Friday, November 10, 2006

Massachusetts Marriage Mania

Once again, Massachusetts' legislature has voted against an anti-gay state constitutional amendment. Now, it wasn't done in the fashion that the anti-gay forces wanted -- lawmakers voted to adjourn without considering the amendment rather than voting on the actual amendment itself -- but the overwhelming majority of the democratically elected representatives ended the amendment's run.

However, the homophobic mania about this issue -- from both Democrats and Republicans -- won't die. Astroturfed letters to the editor are demanding that "the people should decide," that the democratic will of voters is being ignored, etc.

Let's step around, for the moment, the clear constitutional position that the equality under the law of various groups of people is not something that should be subject to the popular vote.

A quick review of the history of the proposed amendment itself reveals just how ridiculous the anti-gay crowd have become. The amendment supposedly received almost 2.9% of all Massachusetts residents' signatures to "pass the threshhold." Unfortunately for right wing forces, the media documented widespread fraud in the collection of signatures:

Scenario 1 - Citizens were told they were signing the wine petition when the anti-gay marriage petition was actually presented.

Scenario 2 - Citizens were first asked to sign the wine petition and then asked to sign again on a second page. The second page was actually the anti-gay marriage petition.

Scenario 3 - Citizens were told they were signing a petition to protect gay marriage when it was actually the anti-gay marriage petition.

This practice was so widespread that local television news crews easily captured the fraud on film. Based on the estimates provided by paid signature gatherers, between 50% and 75% of the signatures on the original petition were collected fraudulently.

(Of course, Democrat Attorney General Tom Reilly wasn't too concerned with this, and refused to take a position on the issue beyond "yes, it's happening and it's illegal.")

Now, the same people who defrauded tens of thousands of voters into signing the document are turning around and complaining that a clear rejection by the legislature of their bill represents "contempt of democracy." Right-wing soon-to-be-former Governor Romney has been particularly shrill in his denunciation.

The funniest part, however, has been the proposed remedy the anti-gay forces are cooking up to try and get their fraudulently-balloted amendment to the polls -- they're turning to "activist judges" to force the outcome that they want! Romney and other anti-gay types are threatening to force the issue in federal court.

It's time to recognize these efforts for what they are -- contempt for human rights, wrapped up in "democratic" rhetoric; contempt for the democratic process (including heavy use of out-and-out fraud) while citing "the will of the people"; and an effort to put the constitutional rights of a minority group up to a simple-majority vote-down.

Should the anti-gay Democrats and Republicans in Massachusetts succeed in their mission of forcing the issue on the ballot, a near-certain vote by Massachusetts citizens against their anti-gay measure wouldn't be the end of the crusade either. Another round would be certain, perpetually, until they get the results they want. It's nothing but obsessive dislike for gays which drives these folks.

Thank goodness for the sensibility of the voters of Massachusetts -- and the strong support for equal marriage rights from the Massachusetts Libertarian Party.