Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Civil Union Amendment Fails

The big news today out of Beacon Hill is that the proposed Civil Union amendment went down by a margin of more than 100 votes. The final tally was 157 against to 39 in favor with a significant number of legislators switching their votes from just a year ago. The overwhelming message of the Convention was, in the words of Republican Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees:

"Gay marriage has begun, and life has not changed for the citizens of the commonwealth, with the exception of those who can now marry,"
According to MassEquality, at least 115 of the legislators voted no specifically because they favor equal marriage rights. That means that in order to stop the 2008 ballot initiative before it reaches the voters they would need 35 members to either switch positions in 2006 or 2007, or be replaced by pro-marriage legislators in the 2006 election. That seems like a tall order, but not impossible given how long two years is in political time. Don't forget that the thirty-nine legislators who voted in favor of this amendment are now on the record as supporting rights for same-sex couples. It is not difficult to imagine that at least some of those folks could be convinced that it doesn't matter whether we call those rights "civil unions" or "marriage". Given that and the swing in support for marriage equality just over the past year, it's not impossible that opponents could fail to get their required fifty votes in either 2006 or (more likely) 2007.

By the way, The Fray had someone on the scene for the entire day, liveblogging the Convention. Check it out for a description of what it was like to be there.

Update: The Globe has the full roll call.