Mass. Court Set to Hear Homosexual Marriage Case

By Robert B. Bluey | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - A Massachusetts court takes up a case Tuesday stemming from an attempt to ban homosexual marriages.

Justice John M. Greaney of the Supreme Judicial Court in Boston will hear the state's arguments to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage.

The group sued after the state Legislature refused to vote on the Protection of Marriage Amendment. By adjourning without a vote, the measure died Jan. 1.

Attorney J. Edward Pawlick said Democrats used the tactic to prevent citizens from voting on the amendment in 2004 as a referendum, which he said is a violation of state law.

The lawsuit seeks to renew the effort, so citizens will have a chance to vote on the ban. Pawlick wants the court to rule that the Legislature's failure to act on the amendment in 2002 constitutes a "yes" vote and instruct the Legislature to take up the issue again this year.

This, hypothetically, would allow Massachusetts voters to decide on the amendment in 2004.

In order for a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot for voters in Massachusetts, at least 25 percent of lawmakers must vote in favor of the measure in two consecutive legislative sessions.

Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage collected 57,000 signatures to get the state Legislature to address the issue, but lawmakers adjourned July 17 without taking a vote.

Earlier this year, Sean Haley, executive director of the Boston chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network called the measure "a tremendously sensitive issue," and said, "This is an area around civil rights and human rights that may not be appropriate for a majority vote."

E-mail a news tip to Robert B. Bluey.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.