Thursday, September 15, 2005

One State Free, But It's Not Over Yet

Yes, this is good news. I particularly liked the Wash Post's article on the vote:

Even though the amendment under consideration was known to be dead beforehand, its killing took on a party atmosphere.

First, there were speeches, from legislators who compared Massachusetts's place in the national debate to the radical role the state's Minutemen played in the Revolutionary War.

"We are as out of step today as we were on the village green in Lexington and Concord," said state Sen. Edward M. Augustus Jr. (D). "Massachusetts has always been the conscience of the nation."


Gotta like the twist opponents of the amendment used linking their support for gay rights to the fight for freedom exercised by the Massachusetts Bay Colonists during the Revolutionary War. If there's anything conservative reconstructionists hate, it's when progressives take back our history and unite the founders with our causes.

As for the current situation, in 2004, the constitutional amendment (crafted by Massachusetts state legislators in response to the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision in 2003 allowing gay marriage) banning gay marriage but allowing civil unions in Massachusetts passed by a 105-92 margin.

But because the constitutional amendment process in Massachusetts requires a proposed amendment pass in two consecutive legislative sessions before it could go to the voters in 2006, another vote was needed this year. This second vote on the measure was defeated soundly yesterday, 157-39.

What happened? Apparently some legislators who had voted for the measure the first time and initially opposed gay marriage, have had time to have second thoughts. Time that also allowed public opinion to become more favorable to gay marriage, time for the (no sky falling) results of gay marriage to be seen, and time for legislative supporters of gay marriage to face the voters after their votes and come away unharmed.

Unfortunately, the spin from anti-gay forces is that the current amendment's failing is just fine with them, since they didn't want even the civil unions permitted by the amendment allowed. What's more, anti-gay groups are pushing a new, anti-gay marriage, anti-civil unions "citizen's initiative petition" which

unlike a legislative constitutional amendment, ...needs just 50 votes in each of two successive constitutional conventions in order to be put to voters.

So the bar for passing a hostile amendment is much lower using this tactic. According to the NYT, the soonest this new anti-gay amendment could go to the voters would be 2008. Coupled with the highly financed opposition of groups like Focus on the Family, gay rights groups are not taking anything for granted in Massachusetts.

But today is a good day nonetheless. And the fact that a majority of Massachusetts voters approves of gay marriage means anti gay forces will have an uphill battle to fight in their efforts to scare people about how gay marriages will impact the lives and marriages of heterosexuals and the security of American families.

1 comment:

mondale/ferraro foreva! said...

yeah, this is great news! nice to see how time can change a controversial issue to one where people realize no harm and only good comes from advancing people's rights - oh yeah!