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Massachusetts senate delays debate on marriage amendment

Massachusetts senate delays debate on marriage amendment

This week's planned debate in the Massachusetts senate on a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman will be delayed so as not to upstage the Supreme Judicial Court as it considers a landmark case on the issue, the president of the senate said Friday. Senate president Robert E. Travaglini told the The Boston Globe that he would gladly entertain a debate on the topic at a later date but that he wants to wait for the state's high court to decide on the constitutionality of gay marriage in Massachusetts before doing so. The decision by the SJC was originally expected in July but could now come down at any time. "Obviously it is unwise to preempt the decision of the court,'' said Travaglini, who controls the gavel at the joint session of the legislature, scheduled for Wednesday. "It would be more appropriate to have that discussion at another time." Travaglini, who has come out against gay marriage but in favor of Vermont-style civil unions, said he has no intention of killing the proposed amendment, as former senate president Thomas F. Birmingham did in July 2002, when he used a procedural maneuver to block a similar bill. Activists for and against gay marriage said they see no ulterior motive in Travaglini's decision to delay debate on the proposed ban. "I don't read at all into that." said Arline Isaacson, cochairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. "We fully expect this question to be debated and voted on during this legislative session."

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