Thursday, November 09, 2006
A Potentially Happy Day
Here's how it works: the proposed amendment has to pass with at least 25 percent of the legislators voting for it. Then it has to pass again at another Convention in the future for it to get on the 2008 ballot. Polls indicate that an overwhelming number of voters here would vote to kill the amendment and preserve gay marriage if it did come to a public vote, BUT:
1) that's two years off and who knows what will happen in those two years;
2) there's a very valid arguement to be made that civil rights matters shouldn't be put before a public vote possibly tainted by bigotry, but brought into law by the government to protect ALL citizens;
3) a certain number of our legislators are scared stiff to have their names put on the public record as either for or against such a loaded, super-sensitive question.
So, they're putting any bit of business they can before the anti-gay marriage amendment while feverishly trying to get enough support together to declare the Convention adjourned. That way, they can duck the whole thing, allowing the amendment to die a natural death. How would this be bad?
Well, for one thing there's a counter arguement being made that having the public vote would be the utimate verification of such an issue, one way or the other, in our democracy. However if the Legislature "votes" by not voting but killing the amendment, that would be a demonstration that the Legislature had made the decision, which is what other voices are calling for, rather than have the issue decided by "activist judges."
So, there the issue sits. After all the politicing is over, I rather expect to hear this evening that the Convention voted to adjourn, allowing the anti-gay marriage amendment to slip safely through the cracks and disappear . . . and preserving the cover of every member of the Massachusetts Legislature.
END OF DAY UPDATE: Well, as they used to say, you heard it here first.
The legislature filled its day with everything it could find, including an amendment proposal that would ban the recognition of gay marriages from anywhere out of state. They voted that one down resoundingly. Then when they'd run the clock out as much as they could, they took a vote to adjourn--that passed.
To get on the ballot in 2008, the amendment has to have a passing vote in this session of the Legislature (last day of the session: January 2, 2007) and a passing vote in 2008. So, part of the adjournment vote was to reschedule the next consideration of the anti-marriage amendment for January 2, 2007 at some time after 2pm. Effectively, it's dead--they'll run the clock out again before a vote can be taken, the session will end , and that will be that.
By the way, were the amendment ever to have reached the voters and passed, existing same-sex marriages would not have been voided out. The 8000+ gay and lesbian marriages would stand, but no more would have been legally possible.
Maybe the rest of the nation will one day look at MA and realize... hey... the sky didn't fall over there.
Switching topics, but staying on politics per Will's last few posts, check this out:
Bipartisanship on Hold. God the man makes me want to throw up.