Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Marginalized: Camenker's Kids

They are self-parodies and it is impossible to be serious about Article 8/MassResistance/Parents Rights Coalition. They are the court jesters of gay-rights and marriage equality in Massachusetts.

This is part two in a series of those who marginalized themselves in the battle to stop same-sex marriages in Massachusetts. See part one on the local Roman Catholic hierarchy here. and part three on the VOM group.

The tiny group of two plus a few hangers-on managed an impressive amount of coverage in the most gullible media, notably the Boston Globe. They were always good for inflammatory counterpoints to reason.

Even though they tried to distance themselves from the anti-SSM amendment (it didn't go far enough; they wanted to reverse up to 10,000 existing SSMs), their death throes writhed with the defeat of the amendment. While the rest of Massachusetts and even conservative politicians elsewhere have conceded that homosexuality is innate, Brian and Amy maintain a sexual-orientation version of The South Will Rise Again. Look at their main site or their blog to read unbelievable lies, distortions and contortions, all centered on the thesis that we should all devote ourselves not to peace or bettering the world, but to harming homosexuals in any way we can.

In a moment of sincerity, I must write that these dreadful losers, the most damaged casualties of the recent amendment battle, have an open door. They gained an inordinate amount of publicity and media coverage for a tiny group with little to say. This is the definition of effective PR. If they could stifle their hate (fat chance!), they could market themselves as flacks extraordinaires.

If you don't know these buffoons, you can eat far more than you can digest at MassResistance Watch. There, Bud has several years of coverage that would astonish. These folk have missed this century and much of the last.

If there were any question about how one-track they are, you need only listen to the podcast that Brian had just after the amendment flushed into legislative oblivion. Go to the site of the obscure Maine anti-homosexual group, newly constituted at the Christian Education League, to hear Homosexual Totalitarianism. Here, Brian holds forth about how the amendment struggle lost because the Mass Family/VoteOnMarriage folk did not directly attach homosexuals as primary societal evils.

Amusingly enough, the CEL is really Maine's primary anti-homosexual leader, Michael I'm-not-a-minister-but-I-play-one-on-the-Internet Heath. He led the similar abortive campaign to repeal gay rights legislation in his state. A big L to both losers.

The Massachusetts version lost big as Article 8, which promised to recall the Supreme Judicial Court judges who voted to legalize (yes, sir, legalize by high court) same-sex marriage in the Goodridge decision interpreting our equal-rights laws. Losers.

They backed reactionary parents David and Tonya Parker in trying to mandate curriculum in public schools to fit their fundamental religious beliefs. The school board, police and federal courts told them to grow up and get lost. Losers.

They said, well, even though it accepts existing marriages, the amendment to stop SSM here is great. Losers.

They backed yet another effort to insert theocracy into public education with Senate Bill 321 -- dying after failed committee hearings. Losers.

They called for defeat of pro-marriage-equality legislators, only to find all their candidates out and all the pro-equality ones in. Losers.

There really seems to be no end to this. Because the topic was hot nationally as well as locally, this tiny group of hate mongers got great coverage. Yet, their issues lost, lost and lost...and lost again.

No one of any power or with any intellect can take them seriously. Legislators know these few are way out of sync with the voters. The extreme anti-gay forces are out of the game.

Blessed be.

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Big Up to Little Exhibit A

As a disclaimer, I admit I'm a hard sell on new print publications. I came out of newspapers and magazines. I've read it. I've seen it. I've done it. Impress me.

Well, I've waited four issues and have to admit that monthly street freebie Exhibit A does it right, just right. I'll bastardize their logo a bit to give them an upgrade.

It is localized, popularized (and amazingly useful) law. It's largely what we in the biz call toilet reading — short, snappy articles, perfect for when you have a minute or five.

This book (also as we say in the biz) comes from the facile, trendy mind of David Yas. He runs the much beefier and more serious Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. He is a smart and progressive editor, whom we have cited before, like here.

He is on the masthead as editor-in-chief. It looks like the credit for the execution should go to Editor Henriette Campagne.

By the bye, the parent company seems to have hired our favorite ex-writer for the Herald. Kimberly Atkins appears as staff on Lawyers USA.

Anyway, Exhibit A carries fun items, like the guy charged with spraypainting goat genitalia and a sexual aggressor IDed by the burrito in his pants. However, it's strength is in easy-to-understand useful pieces. For example, a story on bicycle law and lawsuits here centers on lawyer Andrew Fischer, a cyclist who specializes in this. A set of little ones covers the traps and tricks of contracts we all sign for cellphones, health club and such.

This follows in the tradition of the pioneers in the field, Popular Psychology and Popular Science. Each in its own way took heavy material and left out the footnotes and unnecessary complexity.

Unfortunately, of the recent spate of freebies, Exhibit A is the only winner. The Metro and BostonNOW both made lots of promises, which they have failed miserably at fulfilling. They both are toilet reading too, but in those cases, they belong in the porcelain bowl instead of next to it.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

The Marginalized: O'Malley and Chums

The heavy hands of hate and control jerked back bloodied after three years of struggle here. One decisive point came on June 14th, when the anti-marriage-equality forces lost a struggle to stop same-sex marriage here.

