Press

Right-Wing Effort to Ban Same-Sex Marriage in Massachusetts Defeated

Date: 
July 18, 2002

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Celebrates Victory with Local Activists

WASHINGTON - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today joined with local Massachusetts activists to celebrate their joint success in defeating a right-wing effort to pass an anti-gay constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage in the state.

"The defeat of this anti-gay, anti-family amendment shows how national organizations can effectively partner with local activists to stand up for full equality for all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people," said Lorri L. Jean, The Task Force's Executive Director. "No one, whether an agent of the government or of the radical religious right, should be in the business of punishing millions of same-sex partners for how they choose to organize their own families. A government 'of the people, by the people, and for the people' ought to serve everyone, and that means respecting and valuing our families equally."

Yesterday, a Constitutional Convention was held where a joint session of the Massachusetts House and Senate voted 137-53 to adjourn immediately without taking a vote on the controversial issue. The Constitutional Convention was called after right-wing groups collected the 130,000 signatures needed to initiate the process of passing a constitutional amendment. To appear on the ballot in November 2004, the ballot question needed to be approved by 50 of the 200 elected representatives and senators in the Massachusetts legislature before the two-year legislative session ends July 31, and again during the 2003-2004 session. If passed, the amendment would have made same-sex marriages unconstitutional in Massachusetts and accord marriage benefits only to unions between one man and one woman.

As an active member of MassEquality.org, a coalition of local, statewide and some national organizations formed to defeat the amendment, The Task Force was significantly involved from the outset of the campaign to defeat the question. In addition to providing ongoing support and technical assistance, The Task Force:

  • Trained 30 state activists in critical campaign strategy and management. Many of these 30 later took on leadership roles in the campaign.

  • By mobilizing its membership base in Massachusetts, generated thousands of letters to Massachusetts state legislators, urging them to vote against bringing the question to the voters.

  • Provided MassEquality.org with a cash contribution of $18,000, making it one of the largest single donations to the campaign.

"From Day one The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has supported our effort to defeat this homophobic and misguided amendment," said Joshua Friedes, a board member of MassEquality.org and political director of EqualMarriage.org, one of the coalition's member organizations. "They gave us the skills to set up and run an effective campaign, they gave us funding to help the campaign get off the ground, and they provided us with ongoing support and advice throughout the campaign."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.