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Massachusetts Legislature kills proposed amendment to ban gay marriage.
July 17, 2002 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Massachusetts Legislature kills proposed amendment to ban gay marriage. Is this a breach of grass roots justice? or the majority's right to strip rights from a minority should not be put to a popular or legislative vote?
posted by LinemanBear (37 comments total)

 
Is this a breach of grass roots justice?

This is the courts recognizing that hate is not a privelage of the majority and that mob-rule is not the same as democracy.
posted by plaino at 1:01 PM on July 17, 2002


This is the courts recognizing

Um, plaino...a joint session of the House and Senate derailed ...The courts had nothing to do with anything. This was legislative move.

This American democracy in action, perhaps at its purest: different interest groups working against each other in a lawful way. I see nothing wrong here.
posted by Bag Man at 1:10 PM on July 17, 2002


I sure wish a hot-button issue would come up to force our Legislature to adjourn. Something so controversial that they'd be forced to adjourn ad infinitum. Massachusetts may just be on to something there. Perhaps this was the secret goal of both sides.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:11 PM on July 17, 2002


Oops, my mistake. I had this statement: "Backers of the amendment, who argue that citizens and not judges should define marriage in Massachusetts" from the article stuck in my head when i wrote the comment.
posted by plaino at 1:14 PM on July 17, 2002


I think the legislators have people in each of their districts on both sides of the issue, and it would be better for them not to discuss it at all than to piss off either side. Safer for the status quo and their reputations. People remember what the legislators say, not how they actually voted.
posted by LinemanBear at 1:15 PM on July 17, 2002


This is also the same proposed constitutional amendment for which the petition drive received a great deal of criticism (can't find a quick news story at the moment, but I think this point may have been discussed here as well). The hired signature-gatherers were collecting signatures for two petitions - this one, and another initiative proposing a ban on the sale or slaughter of horses for food. Many people apparently were tricked into signing the gay-marriage-ban one when they thought they were signing the no-horses-for-food one (or, giving the signature solicitors the benefit of the doubt, many people inadvertently signed the one instead of the other). At any rate, the proposal certainly did not have the active support of anywhere near 130,000 people.

The amendment as proposed would also have gone beyond declaring marriage to only be "a union between one man and one woman", but would have also taken away any recognition or benefits already being extended to same-sex partners. It was a bad idea, crafted and carried out by zealots, and was rightly killed.
posted by yhbc at 1:21 PM on July 17, 2002


It was a bad idea, crafted and carried out by zealots, and was rightly killed.

oh, how i long to see that phrase more often.
posted by th3ph17 at 1:23 PM on July 17, 2002


Sure enough! There's the old thread where the two petitions were discussed. The new search engine works pretty quickly now!
posted by yhbc at 1:27 PM on July 17, 2002


It was a bad idea, crafted and carried out by zealots, and was rightly killed.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:28 PM on July 17, 2002


It was a bad idea, crafted and carried out by zealots, and was rightly killed.
posted by luriete at 1:37 PM on July 17, 2002


jinx!

(wow! it's been a while since i've been proud of the government.)
posted by eatdonuts at 1:39 PM on July 17, 2002


It seems to me that the legislature didn't want to find out how the citizens would vote in 2004, so they adjourned instead of debating the merits. It's true; no laws, according to the article, were broken. However, even though I don't agree with the Amendment, I do think, ethically, the 130,000 citizens who petitioned for this had a right to be heard. Especially since 53 were opposed to adjourning, which may have given them the 50 votes necessary to put the initiative on the ballot.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:40 PM on July 17, 2002


No, BlueTrain - 130,000 people did not (at least knowingly) petition for this. Besides, it was a bad idea, crafted and carried out by zealots, and was rightly killed.
posted by yhbc at 1:48 PM on July 17, 2002


yhbc, all you have is a lawsuit alleging fraud. Any proof of settlement? A verdict?

I have no problem admitting that 130,000 people did not sign this, because quite honestly, that's rather scary...but anyone can file a lawsuit and find one witness to corroborate.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:54 PM on July 17, 2002


Well, I doubt if I can find any. Without a case number I can't search the Suffolk Superior Court files directly, we're too cheap to subscribe to an on-line service that reports to Superior Court decisions (but a settlement wouldn't show up in those either), and as you probably know, verdicts and settlements get a lot less press than the filing of lawsuits, so nothing's likely to turn up in Google or other searches. If I find anything, I'll let you know.
posted by yhbc at 2:20 PM on July 17, 2002


It was an ad for IKEA, crafty and buried out by cellists, and was lightly grilled.
posted by conquistador at 2:24 PM on July 17, 2002


The hired signature-gatherers were collecting signatures for two petitions - this one, and another initiative proposing a ban on the sale or slaughter of horses for food.

