Same-Sex Marriage Win In Boston

GENERIC: Gay Marriage, Homosexual, Flag, Lesbian AP

A year after the nation's first state-sanctioned same-sex marriages, the Massachusetts Legislature on Wednesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that sought to ban same-sex marriage but legalize civil unions.

It was the second time the Legislature had confronted the measure, which was designed to be put before voters on a statewide ballot in 2006. Under state law, lawmakers were required to approve the measure in two consecutive sessions before it could move forward.

After less than two hours of debate, a joint session of the House and Senate voted 157-39 against the measure.

It was a striking departure from a year earlier, when hundreds of protesters converged on Beacon Hill and sharply divided legislators spent long hours debating the issue.

This year, the crowds were tamer and some legislators who had initially supported the proposed change to the state constitution said they no longer felt right about denying the right of marriage to thousands of same-sex couples.

"Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry," said state Sen. Brian Lees, a Republican who had been a co-sponsor of the amendment. "This amendment which was an appropriate measure or compromise a year ago, is no longer, I feel, a compromise today."

The state's highest court ruled in November 2003 that same-sex couples had a right under the state constitution to marry. The first weddings took place on May 17, 2004 — two months after lawmakers began the process of trying to change the constitution to reverse the court's ruling.

Since then, more than 6,100 couples have married.
  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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