MassEquality is a coalition of local and national organizations defending equal marriage rights for same-sex couples in Massachusetts. The coalition works to protect the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision on marriage equality and to defeat any amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution which would seek to limit same-sex marriage.

The coalition was formed in the late 1990s in response to the first attempts to pass in the Massachusetts state legislature a "defense of marriage" act that would have preemptively banned same-sex marriage. MassEquality was formally incorporated in late 2001 as a 501(c)4 advocacy organization, though it operated without staff until after the historic November 2003 Goodridge decision allowing same-sex couples to receive a marriage license.

The Goodridge ruling reignited attempts to amend the Massachusetts state constititution to ban civil recognition of same-sex marriage. The coalition of organizations that formed the Steering Committee for MassEquality acted in late 2003 to hire the first staff person, Campaign Coordinator Marty Rouse. Rouse, an experienced political operative who had helped pro-equality supporters in Vermont recover from losses suffered after the enactment of civil unions, quickly implemented a massive campaign to marshall the tremendous resources of the coalition and to build a strong field operation to bolster the LGBT movement's State House lobbying.

In the wake of the Goodridge ruling, legislative debate on a "defense of marriage" amendment in Massachusetts was intense. The debate, conducted in a joint session of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate (Constitutional Convention), spanned four days over nearly two months and was carried live on C-SPAN. During that time, MassEquality identified and mobilized supporters of equality in an attempt to defeat the proposed constitutional amendment. [1]

On March 29 2004, the Massachusetts legislature passed by just five votes a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage and provide instead civil unions for same-sex couples. This amendment, called the Travaglini-Lees amendment, was defeated in the Legislature on September 29, 2005, by a vote of 39-157, due largely to increased public support for marriage equality in Massachusetts and victories by several pro-equality legislative candidates backed by MassEquality.

Opponents of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples then launched a new initiative to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. This new amendment would ban same-sex marriage and provide no protections whatsoever for same-sex couples and their families. This amendment has been brought as an initiative petition, requiring collection of a certain number of voters' signatures, followed by a vote of one-quarter of legislators meeting in joint session in both the 2005/2006 legislative session and the 2007/2008 session. The Massachusetts legislature is scheduled to first consider this proposed amendment on May 10, 2006. This vote was delayed twice through procedural votes, once to July 12, 2006, then again to November 9, 2006.

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