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Gay Marriage Ban Opposition Wins Greater Support in Mass.

By Raphael Lewis

The Boston Globe -- Opponents of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts picked up at least two seats in the Legislature in this week’s election, diminishing the measure’s chances in the Bay State, even as voters in 11 other states overwhelmingly approved similar proposals.

A total of 105 lawmakers voted to pass the amendment earlier this year, four more than the 101 needed. The measure must be approved again in the coming session before it can go on the November 2006 statewide ballot. The amendment would ban same-sex marriage, but allow gay couples to enter civil unions.

Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, who presides over the Legislature’s joint constitutional sessions, said through a spokeswoman Thursday that he will convene a Constitutional Convention with the same-sex marriage measure on the agenda in 2005. The spokeswoman did not specify when it might be scheduled.

A Globe analysis of Tuesday’s elections found that two or perhaps three newly elected opponents of the proposed same-sex marriage ban are replacing lawmakers who voted in favor of the amendment in the spring. Two more opponents would lower the margin of support from 105 lawmakers to 103 if everyone else voted as they did earlier this year.

However, activists and lawmakers caution that the vote totals are fluid, for several reasons. For example, a dozen legislators who voted against the amendment because they oppose both same-sex marriage and civil unions could back the measure this time, because they might view it as better than allowing same-sex marriage to remain legal.

On the other hand, a handful of lawmakers who initially voted for the amendment have told reporters that they are likely to back off next time because thousands of gay couples have married here without significant disruption.

Marty Rouse -- campaign director for MassEquality, a group pushing to defeat the amendment -- said his organization is buoyed by Tuesday’s results in the state legislative elections but would still like to persuade several more lawmakers to change their votes.