Massachusetts lawmakers vote in favor of proposed amendment

BOSTON (AP) -- In a suspense-filled final day of the legislative session, Massachusetts lawmakers kept alive a proposed constitutional amendment Tuesday that would put a stop to gay marriage in the only state that allows same-sex couples to wed. The vote came after weeks of mounting legal and political pressure on legislators from both sides in the debate.
With a combination of parliamentary maneuvering, flip-flopping and brinksmanship, lawmakers gave the first round of approval necessary for the amendment to appear on the ballot in 2008. The measure still needs the endorsement of the next legislative session.
If the amendment makes it onto the ballot and residents approve it, it will leave Massachusetts' 8,000 existing gay marriages intact but ban any new ones.
"This is democracy in action. It's not a vengeance campaign. It's not a hate campaign. It's just an opportunity for the people to vote," said Kris Mineau of the Massachusetts Family Institute, a conservative group that opposes gay marriage.
If lawmakers had failed to act on the amendment Tuesday, the measure would have died, and opponents of gay marriage who collected more than 120,000 signatures to try to put the issue on the ballot would have had to start over again.
Democratic Rep. Byron Rushing, who opposed the amendment, said gay marriage supporters had hoped to kill the measure.
"We now know who we have to talk to because everyone is on the record," he said.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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