Gay activists take grass-roots push to legislators

BOSTON: Gay activists fighting for same-sex marriage rights in Massachusetts are continuing their campaign on a much more hopeful note following a ground-breaking decision by the Vermont Supreme Court, which ruled last month that the legislature must legalize gay marriage or create a comparable system of domestic partnerships.

BOSTON: Gay activists fighting for same-sex marriage rights in Massachusetts are continuing their campaign on a much more hopeful note following a ground-breaking decision by the Vermont Supreme Court, which ruled last month that the legislature must legalize gay marriage or create a comparable system of domestic partnerships.

BOSTON: Gay activists fighting for same-sex marriage rights in

Massachusetts are continuing their campaign on a much more hopeful note

following a ground-breaking decision by the Vermont Supreme Court, which

ruled last month that the legislature must legalize gay marriage or

create a comparable system of domestic partnerships.



The Massachusetts campaign, which is being run by a number of

grass-roots organizations, has been touted as a quieter attempt for gays

to gain equal rights, with much of it based on face-to-face

lobbying.



Josh Friedes, volunteer political director for the Freedom to Marry

Coalition of Massachusetts (one of many organizations involved in the

de-bate), said that while lobbying efforts may be invisible to the

public at large, the education campaign is being carried out very

openly.



’The legislative campaign is quiet, because that’s the way things are

done in Massachusetts,’ he said. ’But hopefully, as a result of the

Vermont decision, there will be more debate and more people openly

discussing this.’



As part of the campaign, the organization is encouraging gays and

lesbians to come out to the legislature, so that lawmakers recognize

that a domestic partnership bill is important to their constituents.

Those who have been cited as opposing a domestic partnership bill, such

as House Speaker Thomas Finneran and Governor Paul Cellucci, could not

be reached for comment.



’We work very hard to educate gays that they need to come out through

stories in the gay press, speaking engagements before gay and lesbian

student groups and at gay pride festivals,’ said Friedes.



He added that the campaign’s future direction hinges on whether Vermont

will legalize gay marriage or give gay and lesbian couples the same

rights that married couples have, such as inheritance and

hospital-visitation rights.



As for future events, the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts is

holding a fund-raiser next Sunday to raise the profile of gay and

lesbian couples and families. The organization will also go to the State

House for a lobby day to educate legislators about issues affecting

them. On Thursday, a prayer breakfast is being held at the State House.



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