This morning’s Boston Globe has an op-ed written by a former campaign advisor to the state’s Attorney General, Tom Reilly, taking him to task over the drive to put gay marriage before the people to vote.
To recap: any petitions for public referendums in Massachusetts have to be certified by the Attorney General as valid. Critics cited a law that referenedums can’t be used to overturn court decisions. Reilly looked at it carefully and said that while he opposes the move, it doesn’t attempt to do that, but instead bring about a Constitutional Amendment.
I read Mary Breslauer’s piece in the Globe very carefully. And it’s very well-written. It outlines her own history of working with Reilly, the history of the gay movement in Massachusetts, how Reilly had worked with that community on many major issues, and the incredible sense of betrayal they now feel after he refused to kill the petition drive.
What’s lacking anywhere in the piece is an argument that what Reilly did was wrong.
Oh, she goes into great detail about the morality and ethics of it, but not the legalities. Reilly saw his legal obligations and his sworn duty clearly, and did what he had to. After careful scrutiny, he determined that he had no choice but to let the petition drive continue.
I’ve long been a supporter of gay marriage. But both my own belief in the democratic process and my own analytical abilities tell me that unless it is done with the approval (even grudging) of a majority of the population, it’s doomed to failure. Attempts to bring it about by legislative or executive fiat have been met with fierce resistance and backlash, with the advocates often ending up in a worse position than they started. Look at Vermont, or San Francisco, or that podunk town in New York where the mayor started issuing gay marriage licenses willy-nilly.
If the advocates have a compelling, valid argument (and I believe they do), let them make it to the people. Let the people decide. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, and that’s the way it has to work.