Pressing the flesh
Silbert says ditch the amendment
Many strong supporters of same-sex marriage seem to be wavering on the issue of killing the current initiative petition for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage by any means necessary or putting it to an up or down vote a vote marriage equality advocates say theyd lose. Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Andrea Silbert is not among them. In an Aug. 3 debate on NECN between Silbert and her opponents Tim Murray and Deb Goldberg, the candidates were asked whether or not the Legislature should put the initiative petition to an up or down vote. Murray, the mayor of Worcester, and Goldberg, the former chair of the Brookline Board of Selectman, both have exemplary records on LGBT issues and are committed marriage equality supporters; both said the Legislature should vote on the issue. Silbert, the founder of the Center for Women and Enterprise, disagreed. “I think this issue has been settled; it was settled by the courts, we need to move on, so no,” she told debate moderator Jim Braude. Similarly, in an NECN gubernatorial debate last month, Democratic Attorney General Tom Reilly, a marriage equality supporter, said the Legislature should take a vote on the proposed amendment. Deval Patrick expressed his preference that the Legislature not vote on it. Chris Gabrieli refused to answer the question.
Elaborating on her comments in an interview with Bay Windows, Silbert makes an argument that seems to have gotten lost amid public chastisements that legislative proponents of marriage equality should play fair on the issue (never mind “Let the people vote” mantra put forth my gay marriage opponents): Its not really a good idea to put a civil rights issue that has already been settled by the courts to a public vote. “It really concerns me that the way our system is set up we have checks and balances and the majority is not to vote on various things that take rights away from the minority,” said Silbert. “So that is my big concern with this ballot amendment.”
Silbert didnt want to discuss the way in which shed like to see the Legislature dispose of the initiative petition. “Im not going to get into the procedures,” she said. “I think the big issue that weve got to talk about is the courts have ruled. Weve got to move on. MassEqualitys position is that it shouldnt go forward and I echo that position. I think that the court has ruled, this has come forward once before, theyre putting it forward yet again and I dont see that it needs to move forward any further. I think that the issue has been done and resolved.”
Silbert also has no time for the “Let the people vote” argument. “We do have the courts here to protect us from the tyranny of the majority,” she points out. “I think we need to keep the conversation there because if we devolve into this procedural discussion I think were losing sight of the major civil rights issue, which is that our constitution, our system of checks and balances is set up just so something will not go before the people of this nature. So I think that the other side has successfully pulled it down so the conversation is all about procedure. It isnt about procedure. Its about protecting civil rights.”