Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Happy Aniversary!

I'd like to extend a big "Happy Anniversary" to all the couples celebrating their first anniversary today and in the coming weeks.

Yesterday's Globe had some encouraging news regarding the fate of the proposed amendment that would ban gay marriage while creating civil unions. Apparently, support for that amendment is dropping as legislators begin to rethink their no votes in light of the changing political situation on Beacon Hill.

The erosion of support for the amendment, which won preliminary approval by four votes in March 2004, is caused by several factors, including the considerable clout of new House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, a supporter of gay marriage; a net gain of four gay-marriage supporters in recent legislative elections; and increasing acceptance of gay marriage among the public.

"Are there enough people reassessing and reconsidering their position that would change the vote? My opinion: Yes," DiMasi said in an interview last week.
In addition, many gay marriage opponents, according to the article, are starting to abandon the amendment in favor of a ballot initiative that would ban both gay marriage and civil unions and would be on the ballot in 2008. At that point, though, I think the chances of a gay marriage ban passing -- even by ballot initiative -- would be unlikely. I would have to imagine that Massachusetts residents would balk at invalidating four years worth of marriages, particularly if society has not yet crumbled beause of them.

The Herald today, though, had an article with the opposite take. Arline Isaacson of the Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus is quoted as saying that marriage rights advocates are "facing a very serious problem" with the head count in the legislature and they're "not seeing the flipping that everyone expected." I wonder, though, if that's a claim designed to keep people from becoming complacent. What I've heard from folks at MassEquality is that they're only counting people who are voting against the amendment because they approve of equal marriage rights and that they don't want to have to rely on legislators who oppose the amendment because they also oppose civil unions. A no's a no, though, and if anti-marriage activists really are pushing for a rejection of both gay marriage and civil unions in 2008 instead of the compromise amendment, then it's seems to me that the chances of the amendment being defeated are looking pretty good.

Personally, I'm not sure that Governor Romney even wants this amendment to be on the ballot in 2006. Since it's a compromise amendment that bans same-sex marriage but creates civil unions, he's trapped in an ideological box. Now, this wouldn't matter if he weren't running for president, but can you imagine the ads in the Republican primaries either way Romney throws his support? If he supports the amendment because it bans gay marriage, he's suddenly goes on the record as supporting civil unions which I'm sure won't go over well. If he is against it not only is he a Massachusetts Flip-Flopper (since he supported it last year) but he's now on the record as opposing a gay marriage ban. He can try to explain his stance all he wants, but as JC Watts once said: "If you're explaining, you're losing."

Part of me wonders if Romney's waiting to see what happens at the Constitutional Convention this summer before he decides if it's worth running in 2006. He may be more likely to run for re-election if the amendment fails so he doesn't have to sacrifice his credibility as a gay marriage opponent.