Thursday, April 06, 2006

1913 Laws Case: Positive Side-Effect

The glass may be almost entirely empty, but it could be decorative and have other uses. Over at Bay Windows, Ethan Jacobs surmises a very positive, palpable benefit of our passivist judges affirming the commonwealth's right to discriminate in marrying out-of-staters. He writes that when the U.S. Senate Republicans try to pass the Marriage Protection Amendment again, this decision will rob them of a major rallying issue.

A "different ruling striking down the 1913 law would have provided ample material for the religious right in their efforts to drum up support for the MPA." In effect, this blunts a major argument about the immediacy of passing the law, as expressed in last week's Republican Party whitepaper Why a Marriage Amendment is Necesary.

The Dark Side's aim is to rally the orcs with such emotional verbiage, according to University of Virginia Associate Professor of Politics Paul Freedman. Jacobs adds, "Freedman told Bay Windows that he believes the Republicans are hoping to use same-sex marriage as they have long used the abortion issue, to fire up their base. Yet he said they may be barking up the wrong tree." He cites slowly increasing public acceptance of homosexuals, of gay adoption and of SSM. Plus once a state passes a DoMA law and/or amendment, the issue is dead.

Text of amendment:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States:

SECTION 1. This article may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment'.

SECTION 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

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Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think that's right: the SJC's ruling deprives the 'phobes of a rhetorical weapon in various political fights elsewhere in the country.

Another example: This past week, a committee of the state Senate in my home state barely (5-4) voted down an anti-gay amendment to the state constitution. (It was another one of those "Neither marriage nor any equivalent status shall be granted to anyone other than..." numbers that are already wreaking havoc on domestic partnerships, domestic violence prosecutions, etc., in other states.)

I can't say for sure, but it seems entirely possible to me that the vote in my state would have gone the other way had the SJC cleared the way for out-of-state couples to get valid marriages in Massachusetts. The haters were screaming "The homos is gonna get us!" anyway, but quite possibly that would have looked more plausible if Mass hadn't declared its intention to discriminate against outstate couples just as much as their home states do.

(Of course, it's still entirely possible for an outstate same-sex couple to get married--the couple in question just has to move to Massachusetts long enough to establish residence, then get hitched and move back "home." A pain in the neck for the couple, sure, but not impossible.)

Anyway, "positive side-effect" is right. Not to get all MassResistance on you, but I wonder if this is what the justices in the Goodridge majority, besides Ireland, were thinking when they voted to uphold the 1913 law.

massmarrier said...

Good point near the end of yours about the mobility of SSM couples. Considering that we already have over 7,000 legally married same-sex couples, short of walls and border guards between every state, how is Texas or some other DOMA state going to prevent any one of these couples from moving there, establishing residency and suing for recognition. The bat's out of the cave, or whatever.

I'm also with you on Ireland. He nailed it on all the major issues and he was the only one saying, "Ahem, let's be consistent here!"