- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2004

Massachusetts lawmakers ended last week’s 19-hour debate over creating a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex “marriages” with three rejected amendments.

When they resume debate March 11, lawmakers will be considering a fourth amendment that upholds traditional marriage and creates civil unions — the same combination that failed in a previous amendment.

“No one should expect that decisions of this magnitude would be made casually or quickly. Our efforts will continue,” House Speaker Thomas Finneran said after Senate President Robert Travaglini announced at midnight Thursday that the convention would be continued next month.

Massachusetts lawmakers’ two-day impasse prompted U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to declare that “Congress must act and must act soon” on a federal marriage amendment.

“It’s a fight we don’t particularly relish, but the courts have brought us to it, and the people of this country will respond,” said the Tennessee Republican, who already has signaled his support to amend the U.S. Constitution to clarify that only one man and one woman can be married.

Noting that Massachusetts is poised to “marry” same-sex couples as of May 17, Mr. Frist said that “the wildfire will truly begin” when those couples go to other states and seek recognition of their “marriages.”

“We must not let activist judges redefine marriage for our entire society,” Mr. Frist said on the Senate floor Thursday, the same day that San Francisco officials made history by issuing the nation’s first marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Federal marriage-amendment bills are awaiting hearings before House and Senate committees.

Massachusetts has been in an uproar over same-sex “marriage” since Nov. 18, when the state Supreme Judicial Court legalized it. Earlier this month, the high court ruled, also in a 4-3 decision, that civil unions would not be sufficient.

Most of the 199 lawmakers, however, have decided that marriage for heterosexuals and civil unions for homosexuals is the politically correct solution, and all of the amendments reflected that approach.

Rep. Philip Travis, who wrote a constitutional amendment that didn’t allow civil unions, said: “There is more than a majority who are ready to approve an amendment to the state constitution that protects marriage.”

“There is a not a majority yet who has agreed on how to word civil unions in Massachusetts. I lost the first battle,” he said, referring to his amendment, “but the war is still on.”

In San Francisco, fueled by the Massachusetts debates, about 300 people lined up yesterday morning outside City Hall to obtain “marriage licenses” and exchange “spouse for life” vows.

It was the third straight day that San Francisco officials issued the licenses to hundreds of homosexual couples. Despite legal challenges from advocates of traditional marriage and the potential rejection of the licenses by the state, the wedding march that began Thursday morning is expected to continue throughout the long holiday weekend, the Associated Press reported.

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