June 11, 2007

Help save same-sex marriage in Massachusetts!

Hi everyone,

If you are in Massachusetts right now, we need you.

There is a Constitutional Convention on June 14th (this Thursday) that could put gay marriage on the PUBLIC BALLOT. This would be a very bad thing, and could result in the loss of the right to marry for same-sex couples in Massachusetts.

Here are three things you can do right now to help:

1. Look at these interactive maps.
Contact your friends and family and ask them to contact their legislators. Take a look at the interactive maps above to see who the anti-marriage legislators are. If you know people who live in the cities or towns highlighted in red, make sure they know how important it is for them to contact their legislators.

2. Contact your legislators, write to your newspaper, call, donate, or volunteer.

3. Attend the Constitutional Convention.
State House, Beacon St. (Park Street T Stop)
Boston, MA
On: June 14, 2007
From 7:00 am to 3:30 pm

The anti-marriage orgs will be bussing people in from out of state, so it's really important that we have a strong showing at the Convention.

This Thursday, our legislators will vote on a discriminatory amendment that would take the right to marry away from same-sex couples.

We have one last chance to stop this amendment before it goes on the ballot.

Take a moment right now to help protect marriage equality for generations to come.


Anonymous said...

I'm a little confused by all of this. I obviously support gay marriage from a legal standpoint, but the entire point of bringing this amendment to the ballot is to let the people of Massachusetts decide what marriage means for them. Regardless of one's political position on gay marriage I'm not sure it makes sense for us to say that in a democracy like the United States, people shouldn't have a right to vote on political issues. To not allow the people to vote, when support for such an amendment exists, amounts to political silencing.

In our quest to ensure marriage equality, we shouldn't obstruct another right-- the civil right to vote on a ballot, and the ensuing respect for the will of the majority-- on what constitutes an important issue for many voters.

Furthermore, and I could be wrong on this, but given that MA is such a liberal state to begin with, is there really much of a cause for concern? Isn't it likely that this bill, should it come to fruition, and given the proper advocacy on the queer front, would not be accepted by the citizens of MA?

Surely a decision based on the will of the majority bears more legitimacy than one reached by a court of seven members. If the amendment was to be voted on, and then fail, I think it might to better for the queer rights movement than trying to avoid letting the citizens tackle the issue.


mk said...

Leaving minority rights up to a majority vote is a bad idea. We've seen it before and we'll see it again. Given that 9 states already voted marriage amendments into their constitutions--effectively barring same-sex marriage in those states until someone can manage to overturn those laws--I'm not inclined to let the voters of Massachusetts take away my right to marry, no matter how liberal I think the state may be.

bat dor said...

(Disclosure/disclaimer: I'm a MassEquality staffer, and the views I express here are solely my own.)

Anonymous, thank you for posting. You've articulated many of the more persuasive yet intellectually dishonest arguments made by those supporting this anti-gay constitutional amendment, and given me the opportunity to debunk them. I'm going to take them one by one, and paraphrase a bit.

1. "The United States is a democracy."

The United States is NOT a democracy. It is a democratic republic: we the people elect representatives to be our voices in government. But not just our voices. To quote Edmund Burke, "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion." Don't like the judgment of your elected representative? Call. Write. Get involved. And, if the shmuck just won't listen to you, good news: ultimate redress is available every other November.

Why do we do it this way? To protect minorities while still allowing everyone the greatest possible latitude to exercise their own individual civil liberties.

2. "Gay people getting married to each other is a political issue."

Creating some new separate legal status for same-sex couples -- for example, domestic partnerships, or civil unions -- would be a political issue.

But marriage as a civil institution already exists. Allowing same-sex couples access to this EXISTING institution is not, in and of itself, a political issue.

The fact that people consider same-sex marriage to be a political issue is a victory of the religious right, which has effectively used (some might say hijacked) the political process in Massachusetts in their pursuit of the integration of church and state.

3. "Voting on a ballot is a civil right."

I'm not a constitutional scholar, but I know some of our readers are. Could someone of the law-school-attending persuasion address this one?

Also, see #1.

3. "There is support for an amendment banning gay marriage."

Let's put this "support" in perspective. 6,400,000 people live in Massachusetts, according to Wikipedia/the last census.

VoteOnMarriage.org claims that 170,000 people signed their petition asking for this Constitutional amendment. Secretary of State Galvin's office only certified 123,000 of those. Of those 123,000, literally hundreds of cases of fraud have been reported. (I hate using soft numbers; after the Constitutional Convention when I get a spare minute, I'll look up the exact numbers. Watch this space.)

4. "Massachusetts is such a liberal/educated/progressive/etc state that if gay marriage goes on the ballot, the citizenry will vote the amendment down."

First, Massachusetts isn't. I canvassed all over this state for five months, and I'm friends with folks who have been going door-to-door on this issue for over a year. Massachusetts residents are not overwhelmingly gay-friendly, folks. Sorry.

Second, this is a red herring -- a distractor that draws attention away from the real issue. Whether this amendment would pass at the ballot is beside the point. Access of gays and lesbians to the civil institution of marriage should not be subject to a popular vote. Period.

5. "Those judges shouldn't have decided such an important issue."

Five words: Brown versus Board of Education.

bat dor said...

Also, mk, I'm sad to say that 26 states have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage. The only state in which a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage has failed is Arizona -- and that was because (arguably) enough senior citizens and straight people were scared into thinking that the wording of this particular amendment would somehow impinge upon THEIR civil liberties.

mk said...

Sigh. I'll defer to your stastics, Bat Dor. I was of course referring to the 9 to so famously pass their amendments during the 2004 elections- I'll admit to being a bit of an ostrich since then, disheartened by the whole thing. But that update makes my point even stronger: if more than half of the states' constituencies can't be trusted to vote on minority rights, why should that of Massachusetts?

Anonymous said...

bat_dor and icarus deserve shout-outs for their hard work!

Congrats! It's great to see it all pay off.

We still have more battles to win but those of you who have worked so hard on this deserve a big pat on the back.