Virgil wrote that fortunate favors the bold. Our attorney general, Tom Reilly, must have missed that lesson. Now he has to certify or not certify the newest anti-same-sex marriage ballot initiative. He will lose whatever he does.
Reilly has hummed, hemmed, hawed and hedged over this issue for years now. The Democratic nomination for governor was his to lose and he has nearly done it over this one issue.
His chief oppononent for the shiny domed office, Deval Patrick, staked out a gay-friendly position years ago. He has subsequently made his pro-gay-rights and pro-same-sex marriage views plain and consistent. He even marches in Pride parades while Reilly claims he had to go to a christening.
At the moment, in his official role, Reilly has to consider whether the lastest ballot initiative meets the requirements to proceed. If he does, that one would need 66,000 signaturs in 60 days (no problem) and have to get 51 votes of 200 from the legislature twice in 2006 and 2007 to get on the ballot in 2008 (likely, but still iffy and subject to many events), and then get a majority of voters (a problem here).
Today's Boston Globe has an article with the particulars of the process.
Reilly likes to hide behind his office and say he is only doing his (real important, really) job. Normally, he would approve such an initiative for the process quickly.
However, this time Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed a very specific brief with his office. The brief claims this initiative fails in two ways:
- "It is GLAD's position that the debates of 1917-1918 demonstrate a careful decision to exclude from the constitutional initiative process the power of the people to effect in that way the reversal of a decision of the SJC declaring a law unconstitutional."
- Also, it claims that this runs afoul of the commonwealth constitution's Article XLVIII, which forbids ganging similar initiatives. Specifically, an initiative is not allowed if it is "...substantially the same as any measure which has been qualified for submission or submitted to the people within three years of the succeeding first Wednesday in December..."
Good luck, Tommy. Start by reading Virgil.