Thursday, November 20, 2003

So, Mitt, what was it that happened in 1000 BC anyway? It seems that every time Governor Mitt Romney opens his mouth to denounce same-sex marriage, he makes the same observation: that the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling goes against 3000 years of tradition.

For instance, here is what he said on the Today show on Wednesday morning, according to this morning's Boston Globe:

I agree with 3000 years of recorded human history, which frankly is a contradiction of what the majority of the Supreme Judicial Court said. Of course, at the same time, we should [be] providing the necessary civil rights and certain appropriate benefits.

What does this mean? What great event happened in 1000 BC that allows Romney to refer to "3000 years of recorded history"? He hasn't said. Yet not only is no one questioning him, others are agreeing.

Globe columnist Adrian Walker, who supports same-sex marriage, writes today, "Governor Mitt Romney, who wasted no time stating his opposition to the ruling, thundered that his position has 3,000 years of history behind it. That's true ..."

It is? Says who? What facts can anyone point to showing that marriage as we know it did not exist in, say, 1200 BC, but was a thriving institution by 800 BC? What is Romney talking about?

If anyone knows, pass along your thoughts to Media Log at

In other news on the same-sex-marriage front:

-- There's no sense debating Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby on the merits of gay marriage. He's against it, and he's not going to change his mind. Today, though, he makes an unsupportable assertion: that the way was paved by earlier steps such as the Equal Rights Amendment (passed in Massachusetts, though never made part of the US Constitution) and the state's gay-rights law. Thus, he argues, the Goodridge decision will inevitably lead to constitutional protections for, say, three-partner marriage, or for incest.

That is, on its face, ridiculous. The SJC did not base its legal reasoning in any way on those earlier actions. What led to this week's landmark decision was not a "slippery slope," as Jacoby contends, but, rather, a radical change in cultural mores -- a change for the good.

I suppose it is possible that, one day, those mores will change again to embrace polygamy, brother-sister marriage, whatever. (I hope not.) But if it happens, Goodridge will have absolutely nothing to do with that.

-- Supporters of same-sex marriage face a terrible dilemma. Marriage is now their constitutional right, and they have every reason to insist on it, and not to let the legislature and the governor to water it down with a civil-unions law, as seems likely (Globe coverage here; Herald coverage here).

Yet, if civil unions were to become law and the SJC were to rule that they were close enough, that would forestall the very strong possibility that the voters will pass a constitutional amendment in 2006 that would ban same-sex marriages, civil unions, even basic domestic-partnership rights.

Principle matters, which is why I hope the gay and lesbian community holds out for nothing short of full marriage. But I worry about the consequences.

Here is an analysis of what may or may not happen on Beacon Hill by the Phoenix's Kristen Lombardi and Susan Ryan-Vollmar.

-- Editorial round-up: the New York Times gives same-sex marriage a thumbs-up; the Washington Post is sympathetic but muddled; the Wall Street Journal is against it (sub. req., but here's the lowlight: "It is four liberal judges on the Massachusetts Supreme Court who, egged on by well-connected and politically powerful gay rights activists, have imposed their own moral values on the rest of its citizens."); the Los Angeles Times is for it, but worried about a backlash; and USA Today, weighing in yesterday, is dubious, and also worried about a backlash.

Yesterday, the Globe said yes and the Herald said no, although it appears sympathetic to civil unions.

New in this week's Phoenix. A new book on Howard Dean is the result of an unusual collaboration between two of Vermont's most respected independent media institutions.

Also, speculation over what's next at the newly downsized Boston Herald.

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