Massachusetts Marriage Amendment Defeated

This just in from The Christian Post on the defeat of the proposed marriage amendment in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts lawmakers blocked a proposed constitutional amendment Thursday that would have let voters decide whether to ban gay ”marriage” in the only state that allows it.

The proposal, which sought to change the state’s Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, needed 50 votes to advance to the 2008 statewide ballot. It got 45, with 151 lawmakers opposed.

The narrow vote was a blow to efforts to reverse the historic court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state. More than 8,500 gay couples have ”married” there since it became legal in May 2004 …

The measure needed 50 votes in two consecutive legislative sessions to advance to the ballot, and it had passed with 62 votes at the end of the last session in January.

I live in Massachusetts, and this is a big disappointment to the many people in the state who feel they should have the right to vote on an issue of this magnitude. The Massachusetts Family Institute collected a record-breaking 170,000 signatures in support of the amendment, nearly three times the required signatures needed for certification by the Secretary of State and the greatest number ever in Massachusetts history.

In November 2003, it took only four Massachusetts judges to make gay marriage legal in the state (by a 4-3 vote). Now in June 2007 the proposed amendment misses the ballot by five legislative votes. Meanwhile, the entire voting populace of Massachusetts is left out of the decision making process, including the 170,000 who signed the petition. I feel the legislature has really let the people down on this one.

7 Comments

  1. Shug says:

    The legislature did their job. The supporters didn’t even need to get 50% of the legislature to vote yes, just 25% was needed and even that low threshold could not be obtained. The amendment didn’t miss the ballot by five legislative votes, it was defeated by 151, or 75.5% of legislative votes.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Shug,

    Point well taken – I guess it is all a matter of perspective. I do feel that if the legislature really wanted to represent the people as a whole on this issue, they should have let the people vote.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
    Ray

  3. Shug says:

    Ray,

    If the framers of the state constitution wanted the people to vote on every petition then they would not have the legislature vote on it and just bypassed the consideration by the legislature. They put some checks in there to keep certain matters from being voted on by the people, and to make sure that a small number of petitioners could not get something on the ballot that *not even one-fourth* of the legislature thought should be considered.

    with respect
    Mike

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Mike,

    All great points once again. I am glad for the checks and balances in the constitution and would agree that the due process of the law was followed here.

    I am still bothered that a law was basically put on the books by four judges and then after an overwhelming number of citizens petitioned for the opportunity to vote on the law that the legislature turned them down.

    If the situation were reversed, and four judges had enforced the marriage amendment and 170,000 people petitioned for the opportunity to vote on a law making gay marriage legal, would I view it the same way? I would like to think so, but it is hard to be objective in politics, and I will admit that I certainly have a horse in the race.

    Thanks for a respectful conversation on what is definitely a hot-button issue.

  5. Barrie says:

    Ray,

    The Massachusetts Legislature has been notorious for bypassing the will of the people. This is another example of how power brokers force their will on the population. My sincerest condolances for the 170,000 persons that signed that petition. Now if they are really upset by this, they need to vote those who voted for the ban out of office. Democracy works for the people also.

  6. Christopher Robin says:

    As your post would have us believe, I’m sure your primary concern here is that our government leaders follow all the rules of our democracy. Let the people decide the issue of gay marriage! Right? Well, yes, unless the people disagree with your religious views condemning gay people. When the majority of people eventually disagree with your views on gays, then, surprise, you will say, “Democracy be damned! The people have become immoral and Godless!” You’ll then be posting your hope that some single conservative judge has the moral courage to strike down the will of the people.

    You should know that some people see right through your post. Your post is not about how democracy has been thwarted. Though well disguised, your post is about your personal judgments. It is about your desire to cherry-pick the mechanisms of democracy that serve your purpose. And that purpose is to permanently write into the lawbooks your religious views about gay people.

    But the problem is that there will come a day, sooner than you’d like, when the majority of people will support gay rights. And then I wonder what part of the democratic system you might be protesting?

    If you are to be seen as having any consistent principles, you must at least be honest with your readers as to what you are really protesting. I’ll give you a hint….its not democracy you have the problem with, dear friend.

  7. Ray Fowler says:

    Christopher,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. My primary concern in this post is that I was disappointed that the people in Massachusetts were not given the opportunity to vote on such an important issue.

    Of course I have an opinion on this particular piece of legislation. I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman and am opposed to re-defining marriage in other ways (whether man-man, woman-woman, multiple partners, etc). I believe this is an important issue, and I would like the opportunity to express my view in a vote. I didn’t think I was trying to hide that. I was just addressing my disappointment in the way the petition was turned down.

    You raise some of the same issues that Mike/Shug and I dialogued on in the comments above, particularly, how would I feel if the situation were reversed?

    As I wrote to Mike/Shug in the comments, it is hard to be objective in politics and so it is hard to say. But I would like to think that if the highest number of petitioners in Massachusetts state history followed due process in asking something to be put on the ballot, that I would favor giving the people an opportunity to vote. Especially if that something was a long-standing law of the state that had been overturned by a handful of judges. And even if it was something I disagreed with. But you’re right, it is hard to be completely objective when you care deeply about an issue.

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