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Gay marriage opponents seek to reverse law

The gay marriage fight in Massachusetts might not be over after all.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The gay marriage fight in Massachusetts might not be over after all.

Opponents of same-sex marriages are seeking a ballot question that would prevent gay and lesbian couples from getting married here if their union wouldn't be legal in their home state.

Brian Camenker of the group Mass Resistance said Friday lawmakers and Gov. Deval Patrick bowed to the will of the "gay lobby" last month by approving the repeal of a 1913 statute that banned such marriages.

Patrick, the state's first black governor and the father of a daughter who recently announced she's a lesbian, said the 1913 law had racial undertones from a period when interracial marriage was discouraged.

"The Legislature and the governor changed our marriage laws to please the well-connected minority and force a social experiment into other states that's very offensive to a majority of the people, at least the way the votes have been going," Camenker said, referring to recent votes in favor of gay marriage bans in other states.

He was particularly critical of an emergency preamble attached to the repeal. It bypassed a normal 90-day waiting period and made the law effective immediately. Opponents typically use the 90 days to present signatures and delay the law until it can be put to a ballot vote.

"The fact that this happened the way it happened just adds to the sense of sleaziness and underhandedness of the whole process," Camenker said.

The group will need about 32,000 signatures to get their question on the ballot.

Disappointment, but not surprised
Gay marriage advocates who had celebrated the repeal said they were disappointed but not surprised by the petition.

"I've learned that when it comes to equality for gay and lesbian people, the struggle is never over because there are certain people that are just strongly opposed to any rights for gay people. It's never shocking; it is disappointing," said Marc Solomon of MassEquality.

Gay Massachusetts residents have been allowed to legally marry since 2004. Opponents, such as former Gov. Mitt Romney, said the 1913 law prevented Massachusetts from becoming the "Las Vegas of same-sex marriage." California also permits same-sex marriage and has no restriction on out-of-state couples.

Mass Resistance filed paperwork with the secretary of state's office on Wednesday. The measure has been forwarded to the attorney general's office for review.

The state constitution prohibits referendum questions on subjects that relate to religion, judges, the courts, particular localities of the commonwealth, state appropriations and certain provisions of the constitution's Declaration of Rights. Attorney General Martha Coakley has 14 days to review the proposed question.