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Massachusetts gay marriage foes one step closer to ballot initiative

[JURIST] A group of gay marriage opponents in Massachusetts said Wednesday they had gathered enough signatures to put a proposed constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage on the state ballot. The group, lead by the Massachusetts Family Institute [advocacy website] and comprised of Christian and conservative activists, was required to gather 65,825 signatures before state lawmakers could decide whether to put the question to a public referendum in 2008. If the petition signatures are verified, supporters of the constitutional amendment would still need 25% of the legislators in the 200-member state legislature to support it in two sittings, once in 2006 and once in 2007, before the issue could reach voters in 2008. In September, State Attorney General Tom Reilly ruled [JURIST report] that the state constitution [text] allows voters to overturn court decisions, permitting supporters to move forward with the process to have the initiative placed on the ballot. Same-sex marriage in Massachusetts was legalized by May 2004 ruling of the state Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health [PDF]. Gay rights [JURIST news archive] lawyers plan to sue the attorney general, arguing a ballot initiative cannot overturn the judicial decree. Reuters has more.

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