Mass. marriage amendment could head to voters soon
BOSTON, Mass. (BP)--Massachusetts could be only days away from taking the next step toward overturning the state's landmark "gay marriage" law.
Legislators there will gather May 9 for a constitutional convention where a marriage amendment is scheduled for debate. If one-fourth of legislators -- that is, 50 -- support it, then it will go before voters next year. If voters then approve it, "gay marriage" will become illegal in the state -- some four years after it officially became law.
Although Senate President Therese Murray, a Democrat, has said a vote on the amendment could be delayed several weeks until a budget is passed, supporters of the amendment are hoping the vote takes place sooner, rather than later.
"We're very confident that we have the votes necessary to pass the second constitutional convention. It's a question of whether the vote will be held or not on May 9 or recessed to a later date this year," Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, told Baptist Press. "We've certainly mobilized our base, calling for a vote on May 9, and we're optimistic. A lot of the legislators want to vote on May 9. They want to get this over with and move it on to the next phase."
Amending the constitution in Massachusetts is a lengthy, multi-year process, requiring passage by two consecutive sessions of the legislature and approval by voters. The amendment already passed once, when legislators meeting Jan. 2, on the final day of the last session, approved it with 62 votes. A record 170,000 Massachusetts citizens signed petitions to qualify the amendment for legislative consideration.
Senate support for the amendment has dropped some in recent months due to losses during the last election, retirements or resignations, although it still has "57 confirmed votes," Mineau said.
The fact that amendment supporters are so close to victory has "gay marriage" backers concerned, and perhaps even desperate. The Boston Globe published a story May 3 telling how two members of the homosexual group MassEquality met with Democratic National Committee officials "to make their case that a high-profile, expensive battle in Massachusetts next year would drain valuable resources away from the presidential race and its other national political efforts." According to The Globe, MassEquality, along with Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick and state party leaders, are targeting about two dozen Democratic legislators who support the amendment. MassEquality wants the national party to pressure those same lawmakers.
"If this question makes it to the ballot, it would draw tremendous resources into a political fight in Massachusetts that otherwise would be spent on national campaigns," Marc Solomon, campaign director for MassEquality, told The Globe. "Democratic donors would redirect their money here for a campaign that would be a higher priority for them."
Additionally, the Associated Press reported that MassEquality produced an 11-minute DVD where Wisconsin legislators urge Massachusetts lawmakers not to let the amendment go to voters. Last year Wisconsin citizens adopted a marriage amendment by a margin of 59-41 percent.
"It’s a crapshoot sometimes when you take it to the voter," Wisconsin state Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat, says on the video, according to AP. "Do you really want mob rule deciding who's going to be discriminated against and who's not going to be discriminated against?"
Mineau said the DVD has backfired.
"Several [Massachusetts] legislators who oppose us are highly indignant of this DVD that implies that Massachusetts would be run by mob rule," Mineau said. "... If you listen to the DVD, these are just plain sore losers, and now they're trying to export their soreness to their compatriots here in Massachusetts, and it's not going over very well at all. Their definition of mob rule is democracy."
Even though Mineau wants a May 9 vote, he realizes that historically, the legislature rarely votes on an amendment during its first meeting.
"They're obligated by the constitution to come together [the second Wednesday in May], and then they can recess to a later date," he said. "They are in the budget cycle right now, and historically they've always deferred to a later date in June or July once the budget cycle is completed."
The amendment defines marriage as the "union of one man and one woman." It also has one unique caveat: It allows "gay marriages" entered into prior to the adoption of the amendment to stand. Amendment supporters feared that without that language, it could easily be overturned in court. Additionally, a more strongly worded amendment likely would have faced an even tougher battle in the legislature, where the current version barely receives support from one-fourth of lawmakers.
Nevertheless, passage of the amendment by legislators and then by voters would be a remarkable feat in a state that has bucked the nationwide trend against "gay marriage." Churches across the state can play a positive role in getting the amendment on the ballot, Mineau said. He and Focus on the Family's H.B. London Jr. have been traveling across Massachusetts, urging pastors to get involved in the debate.
"Certainly the pastors have a loud voice with the legislators because they represent a large constituency," Mineau said, "but also pastors are calling on their parishioners, encouraging them, exhorting them to be salt and light and contact their legislators themselves."
For information about the Massachusetts marriage amendment, visit www.VoteOnMarriage.org.