[JURIST] A Massachusetts legislature [official website] vote on a proposed constitutional amendment [DOC text] to ban same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] has been postponed until January. Although opponents of same-sex marriage had obtained 170,000 signatures in favor of putting the measure before the legislature, they lacked the requisite support of one-quarter of the lawmakers to approve a vote. It now appears unlikely that a vote will be taken in time to include the proposal on the November 2008 ballot. Before the 109-87 vote to recess was taken Thursday, lawmakers unanimously rejected a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution [text] which would have dissolved existing same-sex marriages and banned future unions. AP has more.
Massachusetts [JURIST news archive] is currently the only US state to recognize same-sex marriage, after a November 2003 state high court ruling [JURIST report, background materials]. More than 8,000 couples have subsequently wed in the state, and the precedent has sparked a nationwide debate over gay marriage. Last week, Arizona voters rejected a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages [JURIST report], civil unions and domestic partnerships. At the same time, voters in seven other states – Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin – approved ballot measures supporting traditional marriage. Last month, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex couples must be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples and gave the legislature 180 days to vote on whether to amend the state's marriage laws. Several similar cases have been decided or are pending in other states including California, Washington, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Connecticut [JURIST reports].