BOSTON (BP)—Ignoring a divide among its members, the Massachusetts Democratic Party passed a resolution Jan. 29 supporting same-sex “marriage” legalization, becoming the second state party in the nation to do so.
While non-binding, the resolution, passed by voice vote, puts the state party on record as favoring what is unpopular nationwide. In September the New York State Democratic Committee passed a similar resolution.
“I think it’s very important the party speak out on this issue,” state party chairman Philip Johnston said, according to The Boston Globe.
The vote comes days before Massachusetts legislators are scheduled to debate Feb. 11 a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage.” That meeting is in response to last November’s ruling by the state high court for same-sex “marriage.”
The court issued a 180-day stay, thus same-sex couples could be acquiring marriage licenses as early as mid-May.
“Massachusetts is on record for supporting full civil rights,” state committee member Tom Barbera told The Globe. “To have the party behind this issue is a blessing to me and every lesbian, bisexual and transgender. It’s a historic day.”
Two prominent Democrats, state House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran and state Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, oppose the legalization of same-sex “marriage.”
KERRY ON MARRIAGE — If Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts wins the Democratic presidential nomination, his vote against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act may be political fodder for the White House. The act does not ban states from legalizing same-sex “marriage,” but instead gives states the option of not recognizing another state’s same-sex “marriage” law. It passed the Senate 85-14 and was signed into law by President Clinton.
Kerry was asked about the vote during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” Jan. 25.
“I don’t support marriage among gays,” he said. “I’ve said that many times. That was not my position. But I also don’t support the United States Senate being used for gay bashing, for, sort of, discriminatory efforts to try to drive wedges between the American people.”
Asked about Clinton’s action, Kerry said, “Look, you have to ask him why he signed it.”
FRIST ON AN AMENDMENT — Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., indicated Jan. 23 that he eventually might sign on to a federal marriage amendment. His comments came during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference’s Ronald Reagan Banquet.
“Marriage should remain the union of a man and a woman,” Frist said, according to a transcript. “We will do whatever it takes to protect, preserve and strengthen the institution of marriage against activist judges. If that means we must amend the Constitution, we will do it.”
DELAY IN OHIO — The Ohio House of Representatives delayed a vote on the state’s defense of marriage act until Feb. 3. The Associated Press reported that Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican, requested the delay so that the bill wouldn’t overshadow his state of the state speech.
The House is expected to pass it and Taft has said he plans to sign it. The bill would make Ohio the 38th state with a defense of marriage act.
WIS. TRYING AGAIN — Wisconsin legislators aren’t giving up in their attempt to pass a defense of marriage act, even though Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, vetoed such a bill last year.
Their first attempt at a DOMA was a state statute, which is easier to pass. Now they’re working toward passing a state constitutional amendment, which wouldn’t require Doyle’s approval.
The amendment would require passage by two consecutive legislative sessions and then approval by voters, according to the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper.
“With just one or two Doyle appointments to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Massachusetts decision will be the Wisconsin decision within just a few years,” state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, was quoted as saying in the newspaper.
ARIZ. MEASURE PROGRESSES — By a 4-3 vote, an Arizona state Senate committee approved a resolution Jan. 29 that asks Congress to pass a federal marriage amendment. It was a party-line vote, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against, according to AP.
The resolution is non-binding but nonetheless significant in the national debate over same-sex “marriage.” Congress must pass an amendment by a two-thirds vote before states can consider it. States could call a constitutional convention on their own, but that has never succeeded.
Virginia’s House of Delegates already passed a similar resolution.
DUELING ILL. AMENDMENTS — Two state constitutional marriage amendments have been introduced in the Illinois general assembly, according to The Illinois Leader. One, sponsored by state Rep. Bill Mitchell, a Democrat, would ban same-sex “marriage,” Vermont-type civil unions and domestic partnerships. The other, sponsored by state Rep. William Grunloh, also a Democrat, would ban same-sex “marriage” only.
Illinois already has a statute banning same-sex “marriage.”
INDIANA SPLIT — The Republican attorney general of Indiana supports a state constitutional marriage amendment, but the Democrat governor opposes it. A majority of state House members favor it, but the Democrat speaker of the house has suggested it won’t get a hearing.
According to the AP, a majority of House members — all 49 Republicans and five Democrats — favor the amendment. Indiana has a defense of marriage act banning same-sex “marriage,” but it is being challenged in state court. An amendment could be overturned only in federal court.
SHOW ME AN AMENDMENT — Missouri state Rep. Kevin Engler, a Republican, has introduced a state constitutional marriage amendment in the state’s House of Representatives. If passed by the House and Senate and signed by Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, it would go before voters in November for approval.
“I think it will pass [the House],” Engler told Baptist Press. “I think we’ll get it through the Senate. The big question is whether the governor will veto it.”
Missouri has a law against same-sex “marriage,” although an amendment provides greater protection against court rulings.
MINNESOTA, TOO — Minnesota state Rep. Mary Liz Holberg is drafting a state constitutional marriage amendment she hopes to present in the state House by the end of February. Minnesota Public Radio reported that Holberg fears that what happened in Massachusetts could happen in her state, too.
Minnesota already has a statute banning same-sex “marriage.” The amendment would require approval by the House and Senate before it goes to voters.
“The current Defense of Marriage Act in the state of Minnesota was overwhelmingly passed by the legislators and an opportunity for the public to comment on this important public policy issue should be the way to go considering what we’ve seen in the courts,” she told the radio network.
AND ALSO IDAHO — Idaho Rep. Henry Kulzyk, a Republican, has introduced a bill in the state’s House that would ban same-sex “marriage.” KBCI-TV in Boise reported that he is trying to prevent a court battle — like the one in Massachusetts — from taking place.
“Why wait for the fight to happen?” he said, according to the station. “We can save a lot of judicial hearing and court costs. The purpose of this amendment is to define marriage in Idaho.”
Idaho has a statute banning same-sex “marriage.”
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