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    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    Game games in Mass.


    BOSTON, Mass. (CNS) – The Catholic bishops of Massachusetts said they are "deeply disturbed" by the state Legislature's recent move to squelch a proposed amendment that would limit future same-sex marriages.

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    "The effort to silence the people through inaction and delay has no place in democracy," they said in a Nov. 14 statement after the Legislature recessed the constitutional convention without voting.

    "Citizens of the commonwealth have exercised their right to initiate the petition process afforded to them by our state constitution, and they have complied with the law at every step," they added. "Our public servants have no less of an obligation to follow the law by bringing the marriage amendment to a legislative vote."

    On Nov. 9 the joint session of the Legislature voted 109-87 to recess until the last day of the legislative session Jan. 2 at 2 p.m. They did not vote on the citizen's initiative petition aimed to allow voters to decide the definition of marriage.

    The petition garnered 170,000 signatures, the largest number in state history, and needs to receive 25 percent of the vote in two consecutive joint sessions of the Legislature before it can appear on the ballot in 2008.

    The coalition behind the petition drive, VoteOnMarriage.org, said its lawyers and strategists are looking into options to compel the Legislature to take up the vote on the issue. The group announced plans for a Nov. 19 rally with Gov. Mitt Romney on the steps of the Statehouse to urge legislators to act on the marriage amendment.

    Ed Saunders, executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, told The Pilot, Boston archdiocesan newspaper, that the conference is also working to find legal and political options.

    "Every possible means to move this people's amendment is being looked at right now," he said.

    Quickly after the legislative amendment was defeated, Rep. Byron Rushing, D-Boston, moved to recess the session. The motion passed 109-87.

    Arline Isaacson, who co-chairs the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, said the action was legal and that legislators had taken a "principled stand on marriage" by voting to recess.

    But Kris Mineau, a spokesman for VoteOnMarriage.org, said the Legislature's action was "a travesty."

    "The people have been denied to have their voice heard," he said. "Nothing is going to happen on Jan. 2. We know that."

    "If it's put up to a fair vote, by the constitution, it will pass, hands down," he added.
    Because the Legislature chose to recess instead of adjourning the session, Romney said, "I cannot call them back into session."

    He said those legislators who voted to recess had "disgraced their oath of office" and have a responsibility to "favor the rule of law."

    Romney said he too is looking for legal and political options to ensure that the Legislature votes on the marriage amendment.

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