Massachusetts has quite a bit of justifiable pride in its role in American independence. Many key events in the Revolutionary War occurred in the Bay State, including the “shot heard round the world” at Lexington, the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, the battle of Bunker Hill, and so on. Massachusetts proudly proclaims itself as “the cradle of democracy.”
But it appears that democracy has outgrown that cradle, and moved on.
In the latest development of gay marriage, supporters are once again turning to the courts for succor, hoping that procedure will trump the sheer numbers of their opponents.
A brief recap: a few years ago, a gay couple filed suit for the right to marry, citing the state’s anti-discrimination statutes. The court held up hearing the case for a while, sending signals to the legislature that if they didn’t address the matter, the courts would. The people filed petition after petition both for and against gay marriage, and in each and every case the legislature refused to act. Finally, by a 4-3 vote, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that gay marriage was legal. Then the opponents started petition drives for a state Constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage, defining marriage as only between one man and one woman. They quickly gathered more than twice the number of signatures, well in excess of 120,000.
But once again the activists are looking to prevent an actual public discussion and vote on the matter. They have filed a suit with the same Supreme Judicial Court that made the initial ruling, asking that the petitions be dismissed as improper.
The grounds they are citing are utterly specious. Massachusetts law bans any lawsuit designed to overturn a single court ruling, and they say that is what this petition does.
It does not. It is aimed at changing the state Constitution, the basis for the ruling — not the ruling itself. By the principle that the gay marriage supporters are using, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments that outlawed slavery would have been ruled improper, as they were aimed at overturning the Dred Scott ruling.
Once again, I am a supporter of gay marriage. But I have always said that it must be done properly, with the support — or at least the apathy — of a majority of the people. I predicted when the court’s ruling came down that it would unleash a torrent of backlash, causing years of struggle, and most likely setting back the cause of gay rights by years, if not decades. I take no pleasure in being proven right here — the most recent push not only banned gay marriage, but non-marriage “civil unions” as well. Once it became clear that the supporters had absolutely no interest in compromise, the opponents stopped offering them concessions — it’s become an all-or-nothing struggle for both sides.
And the gay marriage opponents seem to have vastly greater numbers on their side. Sooner or later, that has to count for SOMETHING — even in Massachusetts.