MARRIAGE DIGEST: Mass. marriage amendment supporters aim for 2012
BOSTON (BP)--Supporters of a defeated constitutional marriage amendment in Massachusetts say they are not giving up and will aim next year to oust legislators who opposed the proposal.
Their goal, The Boston Globe reported, is to put an amendment on the ballot in 2012, the earliest it can be done. The proposal would prohibit "gay marriage," which Massachusetts began recognizing in 2004 following a court order.
"We acknowledge that our support in the current legislature is weak, but our support among the people is tremendous," Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman for VoteOnMarriage.org, told the newspaper.
"This campaign is far from over, believe me," he said. "Some of these legislators will go away, but we will not."
Amendment supporters are starting from scratch, having lost a vote in the legislature in June that would have placed the amendment on the 2008 ballot. They needed support from only 50 legislators -- that is, one-fourth of the body -- but got only 45 when a number of legislators changed their minds. Back in January, on the last day of the legislative session, the same proposal received 62 votes. Retirements and election losses brought that number down to 57 heading into June.
The Massachusetts Family Institute and other conservative groups plan on publishing voter guides and encouraging voters to defeat amendment opponents, particularly those who went from supporting it to opposing it, The Globe said.
The first step for conservatives will be to gather signatures, something that should not be a problem. They collected a record 170,000 signatures for the most recent amendment. Assuming they get enough signatures the next time, the proposed amendment then must be approved by one-fourth of legislatures in two consecutive sessions in order to make the 2012 ballot.
WASH. PARTNERSHIPS GO INTO EFFECT -- Washington state's new same-sex domestic partnerships law went into effect July 23, granting homosexual couples some, but not all, of the legal benefits of marriage. The law also applies to heterosexual couples in which at least one partner is 62 or older, The Daily Herald in Everett, Wash., reported.
Homosexuals in the state vowed to use the new law as a springboard to legal "gay marriage," the newspaper said.
"I'm anxious for the day we will be legal in all states, not just this one," said Lee Wyman, who along with his partner, Gary Hatle, received a partnership on the first day. "I look forward to the day I can say he is my husband."
State Sen. Ed Murray, a Democrat and a "gay marriage" supporter, was optimistic. He hopes first to add more legal benefits to the domestic partnerships law, which now includes about a dozen.
"We’re going to try to push this as far as we can and as quickly as we can," Murray said, according to The Olympian. "This is about marriage equality.
"I think we can get there within the next three to 10 years," he said. "That's a guess. I hate to guess."
WAITING ON MD. -- Leaders on both sides of the "gay marriage" debate are closely watching Maryland's highest court, which could issue a much-awaited opinion on the issue any day. Known as the court of appeals, it heard oral arguments in December.
Homosexual activists in the state, though, aren't waiting, and already are lobbying legislators. If the court legalizes "gay marriage," they hope to prevent legislators from passing a marriage amendment banning it. But if the court refers the issue to the legislature, the Washington Blade reported, homosexual activists want political leaders to side with them.
"The more groundwork we do now in meeting with our state legislators and letting them know that they have same-sex couples in their districts -- and not just same-sex couples but other people who are concerned about this issue -- ... the more chance we have of being successful in the long run," Patrick Wojahn, who is homosexual and who is lobbying his legislator, told the Blade. "Also, after the decision comes down, we know that our opponents are going to be out in full force."
A decision out of Connecticut also could be handed down soon. That state's high court heard arguments in a "gay marriage" case in May.
OHIO COURT UPHOLDS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW -- The Ohio Supreme Court July 25 upheld the state's domestic violence law, ruling that it does not violate the state's constitutional marriage amendment.
The case involved a man convicted of assaulting his girlfriend. His lawyer argued that under the state's marriage amendment, the domestic violence law no longer applies, since the amendment bans the recognition of any "legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals." Domestic relationships, the lawyer argued, fall under that category. But the court disagreed.
The 6-1 decision was applauded by both sides of the "gay marriage" debate, although it likely gives a boost to supporters of proposed marriage amendments in other states. That's because amendment opponents can no longer point to Ohio and argue that a proposed amendment -- such as in Florida, which likely will consider one in 2008 -- would endanger domestic violence laws.
The ruling overturned a lower court decision that had declared the domestic violence law unconstitutional.