Press

Vote on Massachusetts anti-marriage constitutional amendment postponed

Date: 
July 12, 2006

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

WASHINGTON, July 12 —  The Massachusetts constitutional convention recessed today without considering a constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition that would effectively overrule the state high court’s 2004 decision requiring the state to license same-sex marriages. The constitutional convention has recessed until Nov. 9, leaving the fate of the pending initiative petition proposal uncertain.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“We are relieved that the Massachusetts Legislature, meeting in its constitutional convention, recessed without taking up the immoral amendment seeking to overturn marriage equality in the Bay State. In 2004, the state’s high court ruled that there are no rational reasons for denying marriage to same-sex couples, and contrary to the dire predictions of our opponents, the institution of marriage in Massachusetts has only been strengthened. Eight thousand same-sex couples have married under state law and won the respect they and their children deserve. And the sun continues to shine — the Red Sox, who beat the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series before winning the World Series, continue to lead their archnemesis this season.

“While this is a welcome respite, it does not provide permanent relief to gay and lesbian couples in Massachusetts. To date, they have had to endure 16 yes or no votes about the validity of their relationships. And another vote this year is still likely. This playing with people’s lives to advance narrow political and partisan interests is beyond cruel. 

“We continue to applaud the extraordinary work of MassEquality in defending marriage and look forward to the day when attempts to overturn this fundamental right are rejected once and for all.

“The Legislature has put the issue of banning same-sex marriage on a back burner to attend to other pressing and important issues affecting all the people of Massachusetts. It would do well to permanently consign this immoral and mean-spirited proposal to the legislative dustbin and move on.“


Background

Massachusetts was the first state to sanction same-sex marriages as a result of the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Goodridge et al. v. Department of Public Health, holding that the Massachusetts constitution, known as the Declaration of Rights, required full marriage equality. The initiative petition is the second effort since the Goodridge decision went into effect to amend the Declaration of Rights to prohibit same-sex marriage. A legislatively proposed amendment was voted on favorably by the joint constitutional convention in 2004 but was soundly defeated in the 2005 convention. The Task Force was able to contribute significantly to the successful effort in 2005 to persuade important leaders of the amendment effort to change their votes. The current initiative petition effort requires approximately 66,000 registered voter signatures and at least 50 votes in the constitutional convention to proceed.

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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.