MA Lawmakers Give First OK to Anti-Gay Marriage Ballot Measure

January 2, 2007 ( - Lawmakers from Massachusetts - the only state where gay marriages are legal - have given preliminary approval to placing a proposed constitutional amendment barring such marriages on the 2008 ballot.

With its definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman and its ban on future gay marriages, the proposed amendment still needs approval of the next legislative session before it can go before voters as a ballot measure, according to the Associated Press.

Specifically, it needs 50 supporters among current lawmakers as well as 50 from the new legislature. Tuesday’s vote was 61 in favor and 132 opposed.  The vote came without debate, immediately after Senate President Robert Travaglini officially opened the joint session. A vote to adjourn the joint constitutional convention without taking up the gay marriage amendment would have killed the measure and put supporters of a ban back to square one.

According to the AP report, Governor-elect Deval Patrick had met with Travaglini and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi earlier in the day to urge against a vote, calling it a “question of conscience.” Patrick said the proposed amendment was the first time the amendment process was being used “to consider reinserting discrimination into the constitution.”

The state Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled last week that lawmakers’ had shirked their constitutional duties in November by recessing instead of voting on the proposal, but justices acknowledged they had no legal way to force action.

Since the marriages began being allowed in 2004, about 8,000 same-sex couples have wed in Massachusetts (See Massachusetts Court Says Gays Entitled to Marry ).