Thursday, July 13, 2006

Massachusetts votes to delay gay marriage vote

Massachusetts votes to delay gay marriage vote
By Rebecca Knight
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006
Published: July 13 2006 00:30 | Last updated: July 13 2006 00:30
Massachusetts’ legislators voted on to delay a debate on gay marriage until Nov. 9, two days after the general election.

The postponement was criticised by sponsors of the amendment, who charged the legislative leadership of trying to isolate lawmakers from a difficult vote before the Nov. 7 election.

Massachusetts’s highest court threw out a ban on same-sex unions in 2003, making it the only state to allow gay marriages. Vermont and Connecticut allow same-sex civil unions that confer the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the gay rights association, said that he hoped that state lawmakers in Massachusetts would not “eliminate marriage equality which has strengthened families and communities and harmed no one”.

“Massachusetts has served as a beacon of equality and fairness in our country and to replace that beacon with the darkness of discrimination would be a travesty,” he said.

The delay comes on the heels of two major state court battles which where heralded as victories by opponents of gay marriage. The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court ruled that denying marriage to same-sex couples does not violate the state constitution. And in Georgia, where three-quarters of voters approved a ban on gay marriage when it was on the ballot in 2004, the state’s Supreme Court reinstated the ban.

Mitt Romney, the state’s Republican governor who had urged legislators to go ahead with the vote, expressed disappointment at the delay. “Tens of thousands of citizens have petitioned the government for the right to have their voices heard. They have played by the rules. This issue won’t go away until the people are heard,” he said.


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