- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Massachusetts lawmakers are scheduled to reconvene today to debate constitutional amendments on homosexual “marriage,” a month after an earlier session that failed to approve such a proposal.

In that month, though, the national political landscape has changed, with the issue spreading like wildfire as local officials from California to New York have issued “marriage” licenses to homosexual couples, prompting rebukes from state officials and court battles.

In Massachusetts, the 199 legislators are likely to consider a compromise amendment that affirms traditional marriage and mandates the creation of a civil-union system in Massachusetts.

A rumored backup plan is to offer two separate amendments — one that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman and another that supports the creation of civil unions.

Traditional-values groups oppose the compromise amendment, which is being offered by Senate President Robert Travaglini and House Speaker Thomas Finneran, but are likely to support the two-amendment approach.

“We want a one-subject amendment, a ‘clean’ amendment” on marriage, said Ronald Crews, head of the Coalition for Marriage. “Don’t confuse folks” by asking them to vote on marriage and also agree to civil unions, he said.

Homosexual rights groups oppose any amendments because they see them as an attempt “to erase” the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Nov. 18 decision that legalizes same-sex “marriage.”

The “heterosexual majority” should not be allowed “to revoke, by popular vote, the civil rights of a minority,” said the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. Nor should lawmakers establish “a separate, inferior ‘less-than-marriage’ status only for gay and lesbian couples,” said the group, which opposes civil unions.

Mr. Travaglini, who will run the constitutional convention, and Mr. Finneran have both said that lobbying and vote counts were continuing, but that things were “fluid.”

Hundreds of opponents and supporters of same-sex “marriage” are scheduled to arrive at the Statehouse this morning, even though the session is not scheduled to start until 2 p.m.

Yesterday, black pastors spoke at the Statehouse against homosexual “marriage” and rejected the comparison some activists have drawn between the current campaign and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“In my view, this is not a civil right. I don’t have a choice to be black, a woman doesn’t have a choice to be a woman, but homosexuality is a choice,” Pastor Alex Hurt of the Kingdom Church of Brockton said.

While Massachusetts lawmakers were winding up last month’s unsuccessful session, San Francisco officials started “marrying” same-sex couples; to date, they have issued more than 3,700 “marriage” licenses, despite multiple lawsuits to stop them.

Since then, officials in Portland, Ore.; Sandoval County, N.M.; Asbury Park, N.J.; and New Paltz, N.Y., have “married” at least one homosexual couple. In some states, attorneys general have put a stop to the “marriages,” while in others, the issue has moved to the courts.

Yesterday, Asbury Park officials, under threat of criminal prosecution from the state attorney general, said they would stopped issuing marriage certificates to homosexual couples, but said the town would take its case to court.

“The Asbury Park governing body voted unanimously today to seek a declaratory judgment from the Superior Court supporting the legality of same-sex wedding vows,” said City Manager Terence Reidy.

If Massachusetts lawmakers approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage today, it starts a process that will take another legislative vote even to put an amendment before Massachusetts voters in November 2006.

However, according to the Massachusetts high court, the state must start issuing “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples on May 17.

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