Thursday, March 08, 2007

Stopping the Amendment Craziness

If you haven't felt the motivation to safeguard marriage equality in Massachusetts, spend a few minutes with today's BayWindows. The lead Could it happen here? by Ethan Jacobs should make you pick up your pen and your handset.

Voting on a minority's civil rights is wrong. The article describes the flood of money with the lies and skeleton rattling tactics that will accompany it if the amendment advances to the 2008 ballot.

It will be a pathetic whine and far too late and faint when the libertarian, let-the-people-vote types face regret after such a campaign. Most obviously, that would be brutally divisive to our culture and society. More important, it would be a shameful precedent for voting on the existing rights of any minority that some subset of us dislikes and wants to punish.

Here, we have been strongly against such abuses of ballot initiatives in this state and elsewhere. Over at his main blog and last week's column in IN Newsweekly, Ryan Adams calls for the long overdue refinement of the amendment machine as well.

As a buddy at a high company used to say frequently, "It's a scary world." We can help make ours a little less scary by sending the hate-mongers home by helping stop this amendment drive.

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Mike said...

The article you link to talks alot about the slick and damn unfair and misleading ads the anti-marriage folks will run.

Why can't we fight fire with fire and run slick ads of our own? We ought to be able to play dirty as well.

After all, in war (and this will be war) you don't get style point if you lose.

massmarrier said...

From Evan at (Blogger wasn't behaving when he tried to leave this message):

I hope gays and others who feel oppressed by ballot initiatives will remember that they were the method to get women's suffrage, medical marijuana, public campaign financing and many other great things.

So, yes, let's refine them, but don't make them even harder. Here's what happened here in Colorado in 1992: The anti-gay Amendment 2 was worded confusingly, and passed narrowly. Some gay activists started a new initiative to repeal it, but
realized they didn't have the money and organization. (The Supreme Court, and all lower courts, found it violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.)

If you make the process harder, the rich and meddlesome will still get on the ballot, but you won't!

Instead, consider the improvements that former US Senator (and present Presidential candidate) Mike Gravel includes in his National Initiative for Democracy.

Voters need information on the initiatives they vote on, but, unlike legislation, initiatives get no public hearings, amendments, reports, etc. Gravel's proposal gets this information to Voters via all media, funded by the government. This would vastly reduce the influence of rabid TV ads about initiatives.

Here's my personal story as a straight man raised in the 50s & 60s. ALL gays were in the closet, in my town. The first gays I was aware of picked me up hitch-hiking at age 18 in San Francisco, and had their hands all over me. So, I had a bad first impression.

It was BECAUSE of the Amendment 2 debate here that I remembered my experience, and was able to change my attitude towards gays.

Now, my good, gay friend Jared Polis has done more than anyone to turn Colorado into a "blue" state, with his funding and with ballot initiatives: Amendment 27 increased school funding and Amendment 41 prevents payoffs to legislators. He's helped with others for alternative energy, etc.

I'm sure it's no fun having your orientation being a public debate, but that's how we work ourselves out of the dark ages.


Fitz said...

Well if "Voting on a minority's civil rights is wrong."

Then that makes the 13th 14th 15th and 19th amendments wrong.

The 1957 civil rights act, the americans with disabilties act...

Uncle said...

Mike is spot on. Supporters of equal marriage rights have been much too nice for much too long. Not only should the campaign in advance of this ballot question leave no stone unturned and no turd untossed, the nice people on the A-list should be thinking about how to make legislative life very ugly and unpleasant should marriage be revoked. As John Adams said in the play '1776:' "It's a REVOLUTION, dammit! We're going to have to offend SOMEBODY!" Go ahead and offend them!

massmarrier said...

How do you say, "Cry, 'Havoc!'" in Welsh?

I thought I was the one who was supposed to be prickly around here. I did say numerous times to defeat the amendment any way possible. I concur that it is a disgrace that it has slithered along so far.

Trash it and shame those who say otherwise!

massmarrier said...

Cute, fitz, but puerile. That's what Emerson would have referred to as "a foolish consistency."

For you or others who don't read newspapers, magazines or blogs, that was short for voting to remove existing rights from minorities or voting to act to prevent minorities from ever receiving rights enjoyed by the majority.

We almost always leave the rest out because it is understood by those who follow such debates. Plus, the fuller definitions should be obvious from the context and body of work.

Here, we like expanding liberty and respecting the rights and needs of others.