Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Clear language, vague pols. Anyone who took the time to read the relevant parts of the Supreme Judicial Court's Goodridge decision knew that the notion that it was "vague" - as this AP story puts it - was ridiculous. The decision couldn't have been any clearer that marriage was the only way to give gay and lesbian couples the same "protections, benefits and obligations" as married heterosexual couples. The "vague" line was put out by politicians such as Attorney General Tom Reilly, who oppose gay marriage but who also have (had?) some support in the gay and lesbian community. Such straddling is no longer possible.

Read this letter from Reilly's two predecessors, Scott Harshbarger and James Shannon, former governor William Weld, Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe, and Boston Bar Association president Ren Landers and you'll see what I mean.

Still, today's advisory opinion casting aside the civil-unions alternative is just a little bit surprising. The courts follow public opinion just like the rest of us. And with the right-wingers gearing up for a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, it seemed that there was at least a possibility that one of the justices would change his or her mind in the cause of pragmatism. Such is not the case. Which means that a monumental battle is about to unfold.

Next up: the constitutional convention, a joint session of the legislature scheduled to be held next Wednesday. If the amendment passes by a simple majority, and then makes it through the following session of the legislature as well, then it will go on the ballot in 2006. I wouldn't be surprised if Senate president Robert Travaglini, who saw his hope of a civil-unions compromise go down the drain today, decides to postpone it. After all, he presumably wouldn't want to move ahead unless he knows what's going to happen. And, right now, everything is scrambled.

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