• Massachusetts Bans Gay Marriages but Allows Civil
    Arlene Isaacson, co-chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, addresses reporters and gay marriage supporters outside the chamber of Massachusetts House of Representatives in the Massachusetts State House in Boston, March 11, 2004 after
March 11, 2004|3:33 pm

Massachusetts lawmakers gave preliminary approval Thursday to a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but allow civil unions.

The amendment, which would strip gay couples of their court-granted marriage rights, must still weather several additional votes and anticipated legislative maneuvering by opponents.

The earliest a ban could end up on a statewide ballot is November 2006, more than two years after same-sex couples can start getting married in Massachusetts.

Due to the elaborate constitutional-amendment process, the ban must be approved by the Legislature at least three more times this year — perhaps as soon as Thursday night — and then again during the 2005-06 legislative session. Then it would go before voters in 2006.