And what's wrong with eating horses for food? Baseballs and Cordovan loafers are just fine, but don't eat them? Were these petitions circulated by the Anti-Things-They-Do-In-France League?
posted by chino at 2:26 PM on July 17, 2002


Blue Train, please could you inform us how many of the following groups you belong to, in the interests of me discounting your little prejudices when you discuss topics about which you know little:

Ethnicity: White?
Heritage: Anglo-Saxon?
Faith: Protestant?
Sexuality: Hetero?
Education: College?
Income: $30,000 or above?
Marital:
[For the record, my score is 1]

You know, Blue, my guess is you're hetero and already have the right to marry - probably, by choice, in a reformed christian church. I'll even hazard a guess that you come from a caucasian background, possibly anglo-saxon. Chances are you have above average income and education.

The relevance? Well, how can I respect the views of someone who argues for continued denial of human rights to a group that he doesn't belong to, and therefore assists in the continued oppression of said group? As Eldridge Cleaver said, a long time ago: "...you are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem."

NO NAME CALLING!
posted by dash_slot- at 2:38 PM on July 17, 2002


1) Baseballs no longer use horse leather, they use cow now.

2) I agree with the result, but would the support be so flowing if the legislature has used a parliamentary trick to kill a ballot initiative formally recognizing gay marriage? Still legal maneuvers but I doubt there would be much restraint is lambasting legislators for overruling the direct voice of the people.

Again, I think it would be a horrible amendment, but if the true support for it is as weak as people are indicating here, then it would have been safe to put it to a vote.
posted by obfusciatrist at 2:43 PM on July 17, 2002


How is a government granted marriage a human right? Any private organization can declare any two people married, they just don't have recognition from the state.

I think its wrong to couch this issue in the realm of human rights, where people are often talking about more important issues, like slavery in Africa, or sex-tourism (sexual slavery), in India. Thats where human rights violations occur.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:47 PM on July 17, 2002




:-)

dash_slot, you are amusing...

I am not caucasian.
I am not anglo-saxon.
I am not Protestant.
I am straight, although most of my friends are constantly questioning my sexuality.
I am not wealthy, by any standard.

Well, how can I respect the views of someone who argues for continued denial of human rights to a group that he doesn't belong to, and therefore assists in the continued oppression of said group?

Because I want to see democracy in action and allow a citizen's initiative to be voted upon, I am denying human rights to non-straight people? As I already said above, I am against this initiative. But I am for the democratic process, and I feel that the legislature, perhaps unethically, adjourned this session to avoid voting for or against sending this initiative to the ballot in 2004.

you are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem

Divide and conquer. If you aren't with the US, you are for the terrorists, right? Please. I think it's fair to say that there issuch thing as a middle ground.

(...talk about missing the point...)

Why don't you stop alienating anyone who brings in a different viewpoint? (Note, I said different, not opposing)
posted by BlueTrain at 2:56 PM on July 17, 2002


I'm not attempting to alienate anyone: if that was the effect of you expressing your opinion, would you refrain from expressing it (on prior records, probably not, and nor should you)?
However, I thank you for that info, I was expecting a count, not specific answers.
I do think that if it were a matter of record in debating 'minority issues' which - if any - groups we belong to, we could then draw inferences when people have strong, sometimes militant reactions to others.
I appreciate others viewpoints, I don't appreciate the ability of dominant viewpoints blanking out others rights.
It bugs me that, in a society where gays are castigated for impermanent relationships, they are not allowed to forge (semi?) permanent ones.
I never mentioned the t******** word. That's neo-Godwinism, right?
As an exercise, reverse the positions or directions in this argument - what if we removed the right of men & women to marry - 'straight' folks would be up in arms about their rights. That's why I think those who deny marriage is a right have it wrong.
You do not have to link abuses elsewhere to infringements here: we can have liberty everywhere, it doesn't increase costs here to ban sex tourism there, and traditional marriage is not at all diminished by inclusive unions.
Yes, my tuppence worth.

ps: Any private organization can declare any two people married, they just don't have recognition from the state. - name 1.
Please.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:15 PM on July 17, 2002


is it possible that perhaps the legislature didn't want a referendum vote because it was for an amendment to the state constitution?

most citizens are not students of the law. most citizens would be voting based on their personal interests and beliefs instead of legal and ethical principles. not that lawmakers don't do that. heh. i would hate to see a document like that corrupted by whatever 24% of yokels happened to show up to vote that day.

anyway, i thought amendments to the constitution and state constitutions were in the realm of the legislature and supreme courts, and we voted for those people to represent us.

can you imagine if issues regarding the national constitution were up to referendum votes? *shudder*

hey, and i know that things don't really work this way - politicians are corrupt and definitely support their own agendas, but i guess i'm thinking more about the spirit of our political system and less about how it's actually carried out.
posted by centrs at 4:23 PM on July 17, 2002


pps: Any private organization can declare any two people married, they just don't have recognition from the state. - name 1. Please.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:16 PM on July 17, 2002


I think Centrs has a point there--referendum votes are not for amending constitutions, they are for deciding local issues, and even for that their use is questionable in situations where a minority viewpoint is important to deciding fairly.

