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Suit filed to push marriage amendment ahead

Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at the Nov. 19 rally on the Statehouse steps where he announced he would file suit to bypass the Legislature if it did not act on the marriage amendment. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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BOSTON -- Gov. Mitt Romney filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Judicial Court Nov. 24 asking the state’s highest court to bypass the Legislature if elected representatives fail to vote on an amendment that would restore the traditional definition of marriage in Massachusetts.

The citizen-initiated amendment, which would limit marriages entered into after its enactment to the union of one man and one woman, needs the support of 25 percent of the Legislature in two consecutive sessions to move forward. On Nov. 9 lawmakers, for a second time, voted to recess their constitutional convention without taking up the measure. They are scheduled to meet again on Jan. 2, the last day of the legislative session.

Among the 10 others joining the governor as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are State Rep. Phillip Travis, D-Rehoboth, former Boston mayor and ambassador to the Vatican Raymond L. Flynn, executive director of the Catholic Action League C.J. Doyle, and chairman of VoteOnMarriage.org Roberto Miranda.

The defendants named were Secretary of State William F. Galvin and Sen. Robert E. Travaglini, presiding officer of the Legislature’s joint session.

The suit affirms that the marriage amendment has already been approved by Galvin and received 170,000 signatures, the most in state history. The amendment has “met the material requirements” of Article 48 of the state constitution, which provides the citizens with the right to initiate petitions. The article also states that the Legislature “shall” vote on those petitions, the lawsuit said.

“Over the past 24 years, the General Court has failed and refused to follow the mandate of Article 48 in five of the six initiative amendments proposed by citizens of the Commonwealth,” the lawsuit documents said. “In each instance, the Legislature had a legal duty to act, but failed or refused to do so.”

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