MARRIAGE DIGEST: Romney to take legal action on amend.; San Fran., Seattle have highest percentage of homosexuals
BOSTON (BP)--With an estimated crowd of approximately 7,000 citizens looking on in front of the state capitol, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Nov. 19 he would take legal action to try and place a proposed constitutional marriage amendment on the 2008 ballot.
Romney's action would come in the final weeks of his governorship and just before legislators are scheduled to gather one more time Jan. 2 at a constitutional convention to address the amendment. Although supporters say the amendment has the votes to pass -- it needs only support by one-fourth of the body -- a majority of legislators meeting Nov. 9 at a constitutional convention voted to recess until Jan. 2 without acting on the amendment. Both sides of the debate expect legislators to try and take the same action on Jan. 2, the final day of the session. The amendment would die if that happens.
Approximately 170,000 Massachusetts citizens signed petitions in favor of the proposal to place it before the legislature. If it passes this session, it must pass again in the next session before going to voters.
"Last week, 109 legislators decided to reject the law, abandon the [Massachusetts] constitution [and] violate their oath of office," Romney told the crowd, referring to a 109-87 vote to recess.
"The constitution quite plainly states that when a qualified petition is placed before them, the legislature 'shall' vote. It does not say may vote, or vote if its own procedures permit a vote, or vote if there are enough of the members in attendance. It says 'shall' vote," he added to loud applause.
The issue now before the legislature, Romney said, is not whether "gay marriage" should be legal, but instead "whether 109 legislators will follow the constitution."
Romney said he would ask a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court justice to place the amendment on the ballot if legislators don't vote on it. The SJC is the state's highest court.
Park rangers estimated the crowd to be around 7,000, according to the Massachusetts Family Institute.
More than half of all states (27) have adopted marriage amendments, and several others -- Florida and Indiana among them -- already are pushing to place them on the 2008 ballot.
If it is adopted, the amendment essentially would reverse a 2003 ruling by the state high court legalizing "gay marriage." Before he spoke, Romney led the crowd in several cheers of "let the people vote!" A Republican, he opposed the 2003 ruling and also says he opposes Vermont-style civil unions.
According to the Associated Press, the day after Romney spoke he mailed the 109 legislators a letter, which read in part, "I have enclosed a copy of the constitution and your oath of office" -- implying they were violating both by not allowing an up-or-down vote on the amendment.
Amendment supporters have dubbed the Nov. 9 convention the "unconstitutional convention."
CITIES LEAD LEGAL BATTLES -- Not surprisingly, seven of the 10 cities with the highest percentage of self-identifying homosexuals are located in states at the head of "gay marriage" legal battles, a new study says.
As reported in a study cited by The Seattle Times, four California cities -- led by San Francisco -- rank in the Top 10 among U.S. cities that have the highest percentage of residents calling themselves homosexual. The study by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that 15.4 percent of adult San Francisco residents consider themselves to be homosexual, lesbian or bisexual. San Francisco ranks No. 1, Oakland (12.1 percent) No. 6, Sacramento (9.8) No. 7 and Long Beach (8.1) No. 10.
Seattle (12.9 percent) ranks second on the list, Atlanta (12.8) third, Minneapolis (12.5) fourth and Boston (12.3) fifth. Portland (8.8 percent) is eighth, Denver (8.2 percent) ninth.
Officials in California, Washington state, Massachusetts and Oregon all have been sued by supporters of "gay marriage" in recent years. In addition, Colorado defeated an effort on Election Day to legalize marriage-like domestic partnerships.
DEBATE NOT OVER IN WIS.? -- Nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin voters backed a proposed constitutional marriage amendment on Election Day, but some supporters of "gay marriage" say the debate isn't over in the state. In fact, the editorial page editor of the Madison newspaper says it's just a matter of time before "gay marriage" is legalized in Wisconsin.
"Wisconsin will accept gay marriage sooner than you might think," Scott Milfred, the editorial page editor of the Wisconsin State Journal, wrote in a Nov. 18 editorial. "It's relatively easy to change the Wisconsin Constitution, compared to the process in other states and at the federal level. … [T]hanks to the high-profile debate Wisconsin just had over gay marriage and civil unions, more people than ever before are sold on the idea of treating gay and lesbian people fairly."
He concluded: "Wisconsin is probably the most likely state in the nation to reverse course and, before long, give gay people the respect they deserve."
The amendment passed by a margin of 59-41 percent. The legislature placed it on the ballot by passing it in two consecutive sessions.
For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage