What is hopefully the final chapter in the struggle for marriage equality in Massachusetts came to a close on June 14. The state legislature, meeting as a constitutional convention, failed to muster the 50 votes necessary to put the question of same-sex marriage on the ballot. The final vote was 45 to 151.
Opponents had gathered sufficient signatures to put the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot in November 2008, but also needed the vote of at least a quarter of two successive constitutional conventions to move the measure forward. They garnered 62 votes last year, but some opposing legislators retired or were defeated in their bid for re-election and gay advocates continued to lobby actively for a 'no' vote.
The outcome was still in doubt when dawn broke that day, but gay advocates had a growing sense of optimism that victory was within their grasp. The delegates filed into the chamber about 1:00; 20 minutes later, it was all over. The celebrating began.
'Today's vote was not just a victory for marriage equality, it was a victory for equality itself,' Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick told reporters after the final tally. 'Whenever we affirm the equality of anyone, we affirm the equality of everyone.'
Democrat Patrick was a strong proponent of marriage equality in the fall election and he worked hard to swing the last few needed votes into line.
Former Governor Mitt Romney had supported the amendment, particularly so after he decided to run for the Republican presidential nomination and began pandering to social conservatives. He called the vote 'a regrettable setback' and renewed his call for an amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit same sex marriage.