Gay marriage didn’t hurt Mass. incumbents

BOSTON (AP) – The national Election Day backlash against gay marriage was not felt in the state blamed with triggering it, as every Massachusetts lawmaker on the ballot who supported gay rights won another term in the Legislature.

The election’s outcome, combined with the ascendancy of a new House speaker who supports gay rights, has left in doubt whether a constitutional ban on gay marriage – which was given preliminary approval earlier this year – will get the votes necessary to go to statewide referendum.

The amendment, which would ban gay marriage and legalize civil unions, must be approved in identical form by the 200-member Legislature in the next two-year session before it could wind up before voters on the ballot in November 2006.

“I think we are in a far, far better position than ever before,” said Josh Friedes, spokesman for the Massachusetts Freedom to Marry Coalition. “The electorate showed that it was incredibly tolerant.”

Massachusetts triggered a national firestorm in November 2003, when its high court ruled that the state constitutional guaranteed same-sex couples equal marriage rights.

The decision inspired anti-gay marriage questions in several other state, as well as the constitutional amendment in Massachusetts.

No lawmaker who opposed the amendment, either Republican or Democrat, lost in Tuesday’s elections, while three incumbents who supported the amendment lost their seats in earlier primaries.

Gay marriage appeared to play a significant role in only one of those losses. The proposed measure was passed in March on a 105-92 vote, slightly more than required 101 votes necessary for passage. All 84 of the incumbents who opposed the amendment and sought re-election were successful. Three opponents of gay marriage lost their seats during the September primaries.