Thursday, June 14, 2007

Too Close To Call

Today is the day. The Constitutional Convention that could decide the fate of marriage equality in the Commonwealth is today and both the Globe and the Herald are saying that the margin may be down to as little as a single vote. If anyone knows the real whip count, they're not talking, and some legislators are being very coy with the media regarding their final decision.

If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said that I expected today's vote to be postponed, because marriage supporters wouldn't have the numbers to defeat the amendment. Something in today's Boston Herald made me have second thoughts, though:

Some lawmakers said yesterday that they want the matter decided, because they are growing tired of the constant barrage of phone calls, letters and unannounced visits to their offices.
Let's leave aside for a minute how wrong it is for a legislator to tire of hearing from his constituents. If they really want the matter decided, they'll have to vote "no" on the amendment. If they vote "yes", it's all we'll talk about for another year and a half. If opponents succeed in banning marriage, then we'll have to go through this all over again with civil unions in 2009. A "no" vote ends this here with civil rights for all protected. Of course, I still don't expect a vote to be taken unless marriage advocates have the numbers it takes to win.

By the way, Joan, don't try to pin a loss on Governor Patrick. The one who has the real power to sway votes, and who is apparently not using all the weapons in his arsenal, is House Speaker Sal DiMasi. Furthermore, legislators are not "fulfilling their constitutional obligation to petitioners" by voting yes. They may have an obligation to bring the matter to a vote -- opinions differ -- but there is no constitutional guarantee that anything submitted by petitioners go to the voters. If the amendment is voted down on its merits there will be no question that legislators have fulfilled their constitutional obligation. Your co-columnist Scot Lehigh gets that, why don't you?

Update: Heck, even the Herald editorial board gets at least that! From today's editorial page:
[L]egislators who genuinely believe same-sex couples should not have the right to marry are, of course, well within their right to vote for this proposed constitutional amendment. But no one should hide behind the dodge that somehow this is all about democracy.

If this proposal can't win the support of 50 lawmakers, it has no business seeing the light of day again. And the issue of same-sex marriage - which has been the subject of 16 previous Constitutional Conventions dating back to 2002 - should be settled once and for all.
Update 2: Wayne Woodlief wins today's Quote of the Morning:
Marriage is a great institution. I love it. Let's allow all our citizens to keep the right to enjoy it, just like me and many of you.