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Massachusetts lawmakers push same-sex marriage ban forward

[JURIST] Massachusetts lawmakers Tuesday pushed forward a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Sixty-two members of the Massachusetts legislature [official website] voted for the measure and 132 against on a second vote, putting it 12 votes over the 50 vote threshold it needed to stay alive for further consideration by the next legislative session, which can then put it on the 2008 ballot. The proposed amendment [text, DOC], which has garnered over 170,000 support signatures, would strictly define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, though it would leave existing Massachusetts same-sex marriages [JURIST news archive] intact. When the state legislature last considered it in November, opponents of the measure failed to amass the 151 votes necessary to kill it, instead voting 109-87 to recess [JURIST report] a joint session with the Senate until January. AP has more. The Boston Herald has local coverage.

Outgoing Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney [official profile] welcomed the advancement of the ban, calling it a "huge victory for the people of Massachusetts." After the legislature originally balked at the vote, Romney sued the Commonwealth [JURIST report]. Late last month the state Supreme Judicial Court [official website] ruled [PDF text] that it could not compel the legislature, but it nonetheless criticized the failure of lawmakers [Boston Globe report] to vote on the measure.

Massachusetts is currently the only US state to recognize same-sex marriage, after a November 2003 state high court ruling [JURIST report; background materials], and more than 8,000 couples have since been wed there.

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