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Massachusetts: Gay Marriage Up In The Air

With only hours left in the day, Massachusetts legislators will decide to either vote on referring gay marriage to the ballot or to not vote on it at all. Many in the chamber are not wanting to vote on it--stating, "This is the first time that the petition process has ever been used to consider reinserting discrimination into the constitution."

From MassLive.com:
Lawmakers are scheduled to meet in a constitutional convention to vote on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union of one man and one woman on Tuesday, the last day of the legislative session.

Those opposed to gay marriage proposed the amendment, but in November, gay marriages advocates led by House Speaker Sal DiMasi voted 109-87 to recess without a taking vote, well above the simple majority needed to recess. The move was seen as a way to kill the measure.

Amendment supporters sued and asked the Supreme Judicial Court to clarify lawmakers' duties under the state's constitution.

The SJC ruled that lawmakers are defying their constitutional duties by not voting, but said it has no authority to force them to act, putting Tuesday's actions in question.

Some lawmakers said they won't vote because the ballot question would write discrimination into the constitution.

Gay marriage opponents claim the people have the right to vote on gay marriage and lawmakers must follow their oath of office.

Senate President Robert Travaglini, who runs the convention, has the power to force a vote. He hasn't said what he'll do.

If a vote on the amendment is taken, it needs the support of a quarter of the Legislature, or 50 lawmakers, in two consecutive legislative sessions to move to the ballot.

The supporters of the gay marriage ban amendment collected signatures from 170,000 people in an effort to get the question on the 2008 ballot.
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