This is a first in a series on those who lost the battle and combined with their other follies have marginalized themselves in Massachusetts. Today, it's the Roman Catholic hierarchy here.

For non-Roman Catholics and for non-military/non-bureaucracy sorts there is no real understanding. These were badly chosen battles doomed to failure and with long-term consequences. The local archdiocese head, Sean Cardinal O'Malley, became the front man for a series of loaded political moves. He lost big time and that has further marginalized an organization already in decline.

The RC Church has faced loss of membership, swings in contributions, and a deep, old and wide clergy sex-abuse scandal. It has been closing churches, and unable to replace their retiring, dying and occasionally jailed priests. The previous archbishop skipped out of town with the law sniffing his trail. In short, it was badly in need to good planning, good execution and good PR.

Marching Orders

Instead, it got what appears to be very bad orders from the newish Pope Benedictus XVI, né Joseph Alois Ratzinger. Let's put aside that Benny the Rat, as we are wont not too respectfully to call him, is a caricaturist's delight; that's not his fault.

However, we can all hold him accountable for his hard-line orders that he hands the troops. That nice talk of inclusion and tolerance by the past couple Popes? Forget it. Let's think right/wrong, good/evil, his way/highway.

Given the structure of the Church, it's no surprise who calls the shots. However,
Sean Cardinal O'Malley knows better and has lived better personally. In D.C. in particular, he fit the mold of a leftist, activist priest in the Liberation Theology pattern. He squatted with the poor and participated in rent strikes, for example.

Yet, the political nature of the RC Church at bishop level and above is undeniable. Further limiting action is the extreme hierarchical structure -- God to Pope to Cardinals and Archbishops and on down. Rules are rules. Oh, yeah, and there's that infallibility of doctrinal interpretation thing.

There's no question that the papal election itself is highly political. Unlike a Monty Python skit, no divine finger picks a Pope. The very human and self-interested Cardinals jockey for position, lobby for their favorites and vote.

Perhaps those factors contribute to the looseness of practicing Catholics' practice. Even in nominally Catholic European countries, like Italy and Spain, citizens and their leaders alike nod their heads to the church while their hands behave disobediently. Birth control is common, abortion is a fact of life, don't even bring up adultery, and many have no problem with homosexuals having civil unions or even marrying.

What's a Prelate To Do?

Marginalized seems fine with Benny. He has stated repeatedly that he wants a church of devout followers, even though that surely means a smaller set of congregants. Loyalty to doctrine and leadership is the test.

He did spend the largest part of his career up to the moment he became the Pope as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That is the knuckle-cracking group that enforces doctrine on prelates, priests and others who act or speak or apparently even think wrongly. It previously carried the now infamous name of the Roman Inquisition. So energetic and thorough was then Joseph Ratzinger's enforcement, he earned the nickname God's Rottweiller.

With that kind of leadership from the top dog, there's not much room for roving free or interpreting. From O'Malley's actions and statements here, you'd think he had also always been a fundamentalist old Testament guy, or least one to pick the verses of Leviticus he wanted to see strictly enforced. (He'd have to make sure he avoided the Greek or Hebrew, or even the Latin, and stuck with the highly politicized, God's-word-by-committee King James version.)

In the same-sex-marriage struggle, the new Pope did not seem to hesitate. Suddenly we saw O'Malley ordering his bishops, who ordered their priests, to make it plain that SSM was evil. They kicked around the idea of denying sacraments to politicians who voted against stated doctrine. They asked lawyers what they could get away with in gathering signatures, lobbying, and other political action.

The Pope is running a big, not little C Catholic church. He doesn't seem to mind that such ham-fisted policies:
  • Alienated homosexual parishioners, and those with family or friends who are homosexual.
  • Appalled the freedom-loving, live-and-let-live Americans.
  • Muddled church and politics, while church leaders would fight vigorously if the government would try to interfere in their business the way they have in public affairs.
  • Further separated parishioners still reeling from the affects of many decades of abuse of children and adults by RC clerics, and dissatisfied with the denial, lies and duplicity.
  • Insulted and in some cases driven away heterosexual couples who are infertile or choose not to have children, with the hard line about marriage being only for procreation.
  • Showed callousness to adoptable children and to marriage by extreme measures designed to control and punish homosexual couples.
  • Hung Massachusetts legislators out to dry trying to appear like good Catholics to their RC constituents and yet uphold the commonwealth constitution and its court interpretations, and existing laws.

Theocratic Missteps

There's no question that the alliance with the odious VoteOnMarriage/Massachusetts Family Institute -- and subsequent drubbing in polls and the ConCon -- were big losses for O'Malley locally and the RC Church. However, those losses are amplified in the corrosive environment church leaders have allowed to fester.

Moreover, only this month, did O'Malley appear to show any sincere and realist concern about the institution of marriage -- certainly far too little, much too late. Last week, in an effort whose timing he pretends has nothing to do with the June 14th ConCon loss on the amendment, O'Malley announced a campaign for marriage. Finally admitting marriage itself is foundering as an institution, he wants his priests to use sermons, prayers and church bulletin boards or urge congregants to merge.

The anti-gay/anti-SSM folk have long appeared as total asses in claiming damage to the institution by association with SSM in Massachusetts and civil unions elsewhere. Marriage rates have been declining at least since WWII, long, long before legal homosexual unions became a spark, much less a flame.

