Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Shameful Epistles

Flexing muscle by local bishops is the political equivalent of senior water aerobics. Yeah, yeah, it's exercise, but yawn.

The latest posturing is the four local bishops sending political letters to each parish urging personal lobbying of legislators before the November 9th Constitutional Convention (ConCon). Of course, the vote that everyone is watching is whether to advance an amendment leaving existing same-sex marriages legal but prohibiting further ones.

Under orders from our jolly friar, Archbishop and Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the other three link with a loose federation of evangelicals who would impose their religious beliefs in this area of civil-contract law. The Boston Herald runs the wire recap and the Boston Globe has a more localized version.

If the bishops are as effective at this as they are getting their parishioners to eschew birth control and divorce, the amendment will go down in flames, sputtering.

The real questions will relate to the new reality of commonwealth politics following the election two days before. Even though the new legislative and executive branch members won't warm their leather chairs until January, there's the future and next elections to consider.

We know that at least three of the nastiest, most anti-gay, anti-SSM legislators are retiring or lost in the primary. We are certain to see these and others replaced with pro-SSM ones. We can reasonably expect marriage-equality favoring governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in office.

We can certainly assume that Sean's kids and their allies in the General Court will continue to take their best shot at stripping existing rights from homosexuals. They are happy to overlook that the majority of the state has accepted and favors SSM. However, the wavering legislators surely have not.

We predict that this hateful amendment never gets on the 2008 general-election ballot. The question is whether it loses at this ConCon or next year's.

Cue the fanfare as we anticipate some reason and fairness from the ballot initiative process. We expect and shall do our own lobbying of the new administration and legislature for reform and fine-tuning. The original idea of a check on bad legislation is a solid one. However, as we have seen in California and elsewhere as well as locally, perverting these initiatives to serve discrimination against minorities or creating unfunded mandates is unacceptable.

At the least, we need to prevent any such effort from the left, right or anywhere that would permit plebiscites on anyone's civil rights. Those need to be off limits and matters for the three branches of the government. Deval Patrick got it just right saying civil rights are never fit topics for initiatives.

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Anonymous said...

Since when is the Catholic Church, supported by the state through its non profit status, allowed to do political lobbying? Is that really legal? And if not, how can we stop it?

massmarrier said...

They really do push the limits of this -- an increasingly iffy proposition considering that the feds are cracking down on political activity from the pulpit. Meanwhile, they skirt the law.

They put the petitions and lobbying fundraising in the entry way or parish hall. They make sure priests don't specifically endorse a candidate.

They certainly violate the intent of the law and may step over the few limits they have.

It is repugnant that they would try to legislate their particular doctrine in clear affront to state and U.S. constitutions. They try to hide behind free speech, but it is not credible.

We can expect increasing smackdowns. Meanwhile, we know that some clerics will try to get away with as much as they can until regulatory and law enforcement hops on them.

A new attorney general here may show the guts that Tom Reilly and the past few before him lacked.