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BREAKING NEWS ~ Massachusetts high court allows marriage ballot initiative

[JURIST] AP is reporting that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts [official website] has ruled that a proposed state constitutional amendment [DOC text] that would ban same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] can be placed on the ballot for voter approval, if the amendment is approved by the state legislature. Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST report] in 2003, when the Supreme Judicial Court ruled [text] that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the current Massachusetts Constitution [text].

Monday's ruling [PDF text] comes in a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly's decision [DOC text] to allow a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage to proceed. The plaintiffs, represented by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) [advocacy website], argued that under the state constitution, ballot initiatives cannot overturn a previous court decision, a power delegated exclusively to the state legislature. The court rejected the plaintiff's arguments, saying "Neither the plain meaning of the words 'reversal of a judicial decision' nor their intended meaning as understood in the context of the Debates of the Constitutional Convention of 1917-1918, from which they emerged, supports the broad interpretation of the exclusion pressed by the plaintiff." Before the amendment can be presented to voters, the state legislature must approve the measure in two consecutive sessions. AP has more.

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