NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A successful marriage amendment petition drive in Massachusetts smashed a 20-year-old record for the most signatures ever gathered on a ballot question.
Just before Christmas, Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin certified 123,356 signatures for the constitutional marriage amendment, which essentially would reverse the state court’s 2003 ruling that legalized “gay marriage.” The previous record of 110,645 was set in 1985 on a tax proposal, The Boston Globe reported Dec. 22.
The 123,356 certified signatures are fewer than the 147,000 that local election clerks had certified in early December, but nonetheless still impressive. The amendment needed only 65,825 signatures.
Pro-family groups originally turned in 170,000 signatures. Invalid ones were tossed out.
“Considering that 170,000 signatures were collected mainly by volunteers in virtually all 351 cities and towns over a brief 60-day period, what the citizens of Massachusetts have done is nothing short of monumental,” Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said in a statement.
The amendment now must garner the support of at least 25 percent of state legislators in two consecutive sessions. If it does that, it would be placed before voters in 2008.
The legislature’s first vote is expected in May, the Massachusetts Family Institute said.
Homosexual activists played down the petition drive’s success. Arline Isaacson, co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, told the Globe that the petition drive was a “groundswell of fraud and deceit, not of voter insistence.” She blamed paid signature gatherers for tricking voters into signing the petition.
Meanwhile, homosexual activists have launched a website with the name and address of every person who signed the petition. (The signatures are public information.) A letter to the editor in The Standard Times in New Bedford, Mass., championed the website: “Are your neighbors anti-gay bigots? Your relatives? Your elected officials? Your barber? How about your children’s teachers? Find out.”
Conservatives say the website amounts to intimidation. The Globe reported that Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, and his wife signed the petition, as did former House speaker Thomas M. Finneran, a Democrat.
AMENDMENT FACES OPPOSITION IN MINN. — Supporters of a constitutional marriage amendment in Minnesota face a tall task in the state Senate, which saw two amendment opponents win in recent special elections, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
The amendment passed the House with ease in 2005 but failed to receive a vote in the Senate, which is controlled by the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (DFL). The two new senators are DFL members.
Conservatives have pressured Senate leaders to allow a vote on the issue. If it were to pass the Senate, it would go before voters.
“Will it come up? I’m sure the conservative Republicans will push the issue, but it’s less likely that it finds its way to the ballot question in November now than it did last session,” DFL Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson told Minnesota Public Radio.
Tom Prichard, president of the conservative Minnesota Family Council, told MPR the amendment would pass the Senate if given a vote.
A May Star Tribune showed that 51 percent of Minnesotans said the state needed a marriage amendment. Forty-six percent “agreed strongly.”
NOT IN AUSTRALIA — Great Britain may have legalized same-sex civil partnerships in December, but Australia won’t — at least, if Australian Prime Minister John Howard has a say.
Asked if he would like to see Australia adopt a similar law, Howard said, according to The Australian, “I would be opposed to it. I think marriage is for men and women. That’s why we amended the Marriage Act (in 2004).”
But some members of Howard’s Liberal Party say they support civil partnerships and will work to legalize them. Civil partnerships — sometimes also called civil unions — grant homosexual couples the legal benefits of marriage, without using the word “marriage.”
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage