Saturday, July 08, 2006

Mass. Marriage: Vote/Don't Vote

From every angle, Massachusetts folk, media and politicians -- and the occasional bloggger, are weighing in on the pending ConCon on July 12th. Worse than Groundhog Day, this joint legislative session can promise not weeks, but two years of discomfort if we do the wrong thing.

One way or another, the proposed constitutional amendment to stop same-sex marriage here will lose. How we get there will say much of the spirit and intellect of the Massachusetts legislature. Consider if it loses:
  • By a lack of quorum (101 of 200 of the General Court) — the addlepated, POTUS-coveting Gov. Willard Romney promises to work with the hateful amendment-pushing organizations for court action to compel a vote -- a true irony for bozos who can't stop using the phrase activist judges and disparaging judicial victories of the pro-equality/pro-SSM side.
  • By a vote on the lame, doomed Goguen/Travis version — followed by adjournment without considering the new amendment. There would be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, perhaps followed by a court suit. The self-identified victims on the far right have never forgotten their previous loss like this on a ConCon procedural move.
  • By fewer than 50 legislators (the minimum) supporting the amendment — There would be threats (always hollow) of loss of office and ritual heaping of disdain. Pout. Pout. Pout.
  • Time Out — A real possibility with 20 agenda to consider in a single day. The amendment is 20 or 20 and could simply not come up. Rearranging the set sked requires a unanimous vote; that will never happen. A time-out would bring a futile and divisive call for another ConCon this year.
A recap of other possibilities and variations appears in the current In Newsweekly here. Note that if the amendment passes this ConCon, we contend over it for another year until the next ConCon, at which the whole damned process repeats. With every day, the public support for SSM and boredom with the gay haters grow. This year's loser is next year's big loser, but the time, money and distraction from real legislative business are absurdly expensive and annoying.

Now to the latest definitive and very varied solutions, consider just the editorials in the Boston Globe and In Newsweekly. The Globe calls for a fantasy world. It wants fewer than 50 to support the amendment. There, peachy, keen, everyone's happy because we have had process. The Globe buys into Romney's sleazy arguments about the legislature having to vote on every proposed amendment. Its editorial board seems to have missed the past 200-plus years of U.S. and Massachusetts politics, where compromise and procedural options are the way business is done.

The very low bar of a quarter of the legislature putting an amendment to a popular vote is the rule, but not necessarily a good one. When the ballot-initative process has become so perverted, this process is suspect. You could probably get a quarter of the General Court to vote for the aardvark as the commonwealth's official anteater if you lobbied as long as the anti-gay folk have.

Ruling out procedural options to stop this drive is not reasonable when you have permitted dirty petition drives and have a paralyzed attorney general who allows an amendment to proceed to overturn a court decision, which is against the law here.

The Globe is whistling past the graveyard. Depending solely on the wisdom and fairness of one fourth of our legislators shows a lack of wit.

On the other extreme, In calls for another delay in the vote. It points out in accurate detail that the court case suing to stop the clearly illegal amendment from proceeding has had its arguments before the Supreme Judicial Court. In wants to wait until the SJC decides. It could render the process null.

I can't see any side buying that argument. The SJC should have expedited this. The issues are clear enough. To our interpretation, GLAD's legal team skunked Reilly's. If our AG had vision and guts, this amendment would never have gotten certification and never gotten this far.

We'll monitor the other calls before Wednesday. Reilly and Romney have already made it plain that they want two more years of agita and expense on this turkey amendment. Others would like it to lose this way, that way or another way.

Regardless of how it loses, it will not be the true end of it. The Catholic hierarchy may cut its losses and maybe turn to the business of God instead, but the hardcore anti-gay forces will whine, cry foul and attempt another ballot-initiative for a law or amendment.

By then, they will not stand a chance. I can't wait.

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Ryan said...

I don't know. I think it's pretty critical that we stop this from actually getting on the ballot. Because, in the end, people aren't held accountable for their votes. Just look at the state income tax ban amendment - it almost passed.

So, while I think it would fail, I really don't want to risk it. Seeing how this amendment should never have been allowed in the first place (seeing as how it is illegal), legislators should try to kill it at every step of the way.

Civil rights should never be brought to a vote by the people.

massmarrier said...

I agree. Moreover, I am astonished at the fools claiming that this is not a civil rights issue. Lately in fact, I have been seeing the anti-SSM folk falling back on you're born Black, but not born gay crap.

No matter how they lose, the nasties will scream they've been cheated and none of this is legal, as they have for at least the past three years. I have no sympathy. They have evil intent and act only to harm, hinder and denigrate.

Because they are going to wail and protest -- and likely turn to "activist" courts for help, I can't care which mechanism defeats them. The results will be the same. They lose and stomp their collective feet.