Ironically, the RC Church, as many fundamental Protestant ones, conflates its sacrament of marriage with the legal institution. Even many legislators buy into the idea, apparently because they grew up hearing clerics mix the two.

As virtually everywhere in this nation, in Massachusetts, marriage is a civil contract, and has been from colonial times. Clerics can sign marriage licenses, as can many other classes of government officials, appointees, and in this state nearly any adult who applies to be a one-day designated solemnizer. As far as marriages and divorces here are concerned, priests and other clerics can act as government agent too, but legally they don't marry anyone.

The sacrament is a separate thing entirely, an option, one, by the bye, which most people forgo. The sacrament of marriage in one's church may be real important to those involved, but it's not legal.

Diminished Influence

At least short-term and likely longer, the Pope and our Cardinal have done considerable damage to their credibility. The next rousing call to political action will have even lower response. This time on the amendment, they truly blew it by having petitions at the back of the nave. Many parishioners were certainly responding to peer and priest pressure to sign instead of demurring. I bet that they won't be so shy next time.

Likewise on Beacon Hill, O'Malley's forces smeared themselves in the stain and stench of the nasties. They are not going to be as welcome on the next set of issues. They ended up putting political careers at risk, and as one proof, several of their anti-SSM legislator candidates lost in the last election while the pro-equality ones won.

More to the point, the RC Church as other churches should be about the business of helping people. Christian churches have some pretty clear dictates about feeding the hungry and caring for the other poor. They are supposed to help kids, like orphans.

Here, they haven't been very good at those. On SSM alone, the RC leadership position has lead to opposition to homosexual marriage and adoption. O'Malley decided to close up the archdiocese's adoption agencies rather than permit any homosexual couples to provide homes for needy kids. Then in the amendment fight, he not only tried to legislate his theology into our marriage law -- redefining marriage in Massachusetts to match church law -- but tried to eliminate a healthy, happy class of married couple at a time when he admits marriage has long been in decline.

You can't separate the mean from the dumb on these.

Several people have told me, some in comments here and others in conversations, that O'Malley is both very bright and kind hearted. They would contend that he is locked into his role. That may be so and if so, it's a pity he couldn't move his Pope to his views, assuming he tried.

The effect here is the same whether he believes that Benny says or not. The RC Church here has continued to marginalize itself both with its parishioners and beyond. It should be the social equality and civil rights champion, but has chosen through its leaders not to be. Unless there are some big changes, O'Malley and his team will watch increasingly from the sidelines.

Series Note: Part two on the clown princes of the anti-marriage-equality drive is here. Part three on the VOM folk is here.

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Cirginano Quibbles Again

OK, I'm tired of this Larry Cirignano silliness. Yet it seems the anti-gay/anti-marriage-equality hack is incapable of honor. He had his lawyer back in Worcester court yesterday, asking that the judge dismiss the most serious charge — civil rights violations — but not assault and battery.

If you have the stomach for it, you can search for his name in this blog and get your fill. The recap of his last court appearance, with a couple of links, is here.

Double Tip: I'd doff my toupee twice if I wore one. I've been bike commuting and didn't pick up Bay Windows yesterday or even have time to check its site. However, John over at Live, Love, and Learn alerted me with his post. The original reporting from BW is here.

Cirignano's lawyer apparently tried to convince Worcester District Court Judge David Ricciardone that if his client really did what many saw him do — shove a pro-marriage-equality protester face down on the pavement — it really isn't a civil right violation. Funny that the victim and police and DA figure that if you are using physical force to prevent free speech, that's what the civil rights laws forbid.

Hmm, adulthood and responsibility can be such burdens. Even if Cirginano's family never taught him how to behave, he may have to obey the same laws that the rest of us do.

This matches up nicely with the anti-marriage-equality demonstrator who physically assaulted a pro-equality guy by coming around a police barricade to slap him after her side lost the June 14th ConCon vote. Bud over at MassResistanceWatch has info and the right attitude on this.

In both cases, the attackers held that they are innocent. Cirignano claims against victim and witness testimony and the physical evidence that it never happened. Then he suggests that if it did happen, so what? The slapper, Diane Steele, tries the he-made-me defense, the one favored by spouse and child beaters.

Yesterday, Ricciardone did not laugh out loud or dismiss the Cirignano claim out of hand. He took the motion under advisement and will announce his ruling on Friday, July 13th.

Here's hoping that both of these clowns have to accept that they can't act out their political emotions into physical violence.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Eldridge Grilled -- On Medium

On our weekly Left Ahead! podcast, we had a long session with 5th CD candidate Jamie Eldridge. You can catch the recap and grab the session here.

Disclosure: This blog previously joined Left in Lowell (Lynne Lupien) and Ryan's Take (Ryan Adams) in endorsing Eldridge in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan. So, we weren't looking to knock him to the ground.

Jamie comes into the session at 39 minutes in. Before that you can hear the three of us in our lefty rambling glory. None of us will know if you skip ahead to the candidate portion. We ran long on this one. There are about 50 minutes with the candidate.

