Thursday, February 10, 2005

More Waiting in Boston

Just in from the Massachusetts State House, the vote on the amendment replacing same-sex marriage with civil union will not occur this spring. Senate President Robert Travaglini has spread the word that the debate would be a distraction. He doesn't expect to allow it before the Joint Session until the fall.

A report in today's Globe
details the thinking and cites Senate minority leader Brian P. Lees (Republican) and another unnamed senator.

Key dynamics are:
  • The votes are not quite there for a majority second vote to put this amendment on the ballot in 2006.
  • Three same-sex-marriage opponents in the legislature quit last year and will be replaced in special elections in a few months.
  • Eight conservative Republican opponents have voted against the amendment because they also oppose civil unions.
  • Opponent lobbyists will try to pressure them to vote for the lesser evil, the amendment.
  • Same-sex supporters will lobby to keep support, gain new allies, and win in the special elections.
Not surprisingly, the prediction of chaos when same-sex marriage started is being replaced by predictions of eventual chaos by opponents. That has been a hard sell in the face of the pretty seamless changes. It's akin to the clich├ęd you'll-poke-your-eye-out forecast that something bad will happen sometime, maybe soon.

A new voter poll by UMASS/Lowell shows that a scant majority, 53%, want the amendment on the ballot. That also eases pressure on legislators to act against same-sex marriage. The vote last year was 105 to 92 for putting the amendment on the ballot. Pro and con forces both claim to be underdogs and tell their supporters in and out of the legislature to work non-stop until the vote.

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