Thursday, June 14, 2007

Legislature Defeats Marriage Ban

In a resounding victory for those who care equal marriage rights, the Massachusetts Legislature voted 151-45 against a Constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. Today, 75.5% of the legislature voted in support of marriage equality. Everyone who complains about how the original decision was imposed by unelected judges should chew on that for a while. One-hundred-fifty-one legislators representing, by my count, part or all of 339 of Massachusetts' 351 cities and towns voiced their approval of same-sex marriage rights. In the face of those overwhelming numbers, how can anyone claim that marriage equality in Massachusetts is the result of the whims of just four judges? The legislature has had many attempts now to "fix" the Goodridge decision, and each time opponents of marriage could not muster the votes. There has been no backlash against marriage supporters in the legislature thus far, though there have been plenty of opportunities for the opposition to challenge them. To say that there has been no vote and that the people have had no say is pure fantasy.

The Boston Globe has the roll call vote and a list of the nine legislators who switched their votes:

  • Rep. Christine Canavan (D-Brockton)
  • Rep. Paul Kujawski (D-Webster)
  • Rep. Paul Loscocco (R-Holliston)
  • Rep. Robert Nyman (D-Hanover)
  • Rep. Richard Ross (R-Wrentham)
  • Rep. James Valee (D-Franklin)
  • Rep. Brian Wallace (D-South Boston)
  • Sen. Gale Candaras (D-Wilbraham)
  • Sen. Michael Morrissey (D-Quincy)
Sen. Candaras has released a touching statement explaining her change of heart from this January when she was in the House and voted for the amendment. Here's a sample:
I know from listening to my constituents, since I first became Senator this year that this vote, the vote I take today, is the right vote for the people I serve. I have been most impressed by the number of individuals who have called me and asked me to change my vote because they have changed their minds. One grandmother told me she had changed her mind and wanted me to change my vote in case one of her grandchildren grew up to be gay or lesbian. She did not want any of her grandchildren to be denied the right to marry the person they love. This is exactly the legacy we will leave to generations beyond us, and the example we can set for the nation and, I daresay the world, which is certainly paying attention to what we do and say here today.

A great deal of energy and passion has been focused on this issue by both sides. It is my most ardent wish that, with the settlement of this matter, and as we all leave here today, all the energy and passion we have held on this issue be redirected towards solving the crises of child abuse, child neglect, domestic violence, homelessness, hunger, criminalization of the mentally ill and so many more social problems that require our urgent and thoughtful attention.
Many thanks to Senator Candaras, the rest of the legislators who switched their votes, and everyone who worked so hard to make today happen.