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lawmakers weigh constitutional same-sex marriage ban

lawmakers weigh constitutional same-sex marriage ban

Massachusetts lawmakers gathered Wednesday to weigh a series of proposed constitutional amendments, including one that would ban same-sex marriage in the only state where it is now legal, as hundreds of people on both sides of the marriage debate demonstrated at the statehouse, the Associated Press reports.

Minutes after senate president Robert Travaglini opened the constitutional convention, there was an unsuccessful attempt to change the order of the agenda to move up the same-sex marriage proposal to guarantee debate Wednesday. A unanimous vote was needed to make the change.

Travaglini said he intended to get to all the nearly two dozen items on the calendar, but there was no guarantee they would reach the proposal to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman by day's end. If that happens, it could be months until it comes up again.

Same-sex marriage opponents hope to block future same-sex unions in Massachusetts with the proposed amendment, which could go on the ballot no earlier than 2008. More than 8,000 same-sex couples have taken vows in the state since May 2004, when their marriages became legal there.

To get on the ballot, the question must twice win the backing of 25%, or 50 of the state's 200 lawmakers: once during the current session and again during the session starting in January.

It's not the first time Massachusetts lawmakers have been confronted with the issue. In 2002 opponents of same-sex marriage tried to place a similar constitutional amendment on the ballot, but lawmakers decided to adjourn rather than vote on the issue. Lawmakers again addressed the issue after the 2003 same-sex marriage court ruling. Legislators approved a proposed amendment banning such marriages and legalizing Vermont-style civil unions. They later reversed themselves, killing the amendment. (AP)

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