It was the second time the Legislature had confronted the measure, which was designed to be put before voters on a statewide ballot in 2006. Under state law, lawmakers were required to approve the measure in two consecutive sessions before it could move forward.
After less than two hours of debate, a joint session of the House and Senate voted 157-39 against the measure.
It was a striking departure from a year earlier when hundreds of protesters converged on Beacon Hill over the hot-button issue, legislators were torn over it and spent long hours debating the matter, and thousands of same-sex couples began a new era of getting married.
This year, the crowds were tamer and some legislators who had initially supported the proposed change to the state constitution said they no longer felt right about denying the rights of marriage to same-sex couples.
I'm not surprised, but I am pleased at the outcome.
I am pleasantly surprised, though, at how strong the vote was. And that's very good news. Y'see, there's another proposed amendment out there, which would ban both gay marriage and civil unions. However, that amendment is going through the ballot initiative process; the backers are aiming for a 2008 vote. To get there, they first need some 65000+ signatures, which they might well get. Then, it needs at least 25% of the vote in two consecutive Constitutional Conventions to make it to the ballot. Then, obviously, they need to win at the ballot box.
Now, there are 200 votes in the Constitutional Convention (160 reps, 40 senators). If the 157 votes against banning gay marriage hold up, then the amendment fails. The amendment rejected today would have instituted civil unions, and so some of the votes against it might have been anti-civil-union rather than pro-gay-marriage. Even so, that's a resounding vote.