This is ultimately a question over who should bear final responsibility for establishing, maintaining, and protecting our rights as citizens of our Commonwealth. I, for one, say ALL OF US. In an act that became the model for the process that produced our Federal Constitution, We, the People of Massachusetts, voted to ratify our State Constitution. We constituted this government, not the Legislature. They are wrong to stand between the People and our Constitution. We bear the ultimate responsibility for the organic process that we call our constitutional democracy, not any one single branch of government.
Depending on the moment, many of those who approve of the Legislature’s well-intentioned, yet misguided actions allude to a “tyranny of the minority” (the petitioners) or a “tyranny of the majority” (the voters). What is better? Concentrating the decision-making power in the hands of 200 people or, better yet, 7? In the moment, that may seem comforting, but in the long run, it is a prescription for the same tyrannical abuses of the “executive” (King George III) and the legislature (parliament) that led to this whole thing that we like to call democracy.
Does this set us up for a pleasant, riskless process? Of course not. But I very respectfully remind folks, democracy has always been painful, it has always been costly, it has always been inefficient. And if it done correctly in a state of millions and a nation of hundreds of millions, it always will be that way. Yet, to paraphrase Churchill, it remains the worst form of government except for all the others that we try from time to time. Why is it the best of the lot? Because ultimate responsibility is borne by all of us. I assure you that we risk far, far more by allowing the Legislature or the courts to assume our own responsibilities (and powers) than we do by embracing a true government “by the People and for the People.”
The Legislature should vote. They should vote “no.” If they are unable to muster the 151 votes necessary to stop this in a procedurally-legitimate manner in either of the consecutive ConCons, then we should be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to assure the rights of same sex couples AND the integrity of our constitutional government.