Monday, September 12, 2005

Honey and Vinegar

The very positive message seems to have won out over the very negative one this time. The 2006 replace-gay-marriage-with-civil-union ballot question is apparently dead.

In a follow-up to the AP poll of state legislators a rights activist and a legislator attribute that to the effective lobbying effort. Senator James Timilty (D-Walpole) said that meetings over several months reversed his support for the Travaglini-Lees amendment. As he put it, ''At many of these meetings, when I would look at the children of these couples and see that they deserved all of the benefits that I had certainly growing up in a family, the principles of fairness changed my mind and I decided that a no vote was the correct vote."

The campaign director for MassEqualty, Marty Rouse, says he and his supporters met with 43 lawmakers repeatedly.

From our perspective, it must have been far easier and more effective to promote a message of maintaining existing rights rather than trying to justify stripping legal protections and benefits from families, including children. Also, the common sense observation that same-sex marriage for the past 17 months has only helped people and harmed no one seems to click with both voters and those who depend on voters for their legislative jobs.

Assuming the 2006 question dies the death of the inglorious on Wednesday, the even uglier DoMA, kill-same-sex marriage version possible for the 2008 ballot is up. While far fewer legislators like this one, it would need only 50 (a quarter of the General Court) in two successive sessions to get on the ballot.

That's a very low bar indeed. Anywhere, including Massachusetts, it's not hard to find a quarter of any group that indulges in schadenfreude.

Logic and experience say that the voters have already tired of the hysterical anti-gay forces predicting strokes from an angry God. Yet, Rouse and others concerned with civil rights will have to ensure the right vote with many, many more meetings.

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