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Marriage petition signatures delivered to secretary of state

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BOSTON —VoteOnMarriage.org, the citizens petition initiative that seeks to define marriage in Massachusetts as the union of one man and one woman, delivered the last of 148,000 signatures certified by the cities and towns of Massachusetts to the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth Dec. 7.

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman for VoteOnMarriage.org, announced that over 170,000 signatures had been gathered which, the group says, is the largest ballot initiative campaign in the state’s history.

“The people of Massachusetts have not only spoken but shouted. And what have they shouted? Let the people vote!”he declared.

Supporters of the drive who accompanied Mineau held signs that said, “Let the people vote”and wore stickers that said, “Vote on marriage only.”

The bipartisan campaign involved thousands of volunteers and 1,200 diverse faith communities, Mineau said.

“Over 130,000 of the signatures were gathered by volunteers across the state,”he added.

Mineau also responded to questions about allegations that some signatures had been collected illegally by paid signature gatherers.

“We really are not concerned about any allegations of fraud,”he said. “The paid signature gatherers played a relatively minor role and only in the early part of the campaign. Again, they were spot checked by the attorney general and found to be in full compliance.”

From Sept. 21 to Nov. 23 signature gatherers collected well over the goal of 131,650 signatures —twice number required to be certified by the secretary of state for the measure to move forward. Over 148,000 of those were certified by city and town clerks’offices and will need to be reviewed by the secretary of state before final certification.

If enough signatures are certified, the petition will be filed with the Legislature in January and must receive 50 votes in two consecutive constitutional conventions for it to appear on the ballot in 2008.

“We’re confident that we have those votes,”said Minueau.

“We’re taking one thing at a time. We got through this, and now we’re looking forward to working with the legislature,”added Evelyn Reilly, director of public policy for the Massachusetts Family Institute. “It’s an incredible sense of accomplishment. We’ve already gotten through so many important milestones including getting the petition certified in the first place.”

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, GLAD, announced plans to file a lawsuit to challenge the petition’s certification in a Nov. 23 statement.

“This question should never have been certified for signature-gathering by the attorney general, and we will file suit to challenge that certification,”said Gary Buseck, GLAD’s legal director. “The attorney general simply got it wrong. Our state constitution does not allow a citizen-initiated petition that seeks ‘reversal of a judicial decision.’This petition squarely seeks to reverse the Supreme Judicial Court’s Goodridge decision.”

GLAD sent two memos to the secretary of state in August this year, saying that the petition is illegal under Article 48 of the Massachusetts constitution.

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