Massachusetts Legislature Votes to Ban Same-Sex Marriages but Approves of Civil Unions

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Massachusetts Legislature Votes to Ban Same-Sex Marriages but Approves of Civil Unions

As supporters and opponents were anxiously awaiting for a decision on Mar. 29, the Massachusetts legislature voted 105-92 to ban gay marriage when it approved of amending the state constitution that would overturn the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling that made same-sex marriages legal five months ago. However, the legislature also voted to legalize civil unions.

The amendment was altered from when it was introduced this month, and now says that aside from permitting civil unions but banning gay marriage, it would clarify that gay couples who marry into civil unions would not receive any federal marriage rights and benefits. It cannot be changed again if lawmakers want it to continue onto the Nov. 2006 ballot.

Gov. Mitt Romney asked the court to deter same-sex marriages until voters can make a final decision in Nov. 2006. Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly told the Boston Globe that since Gov. Romney lacked, “a valid legal basis for stay, because the SJC has ruled twice in favor of gay marriage,” he would not take Romney’s request to the state Supreme Court.

It has not been decided what will happen to couples that marry between May 17 and Nov. 2006. According to the Boston Globe, a Mar. 2004 poll indicated 53 percent of Massachusetts residents opposed gay marriage while 60 percent supported civil unions. Also, 71 percent of the surveyed individuals feel voters should be able to define marriage, not the courts or the legislature.

“You vote on whether or not you want things like highway taxes,” says Valerie Fein-Zachary, who sees this as a civil rights issue, not a voting issue. “It should not be determined by the popular vote of the...

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...ture, making it difficult for all minorities to achieve equality. Hopefully, with all of the international progress currently taking place in Europe, some time in the near future same-sex couples will be able to have the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Works Cited

“Human Rights Watch: Allow Gay Marriage.” (2003, September 5). Retrieved October 20, 2003 from the World Wide Web: (

Klein, Rick. (2004, March 30). “Vote Ties Civil Unions to Gay-Marriage Ban; Romney to Seek Stay of SJC Order.” Boston Globe. p. A1

“Rabbis To Okay Gay Marriages: It's a 'Done Deal'.” (1999, December 24). The Forward, (31), 268, 1.

Reston, Maeve. Wednesday, November 19, 2003. “Victory For Gay Couples In Mass.; Same-Sex Marriages Ok'd By Highest Court.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Ryan-Vollmar, S. and Chuck, E. (2003, June 27). Boston Phoenix. p. 20-22.

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