Wednesday, September 07, 2005

2008 Initiative Ready for Petitions

This afternoon, Attorney General Tom Reilly approved the new anti-same-sex-marriage ballot initiative for signature gathering. That likely dooms the 2006 initiative, which the Constitutional Convention is to vote on in a week.

Despite Reilly's comments today, the constitutionality of the initiative for the 2008 election is questionable. Gay-rights groups could challenge it even before it gets to its first legislative vote next year.

The first take by the Globe and the Herald don't draw any conclusions or offer analysis. The Globe piece has the necessary background in one place.

It addition, it specifies the arguments about the constitutionality of the 2008 (no-gay-marriage/no-civil-union) version:
At issue is a clause in the Massachusetts Constitution's Article 48, which "permits the people to petition for a constitutional amendment that overrules a court decision when the court has declared a statute to be in violation of our constitution."

Backers of the initiative say that makes it clear voters have the authority to overrule a court decision, while gay marriage advocates point out that the court case that led to gay marriage rights did not overturn an existing law.

In a letter to gay marriage advocates, Peter Sacks, Reilly's deputy chief, explained that the petition was allowed to proceed because the writers of the section of the constitution governing ballot initiatives "clearly meant to allow initiative petitions to amend the words of the constitution in response to a court decision finding a law unconstitutional."

The proposed marriage amendment does not involve the "reversal of a judicial decision," Sacks wrote.

That view is at odds with numerous legal experts, including the past two Massachusetts attorneys general.

While fundies and other anti-gay-rights folk seem to be picking the horse they think has the best chance of winning, Reilly really seems addled. He may have screwed up the last chance of the 2006 (no-new-gay-marriages-but-civil-unions) initiative. If the 2008 gets tossed on legal challenges, he will be guilty of both bad politics and poor job performance...all when he wants to run for governor.


Uncle said...

A modest proposal here, since people actually read this blog.

Assuming this travesty isn't overturned on challenge, I invite like-minded folk to join me in a piece of civil disobedience. Find your nearest copy or copies of the petition and sign it or them, with a plausible but fabricated name and address. Poison the toxic petition with as many uncertifiable signatures as possible.

Don't forget to let Weasel O'Reilly know what you think of flip-flopping on your tax dollar. This is gonna cost a packet!

massmarrier said...

Excellent, uncle.

We need to keep Reilly in mind, particularly if we have three years of debate and campaigning. Think of the resources spent and good works undone while the good guys have to fight this battle.