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Massachusetts: bill advances to extend marriage to out-of-state gay couples July 16, 2008

The upper house of the state legislature in Massachusetts has voted unanimously to approve a bill that would allow homosexual couples from other states to marry in Massachusetts.

By a voice vote, without any objection, the state senate approved a bid to repeal a law that makes it illegal for couples to marry in Massachusetts if their unions would not be allowed by their home states. If the bill passes in the lower house-- where approval is considered certain-- Massachusetts will join California as the only American states where homosexual couples can legally marry, regardless of their state of residence.

Supporters of the legislation said that by allowing out-of-state couples to wed, Massachusetts could increase its tourism income, drawing new interest from homosexual couples interested in a wedding ceremony. No legislator spoke in opposition to the bill.

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference, which represents the bishops of the four Massachusetts dioceses, did not lobby actively against the bill. But a few hours prior to the senate vote, the bishops issued a joint statement urging lawmakers to vote against the measure. "Across times, cultures, and many different religious beliefs, marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of the family and society," the bishops said.