A bill that would recognize gay and
lesbian couples with civil unions is expected to face its first
legislative hurdle Tuesday.
Representative Peter Petrarca, a
Democrat from Lincoln, introduced his civil unions bill after House
Speaker Gordon Fox announced a gay marriage proposal has “no
realistic chance” of being approved in the General Assembly this
session. Fox, who is gay and backs marriage equality, said he would
shift away from marriage and toward civil unions for gay couples as a
After hearing from disgruntled
constituents last week, the House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a
vote on the measure for Tuesday.
At the hearing held on Wednesday, gay
marriage supporters and opponents panned the compromise.
Supporters of marriage equality groused
that separate is never equal, while opponents objected to civil
unions on the grounds the legislation would be used as a
steppingstone to marriage, prompting Petrarca to say both sides were
“acting like schoolchildren.”
The compromise comes on the heels of a
failed effort to legalize such unions in Maryland. Lawmakers in New
York are also considering expanding the definition of marriage to
include gay and lesbian couples. A
rally against the proposal is planned for Sunday.