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Vocal critic of
same-sex marriage will not seek reelection

Vocal critic of
same-sex marriage will not seek reelection

The most vocal critic of same-sex marriage in the Massachusetts legislature will not seek reelection next year, according to a published report. Rep. Philip Travis, a Democrat from Rehoboth, told The Boston Globe he wants to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests, including teaching at a community college and researching Native American history in his district. The conservative Democrat said he leaves at a time when the legislature is becoming more liberal, especially since house speaker Salvatore DiMasi took over in September 2004. "I stand on principle, and principle leads me to be more conservative," he said. "I could say, for who I see in the house today, that I am probably the most conservative Democrat in the house. And I am proud of that." Travis, 65, has led the fight against same-sex marriage since the state's supreme judicial court legalized such unions in November 2003. He led the way in getting the legislature to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and when support for that waned, he got behind another proposal for a same-sex marriage ban aimed at the 2008 ballot. He stayed true to the end, earlier this week attacking a bill that would allow pharmacies to sell hypodermic syringes without a prescription, saying it would encourage drug use. Travis found himself agreeing with Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, on many issues. "It's too bad, because conservative Democrats are a vanishing breed in Massachusetts," Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said in an e-mail to the Globe. "Phil Travis works hard for his district, and he is a strong defender of traditional values. We're going to miss his voice in the legislature." Conservative groups, including the Massachusetts Family Institute, will be losing an ally. "Phil is a champion, a true champion, for family values and for everything I think America and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has stood for," said president Kris Mineau. Travis has served 12 terms in the house, representing Rehoboth, Seekonk, and portions of Swansea and Norton. "I came in as someone who wanted to make a difference in government," he said. "I think I've done that to the best of my ability, and I'm leaving on a very high note that I accomplished very, very much." He said his top accomplishments include several banking bills that he helped pass, including one that allows banks, credit unions, and other institutions to restructure mortgages during recessions. He also had his struggles. In 1998, while serving as chairman of the legislative banking committee, he solicited financial contributions for an Indian tribe in his district from several banks at a time when his committee was considering banking legislation. He paid a $1,500 fine and lost his chairmanship. Even those who disagreed with Travis on same-sex marriage admired him. "As stridently as we disagree on [same-sex marriage], we've always worked very well together," said Arline Isaacson, cochairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, adding that he has been a "positive and powerful" voice on many other issues, including higher education. (AP)

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