A proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was swiftly defeated today by a joint session of the Legislature by a vote of 45 to 151, eliminating any chance of getting it on the ballot in November 2008. The measure needed at least 50 votes to advance.Frankly, I suspect that the amendment would have lost at the polls if it had gotten on the ballot; gay marriage has been legal here for three years and the world has signally failed to end. Today, however, the Legislature did its job and kept a very bad proposal off the ballot. Congratulations to the Great and General Court, as well as to my married friends, fellow church members and neighbors.
The vote came without debate after House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray, and Governor Deval Patrick conferred this morning and concluded that they have the votes to kill the proposal. Cheers echoed in the State House when the vote was tallied.
"In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure," Patrick told reporters after the results were official.
The three leaders - along with gay rights activists - spent the last several days intensely lobbying a dozen or more state representatives and state senators who had previously supported the amendment but signaled that they were open to changing their positions.
Because fewer than 50 of the state's 200 lawmakers supported the amendment, it will not appear on the 2008 ballot, giving gay marriage advocates a major victory in their battle with social conservatives to keep same-sex marriage legal in Massachusetts.
Opponents of gay marriage face an increasingly tough battle to win legislative approval of any future petitions to appear on a statewide ballot. The next election available to them is 2012.
History made today
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