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Battle looms over
Massachusetts marriage ban

Battle looms over
Massachusetts marriage ban

Opponents of same-sex marriage say they have the signatures to place a ban on the 2008 Massachusetts ballot.

Opponents of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts said they plan to submit the necessary signatures to place a proposed constitutional ban on marriage for gay and lesbian couples on the 2008 ballot. The Massachusetts Family Institute and its online counterpart, Voteonmarriage.org, had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to submit 65,825 signatures to city and town clerks in order to qualify. On Tuesday they said they had double that number.

Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders said Wednesday that they would file a lawsuit to challenge the antimarriage ballot question. "This question should never have been certified for signature-gathering by the attorney general, and we will file suit to challenge that certification," said Gary Buseck, GLAD's legal director. "The attorney general simply got it wrong. Our state constitution does not allow a citizen-initiated petition that seeks 'reversal of a judicial decision.'"

GLAD brought the original suit by seven gay and lesbian couples that led to a groundbreaking state supreme court victory in favor of same-sex marriage in 2003. Since May 17, 2004, when marriage equality went into effect, more than 6,500 same-sex couples have wed in the state. The proposed amendment seeks to undo that ruling by defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Unlike a previous proposed constitutional amendment recently killed by the state legislature, the proposed ballot question would not legalize civil unions.

GLAD says it expects to file its suit against the proposed ban in January if a sufficient number of valid signatures are submitted to the secretary of state on December 7, after review by city and town clerks. The ballot question must pass two further tests before going to the voters: 25% of the commonwealth's 200 lawmakers, sitting in joint session, must vote to approve it both in 2006 and in the succeeding 2007-2008 legislative session.

"Time has shown that marriage equality has been good for couples, families, communities, and the state of Massachusetts," Buseck said. "We will continue to work with the large and growing majority of supportive citizens of the commonwealth to protect same-sex couples and their families." (Advocate.com)

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