State lawmakers in Massachusetts, facing the possibility of personal liability for refusing to follow the state Constitution, have blinked, and voted to allow a voter-supported initiative that would define marriage in the state as between one man and one woman only to move forward.
It’s just another step in the long process defined by the state Constitution to amend that document, but it is significant because of the imposition of “gay” marriages in that state – the first state to take such action – after the state Supreme Judicial Court determined they must be allowed.
Brian Camenker, a spokesman for the pro-family MassResistance.com organization, was at the statehouse when lawmakers voted to move the initiative forward to the next legislature, which begins later this week. There, it also will need to get the support of at least 50 lawmakers, and then the issue could be put on the 2008 election ballot.
Traditional marriage supporters rallying in front of Massachusetts statehouse (Photo by MassResistance)
A pro-family activist law firm, The Alliance Defense Fund, earlier had filed a lawsuit against 109 of the lawmakers because they had voted to recess the legislature until today, the last day of the session, without taking a vote on the proposed initiative.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court had ruled that the state Constitution required lawmakers to vote up-or-down on such proposals, but it could not force the lawmakers to do that.
Camenker said the vote came quickly, with the measure earning the support of 61 lawmakers. But then a vote to reconsider the plan was approved, effectively nullifying the first vote.
Then after the House Clerk’s office verified for Camenker that such a motion to reconsider could only be made once, the House called another vote, with 62 lawmakers this time supporting the advance of the initiative.
“The gays certainly acted as if they lost,” Camenker told WND. “This took everybody by surprise. I don’t think there was a single person who thought they were not going to pull some kind of trick. But I guess there was enough pressure put on them … that they voted.”
“Gay” marriage supporters protesting decision to let people vote on issue (Photo by MassResistance)
He said he’d heard comments that the fact that a lawsuit existed troubled some lawmakers, and even local pundits who probably didn’t want the measure to move forward had agreed that lawmakers should vote.
“It’s a huge victory for the pro-family movement, and a huge defeat for the homosexual movement,” he said. “They put enormous amounts of money – $1 million according to their own claims – to get the right people elected in the state House,” he said.
“We see this as a victory,” said Kristian Mineau, of the Massachusetts Family Institute.
There were hundreds of protesters – on both sides of the question – rallying outside the statehouse as the three deciding votes followed one another.
After the ADF lawsuit was filed, the state’s highest court ruled in a separate lawsuit that the state Constitution does require a vote.
The ruling could not have been better for advocates of traditional, biblically-based marriage, Brian W. Raum, the senior legal counsel for the ADF. “The plaintiff in that case had asked the court to issue a declaratory judgment and a writ of mandamus. The court (said it) didn’t have the authority to force the legislature to vote, but it issued a lengthy opinion which established … that the legislature has a constitutional duty to vote,” he said.
The initiative, organized by VoteOnMarriage.org, was presented to the legislature since by Massachusetts’ Constitution, lawmakers must vote on any initiative presented to them.
However, only 50 affirmative votes are needed to place the issue on the ballot, and through the political maneuverings of pro-“gay marriage” factions in the legislature, 109 members had voted to recess until today, the last legal day of the current legislative session, without voting on the initiative.
The ADF’s federal lawsuit against those 109 claimed they were violating residents’ rights to vote on the issue.
Last July the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman could be placed on the 2008 ballot – if the process was followed.
But it was held up for the five months since because the state constitution states the Legislature has a duty to vote on whether the process for placing the amendment on the ballot can proceed.
John Haskins, who works with the unrelated group, Parents Rights Coalition, said it’s important that a wide range of actions be reviewed to continue the fight for traditional marriage in Massachusetts.
He said pro-family lawyers “will either start taking the gloves off and learning to play offense and adamantly defend the state and federal Constitutions they’ve sworn to defend or we might as well pack it up and go home.”
“Ultimately what we all want is marriage between one man and one woman to be restored in Massachusetts,” Barstow told WND. “We believe the route we are taking is the correct route.”
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