- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Massachusetts lawmakers yesterday rejected two of three proposed state constitutional amendments to prevent homosexual “marriage.”

The two houses adjourned last night and lawmakers will return to the Statehouse for a joint session at noon today with no choices but passing an amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman or letting stand a state Supreme Judicial Court decision ordering homosexual “marriages.”

In a day marked by legislative maneuvers over non-marriage civil unions and by emotional public demonstrations, Rep. Philip Travis, a Democrat, denounced the proposals as asking voters to decide on conflicting issues — a ban on homosexual “marriage” and the legalization of civil unions — with one vote.

“It goes beyond what the people wish to vote on,” Mr. Travis said. “It is almost like offering a true-false question. How do you respond by voting yes or no at the ballot box?”

“We now have a last-minute constitutional farce so that people and politicians can get confused,” added Dwight Duncan, a professor at Southern New England School of Law and member of the Massachusetts Attorneys Resource Council.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday said President Bush is amenable to the language in a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as between only heterosexual couples.

The amendment, being pushed by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, Colorado Republican, reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist of only the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”

Mr. Bush “has said that, if necessary, he will do what is legally needed to protect the sanctity of marriage,” Mr. McClellan said yesterday. “He has indicated that the legislation by Congresswoman Musgrave reflects the principles that he could support.”

An identical marriage amendment introduced by Sen. Wayne Allard, Colorado Republican, was endorsed yesterday by Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat.

In Massachusetts, the Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment to the state’s constitution had been introduced by Mr. Travis long before the state Supreme Judicial Court’s Nov. 18 ruling demanding same-sex “marriage.”

The amendment defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman and said that “any other relationship” was neither marriage nor its legal equivalent.

However, two other attempts were made yesterday to pass amendments, with proposals offered by House Speaker Thomas Finneran and Senate President Robert Travaglini, both Democrats, that kept the “male-female” language but also took up the issue of civil unions.

Mr. Finneran’s amendment said that the legislature could decide whether to establish civil unions. Mr. Travaglini’s amendment legalized civil unions as of 2006 and said any homosexual “marriage” under the court’s ruling then would be considered a civil union.

The Travaglini proposal addressed an upcoming licensing conflict — the high court has set May as the time for the state to start issuing “marriage” licenses to homosexual couples, but a constitutional amendment to overturn the court ruling could not become law before November 2006.

Yesterday afternoon, lawmakers defeated the Finneran amendment on a 100-98 vote, and last night rejected the Travaglini amendment by a vote of 104-94.

The Boston Globe reported yesterday that Mr. Travaglini — an ally of U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential front-runner — made his proposal to give Mr. Kerry a compromise that he could endorse.

Outside the centuries-old building, hundreds of people lined both sides of the street, holding signs, waving flags and chanting: “Hey hey, ho ho, homophobia’s got to go” and “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

State police had to separate two crowds inside the Statehouse who began pushing and shoving after one group unfurled a U.S. flag across from the chamber and began chanting, “One man. One woman. Let the people vote.” Moments later, a contingent of homosexual-rights backers arrived shouting, “Equality now.”

At one point, dozens of opponents of homosexual “marriage” knelt and prayed amid the din.

James Lakely contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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