Monday, January 01, 2007

Deval Eve Showdown in Boston

Nothing says New Regime like a pitched battle before the new leaders arrive. Tomorrow's version at the State House will simultaneously fix and frame the outgoing administration and create one type of toxic mess or another for the incoming one.

We are, of course, talking about the ConCon's last go at the initiative amendment to ban further same-sex marriages.

Outsider's Recap:
In case you live where you don't play our Bay State pol games, be aware that tomorrow is the last day for the combined legislature in Constitutional Convention to act on this petition initiative. Other than cheating, lying, fooling the voters and relying on coercion by bishops in this heavily Roman Catholic state, the anti-marriage equality folk followed the procedures to gather enough signatures to put this amendment before the ConCon. Now, if 25% (50 of 200) legislators approve it, it moves to the 2007 ConCon. If 25% pass it again in identical form, it goes on the 2008 ballot, where if it passes, it strips homosexual couples going forward from having the marriage rights they enjoy.

Alternately, the ConCon can adjourn without voting on it. The Supreme Judicial Court says they are not supposed to do that, but there is no recourse if they do. Another option would be if the ConCon defeated the amendment this year. There are still enough anti-gay and anti-marriage equality legislators to make that unlikely -- although next year could well have fewer than 50 to vote for this. Also, the game could be called. That is if there is not a quorum of legislatures tomorrow, everyone goes home without doing any business.
What's clear is that this odious amendment has lost. The voters here are over 60% in favor of same-sex marriage and that percentage grows with every poll. As a result, most legislators want this issue to go away. If they vote against it, their DINO and most conservative constituents will be pissed. If it passes this ConCon, it will bedevil our lives and waste everyone's time and energy when we have much work to do mucking the Republican stables.

What's less clear is what will happen in the various outcomes' aftermath. Consider:
  1. Adjournment or lack of quorum tomorrow. The Mass Family Institute and its running dogs, such as Cardinal O'Malley and Ray Flynn, will likely file more law suits and generally play victim like kindergartners rolling on the playground.
  2. Victory vote for the amendment. The legislature will suffer at least another year with hundreds wasted hours per senator or rep when they could be doing real business. Frankly, we have serious issues of finance, education, and more -- causes not yet lost.
Let us never forget that all this was easily avoidable. Had we leaders as governor and senate president following Goodridge, none of this would have occurred. Then the SJC ordered the legislature to fix the marriage laws to accommodate marriage equality. Senate President Bobby Travaglini has always been more about bluster than performance, as he showed again. Gormless Governor Willard Romney could not (warning: sexist trope) lead a stallion to a mare in heat. Even GBLT friend House Speaker Sal DiMasi has not stepped up to drive this.

Regardless of how the ConCon goofs this up, it's going to fall to incoming Governor Deval Patrick to fix. He's a great mediator and this will require all his skills.

Frankly again, there are those of us who no longer care how this amendment dies -- so long as Patrick and the new legislature act quickly to repair the law and ensure that civil rights of any minority are exempt from ballot initiatives. Many of us see the bishops' actions and the tactics of MFI/VoteonMarriage as illegal and immoral. We disdain Attorney General Tom Reilly's willingness to permit an initiative clearly designed to overturn a court decision; likewise, we were stunned when the chastened and gutless SJC let it proceed.

This entire process stinks like a troop of Boy Scouts returning from a two-week hiking trip. We don't need to hear now that we must vote on this because it has sneaked and slithered its way this far.

Unfortunately for him, Patrick is going to have to deal with this. It's a good test of how he can make the right outcome from almost impossible material. We watch with great interest.

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1 comment:

Laurel said...

Excellent recap, MassMarrier. Thanks for the ongoing reportage. Luck to us all* tomorrow.
*Some restrictions apply. Certain religionists may be not included.

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