Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Thousand Times No!

Which century do you suppose our Senate President will embrace?

The majority of baby boomers merely watched the protests that helped extract us from Vietnam. They didn't inhale or even hold a joint. There were likely aware others marched for civil rights. After the fact, they are happy to associate themselves with the fun and victories of the generation, though. While less racist and a little more liberal than their parents, they still vote mid- to late-20th Century values.

Not too much or too fast for those homosexuals, there! Let's be real cautious about immigrants, ya know! English was good enough for my grandparents! Maybe a bit of religion in legislation is okay, isn't it?

It's kind of embarrassing to see such addle-pated muttering and voting, both by ordinary citizens and legislators. It seems like that the boomers' kids will remain much more open minded and freedom-loving. Until then, we have to deal with whom we have.

Now we have a pivot right here that epitomizes this inertia and DINO-style confusion. Our own Therese Murray has to decide whether she's regressive or progressive, 20th or 21st Century. Her actions at the pending ConCon this month will define her forever.

Murray can single-handedly assure or prevent a vote:
  • To write personal religious beliefs into our commonwealth's constitution
  • To strip existing rights from a minority for the first time in our history
For her spot in history, it will make no difference whether the initiative to remove marriage rights from homosexuals here passes at the ballot in 2008 or fails. No, it would be an irredeemable disgrace for us to permit a vote on any minority's existing rights. We would have soiled our nest in a way that we could never fumigate or clean.

Undoing AG Errors

It is too disgraceful already that then Attorney General Tom Reilly used his basest sophistry to claim that this initiative was legit, that it was not trying to overturn a high-court ruling. He even claimed that as it only stopped same-sex marriages going forward, it wasn't really, not truly, reversing a court decision.

That then put the Supreme Judicial Court in an untenable position. It subsequently ruled that this was Reilly's call and they would not force him to adhere to the obvious constitutional amendment that prevented just such executive-branch tricks.

Those are one large stain and one foul smell that Tom will carry forever. Murray is at a similar crossroad. Does she take the cowardly way and shift the responsibility to voters, after subjecting us to a year and one-half of expensive and divisive turmoil? Instead, does she stand tall and say we cannot abide the majority voting on whether to take rights away from a minority?

As Patrick Henry said on another matter, "Forbid it, Almighty God!"

I write that chewing on no small morsel of irony. The greatest orator of the Revolutionary War period was in the heavenly-lord-evoking culture. Yet, there and then he called on his deity to ensure the liberty of citizens, not to take rights from them. We should recall that this was what the Revolution was about, even in Massachusetts.

Using Procedures

Unfortunately for Murray, the last ConCon removed any foliage for her to hide behind on this. Enough legislators and then Senate President Bobby Travaglini voted to advance this amendment, claiming that the SJC's aside about doing so was proof they must vote. Then minutes later, they chose not to vote on the health-care initiative. As well as showing their hypocrisy and lack of honor, it put the lie to anyone who would say that they could never use procedure to kill an initiative.

There are two roads here. Murray is in the amazingly powerful position of mandating where we all go. The gavel in hand and microphone at mouth are near absolute power at a ConCon.

One road is ignominious, hateful, and anti-liberty. It would set an entirely new course for Massachusetts in treating their citizens' rights as temporary and expendable. To allow such an undemocratic vote is definitely not advancing the electorate's privileges to determine their laws. Instead, it would turn us into an us-versus-them, tyrannical-majority state.

The other road takes courage and respect and honor to walk. If Murray acts to kill this odious initiative, the anti-gay forces will doubtless vilify her forever. However, she will have made the statement as our primary legislative leader that we can never allow any interest group to misuse our political process to strip rights from any other group.

We can and should make it plain that the vast majority of voters and legislators who favor keeping same-sex marriage will support traveling down the proper path. Let the haters howl. That's what they're good at and there are fewer of them all the time.

More will follow in future posts on how the initiative definitions in Article XLVIII need refining to prevent a group with the complicity of the AG from attacking minority rights. It is a pity that Reilly did not stand up for our citizens and rights when he had the chance. It is a bit shocking that such abuses in this process even require specifications and amplification of the excluded items to the initiative process.

However, we know the depths that the enemies of equality will sink to and we must act. We voters and the legislators can do the longer-term refinement necessary. Murray can show us what she's made of right away.

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