Pols shift sides to KO ban on gay marriage
By Casey Ross
Boston Herald Reporter
Friday, June 15, 2007 - Updated: 06:35 AM EST
Gay marriage survived its last major challenge yesterday after support collapsed for a ballot initiative to outlaw it, with an avalanche of lawmakers switching sides in one of the most suspenseful legislative battles in recent history.
With the outcome still in doubt, state lawmakers started a roll call vote at 1:10 p.m. and within minutes defeated the proposed ban on gay nuptials, 151-45. The tally left proponents of the ban five votes short of the 50-vote threshold needed to put it on a statewide ballot in 2008.
“In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure,” Gov. Deval Patrick said to roaring applause after the vote in the Constitutional Convention. “Today’s vote was not just a victory for marriage equality, it was a victory for equality itself.”
But Raymond L. Flynn, the former Boston mayor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican who was the lead sponsor of the proposed amendment, said the 170,000 Massachusetts residents who signed the petition to place the ban on the ballot “had their vote stolen from them.”
The ban’s defeat affirmed the status of gay marriage in the only state where it’s legal. The five-vote margin of victory brought a surprising and dramatic end to days of fierce lobbying by Patrick and legislative leaders. In total, 11 lawmakers switched sides to defeat the proposed ban, a sudden shift that shocked ban proponents who said they didn’t see it coming.