HRC Applauds Derailing Of Mean-Spirited Massachusetts Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment

On July 17th The Human Rights Campaign praised a bipartisan effort by
Massachusetts legislators to derail a right wing effort to pass an anti-gay
constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage.

"Today's bipartisan effort was a blow to anti-gay extremism and sent
a strong message that intolerance and discrimination have no place in
Massachusetts," said HRC National Field Director Seth Kilbourn. "While we
are extremely pleased with the outcome, we must remain vigilant because we
know that those who sponsored this amendment will continue to search for
ways to promote prejudice and divide the state."

"We are absolutely thrilled with this first in the nation defeat of an
anti-gay, anti-marriage constitutional amendment," said Holly Gunner of
MassEquality.org, the coalition of groups that came together to fight this
measure. "We are very proud that many organizations, both gay and straight,
worked as a coalition to achieve this victory. Massachusetts legislators
took a strong stand in favor of equal rights for everyone. We are proud of
Massachusetts."

Earlier today, a Constitutional Convention was held where a joint session of
the House and Senate voted 137-53 to adjourn immediately without taking a
vote on the controversial issue. Opposition to the proposed constitutional
amendment was led by Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham (D) and Senate
Minority leader Brian Lees (R).

The Constitutional Convention was called after right wing groups
collected the 130,000 signatures needed to initiate the process of passing a
constitutional amendment. To appear on the ballot in November 2004, the
voter-initiated question had to be approved by 50 of the 200 elected
representatives and senators before this two-year legislative session ends
July 31 and again during the 2003-2004 session. If passed, the amendment
would make same-sex marriages unconstitutional in Massachusetts and accord
marriage benefits only to unions between one man and one woman.

"This extremist measure would not only prohibit same-sex marriages,
but it could have also gutted domestic partner benefits, leaving gay
families without basic protections and exposing these families to harm,"
added Kilbourn.

Today's adjournment means that the only way the question could
advance is if Gov. Jane Swift (R) calls the legislature back into the
Constitutional Convention. However, Swift's spokesman says that she opposes
the measure.

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