- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Massachusetts supporters of traditional marriage yesterday finished delivering the last of more than 120,000 signatures to city and town clerks — nearly twice the number needed to get a marriage amendment on the ballot in 2008.

“We are very thankful this Thanksgiving,” said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a lead organization with VoteOnMarriage.org.

The proposed amendment is intended to overrule a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that legalized same-sex “marriage” as of May 2004. An estimated 6,500 homosexual couples have since “married” in the state.

If approved by voters, the amendment would require the state to define marriage “only as the union of one man and one woman.” This would prohibit homosexual “marriage” after 2008, but would not affect established homosexual “marriages.”

Mr. Mineau said yesterday that hundreds of petitions had been turned in during the past three weeks and that the final batches were being filed before yesterday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

A final tally wasn’t available yesterday, but it was “well over 120,000 — approaching 130,000,” he said. At least 65,825 signatures must be certified.

Town and city clerks have until Dec. 5 to finish processing the petitions. Then amendment supporters have to deliver them to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s Office by Dec. 7.

If approved by the Secretary of State’s Office, the marriage amendment goes before the legislature. Fifty out of 200 lawmakers must approve the amendment in two successive sessions, which is why the earliest the amendment can go before voters is 2008.

Yesterday marked “the first leg of a three-year journey,” Mr. Mineau said.

Homosexual-rights activists have vigorously opposed the amendment and, during the 60-day petition drive, accused some signature gatherers — especially those who were reportedly paid $1 per signature — of tricking dozens of residents into signing the marriage petition.

One Web site, www.KnowThyNeighbor.org, created by a “married” homosexual couple, has kept a running commentary on purported petition fraud.

Marriage-amendment supporters countered that some activists harassed signature gatherers or defaced petitions, invalidating dozens of signatures.

The petition will likely face legislative resistance. Mr. Mineau’s group said Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi has said that same-sex “marriage” should “never, ever” appear as a question on the ballot.

Public support for the amendment is also questionable.

Amendment supporters say the amendment has the strong backing of most residents, especially those active in Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim faiths.

But a Bay State Poll, taken in October, of 503 Massachusetts adults found that only 37 percent supported the amendment and 53 percent opposed it, said the Center for Public Opinion Research at Merrimack College.

Marriage-amendment petition drives are under way in Arizona, California, Florida and Illinois. All of these drives seek to put measures before voters in 2006.

Earlier this month, Texas became the 19th state to amend its constitution to only allow one-man, one-woman marriage.

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