By the bye, he seems dreadfully alert and cheerful for 9:30 p.m. after a day of campaigning, his Boston legislative details, and what family he could get in. We did not ask about his caffeine intake.

We do cover how he expects to overcome Niki Tsongas' presumptive advantages of name recognition and money. We pushed on health-care specifics and how he sells it in the district. He talks plainly about his grassroots efforts and what seems to be paying off for him. We hit on the dust-up involving fellow candidate Barry Finegold with the abortion notification bill. We also get into what he'd do in Congress on issues as ranging as DOMA and mass transit.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Saved from Spite in Southie

Let us rain thanks upon Peter Gelzinis and the subject of his column in the Boston Herald, Rep. Brian Wallace.

Good Politics/Good Manners note: Actually Wallace deserves more. When you are sending your thank-you notes to the legislators who defeated the infamous anti-marriage-equality amendment last week, include him. He's not some Yuppie raised in a lefty home. He's a Southie kid from way back and a former running dog of Ray Flynn. Yet he also shows the compassion and the positive aspects of his religion. He was gutsy to do the right thing.
Rep. Brian P. Wallace
State House, Room 472
Boston, MA 02133
Since voting to kill the amendment, Wallace has "been bombarded by an avalanche of hate-filled emails." A few thank him, but it's mostly of the how-dare-you-creep variety.

Wallace is quick to point out that the claims of those who pushed the amendment -- plus the basest of the Herald columnists -- that those who switched their votes were bought off is that much hooey. "I'm not leaving Southie, or taking another job. I believe all that stuff was planted by the other side. And becaue of it, I'm getting crucified."

That's apt that he'd use religious imagery. He's a religious kind of guy.

He's also a lot smarter than many pushing the amendment. He figured out for example, "the level of hate I’ve seen coming through these e-mails and phone calls has only convinced me that if there had been an election on this question, it would have been the ugliest, most divisive election this state has ever seen."

He's seen Southie change and is there to represent everyone, not just the entrenched and close-minded.

He has a buddy in another Southie-based legislator, Sen. Jack Hart, who also voted against the amendment. When the insults fly, Hart is likewise ready. As he puts it, "In time, I think the vitriol will fade. When people want to challenge me over this issue. I ask them what they think Jesus would do? Would Jesus shower the same kind of hate upon these people?
Or would he love them anyway and treat them with compassion?"

Those might be good questions for the likes of Sean O'Malley and Ray Flynn.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

How 'bout Those Annulments?

The Boston Herald editors had a great time with the annul/ex-annul marriage of U.S. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Their home page lead is Pope Slap: Vatican Stiffs Kennedy Dynasty.

The jump to the story has the Variety-style head Dynasty takes hit as Joe K annulment nixed.

To non-Roman Catholics, the entire concept of annulling a marriage -- with a signed license, a church sacrament, decades of doing married stuff and plenty of kids -- is bizarre and byzantine.

For a bit of background on how that can work for ordinary mortals (much the same as for our princelings), check a post here. I was a witness to such a process and got two ears full from a heavy-hitter priest.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Who Lost What Last Week at the ConCon?

We had millions of winners but thousands of losers last week when the General Court in Constitutional Convention killed the amendment that would halt same-sex marriage. Yet, Gov. Deval Patrick pegged it best when he concluded, "Today's vote was not just a victory for marriage equality. It was a victory for equality itself."

What now for and from the nasties? For over three years, we heard from and contended with:
  • Those who would redefine marriage from its centuries old tradition here as a civil contract into a sacrament -- legislating personal religion.
  • Those who dislike, disrespect, despise and fear homosexuals, enough to do anything to hinder or harm them.
  • Religious politicians, such as the local R.C. Cardinal, who do as they're told.
  • Professional anti-gay fund-raisers.
They lost big time last Thursday. Yet, given their dishonorable actions and dishonesty, their vitriol and mean-spiritedness, we should not grieve for or with them.

Questionably the losing-est loser here was Massachusetts Family Institute/Vote on Marriage President Kristian (Kris) M. Mineau. Had he weaseled this amendment onto the ballot, the big-money wingers were poised to support his rag-tag groups. It was like the NBA draft for the kid from the projects. Only this time, he got cut before he got the contract.

There's a good chance he'll be out of here shortly. He is the relentless, single-minded, amoral sort that does well raising money. He has quite a history of twisting issues into slogans that obscure what his organizations are really about. There's a lot of call for that.

I bet he is attractive to the rich uncle of the anti-gay forces, Focus on the Family. There are many squirting holes in the dike that would spread marriage equality. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to hear that Mineau climbed onto his big white ass and rode off to fight this battle where he sees a chance of at least a short-term, tangible win. There's California, Washington and Oregon, for example.

Meanwhile, Mineau made the predictable, mandatory, Terminator-style promises:
We are not going away. We won't stop fighting until the citizens have had their say. There are too many children that are counting on us to continue the battle. Our team is looking at our strategic options going forward. You will be hearing from us again soon. In the meantime, do not be discouraged, keep the faith. Our work will surely continue.
His only other option would have involved uncharacteristic honesty. He could have abjectly apologized to the GLBT citizens, and the rest of us, for the turmoil and hate. I'll own ocean-front property in Colorado before that happens.

