Monday, December 01, 2003

Another gay news day. After a week away, same-sex marriage is still a huge news story, and it's likely to remain that way for some time to come.

The big news, of course, was the Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll showing that 50 percent support the state Supreme Judicial Court decision ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to wed, and that 38 percent are opposed.

That's not quite the "solid margin" that the Globe portrayed it as, but it's surely better than the reverse would have been. For legislators trying to decide whom to pander to, it sends a powerful message.

On Friday, former state attorney general James Shannon argued that the man who currently holds that job, Tom O'Reilly, has a reading-comprehension problem. Reilly has been trying to fudge it, saying the SJC would be satisfied with a civil-unions law, even though such a law would fall short of full marriage rights. Responded Shannon:

It is hard to understand how any of our political leaders can argue that the recent Supreme Judicial Court decision could mean anything but extending civil marriage to same-sex couples.

Which brings us back to today:

  • New York Times conservative columnist William Safire comes out cautiously for same-sex marriage, joining his right-leaning colleague, David Brooks (no longer freely available online), who was quite a bit more enthusiastic about it last week. And syndicated conservative columnist George Will yesterday came close to endorsing it, albeit not without some inane blather about polygamy. (At least this time Will left the critters out of it.)
  • Syndicated columnist Robert Novak explains why same-sex marriage is the last thing that George W. Bush wants to deal with during his election (whoops! I almost said re-election) campaign. Even better, the Prince of Darkness's online column is accompanied by an ad promising "Relationship-minded Gays & Lesbians Pictures, Profiles, Chat and More!"
  • Today's Globe surveys state legislators and finds that it's by no means a slam-dunk that a joint session of the House and Senate will approve a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage when it convenes in February. The earliest an amendment could go on the ballot is in 2006. If the legislature fails to approve it in February, it would be even later (if ever) than that.

Keller on Kerry. For some reason I don't think Jon Keller likes John Kerry. Yesterday, WLVI-TV (Channel 56) broadcast a Keller at Large half-hour special on Keller's encounters with Kerry over the years.

And though I suspect Keller would have something critical to say even if Kerry walked on water, the program contained some valuable insights into why Kerry's presidential campaign simply hasn't taken off.

While acknowledging Kerry's bravery in Vietnam, in his later opposition to that war, and in his dogged pursuit in the Senate of international money-launderers, Keller noted that Kerry has committed "many instances of fence-straddling and rhetorical trimming."

The issues range from Iraq to education reform, from the Clinton "scandals" (where Ted Kennedy was much more forthright in supporting the president) to the Title V septic-system regulations, about which Kerry professed zero knowledge even though environmental groups had hailed him for supporting the legislation that created those regs.

For good measure, Keller whacked Kerry for buying an $8600 motorcycle during a year when he gave only $175 to charity.

Kerry's big tactical mistake was to refuse an interview with Keller. No doubt he could have chewed up long chunks of the clock, shifting the focus away from what Keller wanted to say and toward what he wanted to say.

Then again, Kerry's entire presidential campaign so far has been one tactical mistake after another. Democrats who are terrified at the prospect of Howard Dean's winning the nomination in a year when foreign policy is likely to be the biggest issue can only be disheartened by Kerry's inability to rev it up.

More shameless self-promotion. I'll be on The Pat Whitley Show, on WRKO Radio (AM 680), on Tuesday at 10 a.m. to talk about Little People. And on Wednesday at 7 p.m., I'll be doing a reading and signing at the Barnes & Noble at Boston University, in Kenmore Square.

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