Two amendments were considered at the constitutional convention.
The first amendment, one that would change existing marriage laws in Massachusetts by excluding same-sex couples, was voted on and passed today in its first joint-legislative session and constitutional convention, and requires passage in a second joint-legislative session, where if it does, will require passage by statewide ballot in 2008 where it would amend the constitution.
The second amendment, one that would enshrine the right to affordable and equitably financed health care for all residents in the state constitution, was not voted upon because the motion to release it from committee did not pass. Late in December, the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled in a law-suit filed by supporters of the health care amendment, without consultation of the equal-marriage supporters, that the legislature must vote on the merits of both amendments. The vote on the merits of the health care amendment never happened.
GRP co-chair Wendy Van Horne, responded, saying, “the SJC was clear that the legislature must vote on the merits of the amendments, we are disappointed with the results of the vote on equal marriage, and will be there to defeat it when it comes up again, but the vote on the health care amendment never even happened, and that’s unconstitutional and directly circumvents the instructions of the SJC.”
The amendment, which if passed today would have gone to the 2008 ballot, is now officially dead. Van Horne, who also works as a registered nurse, called it “a missed opportunity” by the legislature to easily help “pass a popular referendum that would dramatically help every resident of the commonwealth.”
Seconds after the amendment died and before adjourning, the legislature broke out in cheers and applause, recognizing outgoing legislators.
Grace Ross, recent GRP candidate for governor, also identified steps for moving forward, “Delaying the opportunity for real universal health care hurts, but today is also an opportunity- we know that protecting human rights, whether it be for marriage or health care, is not done and cannot be done in a vacuum. We need to all come together and demand a better government and a better life- we need to demand and fight for what’s good for everybody. If we can work collectively to achieve what we want, then the uncertainty and insane outcomes that we witnessed today will fade away. The Green-Rainbow Party invites all of its coalition partners to be part of that movement that is working to transform our world into the place we need it to be.”
The anti-marriage amendment will be considered again, possibly later this year, in a second joint-legislative session. The Green-Rainbow Party has vowed to remain an advocate for equal marriage rights and will support all constitutional means to defeat the amendment and any others that remove rights in the future.