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11/10/2008

A mandate against man dates: Emboldened anti-gays vow for more hurt

by Jeremy Hooper

Think the anti-gays are content with simply tarnishing California's progressive legacy? Well think again. This from The Boston Herald:

The success of a measure to ban gay marriage in California has inspired local opponents to consider mounting another signature drive to get the issue on the ballot in Massachusetts.

“We’re much encouraged by the results in California, and there’s no doubt in our minds, had we been on the ballot Tuesday, our measure would have won,” said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, which opposes gay marriage.

200811100829Oh Kris. "Win"? No, no. A Mass. marriage ban might have passed (though it's unlikely). But passage will never equal a win. Why? Because using religiously-motivated bias to thwart others' constitutional freedoms will never, ever, ever be a victory. Some of us realize this fact now, while others won't recognize it for several years down the road. But it's a 100% certainty that when the archival footage from this early 21st century civil rights fight is edited by future documentarians, it will be anti-gay side whose clips are underscored with ominous music!

The only true "win" will come when reasoned constitutional scholars grant gay and lesbian citizens the rights and benefits they deserve, and the anti-gay side reacts with acceptance rather than by acting as if the "activist judges" have simply floated an idea for their "pro-family" approval. Until then, all of us - gays, heteros, allies, civics teachers, wedding planners -- are losing out.

Group mulls try to ban gay marriage [Boston Herald]

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Your thoughts

Does anyone remember how many times they've tried to change the Massachusetts constitution?

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Nov 10, 2008 10:21:00 AM

Something Kris and his ill ilk need to keep in mind: we've had marriage equality here in Mass. for 4-1/2 years now, and our voters know the sky isn't falling, sex-ed classes haven't started showing porn to first-graders, and that even people who don't like gay people acknowledge that marriage equality has not been the end of the world.

So the ads that were run in CA will not work in Mass. because our voters know better because they've lived with marriage equality and seen the good that it does and the lack of harm caused to the antis. The lies the opposition tells are obvious here. And we've got an awesome governor who went out on a limb immediate to support our rights, and who has a lesbian daughter whom he loves. And he's black.

In addition, blessedly, the evangelicals don't have as much of a hold on the right-wing in Mass. as they do in other places.

That doesn't mean we would not be as complacent as too many of our brothers and sisters and allies in CA, but maybe now we'd be better prepared.

Posted by: tjc | Nov 10, 2008 11:48:25 AM

Well, I'm no expert in MA law, but I do seem to recall that a voter initiative cannot overturn the MA decision mandating same-sex marriage. In fact, art. 48, sec. 2 of the MA constitution states just that:

"Section 2. Excluded Matters. - No measure that relates to religion, religious practices or religious institutions; or to the appointment, qualification, tenure, removal, recall or compensation of judges; OR TO THE REVERSAL OF A JUDICIAL DECISION; or to the powers, creation or abolition of courts; or the operation of which is restricted to a particular town, city or other political division or to particular districts or localities of the commonwealth; or that makes a specific appropriation of money from the treasury of the commonwealth, shall be proposed by an initiative petition; but if a law approved by the people is not repealed, the general court shall raise by taxation or otherwise and shall appropriate such money as may be necessary to carry such law into effect.

[. . .]

NO PART OF THE CONSTITUTION SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDING ANY MATTER FROM THE OPERATION OF THE POPULAR INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM SHALL BE THE SUBJECT OF AN INITIATIVE PETITION; NOR SHALL THIS SECTION BE THE SUBJECT OF SUCH A PETITION." (emphases added)

As I recall, that's why there was all the screaming and yelling IN THE LEGISLATURE when the decision first came out.

Anybody know anything solid about this?

Posted by: Steve | Nov 10, 2008 12:45:26 PM

Steve asks, "Anybody know anything solid about this?"
Yes.
Whether or not the Mass amendment would have been a "reversal of a judicial decision" was addressed by the SJC (Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court), which found that it would NOT be considered a reversal to amend the constitution to prohibit marriage equality. In general, that construct would prohibit an attempt to overturn a civil case of Smith v. Jones, a specific criminal case, or something like that.

Much more here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Massachusetts

The difference is the way the initiative process works in Massachusetts. For a constitutional amendment, an initiative petition must get x number of signatures (where x is based on votes cast in the most recent election for governor), and then have two successive legislatures vote to approve it by 25% of the body (50 votes, a very small hurdle). This was a check included in the process to prevent just any old garbage from being enshrined in the constitution (the Mass constitution has enough of that already -- it's the oldest in-use governing document in the world). Our job was to convince legislators to to THEIR job and vote down this amendment because it didn't deserve to be in the constitution. Getting 50 votes for something (even twice) isn't that hard, but getting 150 votes against something is. And some members had to be convinced that "doing their job" meant voting against this thing, and not merely passing it along to "the people" to decide.


Posted by: tjc | Nov 10, 2008 2:35:27 PM

Thanks, tjc, which just serves as yet another reminder that laws don't mean what they say but what the courts say that they say.

For those interested in the MA amendment process (by voter initiative), the relevant MA constitutional provisions are (amendments section) art. 48.4 and art. 81. The most relevant provision here is art. 48.4, sec. 4. The provision I quoted earlier is more fully cited as (amendments section) art. 48.2, sec. 2. (Be advised, though, that the format isn't necessarily entirely "Bluebook" correct; I didn't bother to check the most correct citation format.)

Posted by: Steve | Nov 11, 2008 10:14:59 AM

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