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Settling with Civil Unions? Pro-Family Leaders Dub Compromised Amendment “Blackmail”

“Legislators know the people want to vote on the definition of marriage but instead of giving them a ‘clean bill,’ they are forcing them to pass civil unions at the same time. That is nothing short of
( [email protected] ) Mar 31, 2004 07:52 AM EST

BOSTON — With the compromised constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage in Massachusetts passing its first hurdle, and the scheduled date to legalized homosexual ‘marriage’ set for mid-May, conservatives seemingly are in a sticky situation.

Several evangelical Christians have heavily criticized the compromised amendment,which passed three times with a final vote of 105-92 at the Massachusetts Statehouse on Monday. The amendment, they say, protects marriage, but only by name, since it literally pushes for civil unions.

Despite such controversies surrounding the amendment, passing it was a critical step to blocking the upcoming ‘doomsday,’ May 17. That amendment, apparently, is much better than no amendment, since the Republican Gov. Mitt Romney said he would not take action to delay the issuance of gay ‘marriage licenses’ unless a constitutional amendment is underway this year.

Following his word, Romney announced that he would ask the court to delay its decision until the process was complete, but Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, a Democrat, said he would not support Romney. Reilly said that while he opposes the court’s decision, Romney’s arguments aren’t valid in light of the fact the court has ruled twice for same-sex “marriage.”

While the state law says that only the attorney general can represent the governor, Romney said he would go ahead and take direct action.

“If we begin providing for same-sex marriages on May 17,” said Romney, “as ordered by the court, and then our citizens choose to limit marriage to a man and woman by their vote in November 2006, we will have created a good deal of confusion during the period in between -- for the couples involved, for our state, for other states where couples may have moved and for the children of these families.”

Some options that are being considered by Romney’s office include issuing an executive order telling clerks not to issue the licenses.

Even so, according to the president of the conservative Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, the compromised amendment was “frustrating” for supporters of traditional marriage. The passed amendment, overall, blocked the consideration of any other possible amendments to be placed at the table, including those supported by the majority of Christian evangelicals: ban both gay ‘marriage’ and civil unions, or split the two issues to let voters decide each question individually.

“Legislators know the people want to vote on the definition of marriage but instead of giving them a ‘clean bill,’ they are forcing them to pass civil unions at the same time,” Perkins said in a statement. “That is nothing short of blackmail. The debate over the definition of marriage in the Bay State has gone round and round and, in the end, the majority of legislators abdicated their responsibility by straddling the fence trying to have it both ways. That is not leadership.”

Rep. Viriato deMacedo, a Republican, favored splitting the amendment.

Otherwise, he said, “It would be akin to saying to these people, ‘You want to vote for John Kerry for president? No problem, you can vote for John Kerry, but you’ve got to vote for George Bush at the same time....’ We are giving the people a false choice. We’re saying, ‘You want one thing? No problem, you can vote to define marriage between a man and a woman, but the only way you can do it is if you create civil unions entirely the same as marriage.”

The following is the compromised amendment that was passed on March 29 in its entirety:

"The unified purpose of this Article is both to define the institution of civil marriage and to establish civil unions to provide same-sex persons with entirely the same benefits, protections, rights, privileges and obligations as are afforded to married persons, while recognizing that under present federal law same-sex persons in civil unions will be denied federal benefits available to married persons.

"It being the public policy of this commonwealth to protect the unique relationship of marriage, only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in the commonwealth. Two persons of the same sex shall have the right to form a civil union if they otherwise meet the requirements set forth by law for marriage. Civil unions for same sex persons are established by this Article and shall provide entirely the same benefits, protections, rights, privileges and obligations that are afforded to persons married under the law of the commonwealth. All laws applicable to marriage shall also apply to civil unions.

“This Article is self-executing, but the general court may enact laws not inconsistent with anything herein contained to carry out the purpose of this Article.”