Dash_Slot: Me. A church. The oldest man in town. All you need is two people who want to get married, and a third party that holds some measure of respect in the community who is willing to say a few words. After all, the institution itself is far older than any government. But this is all beside the point, as a recognized marriage is the issue, and that is where Insomnyuk seems to have diverged from the rest of us. Perhaps it is not a human right to have the government recognize your marriage, but the government should not pick and choose only those it approves of.
posted by Nothing at 12:52 AM on July 18, 2002


"Me. A church. The oldest man in town." i'm not clear what you are saying, Nothing.

are you saying that all you need is a church, and you will do the ceremony? then are gay couples lining up outside your door?

i think that you are sympathetic, from this: "..the government should not pick and choose only those it approves of." (me taking on board some wise words from Blue up there)

if it was as simple, we woulda had a lot more eccentric old pastors breaking conventions before now. the point is, that you can have thoretical liberation (Abe Lincoln, etc.) but not liberation in practice. Rights are not even sufficient: the state has to back them up, with its power and influence. as was seen in the civil rights movements.
posted by dash_slot- at 1:53 AM on July 18, 2002


*theoretical*
posted by dash_slot- at 1:53 AM on July 18, 2002


actually, in the case that started this thread it was just a pastor in a church. In Ontario, you don't need a government license to get married if you publish the banns three times in your church (which is the traditional way to get married). So, that's what the couple did.

The the government refused to register it. So, they are married in the eyes of the church, but not those of the government.
posted by djfiander at 4:42 AM on July 18, 2002


No, I meant that as a list of three choices. I could, a church could, or the oldest man in town could, provided we were respected members of the community in question. My point was just that marriage is not a state institution, it is a human institution recognized by the state. I have been to several gay weddings, and though I understand they do not yet have the benefits that come with state recognition, I would never say they were not married.

The state does need to back up a right, exactly--it needs to recognize marriages equally, without prejudice. This is a much easier goal than the civil rights movement had, as it only requires action by the state. It should not be open to referendum.
posted by Nothing at 5:28 AM on July 18, 2002


Thank you for the clarification, tho' I'm not sure why the oldest man (woman?) in town has the ability to marry someone, nor indeed whether you have some unusual power or you are a minister of the church/Registrar, or some thing.

I also have been to a gay 'wedding': here in Oxford, we at the Quaker Meeting House (which I used to regularly attend) had the first gay 'Marriage' in England. To all intents and purposes, the ceremony and it's recognition by members/attenders was indistinguishable from a traditional marriage. However, it will not be state-recognised. We are not as advanced as some - yet.

(",)
posted by dash_slot- at 5:40 AM on July 18, 2002


A marriage is just a legal contract which is completed, in most cases, in a ceremonial fashion. I am under the impression that the MCC (Metropolitan Christian Churches) are openly pro-gay marriage, so I'm sure one of them could do it, and then the couple would have to write up a careful property-sharing, power of attorney agreement similar to a marriage contract.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:38 AM on July 18, 2002


What about federal benefits, insomnyuk?
posted by Tin Man at 6:44 AM on July 18, 2002


No one should get federal benefits. The government should not subsidize or penalize any particular way of life.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:19 AM on July 18, 2002


FYI:

An amendment to the U.S. Constitution is adopted if there is support of 2/3 of the House and 2/3 of the Senate, followed by ratification by 3/4 of all state legislatures (ie. 38 states).

State constitutions are typically amended by legislative act (usually simple majority) followed by voter ratification of the proposed amendment (again, simple majority).

Next on Schoolhouse Rock....
posted by conquistador at 10:56 AM on July 18, 2002


Sorry, I guess I wasn't being very clear. The relevant part of my sentence was "provided [they] were respected members of the community in question." I didn't mean for the emphasis to be on my examples.

I tend to agree with insomnyuk in that there should be no state involvement at all, in straight or gay marriages, but that is very unlikely to happen, so there is a government responsibility to have as little bias as possible in their involvement.
posted by Nothing at 9:29 PM on July 18, 2002


"No one should get federal benefits. The government should not subsidize or penalize any particular way of life." - insomnyuk.

But, they do. In light of the fact that we are not likely to remove benefits from married folks/families in order to equalize with singles/gays, the principles of equality demand that we

1. Legalise Marriage for man/man &woman/woman couples;

2. Keep tax breaks for all families.

You know it makes sense.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:28 AM on July 19, 2002


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