BOSTON (BP)–In a move that could complicate efforts to pass a constitutional marriage amendment in Massachusetts, state Sen. President Robert E. Travaglini — an amendment supporter — resigned March 21 and was replaced by an amendment opponent.
Travaglini’s resignation in order to take a private-sector job is significant because as Senate president he presided over joint sessions of the House and Senate (constitutional conventions) that considered amendments.
In January he resisted pressure from “gay marriage” supporters and allowed an up-or-down vote on the amendment, which passed. But the amendment must pass once more in order to make the 2008 ballot, and Sen. Therese Murray — who succeeded him and supports “gay marriage” — now will preside over any future constitutional conventions. Both Travaglini and Murray are Democrats.
The amendment essentially would reverse current law, which recognizes “gay marriage.”
Amendment supporters received good news March 22 when Murray told reporters she would allow an up-or-down vote on the proposal — something opponents no doubt are hoping she won’t do.
“My vote is going to be just what it was the last time,” Murray said of her vote against the amendment, according to the Associated Press. “But I’m not going to move to adjourn. I will call for a vote and I will try to help the advocates get the votes that they need.”
She added: “I think it’s important that we vote.”
A Boston Globe editorial March 21 said Murray “can be expected to make her presence felt” when she presides over the constitutional convention. The Globe editorial board opposes the amendment.
Many opponents of the amendment have argued that legislators should kill the amendment by simply refusing to vote on it. But last December the state’s highest court ruled legislators had a “constitutional duty” to vote on the amendment. The proposal needs support from only one-fourth of legislators in order to pass.
The court’s decision was issued as it appeared legislators were on the verge of recessing the legislative session without voting. Such a tactic would have killed the amendment. A record 170,000 Massachusetts citizens signed petitions to qualify it for legislative consideration.
“Those members who now seek to avoid their lawful obligations, by a vote to recess without a roll call vote by yeas and nays on the merits of the initiative amendment (or by other procedural vote of similar consequence), ultimately will have to answer to the people who elected them,” Justice John M. Greaney wrote for the court.
The lawsuit was filed by then-Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, along with other amendment supporters. The ruling was issued by the same court that in 2003 issued its landmark decision legalizing “gay marriage.”
Marc Solomon of the homosexual activist group MassEquality told AP his organization’s ties with Murray could help.
“Sen. Murray has been a longtime supporter of marriage equality. We’re looking forward to closely working with her and her leadership team to defeat this discriminatory amendment,” Solomon said.
N.J. CIVIL UNIONS NOT POPULAR — New Jersey’s same-sex civil unions law took effect Feb. 19, but so far homosexual couples don’t seem too interested in it. In the first month of the law only 219 couples applied for a civil unions license, according to preliminary figures published by the Associated Press. Another 10 couples who had civil unions licenses from other states filed paperwork to reaffirm their relationship, AP said.
New Jersey, Vermont and Connecticut are the only three states to recognize civil unions, which grant homosexual couples most of the legal benefits of marriage. California has something similar but calls them domestic partnerships.
The New Jersey Supreme Court issued a ruling last year ordering the legislature either to legalize “gay marriage” or civil unions. Legislators chose the latter. Some homosexuals say they are dissatisfied with the new law.
“It’s a Jim Crow law, it’s two separate water fountains, it’s not equal, we just don’t agree with it,” Charles Paragian, a 44-year-old dance instructor who has adopted five children from foster homes with his partner, told The New York Times.
DUNGY SUPPORTS INDIANA AMENDMENT — Tony Dungy, the head coach of the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts and an outspoken Christian, spoke at the Indiana Family Institute’s banquet March 20 and made his position known on the state’s proposed constitutional marriage amendment.
“I appreciate the stance [the Indiana Family Institute is] taking, and I embrace that stance,” Dungy told a record crowd of more than 700, according to The Indianapolis Star.
The Indiana Family Institute is affiliated with Focus on the Family and is leading the charge to get an amendment placed on the ballot in 2008. The proposal already passed the Senate and now must pass the House.
“IFI is saying what the Lord says,” Dungy said, according to The Star. “You can take that and make your decision on which way you want to be. I’m on the Lord’s side.”
He added, “We’re not trying to downgrade anyone else. But we’re trying to promote the family — family values the Lord’s way.”
‘GAY MARRIAGE’ IN SWEDEN? — Sweden already recognizes same-sex civil unions but may be on its way to legalizing “gay marriage.” A government-appointed committee recommended March 21 expanding current law to recognize “marriage” between homosexuals, the Associated Press reported.
“Two men or two women should be able to wed, and in the future be called spouses,” Hans Regner, who led the committee, told AP. “All the rules for heterosexual spouses will be applied also to homosexual couples.”
“Gay marriage” is legal in five countries: Canada, Spain, South Africa, Belgium and the Netherlands.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.