I’m proud that Massachusetts took the lead in recognizing the right to marry for same sex couples. The Massachusetts Supreme Court recognized that right on May 17, 2004. Despite dire predictions, the sky has stayed right where it is, and I’m not aware of any heterosexuals filing for divorce on the grounds that their marriage has been devalued. And now I’m proud again; yesterday, June 14, 2007, the Massachusetts legislature rejected a proposal that would have subjected the fundamental right to marry to a public vote.
Under Massachusetts law, a proposal to amend the constitution must be approved by two consecutive legislative sessions, then by a majority of Massachusetts voters. The proposed amendment to ban same sex marriage was approved by the legislature in January 2007 with 62 votes, and would have been put on the ballot for a vote had the proposal passed again today. The proposal needed the support of 50 voters to pass. It lost, 151 to 45, thanks, in great part, to the leadership of Governor Deval Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Senate President Terry Murray and House Speaker Sal DiMasi. The idea that a basic human right should be subject to the whim of the majority has been defeated.
I was outside the Massachusetts State House along with hundreds of others to encourage the legislature to make the right decision. (Photos are posted here.) People on the other side of the street — and the other side of the issue — were fewer and less enthusiastic. That’s to be expected, I guess. We were supporting a community of people, couples and families. We’ve seen marriage make a real difference in real lives. Folks on the other side were concerned about an abstract idea, and a corrosive one at that. Their sense of morality is offended by the idea that two men or two women can care about each other in a relationship recognized by the state. It must be hard to be cheery about hating strangers.