BOSTON (BP)–With Massachusetts legislators scheduled to debate a proposed marriage amendment at a constitutional convention in mid-July, Gov. Mitt Romney is urging members of both chambers to send the proposal to voters and not kill it with procedural tactics.
The Massachusetts House and Senate are set to meet together July 12 and debate the amendment, which would ban “gay marriage” in the state and, in essence, reverse a 2003 ruling by the state high court that legalized “marriage” for homosexual couples.
The constitutional convention must pass the proposed amendment twice — this year and during the next session — in order for it to appear on the 2008 ballot. Under state law, the amendment doesn’t need a majority to pass, but instead support from only one-fourth of legislators. Conservatives have expressed optimism that they have the votes.
The amendment was placed before the legislature when conservative groups gathered 124,000 valid signatures — roughly twice the number required.
“It is the constitutional duty of every legislator to give the Protection of Marriage Amendment an up or down vote during this legislative session,” Romney, a Republican, said during a news conference June 28 with religious and political leaders. “The people have a right to decide this issue, but they can only do so if the legislature does its job.”
Technically, the constitutional convention could convene and gavel to a close without voting on the amendment. That has happened before. But amendment supporters hope pressure on the legislature will lead to a vote.
“Marriage is the foundation of family life in our society,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said. “People of many faiths and from many walks of life have joined us to support marriage as being only the union between one man and one woman. The debate over the meaning of marriage should not be limited to government officials.
“The magnitude of the issue calls for full participation by the citizens of the commonwealth. We urge our legislators to let the people exercise their right to vote.”
O’Malley’s support for the amendment has drawn criticism from liberal religious leaders who support “gay marriage.”
“While their magisterium teaches one thing, there are plenty of other faith traditions that don’t agree,” Anne C. Fowler, an Episcopal priest, said, according to The Boston Globe. “Who are the religious voices who get heard? It’s the religious right, and around here it’s the Catholic Church, so here is the progressive interfaith community trying to take some action.”
But, interestingly, a leading Democratic candidate for governor — Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, who supports “gay marriage” — said legislators should vote on the amendment.”
“I would vote against it if I was a legislator. But they should vote on this,” Reilly said at a Democratic gubernatorial debate June 29, according to The Globe.
GEORGIA COURT HEARS CASE — Georgia’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments June 27 in the state’s much-watched constitutional marriage amendment case. In May a state lower court judge tossed out the amendment, saying it violated the Georgia Constitution’s single-subject clause. That clause prevents amendments from dealing with more than one issue. The amendment bans both “gay marriage” and Vermont-style civil unions, but amendment supporters say the two issues are in fact one subject.
“Georgia’s Amendment One has one purpose: to protect marriage from attack,” Mike Johnson, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, said in a statement. ADF filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the amendment. “… We trust the Georgia Supreme Court will understand, just as Louisiana’s high court did, that the sole objective of these amendments is to protect marriage and that the language of the amendment is crucial in achieving that single goal.
“This judge may try to assert that civil unions are a different subject than same-sex ‘marriage,’ but the people of Georgia know better. They understand that protecting marriage means protecting it from all imitations.”
The amendment passed in 2004 with 76 percent of the vote. The Georgia Supreme Court justices gave no indication as to when they would rule, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
SCHWARZENEGGER MEETS WITH LOG CABINS — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke June 29 at a fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual Republican group. Some 350 people attended the fundraiser, which cost $250 per person, The Sacramento Bee reported. He received a standing ovation, the newspaper said.
“I can’t promise I will always be of the same mind [as you],” he told those gathered, according to The Bee. “But I can promise you I will always have an open mind.”
He also said, “Whether you are gay or straight, everyone needs someone to love.”
Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has frustrated conservatives at times and sided with them at times. He vetoed a bill last year that would have legalized “gay marriage,” and this year he vowed to veto a bill that would require “gay history” to be taught in California public schools if the bill reaches his desk.
Scwarzenegger’s Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial election this year is Phil Angelides, who has vowed to sign a “gay marriage” bill if he is elected.
For more information about the national debate over “gay marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage