Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Get These Legislators Off My Lawn!

Dust-up, rhubarb, spitting contest...however you view the current contention over the Massachusetts legislature recessing without voting up or down on the anti-same-sex marriage amendment, it's a mess.

Understandably, the anti-SSM and anti-gay forces who shepherded this dreadful thing so far are pissed. The keening and snarling are fierce and unrelenting.

Of course, these let-the-people-vote folk are disingenuous about their claims that they are only for respecting our constitution and the rights of the public. In reality, their aims have been to put discrimination into the constitution and tear existing rights from one group, homosexuals. They show no shame in their dishonest and dishonorable and illegal tactics to advance their amendment. They use the gun-shy timorousness of a high court cowering after their post-Goodridge criticism.

They have found a staunch ally in the occasionally liberal Blue Mass Group. We could hope that David took the let-the-people-vote tack just to build traffic. We fear otherwise. BMG is riding the wrong horse in the wrong race and maybe on the wrong track.

BMG did get a traffic boost with one outrageous post here and another here. The comments continue to flood in. Some, including me, hold that this is a civil rights issue, which as Deval Patrick stated so strongly, should never be subject to a plebiscite. Many other commenters take a far more libertarian view and are willing or eager to let the most literal forms of initiative petitions play out, regardless of the malice they embody, the harm they do, or the tainted way they slithered to the Constitutional Convention.

All those arguments, from many angles, are on the BMG site.

Meanwhile, a refreshingly humane and reasoned lead editorial in the Springfield Republican offers a wonderful coda to this issue. We very rarely run an entire piece from a paper, but this one is short and elegant in expression:
Gay marriage debate needs to take a recess
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Opponents of gay marriage suggest that state lawmakers violated the state constitution last week when they refused to vote on a citizen-initiated proposal to ban gay marriage.

"This is the constitution of Massachusetts," said Kristian M. Mineau, president of a group opposed to gay marriage, as he held a copy of the constitution. "The constitution says that this Legislature has the obligation to take final action on our amendment. They just trashed it."

This would make a good subject for a panel discussion at Western New England College School of Law. We could only know for certain whether lawmakers violated the constitution if one of the deans at the college could somehow summon the ghost of John Adams to moderate the panel.

We are far more certain that the framers of the constitution would be pleased state lawmakers refused to aid and abet efforts to amend the constitution so that it would discriminate against a minority group.

Lawmakers may or may not have violated the letter of the law, but the decision to recess the constitutional convention without a vote upheld the spirit of the constitution.

Activists on both sides agree that the vote to recess until Jan. 2, 2007, effectively kills any chance that the measure will make the statewide ballot in 2008. Mineau says he might start a new petition to place an amendment on the 2010 statewide ballot. He should abandon the effort.

We hesitate to identify the group which Mineau represents. It's the Massachusetts Family Institute. That implies that those who support gay marriage are somehow anti-family. More than 8,100 same-sex couples have been joined legally since gay marriages began in May 2004 in Massachusetts. They are family.

It is in the best interests of all families in the Bay State if the state's lawmakers can concentrate their full attention on more important business, such as education, health care and jobs.

We respect and defend the right of religious organizations to decide who may or may not marry in their places of worship, but no religious organization has the right to decide who can get married in City Hall.

It's time to move on.

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Anonymous said...

BMG did get a traffic boost with one outrageous post here and another here.

The "Calling All Republicans" post in between those two was a particularly nice touch, I thought.

But it's helpful to learn what people's priorities are, I suppose. That's probably about the best that can be said of the situation.

massmarrier said...

Just so. Nuff said.

Ryan said...

Several months ago - on this very topic - I wrote a post on my blog about David's stance on this issue and how I was staunchly against it. I called him out for having worked for Republican-appointed justices (he worked for Sandra Day O'Connor), etc.

Then, after going back and forth with him back then, I felt content with a vote on the matter... excited by the fact we could rub it in Team Homophobia's face.

However, when the legislature did what it did I really was happy. It seemingly ended the debate once and for all. It turned the whole thing into a dead issue.

Sco had a GREAT comment on David's most recent attack - I mean thread. Essentially, he asked "why is this the line we cannot cross." The legislature has thrown dozen of ballot initiatives under the bus, including ones like Clean Elections. So why this far, no further?

Couple that with points like this and this and I'm beginning to have serious doubts as to why gay marriage has become THE issue on BMG.

The saddest thing is BMG has become, over the past year or so, the go-to blog for Massachusetts Progressive Politics. It's where the media looks to see what we're up to - it's where conservatives look too. Suddendly, the conservatives and forces of bigotry can just point to BMG and legitimize all their qualms. So, too, the media.

Division is dangerous when it comes to personal rights. It risks everything, and I just wish they'd see that. I almost think we need to create an alternative to BMG if this is the future we can expect to look forward to over the next few years.