Press

Task Force Hails Defeat of Massachusetts Anti-Marriage Amendment

Date: 
September 14, 2005

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Hails Defeat of Massachusetts Anti-Marriage Amendment;
Lauds Efforts of State and Local Leaders
"Vote proves dogged grassroots organizing can change legislative votes"

Task Force Contributes $346,000 to Effort

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force hailed today's defeat of a proposed Massachusetts constitutional amendment seeking to ban same-sex marriage and create civil unions. The measure was defeated today by a vote of 157 to 39 by the state Legislature meeting in a joint constitutional convention, having passed the body in March, 2004 by a vote of 105-92. Had it passed today, it would have been on the statewide ballot in November, 2006.

"Today's vote proves that dogged grassroots organizing can change legislative votes" said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "MassEquality and its campaign director Marty Rouse have done an extraordinary job and we are very proud to be on-the-ground partners with them in preserving marriage equality in the one state where it now exists."

"The reality of thousands of our marriages in Massachusetts showed the utter fallacy of our opponents' arguments and dire predictions," Foreman said. "Not only did the crops not wither, the Red Sox won the World Series and the Patriots took the Super Bowl."

"This victory is especially sweet. The Legislature's resounding defeat of the mean-spirited amendment to strip away our right to marry affirms and echoes the courageous stand of our state's Supreme Judicial Court. In its Goodridge decision, the Court conferred full recognition of our families' human dignity and goodness and today, our Legislature agreed," said Cambridge resident Sue Hyde, a longtime Task Force staffer and co-founder and board member of MassEquality.

Since early 2004, the Task Force and its sister organization NGLTF, Inc. have spent $346,000 working in partnership with MassEquality and other organizations on a wide range of activities to preserve marriage equality in Massachusetts, including:


Making direct cash grants to MassEquality;
Organizing and staffing a program involving nearly 3,000 volunteers to identify pro-gay voters;
Organizing and staffing in conjunction with MassEquality a door-to-door and phone-banking operation to bring constituent pressure to bear on state legislators in Western Massachusetts;
Assigning staff to lobby the state legislature;
Issuing a ground-breaking analysis of the economic disparities faced by Massachusetts same-sex couples if denied equal marriage rights;
Organizing a "Power Summit" in Boston that trained 100 activists on talking to voters about marriage equality;
Bringing the National Religious Leadership Roundtable to Boston to lobby legislators during the first Constitutional Convention last winter.

Through this work, the Task Force was the lead organizer in 11 major door-to-door voter canvasses and in filling hundreds of phonebanking shifts.

"The Task Force's Sue Hyde of Cambridge helped form MassEquality four years ago and since then the Task Force has only increased its commitment in Massachusetts," said MassEquality Campaign Director Marty Rouse. "We are proud of our partnership with the Task Force — with their expertise we were able to surpass our voter ID goals this summer. Together, we have built a growing equal marriage majority in Massachusetts."

The fight to preserve marriage equality in the Bay State is not over. Anti-marriage groups are aiming to place a constitutional amendment on the 2008 ballot that seeks to ban same-sex marriages without creating civil unions. To get on the ballot, backers must gather 65,825 signatures and then it has to pass in two successive sessions of the legislature. Anti-marriage groups can begin circulating petitions for the new amendment on September 21.

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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.