Bay State compromise: Ban gay marriages, but allow civil unions

Gay marriage will be legal in the meantime
Massachusetts legislators have given initial approval to an amendment that bans gay marriage but explicitly authorizes identical civil benefits for same-sex couples. However, since the amendment cannot take effect until November of 2006 at the earliest, Massachusetts is set to become the first state to recognize gay marriages.

Under orders from the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts officials will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples May 17.

The constitutional amendment, approved by a 105-92 vote, would have to be reaffirmed by the legislature in its 2004-2005 session, then approved by voters thereafter. It says nothing about the legal fate of same-sex couples married in Massachusetts during the time between the issuing of marriage licenses and the enactment of the ban.


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