Mass. Legislature Approves Anti-gay Amendment
...but the vote was preliminary, all hope is not lost, and wedding bells will still ring May 17
Yeah, so, the bad news is that the Mass. Legislature (by a vote of 121 to 77) gave the first round of approval to Finneran and Travaglini's so-called "compromise", or Leadership amendment, which bans same-sex marriage but allows for civil unions. The good (or at least, less bad) news is that even if the amendment makes it through the final rounds of approval, it still won't show up on ballots until November 2006 at the earliest. And in the meantime, same-sex marriages are still scheduled to begin May 17... though not if Gov. Romney can help it. From the Globe ("Convention may be overture to long debate"):
First, legislators will reconvene on March 29 for a final vote on whether to take up the amendment again at their next Constitutional Convention in the 2005-06 session, when it must be approved to be placed on the ballot in November 2006. There is speculation on Beacon Hill that gay marriage opponents will use the opportunity at the end of the month to replace the amendment with one that waters down the civil union provision. The amendment's prospects could also be affected by this fall's elections, which could alter the composition of the Legislature. Furthermore, even though the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Massachusetts must allow gay marriages effective May 17, Romney is considering a plan to ask the SJC to block issuing marriage licenses until voters have a chance to weigh in on the issue... . Also, the governor has vowed to campaign for Republican candidates, and gay marriage may become a pivotal issue in some races.
In other words, anti-gay candidates for the legislature are using the marriage issue to defeat their pro-gay opponents. Great. Just great. I can't say that puts me in the most optimistic of moods. And I have to say that the approval of the amendment still smells like a defeat to me, although Boston Phoenix writer Kristen Lombardi goes so far as to argue that it's a huge victory for gay rights activists--I'm still not convinced, but her argument is worth reading.
Update: my dad says I'm being way too pessimistic, and points me to a Globe analysis ("Accord said to lack firm majority: In gay-marriage fight, lawmakers' votes fluid") suggesting support for the amendment is shaky:
The comfortable margins by which the amendment passed on Thursday reflect short-term strategies employed by gay-marriage backers and opponents. Gay-marriage supporters were attempting to deflect rival proposals they viewed as more harsh to same-sex couples, while their opponents were maneuvering to keep the debate going and their future options open. Neither group can be counted on to ultimately back the amendment, the analysis suggests.