Illiberal Massachusetts Rep. Phillip Travis is closing out his legislative career, but not quietly. The anti-same-sex-marriage crusader has this year to make trouble and leave his name on more attempted legislation.
We have been waiting for the formal filing of his latest tricksy move, Precious. He led a press conference with the ever jolly VoteOnMarriage.org to announce that he intended to file the Benefits Fairness Act.
You don't need to be very cynical to question any bill at all that weaves fairness into its name. That is almost always evidence the bill will be very unfair, unreasonable and likely unconstitutional.
In this case, left, right and far right are all wondering not whether its a trick, but what kind of trick. The VOM.org folk list their take on its pending contents. It basically provides very limited next-of-kin status to the unmarried for such issues as hospital visitation and health-care decisions, all for those ineligible to wed.
Of course, in a state that has marriage for both heterosexual and homosexual couples, as well as powers of attorney by contractual law, the question is what gives?
The take from MassEquality is that Travis' bill is "a hoax," according to Marc Solomon, campaign director. "There are well over 1,500 benefits, protections and responsibilities that come with marriage. This is throwing in a few."
Travis claims he's just trying to help those left out of protections. That is surely odd, as that has never been an aim or practice of his.
The Lady in the Pew (a.k.a. Kelly Clark) is someone with whom we rarely agree and with whom we have great political differences. Yet on this, she blogs "It's a well-meaning but stupidly (in my opinion) conceived sop. It seems to me that the very people who have worked diligently to at least put the insane, court-mandated notion of same-sex 'marriage' to a vote are running scared...scared of seeming to (gasp!) 'lack compassion.'"
She's an anti in her own right, but she can smell this one way off.
Here, on yet another hand, expect the VOM.org folk and their dwindling party of legislative allies to use this as a wedge in the pending debates on the ballot initiative to stop same-sex marriage here. They will try the lame argument the anti folk in California did — "Oh, we don't need marriage for gays. We have this nifty protection package."
As the Lady in the Pew so aptly put it, "Balderdash!"