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Gay marriage ban dies in Mass. legislature

In the only state that allows it, lawmakers keep the issue from voters.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published June 15, 2007


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BOSTON - Massachusetts lawmakers threw out a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday that would have let voters decide whether to ban gay marriage in the only state that allows it.

The vote was a devastating blow to efforts to reverse a historic 2003 court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

"Today's vote is not just a victory for marriage equality. It was a victory for equality itself, " said Gov. Deval Patrick, who had lobbied lawmakers up until the final hours to kill the measure.

As the tally was announced, the halls of the Statehouse erupted in applause.

The ban needed 50 votes in consecutive sessions of the 200-seat legislature to secure a place on the 2008 statewide ballot. At the end of the last session in January it passed with 62 votes, but this time it garnered just 45.

"We're proud of our state today, and we applaud the legislature for showing that Massachusetts is strongly behind fairness, " said Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, now running for president, called the vote "a regrettable setback" and said it makes it more important now to pass a national amendment banning gay marriage.

"Marriage is an institution that goes to the heart of our society, and our leaders can no longer abdicate their responsibility, " he said.

More than 8, 500 gay couples have married there since it became legal in May 2004.

The legal fight over gay marriage began in 2001 when seven same-sex couples who had been denied marriage licenses sued in Suffolk Superior Court.

[Last modified June 15, 2007, 01:26:23]


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