Friday, April 28, 2006

Law Pub Chides SSM Losers

Some people don't know when to quit. Fortunately for the same-sex-marriage opponents, the message is plain in the lead editorial in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

Even they should be able to understand "Gay-marriage opponents: Time to hang it up, guys," which says it clearly and from the legal viewpoint of Publisher/Editor-in-Chief David L. Yas, Esquire.

He very graciously let us run the whole column. We recommend reading it all — among the analysis and wisdom, he scatters sharp wit.

He comes in on horses we often ride, specifically:
  • The anti-SSM forces had their shots, many of them, before the highest court in the commonwealth. It was close (4-3), but they lost.
  • The ballot initiative process is trying to lead to us to letting the majority vote on rights for a minority -- legally and morally wrong. The editorial notes "...well-traveled precepts of constitutional law say that this is precisely the type of issue where you don't want to let voters decide."
  • Not only is using selective Biblical arguments inappropriate, as but Yas puts it, " can't cite the Bible as precedent in a court of law. You never could. You can't do it now."
From headline to legal notice, this piece is spot on (and it's funny).

Voters are tired of retread ex-mayors and gay bashers diverting our legislative and judicial time, money and energy to fighting settled law. It's great to see the call from an influential lawyer.

Big Up: We first became aware of this editorial from Bud at MassResistanceWatch. A twirl of the beret to him.

Gay-marriage opponents: Time to hang it up, guys

By David Yas
I have a message for the people who continue to fight against same-sex marriage in Massachusetts: Please go away. Now.

You lost, guys. The highest court in the state decided this matter three years ago. You had a case to make back then. You stated your case. It fell short. But the case is over now.

Yet there you were again last week, continuing to kick and scream that Massachusetts needs an amendment to its Constitution — one that would make marriage an exclusive right of heterosexual people.

You warned us, I guess. In 2003, you predicted that gay marriage would bring "chaos" to Massachusetts.

Webster's defines "chaos" as "a condition or place of great disorder or confusion."

There's great confusion here, all right. Yours.

Your amendment's chief sponsor, Boston's former Mayor Ray Flynn, testified last week that during his days of public service "decisions were made by elected officials, not appointed judges. ... I think that's the central point today."

Uh, Ray? That's your central point? My memory is that state courts made a few decisions during your run as mayor. Important, tough decisions on discrimination, health care, housing, education. Thousands of decisions. What were judges doing during your tenure, Ray? Exclusively hearing parking-ticket appeals?

In addition to Flynn, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, your supporters included Rev. Jeff Marks, who said last week: "Our Constitution comes out of a Biblical mindset. I'm anxious that be preserved and not destroyed."

I don't dare question the genuine nature of Marks' (nor Flynn's) deep religious convictions. And I understand that this in many ways is a battle over values. And that many people draw their values from religion.

But guys, you can't cite the Bible as precedent in a court of law. You never could. You can't do it now.

So you're using a classic argument, and I don't blame you. For something this important, we have to let the voters decide. Not seven unelected judges.

That's an enticing argument. Sounds good on the surface.

It's also incorrect. In fact, well-traveled precepts of constitutional law say that this is precisely the type of issue where you don't want to let voters decide.

I can still hear my constitutional-law prof imploring us that any issue that allows citizens to "vote with their dark urges" does not belong on a ballot. Why? Because we don't want to allow bigots to be bigots.

Don't get me wrong. If this goes to a vote, many people may search their feelings and vote against gay marriage for genuine, good-faith reasons. But many other people will vote against gay marriage because they simply don't like the idea of gay people. This should not be surprising nor shocking. A friend once told me: "I admit it. If I see a gay couple, it makes me uncomfortable. I wish it were otherwise, but that is the feeling in my gut."

Well, guys, we can't let people vote with guts like these.

Should we let voters decide on whether to lower taxes every year? How do you think that will turn out? Did voters decide slavery? Voting rights? Integration?

And by the way, have you not heard the silence of the last few years?

Gay marriage has not been a disaster. The sky did not turn blood-red and the sea did not boil.

Gov. Mitt Romney feared that Massachusetts would become the "Las Vegas of gay marriage."

Well Viva Las Vegas, baby. I certainly don't feel that my heterosexual marriage has been cheapened by the fact that same-sex couples, the vast majority of which I don't know nor will ever meet, tied the knot at some point.

Much of the passion over this issue has simply faded, guys.

The conservative-minded Boston Herald ran the news of your testimony last week deep on page 23. Only gave it eight paragraphs. It ran a full eight pages after the latest on Britney Spears' baby.

The story also merited just eight meager paragraphs in The Boston Globe. At the bottom of page B4.

Page B4. As in, B4 the Supreme Judicial Court's Goodridge decision, this was a constitutional argument worth making.

But the justices of the SJC interpreted the Constitution (quick civics lesson: that's what they get paid to do).

Now, guys, you are clinging to claims based on ancient scriptures. And, you should know that people who call themselves your brothers-in-arms are flying planes over the City of Boston with banners calling for the impeachment of SJC Justice Margaret H. Marshall.

The Wicked Witch of the West lives. Surrender, Margaret.

Can we all agree that anyone who is persuaded by a few words on an airplane banner is not the type of person we want voting on important societal issues?

Goodridge was an historic case. A very close call. Four-to-three doesn't get any closer. But it was not a travesty of justice and it was not a court hijacked by liberal nut-jobs. We saw as much last month when the same SJC ruled that out-of-state gay couples were barred by state law from taking advantage of our provisions.

So please, guys, give it a rest.

How would I describe someone who relentlessly fights societal battles through Bible-pounding and airplane banners? I'd say: "Deviating from the expected or normal; strange. Odd or unconventional."

Ironically, Webster's has a word for that, too. Queer.

© 2006 Lawyers Weekly Inc., All Rights Reserved.

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