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Marriage ban
fight heats up ahead of Massachusetts convention

Marriage ban
fight heats up ahead of Massachusetts convention

The push is on in Massachuetts as a scheduled vote on a proposed ban on same-sex marriage looms in the state legislature. On Wednesday Republican governor Mitt Romney and Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley held a press conference to call on lawmakers to allow the vote amid indications that gay rights advocates are prepared to use procedural tactics to kill the measure, TheBoston Globe reports.

Pro-gay lawmakers on Beacon Hill could muster the support needed to prevent the measure from coming up for debate. Such an outcome would abruptly end the long campaign to place the ban before voters in 2008. "We urge that the legislators let everyone's voice be heard," said O'Malley in his first appearance at a statehouse press conference. "Let the people vote."

Advocates for same-sex marriage say they will do whatever it takes to make sure the amendment dies, leaving intact a 2003 state supreme judicial court decision that made Massachusetts the first state to allow same-sex weddings. "Every possible option is on the table as far as we're concerned," Marc Solomon, campaign director for the group MassEquality, told reporters after the press conference.

Romney and religious leaders have joined forces before on the issue, but O'Malley's appearance at the statehouse underscored how crucial this ballot effort has become for same-sex marriage opponents after years of fighting. If the amendment fizzles, it would be a major setback for the opponents, forcing them to decide whether to mount a new challenge in future years.

To reach the 2008 ballot, the amendment needs the support of at least 50 legislators at the July 12 constitutional convention, a joint session of the house and senate, and then at least 50 votes at a similar convention during the 2007-2008 legislative session.

According to The Globe, both sides have previously said that the amendment has the 50 votes needed. As a result, advocates of same-sex marriage would need another route to block the amendment. For example, a lawmaker could try to adjourn the convention before the ban comes up for debate. The amendment is at the bottom of a crowded agenda, and adjournment requires a simple majority vote. (The Advocate)

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