Truth is, they had a shot. With all their tricks and how well they gamed the system, they got disturbingly close. Future posts will deal with what we learned about the ballot-initiative process and how it needs updating. An initial comment set is here.

Mineau's other predictable bit of bluster was claiming he and his minions would defeat four legislators who voted for the amendment at the last ConCon session in January and against it last week. He told the Boston Globe that his folk would target two from each party.

That has to be the most impotent political threat so far of this century. In last year's regular and special contests, every pro-marriage equality legislator won re-election who was running. In every contest where pro- and anti-equality candidates contended, the anti ones lost. That's zero for Mineau's side. None, zip, nada, zero.

Other Losers

Mineau was not the only professional to tumble down the rocky slope last week. Most obviously, emerging with scrapes and bruises was Sean Cardinal O'Malley, and the entire Boston Archdiocese. His credibility has continued to dwindle throughout this process. While serving under orders, he let himself align with the worst of the homophobes and religious extremists. This is stinky stuff that will cling to his cassock for a long, long time.

It's a shame about Sean. He used to be a progressive and underneath may retain that compassion and the related good politics. Back in his D.C. days, he helped the poor, was instrumental in rent strikes, and lived his faith. Then as he became a professional church politician, promoted to archbishop and cardinal ranks, he turned into the good soldier we see and hear.

It's hard for those of us not in a military-style system to understand taking orders like that. Yet, we saw the previous Sean and this devolved one before us now.

He risked — then lost — much following Pope Benedict's mandate. There is a disconnect separating the dictionary definition of catholic from the Roman Catholic Church we have seen here in the past seven years. The campaigning and threats of this and the previous amendment battles serves to further exclude parishioners instead of being universal. Surely that is not what the Cardinal or Pope have in mind, but that's what they did, with vigor.

In various European, nominally Catholic, countries, the citizens/parishioners/voters hear the homilies and are aware of the policies. They smile and nod and pick which they obey. There's the matter of birth control and adultery and on and on.

Here, O'Malley has further marginalized the church's power and influence by putting his and its credibility on the line. He played an extremely heavy political hand, while skipping arm-in-arm with the most unsavory characters.

He lost and as a result the R.C. Church lost.

Sundry Schlemiels

Consider another lapsed liberal, former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn. Like O'Malley, he's a good Catholic kid who grew up to favor civil rights, the working class, and leftist causes. He also turned sour and aged badly.

However, in that same Globe piece, he exhibited a lot more insight and honesty than Mineau:

"The people who are advocating same-sex marriage are very, very determined," said former Boston mayor and US ambassador to the Vatican Raymond L. Flynn. "They're very active, and they participate in the process. Give them credit: They know how to wage a political campaign, and politicians respond to that kind of pressure."

Flynn conceded that it may be futile to try again to place a gay marriage ban before voters in Massachusetts. "Clearly the petition can be ignored by the Legislature," said Flynn, adding that supporters of "traditional families" need to galvanize and become as politically active and vocal as the forces in favor of same-sex marriage.

Raybo, as we used to call him when he chased fire trucks and did good deeds, is a particularly sad case. I don't want to know what went on in Rome that made him a bad ambassador. However, we are aware that he lent his remaining good name to this anti-gay, anti-civil-rights effort. His is the first name on the amendment petition and will forever link with this shame.

He is a cautionary tale to all of progressives. His accomplishments now appear only by squinting through this lens of regressive politics.

Next, the many dupes looked dejected and rejected. Mineau and O'Malley's people roused the gullible and repeatedly bused groups of them into the big city, where they received professionally printed Let the People Vote! signs, replete with their very own pine slat handles.

Most of these folk, according to press interviews as well as my own conversations with them, honestly seemed to believe that they had the right and obligation to work to enact religious laws in our civil code. They also seemed to believe that they should have an absolute right to a plebiscite that could strip a minority of existing civil rights.

They were simply used by the anti-marriage-equality groups. This was not as bad as, say, the Children's Crusades, but it had whiffs of that. Stir up religious ideas and feelings, park the innocent and sincere in harm's way, and keep telling everyone it's God's will.

Perhaps some of the suburban papers will interview some of these troops. Do they feel out of touch with the commonwealth? Do they feel used?

We have no reason to suppose that Mineau, O'Malley or Flynn will apologize to them, or ever admit the baseness of their motives. Certainly continuing to pretend that they acted for democracy and for the good of other humans is much more palatable.

Finally, the bitter jester of the movement went on the Net with an embarrassing podcast as the ConCon session concluded. You can hear Article 8/MassResistance's Brian Camenker call Maine's anti-gay poster boy Mike Heath at the suddenly constituted Christian Education League. Over at the site, you can listen to the Homosexual Totalitarianism podcast.

Camenker drops any pretext of fairness or equality. He upbraids the Vote on Marriage folk for not attacking homosexuality directly. For rational humans, this is an unbelievable tirade, but probably the only honest comments to come out of the anti-marriage-equality crowd.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Old Bloggers' Home

Is it time to fold the tent? I mirrored the relief expressed a couple of days ago by occasional and always insightful commenter Likes Bikes 2. Four years of emotional and intellectual extremes on marriage equality came to a great and satisfying denouement last week.

