Today’s papers and other newsie sources are chock full o’ marriage news. Here’s some of what I found interesting.
- The most important story, really, is where the votes came from, and why. Kris Mineau’s nonsense notwithstanding, it seems quite clear that MassEquality’s strategy of sending gay and lesbian couples into the offices of legislators around the state worked brilliantly. Here is a nice report by Lisa Wangsness and Andrea Estes of several such stories. The lede:
Representative Richard J. Ross, a Republican from Wrentham, had a revelation Wednesday afternoon after meeting with a gay Republican who presented him with this challenge: As director of his family’s funeral home, Ross had surely treated every family the same, no matter what their race, religion, or sexual orientation. So why would he do anything else in his other job, as a lawmaker?
- One of course expects the Globe’s editorial page to be happy, and they are. More interesting are the much more conservative Boston Herald’s editorialists, who, whatever their views on gay marriage itself (which remain uncertain), are happy to have seen the process played out fairly — and harsh on those who sought to use it for political advantage.
Yesterday’s defeat of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage represents not just a victory for gay couples, but a loss for those who cynically sought political advantage by favoring the most uncompromising version of such an amendment. The latter, like presidential contender Mitt Romney, got what they deserved.
As we noted yesterday, nowhere in the Constitution is there guaranteed the right to a popular vote on a constitutional amendment. Lawmakers had a set of proscribed rules to follow, and with only slight variation here and there (and after some not-so-gentle prodding by the Supreme Judicial Court), they managed to follow those rules yesterday.
The Herald also notes, quite correctly, that (as Cos has already observed) electoral politics played a significant role in what happened yesterday.
[T]he citizens have indeed had an opportunity to weigh in – at the ballot box, in legislative elections. And given their opportunity to weigh in, a sufficient number of lawmakers chose to uphold the right for gay couples to marry.
- The NYT’s report has a particularly hilarious quote from an angry Kris Mineau:
Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, did not indicate whether opponents would start a new petition drive, but said, “We’re not going away.” He added, “We want to find out why votes switched and see what avenues are available to challenge those votes, perhaps in court.”
“Perhaps in court.” Let’s see, what term would I use to describe a judge who would even consider an inquiry into the motivations behind a vote taken in the legislature? Hint: it rhymes with “cracktivist.”
- We should talk more about Peter Gelzinis’s columns here — he’s a fine writer whose work tends to be so intensely local that it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. He’s one of those guys who’s really skilled at taking a single person’s story and spinning it into a much bigger commentary. From his piece today:
Perhaps Matthew Machnik sensed the end was at hand. Standing beneath an elm across from the State House, this 23-year-old disciple of the Lord shifted his incantations into overdrive….
Evidently, all lines to the Great Beyond were busy. [Heh. -ed.] …
Ironically, Matthew was a good deal younger than the majority of his fellow disciples who clutched green signs proclaiming “Let The People Vote.” Most of them, in fact, looked like Elinor Rafferty, a silver-haired woman from Braintree who did not hesitate to venture across the DMZ of Beacon Street to get squarely in the face of Sen. Brian Joyce…. Joyce called the vote an hour before it was taken. He explained that it wasn’t so much a matter of counting heads as understanding that the generational divide stretched out along both sides of Beacon Street would only continue to grow wider with time.
Indeed, the slightly smaller crowd huddled on the south side of the street, steeped in scripture and anxiety, looked older and angrier than the crowd yelling, “This is What Marriage Looks Like.” “The tide of history is clearly with us,” said Steven Cohen, a Boston real estate agent, who was standing with Bruce Withey, his partner of 20 years and husband of three, along with their two sons, Jeremy and Aaron. “All issues involving civil rights – and this is certainly such an issue – tend not only to move toward consensus,” Steven Cohen said. “But in the end, they move the rest of society to a more just place. This is what we want for our two sons. And that’s why it was important for us and our children to be here today.”
Charlie Freeman, a high school janitor, who said he came out of the closet at 21 to finally give true meaning to his surname, said that the message of the day was captured in the sign that read: “Pontius Pilate let the people vote. And look how that turned out.” [Double heh. -ed.]
- Howie Carr and Jeff Jacoby are of course upset with what happened yesterday. Most of Carr’s commentary is nonsense, since he (deliberately?) conflates the procedure for putting proposed laws on the ballot with proposed constitutional amendments.
The people used to put referendum questions on the ballot, and if the measures passed, the Legislature enforced the new laws. Then, about 10 years ago, the solons got high-handed – the referendum questions were still allowed on the ballot, but once they were passed, the General Court felt free to ignore the people?s mandate. Now, after yesterday?s Flag Day fiasco, it appears we are no longer allowed to vote on questions that might offend the Politically Correct.
*snore*. We’ve explained this so many times that there’s really no point in doing so again (short version: the lege has no gatekeeper role for proposed laws; it obviously does have such a role for proposed constitutional amendments). Just one technical point: a “referendum” is actually a way of suspending or repealing a law that the lege has enacted. The procedure for directly enacting new laws is the “initiative.” If Howie’s going to obfuscate, he should at least get his terminology straight.
Jacoby, for his part, acknowledges defeat in MA, but sees the potential for extraterritorial repercussions:
It is only a matter of time before a same-sex couple married in Massachusetts finds a federal judge prepared to rule that under the US Constitution, their marriage license must be granted “full faith and credit” by every other state. Same-sex marriage will be the law of the land. Only a federal marriage amendment can keep that from happening. Today’s vote may have settled the issue in Massachusetts. It has unsettled it everywhere else.
Oh, and by the way, the sky is falling. Or hadn’t you noticed?
- Jon Keller likes Governor Patrick’s admonition not to be ungracious in victory.
Every time you start to wonder why you once liked Patrick, he gets off a line like this one: “The folks on the other side of this question are still our brothers and sisters. And we need them tomorrow and the next day and the day after that if we are together going to confront and solve the challenges facing up economically or in the public schools or on broken roads and bridges and a health care system we are trying to reinvent and a whole list of other issues on which we must come together.”
Patrick-haters will scoff. I say, that’s an excellent sentiment, beautifully phrased, and delivered in timely fashion.
Hear hear. Keller also correctly notes that some other local Dems haven’t always been as stalwart in their support of what happened yesterday.
And yet, high gas prices and longstanding concerns over air pollution and internet spam didn’t stop [Senator John] Kerry from also issuing the statement we’d all been waiting for, the profound, decisive comment that helps ease the frustration of “The Sopranos” inconclusive ending: his reaction to today’s defeat of the gay-marriage ban. [Keller then quotes Kerry’s statement praising yesterday’s vote.] No…, thank YOU, Senator, for all your you-know-what-to-the-wall support for gay marital rights over the years!
What’s that? You supported (link) a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage here, with the oh-so-convenient fig leaf of also supporting “civil union rights” a.k.a. non-marriage?
Touché. Here’s hoping Senator Kerry comes around unequivocally on gay marriage sooner rather than later.
That’s enough for now. More to come, no doubt!