A coalition of conservative political and religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage has formed in hopes of convincing Massachusetts lawmakers that Bay State voters, not the supreme judicial court, should be allowed to settle the divisive issue, reports The Boston Globe. The group, called the Coalition for Marriage, staged a rally in the statehouse on Wednesday, promising to advertise on television and radio, knock on doors, and stage public meetings to generate outrage among Massachusetts voters that they have been denied a chance to weigh in on the gay marriage issue. They hope to persuade lawmakers to vote in favor of a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage at a constitutional convention February 11. If a majority of lawmakers approve the amendment, it would be the first step toward getting the proposal on the ballot in 2006. Gay marriage opponents say they feel confident they could win at the ballot box. "Unelected judges have usurped the power of the legislature in the case of marriage," coalition spokesman Ronald A. Crews told a cheering crowd of more than 200, many of whom shouted "Hallelujah" and "Amen" in response. "Let the people vote on the definition of marriage."
Wednesday's event was the latest development in an increasingly heated lobbying effort following the November supreme judicial ruling that declared same-sex marriage constitutional in Massachusetts. According to the Globe, the coalition numbers two dozen groups from across the state and country and includes several organizations that are veterans of the antiabortion movement. Among its members are the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm of the state's four Catholic dioceses, and Concerned Women for America, a national Christian advocacy group that says it promotes "biblical values among all citizens." The new coalition is setting up a toll-free information phone line and is buying office space in Newton, Crews said. It will also establish a political action committee to make campaign contributions to lawmakers who support the fight to overturn the court's ruling.
Crews acknowledged on Thursday that the group Massachusetts Alliance for Marriage did not release portions of a Zogby poll that indicated voters are deeply divided on whether to ban same-sex marriage, downplaying the omitted survey results as irrelevant. "I want to apologize," Crews said. "I misspoke. I misspoke primarily out of ignorance, but that does not excuse misspeaking. There were other questions, and we are in a press release...going to release those other questions." At the Wednesday rally, the group touted poll results indicating that 69% of respondents wanted a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The group also highlighted a question that showed 52% said that "only marriage between one man and one woman should be legal," with 42% disagreeing. The group didn't release information that poll respondents opposed the constitutional amendment, 49%-48%. It also didn't mention that poll respondents, by a margin of 48%-46%, did not want lawmakers to prevent marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples in May, when the supreme judicial court decision legalizing gay marriage takes effect. Pollster John Zogby said it is standard practice for advocacy groups to issue entire polls for public examination. "All of the questions are important," said Zogby, whose firm is based in Utica, N.Y. The poll was taken among 601 likely Massachusetts voters. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.