.- The Massachusetts Legislature yesterday voted against a measure that would have put a marriage amendment on the 2008 ballot. The vote has thus denied state citizens their right to vote on the future of marriage in the state.
Proponents of the amendment sought to reverse the impact of the Supreme Judicial Court's Goodridge decision that legalized same-sex marriage in 2003. Massachusetts remains the only state that recognizes the union of same-sex couples as "marriage".
Volunteers gathered more than 170,000 signatures to place an amendment to the state constitution â which would define marriage only as the union of one man and one woman â on the 2008 ballot. The process required approval in two successive legislative sessions to qualify as a statewide referendum.
The measure gained approval in last year's constitutional convention but failed yesterday under leadership by Democratic Governor Deval Patrick and pressure from the homosexual lobby.
The Catholic bishops of Massachusetts said in a statement that this action of, âIgnoring the will of more than 170,000 people who signed the marriage petition and blocking the people from exercising their right to vote is tragic.â
âIn the Commonwealth, our state laws provide for the process whereby the citizens have a right to vote on a constitutional amendment,â they wrote. âHowever, the leadership of the Democratic Party refuses to allow citizens and elected officials to vote their conscience on social issues. Their ideological positions undermine the common good. Today, the common good has been sacrificed by the extreme individualism that subordinates what is best for children, families and society.â
âIt is obvious from the unprecedented amount of pressure that was put upon elected officials that opponents of the amendment believed that the voters of the Commonwealth would have voted in favor of the traditional definition of marriage. The pressure tactics were engineered to insure that the will of the people would not prevail,â they stated.
âThe question for those elected officials who opposed allowing the marriage amendment to be voted on by the people is: do we live in a country where people are free to vote their conscience or are we controlled by what is viewed as politically correct and by powerful special interest groups?â they asked.
âFor legislators to flout the expressed will of the people is a travesty. It is clear they don't represent the people, but only their own narrow social and political agenda,â said National Clergy Council president Rev. Rob Schenck. âThe outcome of this violates the spirit of the law, denies citizens their right to self-government and breaks the moral law of God.â
The Alliance for Marriage, which drafted the Marriage Protection Amendment before Congress, warned that the vote by the Massachusetts legislature will only plunge the nation deeper into a debate over marriage and the family.
Matt Daniels, president and founder of the Alliance for Marriage, says radical activists will now move to strike the 1913 law in Massachusetts requiring state residency for a marriage license.
He expects activists from all 50 states will travel to Massachusetts, obtain a marriage license and then sue in federal court to strike down any laws or state amendments protecting marriage in other states.
This plan, he says, âis intended to make sure Massachusetts âgay marriagesâ become the new social norm for America. This is nothing short of a plan to create a national blitz of lawsuits challenging state marriage laws, state marriage amendments, and the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.â