Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Angst Before ConCon Vote

Not everyone at the Boston Globe wasted the whole holidays. Despite a lame editorial, the lead in today's edition has insightful comments from legislators heading to the Constitutional Convention coming out of recess on the last possible day to vote on the anti-marriage equality amendment.

Post Post Updates: BayWindows is blogging today's ConCon here. Also, over at Media Nation, Dan develops a somewhat tortured analogy to hypothetical slavery initiative efforts; he hides a lot of good maieutic material in there.

We here often criticize the shallow Globe articles, but this one deserves reading. We expected a lightweight recap, like the Herald provided. On the other hand, the Globe editorial board rambled in its lead about advancing civil rights without saying what it saw as the proper course for the legislature. Gutless.

The main article got comments from key players on the lobbying sides, as well as from the legislators. The gist is that the recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling that included a statement that the ConCon is constitutionally required to vote on the amendment makes many pro-equality lawmakers sweat.

It is not clear whether the introspection arises from rediscovered sense of duty or fear of possible voter reaction.

"We are very definitely struggling with the court's clear decision...," said pro-SSM Rep. Jay Kaufman. "I am not alone. I've spent many hours reading the constitution and in phone calls with colleagues. Many of us are struggling with the decision and the consequences."

Some anti-gay, anti-SSM folk are gleeful and hopeful. Retiring Rep. Philip Travis, for one, said, "They had victory in their jaw and it was snatched right from them."

On the pro-marriage equality side, MassEquality Campaign Director Marc Solomon assesses that "We are the final hour. This will determine whether Massachusetts can move on."

It's not quite that clean. If the ConCon does vote on the amendment today and approves it, it must receive another approval in identical form at another ConCon this year to advance to the 2008 ballot. That's nearly two years of lobbying and debate on this spiteful and perhaps even unconstitutional amendment.

I would prefer to see it die by any means. As dishonorably and dishonestly and clumsily as this amendment advanced, the let-the-people-vote folk are not convincing. We must not let perceived process at this end trump civil rights and basic liberties.

Another key pr0-SSM strategist, Arline Isaacson, is not showing too much. The co-chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus "said supporters of same-sex marriage have not decided on a strategy for today's convention, mainly because legislators have been on holidays and it has been difficult to take a head count."

While she would not talk tactics, the Globe's Frank Phillips suggests these might include pushing for an adjournment or recessing the ConCon until midnight, when the session expires.

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