On a post about lessons learned from the anti-equality amendment battle, Likes Bikes 2 asked some of the same questions I and others have:

I am just now learning to exhale. I feel like I had been holding my breath for so long over this issue.

What does it feel like to not worry about the Kris Mean-o and his friends, lurking in the bushes, saying mean and nasty things about my family?

Thank you. For providing a place of sanity, for your analysis, for your clarity. For your steadfastness to this issue.

Maybe we'll find ourselves on the same bike ride someday, and I'll get to thank you in person.
Those are fair questions, no matter who's asking. I suspect quite a few bloggers, as well as rights activists, are rethinking their roles and directions.

In the next few days, I'll post a bit on Terminator-style I'll-be-back proclamations of the anti-gay and anti-marriage-equality folk. They too offer lessons learned for us as well as for themselves. Once I got over the feeling that we should just ignore them, I admit that they still bear watching out of the corner of one eye.

The answer for Marry in Massachusetts includes:
  • The commonwealth's marriage-equality fight has dominated posting and commenting here because it is where the threats, promises, hopes and action have been.
  • The considerable cleanup of marriage-related and ballot-initiative laws is crucial, long overdue and needs some prodding. I've been hitting on many of these in the last couple of years, while many pols have hidden from them, particularly with the ongoing fight over this amendment. Only a handful, notably Rep. Byron Rushing, target bad laws.
  • There are other aspects of marrying in Massachusetts that are not contentious but still worthy of commentary. I need to revisit the one-day designated solemnizer for one.
  • Also if we can get rid of those dreadful laws forbidding out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying here, I want to perform marriages for some friends from Florida and elsewhere. It's been a couple of years since I solemnized a marriage.
  • The progressive political aspects beyond marriage have other outlets, including occasional posting to Blue Mass Group, but regular work with Ryan and Lynne on our Left Ahead! blog with weekly podcast.
  • I'll be putting more other stuff -- photography, JP and larger Boston color, and rants -- on Harrumph!.
As Likes Bikes 2, I do feel a strong sense of relief from last week's victory. I wish the legislature could have simultaneously addressed related issues. Expect less posting here, but more targeted subjects, like specific laws.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Marriage Battle Lessons

In my pedantry, I'm fond of asking my three guys, "What can we learn from this?" I hate to glide over possible lessons from important events.

This week's delightful and surprising victory in keeping same-sex marriage in Massachusetts is a case to consider. Many are the lessons for civil-rights and other political and social activists, as well as our politicians.

Coming from print media years ago, I have carried over some of the lingo, including post mortem for such an analysis. A friend from my professional society objects to the connotations. Taryn says, "Nobody died here. What we need to come away with are lessons learned."

For the past couple of years on this blog, I have suggested and specified laws that should change. This affects ballot initiatives as well as marriage. Expect me to revisit and expand on those here and in our Left Ahead! podcasts. Meanwhile, I am very pleased to see that some are already calling attention to those dreadful 1913 antimiscegenation laws that then Gov. Willard Mitt Romney and then AG Tom Reilly used to keep out-of-state same-sex couples from wedding here.

Today, I promise not to detail laws. Instead, let's consider some broad lessons learned.
  • Have a great slogan. As Mark Snyder wrote a long time ago at Queer Today, "The slogan, 'let the people vote,' regardless of how disingenuous and cynical it is, is actually powerful and, at least according to several people on our side, is swaying many legislators." In the end, MassEquality came up with the only-okay "It's Wrong to Vote on Rights," but that came late and was not as punchy. It worked in the end only because both reason and emotion were behind it, backed with extremely active marriage-equality lobbying from ordinary citizens.
  • Feet on the street and hand on the phone. Over at BMG, Charley nailed up some impacts of the campaign and vote to defeat the amendment. The most salient is that this was a great model of civic engagement, as just mentioned. The anti-equality side sounds like bitter baseball fans after a World Series loss. Somehow the other side cheated, bribed the legislators or something, for sure, man. Instead, it was the faces across the desk and the voices on the phone.
  • Leaders must lead. Both the executive and legislative branches here have been afraid to act for decades. This illegal, dishonorable and fraud-ridden initiative would never have gotten to the State House at all if we had enacted marriage equality or its asthenic sibling civil unions long before Goodridge. One anti-gay Senate President followed by a gormless and gutless one did not enable full marriage equality throughout the legal system as mandated. Don't even start on Reilly. Leaders must be ahead of the public, not hiding being the lowest common denominator among us.
  • Processes often evolve. Variables from new technologies to new players to outside laws and events mean we should constantly re-examine how we make and enforce laws. Future posts will deal more with changes to the initiative process, to marriage laws, and other unpleasant aspects of commonwealth processes uncovered in this three-year struggle.

Double Serving of Crow

You don't have to look very deeply in this blog to read indignant attacks on new Senate President Therese Murray and Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi. She was unproven and outwardly timid; he had a long history of equality support, while seeming to have had a failure of will on this issue.

They both and each came through, matching Gov. Deval Patrick and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray in the crucial private lobbying. The legislative leaders proved my doubts unfounded. They did the right thing, many times over.

What a great state to live in!

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Same-Sex Marriage Spooks

The marriage-equality losers, embittered and bruised, live to spook and shriek. Think of the hand rising from the grave at the end of Carrie.

