Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Death by Attrition?

Massachusetts is still almost two years away from any chance at amending its constitution to forbid same-sex marriages. They would have to have a constitutional convention next year to consider the issue, and if it approved that, could present it to voters in November 2006.

Meanwhile, some of the 11 states that rushed out same-sex restrictions for this year's voting could find those overturned by courts. If that happens and those states recognize Massachusetts gay/lesbian marriages, it could further reduce the drive for an amendment here.

There was a wisp-thin margin of legislators who would put the question on the ballot. They seem to have lost their critical mass in the recent election. Unfortunately for them, the sky didn't fall. There was no chaos following same-sex marriages, no disruption of any type. The pent desire for legal protections and public commitment has slightly increased the number of married couples here. Ho hum.

Very locally, my state senator, Marian Walsh was typical of those whose same-sex-marriage votes helped, even in her very socially conservative district. My Boston neighborhood is pretty left-wing, but it falls into her senate district, which heavily Roman Catholic.

She is from the West Roxbury part of Boston. A few centuries ago, Roxbury was its own city and much larger geographically than Boston. After annexation, Roxbury has been divided into parts of the South End, as well as Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and West Roxbury. Roxbury is largely African American, Jamaica Plain is mixed Yuppie, Latino, artist, gay, and pinko. West Roxbury is also known as White Roxbury because it is largely Irish-American and Roman Catholic.

While she is a six-term senator who has done quite a bit, Walsh was up against a one-trick pony this time. In reaction to the same-sex court decision and Walsh's vote against an amendment, attorney Bob Joyce ran against her. His only discernible issue was same-sex marriage, which he framed in moral terms. Walsh deserved to lose because she was out of touch on this issue, he said a few thousand times.

She may be on the wrong side for her typical constituent, on this one issue. However, they returned her to the senate with 64% of the vote.

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