Legislature passes ‘compromise’ marriage amendment

After having spent dozens of hours debating the language of a constitutional amendment, legislators came to a conclusion March 29, approving an amendment that would uphold the traditional definition of marriage but at the same time create civil unions with benefits identical to marriage. The compromise left neither opponents nor proponents of same-sex marriage completely satisfied.

In order to reach the ballot in 2006, the amendment must be passed by the 2005-2006 Legislature at the next constitutional convention.

The amendment protects traditional marriage and says that “two persons of the same sex shall have the right to form a civil union if they otherwise meet the requirements set forth by law for marriage.” Civil unions would confer the same benefits of marriage, but would not provide federal benefits and may not be recognized outside of Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC), the lobbying arm of the Catholic Church in the commonwealth, opposed adding civil unions to the amendment. The MCC had maintained that, if legislators insisted on creating same-sex unions, the question should be split from the amendment defining of marriage. The original Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment, known as MA and PA, did not include civil unions language. However, when it became clear that there were not enough votes in the Legislature to split the questions, the MCC encouraged legislators to vote for the so-called civil union compromise amendment.

“The reason we asked legislators to support [the compromise amendment] was to keep the issue alive in front of the voters, and that is what we have done,” Gerald D. D’Avolio, executive director of MCC. The amendment, which passed 105-92 on final reading, “gives the citizens an opportunity to look at the issue of marriage and take a position,” he said.

On one hand, it “gives the people an opportunity to vote on the issue and it also rejects four judges in the Goodridge case, saying the people are going to decide, not the judges,” D’Avolio declared minutes after learning the results of the final vote.

In November, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (SJC) legalized same-sex marriage in the case of Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health.

Since then legislators have been bombarded with telephone calls, emails, letters and personal visits from those on both sides of the issue. Supporters and opponents of traditional marriage have converged in the thousands on the Statehouse for the past three constitutional conventions, making their voices heard to lawmakers.

Under such extreme pressure, “I think legislators realized that at least they needed to give something to the voters,” D’Avolio. “As much as the language of the amendment is a problem, it still defines marriage as between a man and a woman.”

For the past year, Rep. Philip Travis, D-Rehoboth, chief sponsor of the original marriage amendment, has focused much of his time on preserving traditional marriage. Speaking to his colleagues at constitutional conventions during the past weeks, Travis urged them not to combine marriage and civil unions in one amendment. However in the final vote, he supported the compromise amendment in order to keep the amendment alive and protect marriage.

Travis explained that he voted for the amendment because the “union of one man and one woman is still in the amendment and people have to realize that that is the only marriage.”

“We could not get it all our way, but we got the best part of it — we protected marriage, and that’s a victory for anyone who is for traditional marriage,” Travis stated.

The civil unions measure that legislators passed will not satisfy same-sex couples, he continued. “They don’t want civil unions, they got civil unions and now they are like Vermont,” maintaining their civil union benefits only within the borders of Massachusetts, he said.

In light of the Legislature’s decision on the amendment, Gov. Mitt Romney said he will attempt to delay the issuance of marriage licenses, which the SJC said should begin May 17, pending the outcome of a popular vote on the amendment in 2006.

Speaking at a press conference immediately following the March 29 vote, Romney stated that issuing marriage licenses before citizens have an opportunity to vote on the amendment would cause a “good deal of confusion,” if voters choose to reserve marriage for the union of a man and woman.

“I believe that the Supreme Judicial Court has an obligation, to the Constitution and to the people of Massachusetts, to withhold their decision until the people can consider this issue themselves,” Romney said.

Despite the initial approval of a marriage amendment in the Legislature and Romney’s efforts to block the distribution of marriage licenses on May 17, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly has expressed his intent to enforce the SJC’s decision. Reilly contested that Romney did not have a valid legal basis for his request.

The MCC did not rule out the possibility of seeking a further amendment to the state constitution that would ask citizens to vote solely for or against traditional marriage.

“There is always an opportunity to do an initiative petition by the will of the voters, which would get to the voters by 2008, but that can be started now with some sort of a petition drive,” D’Avolio told The Pilot in an interview following the vote. “That is something that we’ll have to explore later, but that is an option.”

D’Avolio encouraged Catholics, who mobilized like never before around the marriage issue, to continue their involvement in the public policy process. He also recommended that they personally thank their legislators “who have supported us all the way on this issue.”

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...