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Same-sex couples exchange vows in Massachusetts

President Bush reissues 'urgent' call for ban

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CNN's Bill Schneider reports on how the issue could affect November election.

CNN's Tom Foreman reports on what some people think the future holds for the issue.

The mood is festive as gay couples line up to fill out marriage license paperwork.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa reports on what the new law means socially, culturally and politically.

MASSACHUSETTS: The Legislature, which in March passed a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay marriages but legalize Vermont-style civil unions, will again take up the proposed amendment in the 2005-06 session. If approved again, the measure would end up on the ballot in November 2006.

WASHINGTON: Republicans in Congress may seek a vote in the coming months on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage nationwide. To be ratified, the measure would require approval by 37 state legislatures, but first would need backing from two-thirds of both the House and Senate.

THE STATES: At least six states will have items on their ballots this fall proposing to amend their state constitutions to strengthen existing bans on gay marriage and specify that gay marriages from other states would not be recognized. The six states are Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Utah.

THE COURTS: Lawsuits have been filed in several states on behalf of gays seeking the right to marry, and more lawsuits are likely to arise on behalf of couples married in Massachusetts who want their unions recognized elsewhere. In addition, a federal appeals court will hold a hearing in June on the Massachusetts high court ruling legalizing gay marriages. And the case could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Same-sex marriages
Civil Rights
San Francisco (California)

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Massachusetts forged a new chapter in civil rights history Monday as same-sex couples began exchanging wedding vows, marking the first time a state has granted gays and lesbians the right to marry.

As couples filled Boston's City Hall to receive marriage licenses, President Bush reissued what he termed an "urgent" call for such marriages to be banned under the Constitution.

"The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges," he said in a written statement. (Full story)

But Boston's mayor personally welcomed the couples to City Hall, and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- who opposes such marriages -- simply said he would abide by the law.

There was only a very small protest of seven people outside City Hall.

Marriages between people of the same sex became legal in the state Monday, following a November ruling by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that said prohibiting such couples from marrying violated the state constitution. (Background)

Seven couples served as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The first of those couples to marry was Robert Compton and David Wilson, who wed at a Unitarian church a short walk from Boston's City Hall.

Huge applause erupted throughout Arlington Street Church as Rev. Kim Crawford Harvie read the words, "You're married by the power vested in me by the state of Massachusetts."

The couple was joined by their eight children and grandchildren, and by Wilson's 90-year-old father.

It "feels good to have our family welcomed," the couple said earlier.

'We've broken down a barrier'

As City Hall opened Monday, crowds were lined up to apply for marriage licenses, cheered on by supporters.

In nearby Cambridge, that community's city hall got a jump on the day by opening at midnight -- to thunderous applause from thousands on hand.

At 9:15 a.m. ET, Cambridge City Clerk Margaret Drury said to Tanya McCloskey, 52, and Marcia Kadish, 56, of Malden, "I now pronounce you married under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

After filing papers stating their intent to marry, the couples in Boston walked quickly to Brooke Courthouse where they obtained waivers allowing them to forgo the required three-day waiting period before marriage.

They then returned to City Hall to receive marriage licenses.

Mayor Thomas Menino personally welcomed Compton and Wilson, as well as two other plaintiff couples -- Mike Horgan and Ed Balmelli, and Hillary and Julie Goodridge. It was Goodridge for whom the lawsuit was named after

"We've broken down the barrier," said Menino at City Hall. "I am so proud of these people. I am very proud to be mayor of this city today."

Horgan and Balmelli described the day as "overwhelming" and a "long time coming." The Goodridges said that aside from the birth of their daughter it is the happiest day of their lives.

1913 state law

Gov. Mitt Romney released a brief statement: "All along, I have said an issue as fundamental to society as the definition of marriage should be decided by the people. Until then, I intend to follow the law and expect others to do the same."

Romney has said he wants to enforce a law from 1913 that bars out-of-state couples from marrying if their marriage would not be recognized in their home state. He called on court clerks to ask same-sex couples to state that they either live in Massachusetts or intend to live in the state in order to receive a license.

Some clerks refused, and out-of-state couples were expected to mount legal challenges to the 1913 statute.

The Alliance for Marriage, which has organized rallies opposing same-sex marriage, had said earlier it would not protest Monday.

Mary Bonauto, an attorney with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, called Monday a "historic day" during which rights were extended. Asked about the opposition, she said she'd save those comments for "another day."

A statement on the group's Web site read: "On this historic and joyous day, GLAD celebrates the realization of marriage equality in Massachusetts. We are so happy for the loving same-sex couples who may, now, finally, fully protect their relationships and families under the law and take responsibility for one another's lives."

Gays and lesbians have challenged marriage laws in a number of states, including Oregon and California. Cases are still in the courts; San Francisco issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a court ruling temporarily halted the practice.

CNN producers Fran Fifis and Rose Arce contributed to this report.

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