Our own bad horror movie seems to have ended today with the stunning, sweeping, surprise victory for marriage equality. The Vote On Marriage gang and their dupes such as Sean Cardinal O'Malley, ex-mayor/ex-liberal Ray Flynn, and thousands of sincere suburban theocrats failed utterly. They tried every rotten and dishonorable trick and pushed the legal process to its limit -- and beyond -- to try to strip rights from a minority group here.

It was like another style of movie in the end though, like the Westerns I grew up watching. In the end, the good guys won and morality and the American ideals of fair play and liberty won the day.

Process Demons

It would have been a dreadful disgrace for Massachusetts to vote on whether to amend its constitution to 1) define marriage for the first time in theocratic terms, and 2) take away existing rights from homosexuals. Our peculiar laws were set up to act as a safeguard against an impulsive legislature. Instead, the bad guys tried to use that process to reverse a court decision (counter to our constitution) and say for the first time that minority rights are temporary and subject to a plebiscite.

We can thank the lobbying of individuals, MassEquality, legislators and other public officials for the result. In the end, the strident lie about this campaign being about democracy was unbelievable to over three-quarters of our combined legislature. Indeed, the people have spoken. They said, "Go back to your hole and leave freedom and democracy lovers alone!"

From the Grave

Yet, like those horror movies, this has not quite played out. Those monsters who cannot tolerate the idea that people they don't like might have equal rights, fair civil rights are not finished with us.

The rushes in the news predict that those who would overturn same-sex marriage here are in their hole, but they are peeking and ready to grab.

In theory, the anti-SSM folk could start today for the 2012 general election with the same tack. They have to wait three years before trying a similar initiative. Then, it would have to pass two ConCon sessions with a 25% vote of the combined legislature. Only then could it be on the next ballot.

Yet the people here are weary, very weary of the hate, mean spirits, lies, fraud and manipulation. They also see that SSM here has hurt no one and helps many. The polls show that legislators and voters alike are ever increasingly in favor of marriage equality. Finally, as everyone from Gov. Deval Patrick up and down has noted, zero of the terrible things the false prophets opposing SSM predicted happened.

Every Which Way

So, what's a villain to do in defeat?

The hater in chief at VOM, Kris Mineau, immediately made his threats. He said:
"The Governor and House Speaker have been unrelenting in fighting the natural course of advancement on the marriage amendment and the people’s right to vote," said Mineau. "We will look very closely at the circumstances by which legislators switched their vote for ethics violations or improprieties."

"Citizens in 45 states have weighed in on the definition of marriage either through the legislative process or by constitutional amendments. vows to continue the fight for the people of Massachusetts to be heard on this issue."
The Boston Globe's conservative clown columnist, Jeff Jacoby had the bigger view. He wrote this proved that some of those dreadful Massachusetts SSM couples might sneak out of state and sue for marriage equality elsewhere. "Only a federal marriage amendment can keep that from happening" was his solution. That's right, boys and girls, change marriage from its form of civil contract into a religious definition, write theology into federal law and redefine marriage for everyone nationwide.

We have seen this on both coasts and occasionally in the rest of the nation. When the anti-gay/anti-equality folk campaign, they promise that they'll go quietly if they lose. If California, if the legislature passed SSM, that would be it. Instead the governor vetoed that, referring to an old DOMA-style ballot initiative and telling representative democracy to take a hike.

Here, when the high court ruled that we have equal rights and that means equal rights, the bad guys said, only if we can't get this on the ballot. After they gave it their very best, totally dishonorable abusive of the process shot, they aren't done. Now the legislature has handed them their hats.

You'd think that they'd have the decency to do as they said. The people spoke. Their elected officials said no dice.

Their response surely will include some lame and doomed court action. It will likely involve another lame and doomed initiative as soon as they can manage it.

For VOM and their ilk, this makes perfect sense. It's their livelihood. By rousing the gullible, they raise money, pay their salaries, and seem to feel important.

Good Riddance

Fortunately, they are a dwindling party. They may soon be reduced to the muttering few, as their tired and defeated supporters turn to other, possibly achievable tasks.

From their self-dug grave, the hands have not stopped reaching out. The legislature and citizens here surely have learned in the past three years to side-step them and soon will learn to ignore them.

If you are of a Christian bent, you might pray for them. They are sorely in need of a change of heart.

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151 Good Ones for Marriage Equality

Mass Equality tabulated the votes today defeating the initiative to stop same-sex marriage here. The votes by house and member are here.

Just in case they get clogged, I'll duplicate it here. Credit goes entirely to MassEquality.

My version has just the legislators with their votes. See the link above for phones and emails for thanks...and other messages.

