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Hidden with code "Submitted as Feature"Hidden with code "Submitted as Feature"
News :: Environment
Civil Unions today, Gay Marriage March 29th?
12 Mar 2004
On Thursday March 11th, 2003, the State of Massachusetts House and Senate reconvene a Constitutional Convention to debate the issue of gay marriage. During the March 11th session, three votes were made regarding three different bills on this topic. The Amendment options for the legislature to consider were: one that enabled civil unions as an alternative to gay marriage, one that defined marriage as a heterosexual unions that promotes “the stability and welfare of society”, and one that enabled civil unions while defining marriage as an institution between man and woman.


On Thursday March 11th, 2003, the State of Massachusetts House and Senate reconvene a Constitutional Convention to debate the issue of gay marriage. During the March 11th session, three votes were made regarding three different bills on this topic. The Amendment options for the legislature to consider were: one that enabled civil unions as an alternative to gay marriage, one that defined marriage as a heterosexual unions that promotes “the stability and welfare of society”, and one that enabled civil unions while defining marriage as an institution between man and woman.

Various incarnations of anti-gay legislation were proposed and defeated throughout the day, and by 6:30pm, the Travaglini-Finneran bill (also referred to as the “Leadership” bill) was passed, enabling civil unions while defining marriage as an institution between man and woman. The House and Senate will resume their Constitutional Convention on March 29th to consider alternative proposals and amendments. Arline Isaacson, the co-leader of the Massachusetts Gay and Political Caucus describes the pro-gay legislator’s voting strategy as:

"Our goal is to kill the ability of other amendments to pass and then kill all of them," said Arline Isaacson, co-leader of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus.

Advocates of Gay Marriage, such as MassEquality have described this important vote as a solid and strategic blow to the anti-gay factions within the Massachusetts Legislature. Anti-gay advocates, however, are describing the vote as a solid and immovable victory against gay marriage. The Constitutional Convention will reconviene at the end of the month with several alternative amendment proposals are planned, including a Democratic sponsored amendment reaffirming the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling and making a clear dinstinction between “civil” and “religious” marriage.

Interestingly enough the conservative media, like the corporate news conglomerate CNN, has chosen to promote this historical decision as an affirmation of anti-gay sentiment in the State of Massachusetts. Of note, many of the anti-gay protesters who were at the Statehouse on Thursday were bussed in from out of state. Also, much of the anti-gay sentiment relied on reinforcement from biblical mythology, such as the story of Adam and Eve. What may be the most ironic, not entirely serious poster, nestled in with the “No to Gay Marriage/Yes To Jesus/No To Civil Union” signs was one sign which read “If We Give Gay People Civil Rights Then Everyone Will Want Them”.

Massachusetts pro-gay activists, many of whom arrived at the Statehouse early in the morning and stayed late into the night, cheered and waved signs in the cold weather. The most prevalent sign was “No Discrimination in the Constitution”, but others included “Hetero Housewives for Same Sex Marriage” and “Where Does Bigotry Fit in God’s Plan?.

While the outpouring of support for Gay Marriage was strong both in and outside of the Statehouse, the voting leaned towards compromise. The next step in the legislative process are the alternative amendments which will be considered at the next Constitutional Convention, on March 29th, 2004. During the next 2 weeks, Massachusetts voters and representatives can consider the long-term effects of the legislative steps that were taken on Maarch 11th, and will be able to discuss alternative proposals for the next round of legislative action. Civil Unions are one step closer to legislative equality for Massachusetts gays and lesbians, but a more fair and equal Massachusetts is still possible!

More Boston IndyMedia articles on this topic include:

February 13, 2004 - The Massachusetts Constitution Has Not Been Amended to Ban Gay Marriage--For Now
February 9th, 2004 - Separate but Equal isn't Equal: MA Constitutional Amendment?
November 18, 2003 - Triumph for Same-Sex Marriage in Massachusetts!
and related commentary.
See also:
http://www.massequality.org

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