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Thursday, June 14, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: The threat to marriage equality in Massachusetts is now over!





via Garden State Equality and via the Associated Press & NY Newsday















In one of the greatest victories ever for the LGBTI civil rights movement in America, the Massachusetts state legislature has once-and-for-all defeated a state constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality. See the Associated Press article below:


Here, now, is the Associated Press story on today's huge victory in Massachusetts:

BOSTON, Thursday, June 14, 2007 (AP) -- Massachusetts lawmakers blocked a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday that would have let voters decide whether to ban gay marriage in the only state that allows it.

The narrow vote was a victory for gay marriage advocates and a blow to efforts to reverse the historic court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state. More than 8,500 gay couples have married in Massachusetts since it became legal in May 2004.

To get the proposed ban on the 2008 statewide ballot would have required 50 votes. It got 45, with 151 lawmakers opposed. There was no debate.

As the tally was announced, the halls of the Statehouse erupted in applause.
"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 of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders.
Opponents of gay marriage vowed to press on, but Thursday's defeat after more than three years of sometimes wrenching debate could prove insurmountable. Any effort to mount a new ballot question would take years at a time political support in Massachusetts is swinging firmly behind gay marriage.

For gay couples, the vote marked what could be the end of a struggle that began in 2001, when seven same-sex couples, denied marriage licenses, sued in Suffolk Superior Court.

Outside the Statehouse, hundreds of people rallied on both sides of the issue.
"We believe it's unconstitutional not to allow people to vote on this," said Rebekah Beliveau, 24, of Lawrence, a student at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary who stood with fellow college-age amendment supporters across the street from the Statehouse.
Advocates of the amendment said they gathered 170,000 signatures supporting the amendment, although the secretary of state's office accepted only 123,000. "We're standing up not necessarily on the issue of same-sex marriage, but our right to vote," Beliveau said.

Across the road, gay marriage advocates stood on the front steps of the capital waving signs that read, "Wrong to Vote on Rights" and "All Families Are Equal."

Jean Chandler, 62, of Cambridge, came with fellow members of her Baptist church in an effort to rebuff the image that strict followers of the Bible are opposed to gay marriage.
"I think being gay is like being left-handed," Chandler said. "If we decided left-handed people couldn't marry, what kind of society would we be?"
In contrast to previous joint sessions, there was no debate Thursday. Senate President Therese Murray opened the constitutional convention by calling for a vote, and the session was gaveled to a close immediately afterward.
###

"The threat to marriage equality in Massachusetts is now over! Garden State Equality salutes MassEquality, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), among other incredible advocates in Massachusetts, whose heroic work defies description. They are among the greatest civil rights heroes of our time.

Just like there was unstoppable momentum among legislators to protect marriage equality in Massachusetts, so, too, is there unstoppable momentum among New Jersey legislators to establish marriage equality here. On October 25, 2006, the day of the Lewis v Harris decision that led to civil unions, only six legislators supported a marriage equality bill. Now one-third of the state legislature does, and by the end of the year, we expect it will be over half.

New Jersey legislators understand that civil unions don't work in the real world.

Employers in New Jersey are failing to recognize civil unions at least 1 in 8 times demonstrating that civil unions do NOT provide all the state rights and benefits of marriage simply without the name. Too many civil-unioned couples in New Jersey continue to be robbed of adequate health care and financial security.

That's why Garden State Equality is fighting for marriage equality. If you'd like to help the fight, please buy a ticket to SUMMERTIME: Rio 2007!, whose proceeds will go to Garden State Equality's marriage equality campaign. SUMMERTIME: Rio 2007! is just 10 days away -- it's on Monday, June 25, 2007 at 6:30 pm at Moonstruck, 517 Lake Avenue, Asbury Park. You may buy tickets online at http://eqfed.org/gse/events/summertime07/details.tcl.
Thanks from all of us at Garden State Equality."

-Steven Goldstein (via e-mail blast)

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