Monday, July 14, 2008

Shooing The Dark-Hearted Quartet

Like a four-tined fork in the tender skin of equality, the mean-spirited quartet of marriage laws has strained and stained our fabric of liberty. For 95 years, Massachusetts alone has turned comity on its head with General Laws Chapter 207, Sections 11, 12, 13 and 50.

Led by a mini-scoop from Bay Windows, the MSM have projected that these restrictions may finally get repealed this week.

I've slathered contempt on this set of laws for nearly three years. Search this blog for 1913 and comity for a sampling. In case you are not a slavish reader here, be aware:
  • This set of laws forbids marrying any out-of-state couple if the marriage could not have been legally performed in their home state(s).
  • Our previous governor and AG, Willard Mitt Romney and Tom Reilly, discovered these unenforced laws to restrict extra-commonwealth homosexual couples from taking advantage of the post-Goodridge liberty.
  • No other state likewise restricted marriages in "respect" for comity. Instead, that concept is to ensure recognition of the others' marriages and such, not to tailor your own as limits.
Despite the feeble lie that these laws have nothing to do with race, their roots decidedly burrow into racial fear and restrictions. They came into law right after black boxing champion Jack Johnson married one, than another, white woman. The 1910 Mann Act was used almost exclusively against black men and came into being with a panicked set of false claims of white women being enslaved and sold for sex. Out of this national mood came our own shameful version.

We hear the resounding echoes of such irrational panic today. In this case, like dandelion seeds, gay marriages will spread to cover the land. First from Massachusetts and now from California, Lord save us, the queers are exporting their marriages throughout the nation. They'll surely populate the major cities and sue for recognition. They'll win some cases and then...then...then...

Then, nothing.

The fantasy that these laws will restrain legally married lesbian or gay couples is absurd. They have the right to take other jobs or for any reason move about. No Massachusetts border fence, physical or legal, can exist. Moreover, there are a few states, including Rhode Island and New Mexico that do not forbid same-sex marriage. Their residents can trot here, wed and return.

The usual anti-gay folk barely seem to realize that SSM is legal here or that they can't lock couples into the commonwealth. As the Massachusetts Family Institute put it last week:

The so-called "1913 law" was enforced by then Governor Mitt Romney and then Attorney General Tom Reilly in 2004 to prevent homosexual couples from around the country from flocking to Massachusetts, getting "married," and then returning to their states and suing for recognition. On other words, the Massachusetts' problem of homosexual marriage would not be exported or forced upon other unwilling states as it had been thrust upon the Commonwealth.

The two oddities here are that these clowns continue to pretend 1) that these laws are not based in upholding bigotry and 2) that the restrictions are anything other just more attempts to hinder and harm homosexuals. Well before Deval Patrick was elected, I called for him to have these repealed as one of his first efforts. We should be about liberty and offering all our citizens the benefits of our own laws. When we import another state's restrictions, we are not true to ourselves.

Not surprisingly, some lefties and GLBT advocates have been predictably timid on calling for repeal. The tactical debates among us who want full marriage equality includes how-far and how-fast and just how. Some feel the day has come. Others point to the many laws and amendments forbidding SSM as proof of the need to go slowly.

Locally for the 1913 set, Rep. Byron Rushing has carried the flag for wrong-headed and archaic laws. In terms of results, he has blown the bugle, but hasn't gotten too many troops to follow him. Even he is cautious. He noted of these laws, "If we had found that law earlier, we probably would have been able to appeal it without any controversy at all."

Well, until Romney and Reilly acted out, the legislature didn't notice. The only naysayers to trashing the laws, outside of those two, were the anti-gay forces screaming their paranoia about couples leaving the state's borders waving their marriage certificates.

Until the court SSM victory in California, even there, many were afraid of pushing the issue in court or elsewhere. It was a modern form of the ancient Greek folk wisdom, kick not against the goads — don't pick a fight you're bound to lose.

I thought again of the gracious and polite South Carolina GLBT community facing the 2006 constitutional one-man/one-woman amendment. Perhaps bolstered by states that passed or upheld gay rights legislation or regulations, they chose to follow a similar tack. Come out. Be polite. Reason pleasantly. Smile. Model good Southern behavior.

I had brief email debates with two leaders there suggesting that this was not the time and that was not the place for supplication and just being nice. That was for a different century.

From the MSM and GLBT press coverage, the pro-equality side was nice. It lost overwhelmingly, getting only 22% of the vote. Theirs was a Blanche DuBois strategy, but depending on the kindness of both strangers and neighbors. We can't ever prove that a more confrontational approach would have beaten back the amendment, but I'm sure it couldn't have lost any worse.

The perceived wisdom seem to be the incrementalism wins eventually. That has not been an effective strategy for most causes most times.

For the life of me, I can't see the benefit of waiting this long to trash these offensive laws. I cannot believe more than a few of our legislators fail to see that these were born of bigotry and remain unseemly artifacts. That has been before the legislature for two years, since our Supreme Judicial Court refused to rule them unconstitutional. They threw it to the lawmakers to fix the statutes. Damned, passive judges!

So here we are years later, with the same messy task before us. Former leader on this, Sen. Jarrett Barrrios is gone. Fortunately, Sen. Dianne Wilkerson stepped right in and is tyring to line up enough votes this week before the law kids go home for a break.

When the obvious can become so tedious, let's keep this in mind when we hear left-wing legislature, activist judges legislating from the bench, and ultra-liberal Massachusetts.

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