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Gay Marriage Opponents Look Away From Democratic Congress, Focus On States For Support

BOSTON (AP) _ A group lobbying for a constitutional ban on gay marriage concedes that its chances are slim with Democrats controlling Congress. So now it's setting its sights on state legislatures.

The Washington-based Alliance for Marriage wants to build a nationwide network of state lawmakers who would support a constitutional amendment, the group's leaders said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press.

``There is no question that the shift in the balance of power in Washington has, for the time-being, made it difficult to reintroduce the federal amendment in Congress,'' said Matt Daniels, the group's founder and president.

But voters in several states approved ballot questions opposing gay marriage. And ultimately, three-fourths of state legislatures would have to approve an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

``We believe the day is coming when the Marriage Protection Amendment will be sent to the states,'' said Bob Adams, vice president of the alliance. ``The time to organize for that is now, not 10 years down the road.''

Arline Isaacson, a leader of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, acknowledged the anti-gay marriage lobby has had success in state legislatures, 45 of which already have passed laws or constitutional amendments prohibiting gay marriage.

The anti-gay marriage groups ``are extremely well-funded and very well-organized,'' Isaacson said. ``I don't doubt they will happily pour those resources into preliminary organization of the states.''

Massachusetts is the only state in the country that allows same-sex marriage. Connecticut, New Jersey and Vermont allow civil unions for same-sex couples.

But Massachusetts lawmakers voted at the end of the last session to allow further consideration on a proposed constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

``We are fighting with everything we've got to preserve our marriage rights,'' Isaacson said, although she acknowledged that gay marriage supporters do not currently have enough votes to prevent the amendment's passage.
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