Lawmakers in the Bay State have tossed out a Constitutional amendment that would have allowed voters to decide whether to bring back the days of state sponsored discrimination against same-sex Americans.
BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts lawmakers threw out a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday that would have let voters decide whether to ban gay marriage in the only state that allows it.
The vote – which came amid heavy pressure to kill the measure from Gov. Deval Patrick and legislative leaders – was a devastating blow to efforts to reverse a historic 2003 court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
“Today’s vote is not just a victory for marriage equality. It was a victory for equality itself,” said Patrick, who had lobbied lawmakers up until the final hours to kill the measure.
As the tally was announced, the halls of the Statehouse erupted in applause.
Governor Deval Patrick and legislative leaders lobbied hard against the bill, and their efforts on behalf of marriage equality paid off today. The bill needed 50 votes (out of 200 seats) in two consecutive sittings. In the last sitting, it managed 62 votes, but with only 45 this time, the bill would have to start over.
More after the fold…
Former Governor Mitt Romney said “Marriage is an institution that goes to the heart of our society, and our leaders can no longer abdicate their responsibility”. He called the vote a “regrettable setback”.
From the AP article:
“We believe it’s unconstitutional not to allow people to vote on this,” said Rebekah Beliveau, a 24-year-old Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary student who stood with fellow college-age amendment supporters across the street from the Statehouse.
“We’re standing up not necessarily on the issue of same-sex marriage, but our right to vote,” she said. Advocates said they had gathered 170,000 signatures supporting the amendment; the secretary of state’s office accepted 123,000 as valid.
Apparently, Ms. Beliveau was never instructed in primary school that Americans don’t have the right to vote away other Americans’ right to be treated equally. Perhaps the good folks at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary will be kind enough to set her straight, but somehow I have my doubts.
I find myself intrigued by something said by Republican Representative Richard Ross, who voted for the bill last go-round, but against it this time:
Among those who switched was Rep. Richard Ross, a Wrentham Republican who said there was no trading for his vote.
Ross said he no longer believes that people should vote on the matter, and feared that “hatred and vitriol” would dominate the ballot question campaign.
“Nine thousand of them have now married, who have blended into society, who have hurt no one,” Ross said. “I just couldn’t see exposing them to all of that stuff over the next two years.
“I know there’s going to be a lot of folks that I need to apologize to in my district,” he said. “Whatever happens I’m moving forward. I know I did the right thing.”
Yes ladies and gentlemen, that actually was uttered by a Republican. Perhaps there is hope for this country yet.
Further encouragement came from across the street from Ms. Beliveau’s camp of pro-discrimination folks.
Across the road, gay marriage advocates stood on the front steps of the capital waving signs that read, “Wrong to Vote on Rights” and “All Families Are Equal.”
Jean Chandler, 62, of Cambridge, came with fellow members of her Baptist church in an effort to rebuff the image that strict followers of the Bible are opposed to gay marriage.
“I think being gay is like being left-handed,” Chandler said. “If we decided left-handed people couldn’t marry, what kind of society would we be?”
I think there was a left-handed compliment in there somewhere, but it’s good to see Christian folks standing up to the vocal minority of nutters who share their name.
The article concludes on a sour-puss note, however.
House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, a Democrat from Boston, worked on lawmakers to get them to oppose the measure, arguing that the rights of a minority group should not be put to a popular vote.
Mineau, the Massachusetts Family Institute, said his group was vastly outspent by gay marriage supporters. “It certainly does appear that money speaks in this building,” he said.
Mineau pledged to continue fighting but wouldn’t commit to presenting another proposed amendment.
“I don’t believe it’s dead because the people have not had the opportunity to have their vote,” he said. “This will not go away until the citizens have their opportunity to decide what the definition of marriage is.”
Dear Mr. Mineau,
Which part of “Americans cannot legally have their rights taken away by popular vote” did you find difficult to understand in Civics class?