- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2006

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers ended debate on proposed constitutional amendments yesterday without acting on the most volatile issue on their agenda: a proposal to end the state’s sanctioning of homosexual “marriage.”

The move to recess until Nov. 9 put off any action to counter the state high court’s 2004 mandating of such unions until after the general election.

Senate President Robert E. Travaglini had said he intended to bring all 20 proposed amendments to a vote but had warned that lawmakers might not be able to get to every one of them.

The House gallery erupted in applause from homosexual rights activists after the vote to recess was announced.

Lawmakers, who voted on half the proposed amendments before recessing, could have voted to extend their work into the night. Opponents of same-sex “marriage” had been optimistic that they had the votes to move a step closer to putting the amendment on the 2008 ballot. Supporters were happy to get a reprieve.

“We now have four more months to show legislators how well marriage equality is working in Massachusetts. We hope they will see that Massachusetts is ready to move on,” said Marc Solomon, campaign director for the homosexual rights group MassEquality.

If approved, the amendment to the state constitution would define marriage in Massachusetts as the union of a man and a woman. More than 8,000 homosexual couples have “married” since the state began issuing licenses in May 2004.

To get on the ballot, the question must twice win the backing of 25 percent — or 50 — of the state’s 200 lawmakers: during the current session and during the session starting in January.

Hundreds of people on both sides of the issue rallied outside the State House yesterday as lawmakers made their way through a stack of proposed amendments dealing with issues such as health care and redistricting.

“I think this is an issue for the people to decide,” said Jonathan Gal, 39, of Lexington, wearing a sticker that read “Support One Man, One Woman.” “I don’t like the way this is being imposed on us by a small minority — the courts and the legislature.”

Across the street, supporters of same-sex unions cast the issue as one of civil rights.

“When does civil rights get put on the ballot for everyone to vote on?” said Jim Singletary, 44, of Salem, who last year “married” his longtime partner, Jim Maynard.

“This is for fairness for my family,” Mr. Maynard said.

The debate came less than a week after New York’s highest court rejected same-sex couples’ bid to win “marriage” rights and Georgia’s high court reinstated that state’s constitutional amendment against homosexual “marriage.”

Pro-family groups in Massachusetts got a boost Monday from the state Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled that the proposed amendment could go forward, provided that it clear the remaining legislative hurdles. Homosexual “marriage” supporters had sued to block the question.

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