Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Marriage Amendment Mirage

Many anti-gay-marriage soldiers are now looking for a battle in 2008, it seems. The tiny majority that voted last year to roll back the law and replace it with civil unions is probably gone. The cons may have to try a ballot initiative now.

When John Adams led the commonwealth's constitution effort in 1780, he was wary of hotheaded legislators responding to more hotheaded constituents. So, he included a procedure that continues. A proposed amendment must get a majority in a joint House/Senate vote twice – exact proposal in two consecutive years.

Since the first vote, a few things have changed:
  • the new speaker of the House, Sal DiMasi, strongly supports same-sex marriage
  • interim elections have added four pro-same-sex-marriage legislators
  • three who had favored the amendment are rethinking their stances
  • the Roman Catholic Church has backed off and no longer supports the amendment
Game. Set.

On the other hand, the match cannot be declared until the ballot initiative runs its course. That is likely the last gasp of the desperate, but they have as much right to play out their serve as anyone.

A serious problem for the cons is the lack of problems. Voters are increasingly complacent. The year of the queer marriage has not produced any issues. Straight marriages are the same as ever. Increasing numbers of voters say, "So what?"

Of course, legislators are not immune to the new reality. The cons may be left like the peasant standing in the field in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Screaming, "Help. Help. I'm being oppressed," loses its edge pretty quickly.

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