Notes from the Hill

On Jan. 2, exercising firm leadership, Senate President Robert Travaglini avoided fatal parliamentary maneuvers and moved for a vote on the marriage amendment, with 62 legislators, 12 more than required, voting in the amendment’s favor, thus successfully keeping the amendment alive in 2007. Those legislators deserve a huge thanks for voting to move the amendment a step closer to the 2008 ballot.

Rep. Phil Travis earns extra special thanks for leading the efforts on the amendment’s behalf. Jan. 2 was his last day in office and he finished his life as a legislator defending traditional marriage to the end, and successfully. His tremendous courage and persistence will be missed. Other amendment supporters leaving office include Virginia Coppola, Shirley Gomes, Shirley Owens-Hicks, Marie Parente, and Susan Pope. All the returning legislators can be reached by calling the Statehouse switchboard at 617-722-2000.

The successful vote, or more specifically the fact that there was even a vote, surprised everyone. Many legislators point to the influence of a ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court on Dec. 27, asserting in terms unprecedented in their clarity and strength that by blocking a legislative vote on initiative petitions, legislators would violate their oath of office. In addition, Catholics and other citizens sent thousands of calls and e-mails to legislators asking for a favorable vote, and the Catholic bishops in Massachusetts sent individualized letters urging each legislator to honor his or her constitutional obligations, as well as a second statement reiterating this point after the SJC ruling.

The battle is not over. At least 50 legislators must vote once again to give final approval to place the amendment on the general election ballot in 2008. Stay tuned!

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference issued the following statement in response to the successful vote on Jan. 2:

“Today the constitutional rights of the citizens of the Commonwealth have been upheld. The democratic process and the right of the people to have their voices heard were affirmed. We applaud the members of the Legislature for fulfilling their responsibilities as representatives of the people who elected them and for living up to their oath of office to support the constitution. We thank the 62 legislators that voted to move the marriage amendment forward for a vote of the people in 2008.