Monday, June 11, 2007

Mass Lawmakers to Vote on Gay Marriage Amendment

Lawmakers To Vote On Gay Marriage Amendment
Pressure On Legislators To Change Votes

POSTED: 6:48 am EDT June 11, 2007
UPDATED: 7:25 am EDT June 11, 2007

BOSTON -- State lawmakers are getting ready this week to take up a proposal that could put the same-sex marriage question on the ballot.

Legislators must decide whether to allow Massachusetts residents to vote on a gay marriage ban. They have delayed taking a vote on the issue several times in order to give gay marriage supporters more time to try to change lawmakers minds on the issue.

NewsCenter 5's Shiba Russell reported that pressure is mounting on Beacon Hill with reports of back room deals and job offers to Legislators in an effort to get them to switch their votes on whether Massachusetts citizens should be able to vote on a gay marriage ban.

The man who will be under the gun will be House Speaker Sal DiMasi, a supporter of gay marriage. He has three days before a scheduled Constitutional Convention to convince enough lawmakers to vote against the proposed amendment. Back in January, when the plan won enough votes to move forward, most of the votes came from the House, but the margin in favor of the ban has narrowed, according to newspaper reports.

Thursday, it would take at least 50 votes or one quarter of the Legislature, to vote in favor of the amendment for it to move forward. It must be approved in two consecutive sessions to win a place on the ballot.

If the ballot question receives support from 50 of 200 state lawmakers at the Constitutional Convention scheduled for Thursday, it would be placed on the 2008 ballot.

The final decision about whether to call for a vote next week rests with Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth. As senate president, Murray -- a supporter of gay marriage -- presides over the constitutional convention.

Her spokeswoman, Ann Dufresne, said last week that Murray wants a vote, but also wants to defeat the measure.

"She is going to convene the (constitutional convention) on Thursday, but whether we get to the gay marriage question is really dependent on the members," Dufresne said.

If Murray isn't convinced there are enough votes to kill the amendment, she could recognize a motion to postpone the constitutional convention to another date to give opponents of the measure more time to change votes

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