Friday, November 11, 2005

Clarity from Chelsea

In a fit of common sense, a former leading opponent of same-sex marriage says it is time for the state to move on. Representative Eugene O'Flaherty told Bay Windows that he is up for the real business of the legislature instead.

This is particularly significant also because he chairs the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. He said that in the likely event that legislation to outlaw same-sex marriage comes before his committee, he will recommend not passing it.

Representative O'FlahertyO'Flaherty speaks of his evolution and being influenced by constituents. Most obviously, "I want to try to dispose of this issue. It has occupied the last three years of my life: a lot of time, a lot of energy, and I'd like to apply that to healthcare. I"d like to apply that to some of the other issues that we have in front of us, that as far as I'm concerned, are much more important to our constituents at this point."

He also spoke of his constituents' influence. One was Ken Stone, a gay Charlestown activist. O'Flaherty attended his SSM last year.

Very pro-SSM Senator Jarrett Barrios notes that "Representative O'Flaherty has stature among precisely those legislators who are on the fence and can persuade them, I believe quite effectively, to oppose this ballot initiative."

We had given up on keeping the initiative off the ballot. The bar –– less than 66,000 signatures and a quarter of the legislature in two votes –– is so low. Yet, such events as O'Flaherty's awakening are heartening.

Does this belong in the ex-anti-gay record book?


Anonymous said...

other issues... are much more important to our constituents at this point.

I assume what he means is that other issues are "much more important" to his hetero constituents, since equal marriage rights are obviously very dear to gay and lesbian people--and have inspired a level of effective political activism that I haven't seen before in the fifteen years I've lived here.

It makes me ill that even when they're doing the right thing, politicians instinctively belittle and treat as non-existent the concerns of an entire community. They certainly never let anyone forget who is "us" and who is "them".

massmarrier said...

Probably right, WC. I doubt that is O'Flaherty's intention, but it is probably the way he thinks because he was raised that way.

The Bay Windows piece does get to a central us/them issue. He was turned on this by knowing and talking with gays. The gee-they're-not-so-different factor is a big one.

We may never know why it takes that, but that seems real enough.

Andy said...

You can credit Gino's "turn around" on the fact that he is about to have a homosexual opponent in his next election. If he doesn't start to sound less anti-gay those darn "uppity" lefties just might give him a run for his money. And right on to the commenter who pointed out that there are "better things" to do. As if the equality of human beings isn't important.

Anonymous said...

Don't give up on defeating the next initiative at the next con-con yet! The Massequality staff is confident they have a good shot at reaching 151 votes. I've watched out support in the statehouse grow from 55 to 120+, so its easy to believe them.

And, of course, the convention might just adjourn (by simple majority vote) before the measure comes up for a vote at all.

And this is only the first concon vote. We have another bite at the apple after the '06 elections.

So I encourage everyone to get out there and volunteer this winter and spring. The equality campaign is in full gear right now- Amy Mello told me that there were 150 Massequality volunteers last Tuesday at the polls. This is the most critical period in the fight.

Anonymous said...

I think the adjornment vote taking down the proposal is the most likely to happen. Trav. says he's all for up and down vote on these things - to distinguish himself from Tom Birmingham - so who knows? But, what if one of the first speakers moves for an adjornment vote before the thing comes to a vote on the amendment?

This is what tickles me about the anti's - they think collecting double the amount of signatures (under dubious circumstances, I might add) will guarantee they'll have something to vote on in on the state '08 ballot besides which pro-gay state legislator to choose to represent them.

Nope, they won't.

Our community and allies grew up a whole lot over this issue in March '04 at the con-con. Don't get in front of that train now.

massmarrier said...

I'm willing to adjust my expectations and be pleased with the result. I do think that O'Flaherty's attitude is hopeful. It's a done deal; get over it.

I can think of a few in the alter kaker class who won't get over it. Maybe you'r right about the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Gene-o's position on gay marriage will not cost him his election, no matter what it is. I doubt his opponent is the cause of the change.