Legislators vote to defeat same-sex marriage ban
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff
A proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was defeated today by a joint session of the Legislature by a vote of 45 to 151, eliminating any chance of getting it on the ballot in November 2008. At least 50 votes were needed to advance the measure.
The vote came after House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray, and Governor Deval Patrick conferred this morning and concluded that they have the votes to kill the proposal.
"In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure," Patrick told reporters after the vote.
The three leaders - along with gay rights activists - spent the last several days intensely lobbying a dozen or more state representatives and state senators who had previously supported the amendment but signaled that they were open to changing their positions.
Because fewer than 50 of the state's 200 lawmakers supported the amendment, it will not appear on the 2008 ballot, giving gay marriage advocates a major victory in their battle with social conservatives to keep same-sex marriage legal in Massachusetts.
Opponents of gay marriage face an increasingly tough battle to win legislative approval of any future petitions to appear on a statewide ballot. The next election available to them is 2012.
The Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the group that spearheaded the court case that led to the Supreme Judicial Court's 2003 decision to legalize same-sex marriage, issued a statement praising the vote.
"We’re proud of our state today, and we applaud the legislature for showing that Massachusetts is strongly behind fairness," said Lee Swislow, executive director Advocates & Defenders. "The vote today was the triumph of time, experience, and understanding over fear and prejudice."
Posted by the Boston Globe City & Region Desk at 01:23 PM