Massachusetts: 1 Year After the First Knot

One year after becoming the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, Massachusetts continues to debate the issue as lawmakers consider a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Tuesday marks the one year anniversary for same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, after a landmark court ruling in November 2003. More than 6,000 same-sex couples have wed since then.

In March 2004, the state legislature approved a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. The bill would prohibit same-sex marriage, but allow civil unions.

In order to amend the constitution, the bill must receive approval by the current legislature and final approval by a statewide referendum. Legislators plan to vote on the bill in the fall.

The bill faces challenges as gay-rights advocates protest, calling the bill discriminatory. Support among opponents of same-sex marriage may also be waning, as these groups seek a ban on both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

The events in Massachusetts sparked a movement throughout the nation toward constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Eighteen states have incorporated language defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman into their state constitutions.

Just last week, a federal judge in Nebraska ruled the state’s marriage amendment unconstitutional. The decision will be appealed, but several pro-family groups cited the ruling as further impetus for a federal marriage amendment. State constitutional bans are pending in several states.