ConCon adjourns until after election without voting on gay marriage

By a vote of 100-91 (roll call available here), the ConCon has voted to adjourn until November 9 – two days after the Nov. 7 general election – without taking any action on the marriage amendment.  Seems to me that this doesn’t really change much, since there’s no reason they can’t vote on the amendments in November instead of now – except that legislators in this session now will not be held to account for their votes on marriage, since we won’t actually know what they are until it’s too late.  To some degree, it also makes gay marriage a less significant issue in the gubernatorial race, since nothing will happen until the race is over – although of course the Governor doesn’t have any direct role in this process anyway.  [Update] On the other hand, as a couple of commenters have noted, it does make it pretty easy for Kerry Healey to continue her campaign of running as a check on an irresponsible legislature.

So it’s kind of a chickenshit move by the legislature, but there you go.  In any event, there were really only two actions taken of any importance today: killing the health care amendment without a vote (you can see the roll call vote here – thanks rollbiz!), and advancing the “no excuse” absentee voting proposal to the next legislative session. 

This has been a BMG News special report.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.

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28 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Thank You

    Thank you Massachusetts State Legislature for giving Kerry Healey such a wonderful campaign present.

    • ?

      Yeah, right. We all know that giving her a solid, tangible vote AGAINST "sending it to the people" would have been a much bigger gift.

      This action does the most that was possible to neutralize the issue for the Nov. elections.

      • Neutralize It?

        You must be kidding.  Neutralize it?

        This will not neutralize the issue. It will allow some reps to act deceptively through their campaign by posturing that they don't support same sex marriage and them vote for it when there is a very long time before the next election.

        It is essentially an incumbency protection move, which is why I think it is a Profile in Cowardice.

        Full disclosure: I'm red, not blue.

        • Typo

          I meant to type "and then vote for it"...


        • No

          I didn't say that it would completely "neutralize" the issue. I said that it did the most possible to neutralize the issue, which is to say that obviously it will still come up in the campaign.

          If there was a vote, then every individual legislator's campaign opponents would have a solid, definite vote on record this year to point to (one way or another). Now they don't. It's a lot harder to run against someone's position on the amendment when that someone can just say "I'm still thinking about it in advance of the Nov. 9th convention".

          In any case, the Republicans ran on gay marriage in 2004 and it was a disaster. I hope they continue to run on it, because despite what you read on blogs and hear from the real rabble-rousers, this issue has little saliance with the broader public, esp. compared to other issues.

    • Maybe That's What Sal and Trav Wants

      eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  2. Chickenshit move by the legislature...

    ...that's not in my edition of Roberts Rules, but I don't have the Massachusetts version.

    Now what's all this complaining about an arrogant, out-of-control legislature that could care less what voters think? 

    Best news Kerry Healey heard in the last couple of days.

  3. Ratty excuse for a ConCon

    I wonder how they will explain to the voters how come they're not for equal access to health care for all?

    Oh yeah, because the media won't bother to cover it.

  4. RE:

    RE:  Healthcare. Good outcome.  Even Businessmen get representation.

    RE:  Gay marriage.  Good outcome. Sometimes it's best to let an issue ripen before rushing to write a statute or amend a constitution.

    Do nothing legislatures are great! At least it briefly paused its spending to resolve to do nothing.

    • RIPEN?!??!!?

      As I said in my post today, the gay marriage issue in Massachusetts is older than 9/11 and the War on Terror!

      EXACTLY how 'ripe' does an idea need to be for action?  Think we should repeal Prohibition?

      • Brown v. Board was in 1954

        ...yet I attended a segregated school in 1967.  In 1974, segregation would have been absurd.  What a difference a decade makes.

        You so impatient you want a vote in November?

        Gay marriage will become harder and harder (riper and riper) to vote against as months, years pass.

  5. Travaligni....

    Travaligni can now table this to a close AFTFER the election and right before he says he's stepping down as Senate President so Terry can start with a clean slate....


  6. Interesting...

    ...the HOUSE wanted to contineu, it was the SENATE who closed the Session.

