage.

Heading into the June 14 vote,, a coalition of groups formed to preserve same-sex marriage, and the Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus stepped up their activities, lobbying lawmakers and sponsoring TV commercials.

Kris Mineau, spokesperson for and the Massachusetts Family Institute, two groups that supported the ballot measure, said he was "disappointed" with the vote, but added, "This is not the end.... We've been here for 16 years and we are going to continue to promote traditional family values with marriage as the No. 1 issue."

The Catholic hierarchy, along with its lobbying arm, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, and other lay Catholic groups have been outspoken against gay marriage. Throughout the amendment campaign, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley appeared at several high-profile rallies and news conferences, speaking out against "unelected judges" who redefined marriage without the people's consent. …

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