Well, Massachusetts’ outgoing governor (and likely presidential candidate) Mitt Romney is upping the ante in his fight to get gay marriage on a state-wide ballot. Under the state Constitution, if enough people sign a petition, it has to go to the state legislature (meeting jointly as a Constitutional Convention) for an up-or-down vote. And it only needs 50 of 200 lawmakers to pass — opponents need to muster a 3/4 vote to kill the amendment.
Unless, of course, they find a legal loophole. One such as postponing and postponing the vote right up until their terms expire, and then — oops! — it’s too late. Better luck next time…
And that’s just what the legislature has done. They didn’t have 150 votes to kill it outright, but they did have 109 to “postpone” the vote a couple of times — first until after the election, then until the last day of their term.
Well, Romney (a staunch opponent of gay marriage) is going for broke. (Yes, I know I am using a lot of gambling metaphors here. I find it amusing to do so when describing the actions of a devout Mormon like Romney.) He’s decided to file suit with the Supreme Judicial Court ordering the measure put on the ballot. His argument is simple: the obvious intent of the framers of the state Constitution was to make it very difficult for the legislature to kill the petition process, and set the bar very high: no simple majority would suffice, but a supermajority — three-quarters of the entire legislature would have to go on record as opposing it. By exploiting the “adjournment” loophole, the current batch of lawmakers have found a way to kill a petition with far less votes — and if they violate their Constitutional oath in the process, oh well.
I don’t give Romney much chance for success. For one, it is still theoretically possible for the lawmakers to hold the vote — they simply stay in session right up until midnight on January 2, and their terms expire and the session ends. The “window” for the actual opportunity is exceedingly narrow — or nonexistent.
For another, the Court he is appealing to is the same one that authorized gay marriage in the first place after the legislature once again took the coward’s way out and refused to act.
I’ve said it repeatedly: I support gay marriage. I think that it does no harm to existing marriages, and might even strengthen the institution as a whole by opening it up to more people. But I don’t support it at the expense of doing great violence to the fundamental precepts of democracy. The whole history of gay marriage in Massachusetts has been a long string of a minority imposing its will on the state as a whole, then pulling every single trick and stunt it can conceive of to prevent the people from actually having a say in how their state is run. It’s disgraceful and disgusting and utterly intolerable.
Unless, of course, you live in Massachusetts. In that case, you’ll just keep re-electing the same legislators who keep spitting in your face.