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Gay Marriage Debate

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    Yertle The Turtle

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  • Location:New York
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Heard about it on the news this morning. Decided to try and find the story online and here it is. *sighs* Its amazing as to what ppl will complain about nowadays. Empty points to make against the whole thing.... Anyway, here it is.

Mass. Convention to Debate Gay Marriage
25 minutes ago Add U.S. National - AP to My Yahoo!

By JENNIFER PETER, Associated Press Writer

BOSTON - Activists from all sides descended on the Statehouse on the eve of Massachusetts' constitutional convention that includes on its agenda a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. The convention opens Wednesday.

Christian conservatives have come, armed with petitions. Children of gay couples also have arrived, pleading their case. And media from around the world have converged, to watch it unfold.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Charles Rasmussen, a spokesman for House Speaker Thomas Finneran. "And I'm told this building has never seen this kind of scrutiny from the national media that anyone can remember."

Massachusetts put itself at the very center of the gay-marriage debate when the Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 in November that gays should be guaranteed the benefits of marriage.

Lawmakers thought that Vermont-style civil unions might suffice, but the court issued an advisory opinion last week that left no doubt: Only full-fledged gay marriage would be legal under the current constitution.

That cleared the way for the nation's first legally sanctioned same-sex weddings by May, a prospect that some lawmakers hope to short-circuit either through laws or by amending the state constitution.

Less than 24 hours before the convention was to begin, a bipartisan group of Senate leaders proposed a compromise that would ban same-sex marriage but establish civil unions in Massachusetts.

The compromise prompted almost immediate criticism, including from Finneran, who called it "highly inappropriate" to use an amendment to craft legislation or pass new law — like one establishing civil unions.

The gay-marriage issue has created an unprecedented spectacle at the Statehouse: As many as 4,000 spectators and 300 media members are expected to attend the start of the constitutional convention, and a furious lobbying effort was already under way.

Christian conservatives used a dolly to haul in more than 18,000 petitions signed by citizens from across the country urging lawmakers to pass the amendment. Meanwhile, children of gay couples traveled to the Statehouse to plead with the Senate president "not to write discrimination into our constitution."

At the convention, the House and Senate will meet together to consider 10 proposed constitutional amendments. The gay-marriage issue is near the bottom of the agenda and might not get to a final vote for days.

If approved by the Legislature during this session, the gay-marriage amendment would have to again be ratified by lawmakers during the 2005-06 session before it could wind up on the November 2006 ballot.

As the hours ticked down to Wednesday, lawmakers circulated proposed changes to the amendment, hoping to secure the necessary 101 votes among the 199 sitting lawmakers to get it passed.

The last time Massachusetts lawmakers in the heavily Roman Catholic state had a chance to weigh in on the issue of gay marriage was in 2002, when the constitutional convention was gaveled to a close before any vote took place. Near-brawls erupted among citizens who attended and raised voices were heard in the normally sedate chamber.

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