Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Begging, Bullying and Bull for 114 Days

Let the bustling and beseeching begin!

In 114 days, the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention (ConCon) reconvenes. There are still 10 or 11 issues to cover on November 9th. Some are easy, coming with ought-not-to-pass recommendations (the slit-jugular effect). However, the two anti-same-sex-marriage amendments are serious indeed.

The disgraceful move of sending the health-care amendment to likely death in study will not distract the ConCon in November. However, if there is a flood of protest to the legislators, this issue may emerge from committee by November and present the conflict of two huge issues. This is not what our thumb sucking legislature normally can handle.

The leaders pro and con SSM have already been lobbying, one to beat the devil and the other to bedevil.

The dramatic and paranoid leader of the anti-SSM petition, VoteonMarriage's Kris Mineau, fairly quivered with indignation when the vote was delayed. "There was a present agenda, obviously," he said to the Cape Cod Times. Well, literally of course there was and it was set for all to see months in advance.

He's slithering all over the State House (not to show my prejudices or anything). Also lobbying will teh the likes of Marc Solomon, Mass Equality's campaign director. He recapped the plan for both sides with, "We now have four more months for same-sex couples to go out and tell their stories to their legislators about how marriage equality is working in Massachusetts and that it is working in Massachusetts. That is how we are going to use the next four months.'' VoM's folk will be different, but the tactics similar.

Unfortunately for both sides, many legislators will be campaigning or perhaps on the beach. The General Court does not meet in formal session until January. The lobbying may take place at offices, homes and maybe country clubs far from Beacon Street.

Meanwhile, Mineau continues to show his bullying bent. After the vote to recess until after the November 7th election, rather than push for a marathon ConCon to go into extra days for the unresolved half of the agenda, Mineau fairly spit in disdain. "We have an election coming up, so we will do our best to let people know what was in the hearts and minds of those 100 votes to recess."

Perhaps when he finally loses this battle, he can use his psychic and mind-reading abilities commercially.

He has been blustering about having the 50 votes (a quarter of the General Court) to advance this amendment to a duplicate vote next year. No one is directly denying that. After all, a quarter of a legislative body is not many.

However, according to the ConCon recap in Bay Windows, the 50 are not certain, particularly minus election pressure ending two days before the November meeting. Pro-SSM Rep. Mike Festa said, "I can tell you right now it is not certain to me that we have enough votes to stop them. On the other hand it isn’t certain for them that they have the votes,. The thing is that every day we have is another day for us to work with the membership and frankly get to a better position."

Another wild card is the legislators who do not want to amend the constitution to include discrimination. Not only is that out of line with the liberty orientation of the document, it also is certain to prompt court challenges to its conflict with existing freedoms there.

Previously, it looked like the poison agendum 19 on the ConCon schedule -- the Goguen/Travis amendment that would ban civil unions and more -- might permit a vote followed by an adjournment without considering the other anti-SSM amendment. The threats and noise by the anti-SSM side, including Gov. Willard Mitt Romney with the sideways support of Attorney General Tom Reilly, have pretty much made that impossible.

The best hope to stop this foolishness is effective lobbying in the next 114 days. Godspeed.

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Anonymous said...

Why has a filibuster been made impossible? Romney and Reilly will be lame ducks (even more than they are now).

This attack against fellow citizens needs to be stopped, period. Any legislator that refused to join the filibuster effort would be morally negligent and cowardly.

massmarrier said...

Just so. With the sleazy petition drive, dirty from its start, I have no problem with stopping it procedurally. I'd like to think the delay until November 9th will shake some pretense of morality out of the General Court.

The nasties want the good guys to play with different, harder rules.