    If that's what the hen scratches on that bowling scorecard actually mean....

  7. When are new legislators sworn in?

    Immediately?  In January?  Before or after the ConCon continues?

    Here's why I ask: if the new legislators are part of Con Con, and if the new legislature of 200 is more MassEquality than the last, then delaying the ConCon is in fact an effort to preserve marriage equality by increasing the probability that the legislature comes short of 50 votes.

    So, if the new legislature is part of ConCon and if the MassEquality contingent believes it will be stronger after the next election, then delaying the vote could be a conscious effort to maximize their chances of 151+ votes.

    Just sayin'... doesn't make it true.

    • New legislators are sworn in in January.

      So regardless of whether the ConCon happens before or after the election, it's still within the same legislative session, as Article 48 requires.  If they don't vote before the changeover happens, the proposal dies.

  8. This is an okay outcome.

    Healey gets bupkes out of this, which is a good thing, and everybody else is in a holding pattern.  The vast majority of voters do not have this issue at the top of the Burning Issues list, so this Con Con will be crushed under the accumulated weight of tunnel tiles.  Translated:  Con Con 7/12 = Blip.

  9. What was the legislature supposed to do?

    There were at least 20 amendments on the docket. The anti-SSM one was #20. Numbers 1-19 had to be done, legally, before they could get to number 20.

    I was at the State House when they were just finished up with amendment #4 - and that was at around 4:30. It's a slow process and it didn't seem "chicken" ish to me; they were obeying the law.

    • What could they have done?

      1.  Not first try to leave earlier in the day.  It didn't pass, but it was chickenshit to begin with.  I don't know which legislator was trying to get out of class so early, but he should be crucified by his constituents.  Unfortunately, it's insider baseball stuff and it won't happen.

      2.  Stay later than 4:30.  ConCons are conceptually the biggest projects the leg works on.  When you've got an important project at work, you stay late and get it done.  They should have been there another two hours, minimum.

    • Oh come on, Ryan!

      Did you actually watch the ConCon?  It was unbelievable how much time was wasted.  Every five minutes some legislator was calling for a roll call vote on some procedural point that did not really need it - at one point they actually took a roll call just to see if there was a quorum present.  They could have gotten twice as much done in the time allotted if they had wanted to.

      Furthermore, even assuming they couldn't have gotten through all the items in one day (and I agree there was a lot on the agenda), here are some things they could have done better, had they wanted to:

      1. Move gay marriage to the top of the agenda.  Required unanimous consent, but if they wanted to vote on it yesterday, they could have.

      2. Move enough other business to the end of the calendar that they would have had time to debate gay marriage.  Moving an item to the end requires a majority, not unanimous consent, and this was actually done with two of the more complex amendments (stabilization fund and redistricting).

      3. Adjourn the convention to a date before the November election.  The fact that they did not do this is what led to my "chickenshit" comment.  There is no reason they couldn't have reconvened in August, September, or October.  The legislature is out of session at that point - it's not like they've got anything else to do.

      You're letting them off way too easy if you really think they were just "following the rules."

      • Wasting Time

        Well, as usual, it was mainly the Republicans calling for quorum roll calls and procedural points, so they brought that time-wasting on themselves.

        But obviously this was not about the amount of time available. Clearly the plan from the beginning was to recess before getting to gay marriage.

        For people who think it would be a travesty to have the oldest constitution in the world sullied by an amendment that would limit rights, I don't see how this procedural move is a bad thing.

  10. This is bullshit

    I am pissed over this move. This is a blatant abuse of the system.

    The system requires votes on constitutional amendments in two consecutive system for a very good reason. The People need an opportunity to vote their representatives out of office if they are sufficiently distressed over their actions. A constitutional amendment is a big action, and the gay marriage one is one of the biggest out there.

    So now our legislators get to have this vote without it affecting their electability. It may legally happen in two consecutive sessions, but without an election between the two votes, it's practically in the same session, and a blatant abuse of the process and what it was meant for.

    Anybody want to start a petition for an amendment banning ConCons during the lame duck period?

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