FINAL TALLY: 151 to 45

State Representatives

Name 6/14/7 Vote
Salvatore DiMasi N
Geraldo Alicea N
Willie Mae Allen N
Cory Atkins N
Demetrius Atsalis DNV
Bruce Ayers Y
Ruth Balser N
Jay Barrows Y
John Binienda Y
Daniel Bosley N
Garrett Bradley N
William Brownsberger N
Antonio Cabral N
Jennifer Callahan N
Thomas Calter N
Christine Canavan N
Stephen Canessa N
Paul C. Casey Y
Cheryl Coakley-Rivera N
Thomas Conroy N
Robert Correia Y
Michael Costello N
Geraldine Creedon Y
Sean Curran Y
Steven D'Amico N
Linda Dean Campbell Y
Robert DeLeo N
Vinny deMacedo Y
Brian Dempsey N
Stephen DiNatale N
Paul J. Donato Y
Christopher Donelan N
Joseph Driscoll N
James Eldridge N
Lewis Evangelidis Y
James Fagan Y
Christopher Fallon N
Mark Falzone N
Robert Fennell N
John Fernandes N
Michael Festa N
Barry Finegold N
Jennifer Flanagan N
David Flynn Y
Linda Dorcena Forry N
Gloria Fox N
John Fresolo Y
Paul Frost Y
William Galvin N
Colleen Garry Y
Susan Gifford Y
Anne Gobi N
Thomas Golden N
Mary Grant N
William Greene Y
Denis Guyer N
Patricia Haddad N
Geoffrey Hall N
Robert Hargraves Y
Lida Harkins N
Brad Hill N
Kevin Honan N
Donald Humason Y
Frank Hynes Y
Jim O'Day N
Bradley Jones N
Louis Kafka N
Michael Kane Y
Rachel Kaprielian N
Jay Kaufman N
John Keenan N
Thomas Kennedy N
Kay Khan N
Peter Kocot N
Robert Koczera N
Peter Koutoujian N
Paul Kujawski N
Stephen Kulik N
William Lantigua Y
Stephen LeDuc N
John Lepper Y
David Linsky N
Barbara L'Italien N
Paul Loscocco N
Elizabeth Malia N
Ronald Mariano N
James Marzilli N
Allen McCarthy N
Paul McMurtry N
James Miceli Y
Michael Moran N
Kevin Murphy N
Charles Murphy N
James Murphy Y
David Nangle Y
Patrick Natale N
Harold Naughton, Jr. N
Robert Nyman N
Eugene O'Flaherty N
Matthew Patrick N
Sarah Peake N
Vincent Pedone N
Alice Peisch N
Jeffrey Perry Y
Douglas Petersen N
George Peterson Y
Thomas Petrolati Y
Anthony Petruccelli N
Smitty Pignatelli N
Elizabeth Poirier Y
Karyn Polito Y
Denise Provost N
Angelo Puppolo N
John Quinn N
Kathi-Anne Reinstein N
Bob Rice N
Pamela Richardson N
Michael Rodrigues N
Mary Rogeness Y
John Rogers N
Richard Ross N
Michael Rush Y
Byron Rushing N
Jeffrey Sanchez N
Rosemary Sandlin N
Tom Sannicandro N
Angelo Scaccia Y
John Scibak N
Carl Sciortino N
Stephen Stat Smith N
Frank Israel Smizik N
Todd Smola Y
Theodore Speliotis N
Robert Spellane N
Christopher Speranzo N
Joyce Spiliotis Y
Marie St. Fleur DNV
Harriett Stanley N
Thomas Stanley N
Ellen Story N
William Straus N
David Sullivan N
Benjamin Swan N
Walter Timility Y
Stephen Tobin Y
Timothy Toomey N
David Torrisi N
Eric Turkington N
Cleon Turner N
James Vallee N
Anthony Verga DNV
Joseph Wagner N
Brian Wallace N
Patricia Walrath N
Steven Walsh N
Martin Walsh N
Marty Walz N
Daniel Webster Y
James Welch N
Alice Wolf N

State Senators

Name 6/14/7 Vote
Therese Murray N
Robert Antonioni N
Edward Augustus N
Steven Baddour N
Jarrett Barrios N
Frederick Berry N
Stephen Brewer N
Scott Brown Y
Stephen Buoniconti N
Gale Candaras N
Harriette Chandler N
Robert Creedon Y
Cynthia Stone Creem N
Benjamin Downing N
Susan Fargo N
John Hart N
Robert Havern N
Robert Hedlund Y
Pat Jehlen N
Brian Joyce N
Michael Knapik N
Thomas McGee N
Joan Menard N
Marc Montigny N
Richard Moore Y
Michael Morrissey N
Robert O'Leary N
Marc Pacheco N
Steven Panagiotakos Y
Pamela Resor N
Stanley Rosenberg N
Karen Spilka N
Bruce Tarr N
James Timilty N
Richard Tisei N
Steven Tolman N
Susan Tucker N
Marian Walsh N
Dianne Wilkerson N

Heroic Nonet

A Boston Globe staff short not long after the vote identified nine -- 7 in the house and 2 in the senate -- who changed their votes to ensure the victory. Whether it was for enlightened self-interest (or fear of voters) or love of equality, we should each and all thank:
  • Rep. Christine Canavan, D-Brockton
  • Rep. Paul Kujawski, D-Webster
  • Rep. Paul Loscocco, R-Holliston
  • Rep. Robert Nyman, D-Hanover
  • Rep. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham
  • Rep. James Valee, D-Franklin
  • Rep. Brian Wallace, D-South Boston
  • Sen. Gale Candaras, D-Wilbraham
  • Sen. Michael Morrissey, D-Quincy
I'll ink up a fountain pen for my version. They deserve more than an email each.

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