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By Mark Snyder, Gatehouse Media Columnist
GAY MARRIAGE & THE BALLOT BOX
One of the most controversial issues in the State of Massachusetts is that of Gay Marriage. When a judge decided that the Massachusetts Constitution did not specify that marriage had to be between a man and a woman, activists on both sides of the issue took their stand. In the meantime, over 8000 homosexual couples have been legally married in the State.
On the South Shore of Boston, in the area covered by the Web, our legislators have mostly avoided the issue. For a time, it looked like they would buck their constitutional duties and not bother with it at all. 170,000 voters signed a petition to place a ban on gay marriage on the ballot before voters in 2008. Those that have already been married are not covered in this ban. They would stay legally married. But, if passed, there would be no future homosexual marriages in this state, matching the other 49 states (some of which have “civil unions”, which give all the privileges and legal ramifications of marriage, without calling it as such.)
I sent an email to all area legislators asking two simple questions: Do you support the continuation of gay marriage? Do you feel it should be on the ballot in 2008? You’d expect that our paid representatives on Beacon Hill would eagerly respond to those two questions. You’d think wrong. Like the way they treated voters request to roll back taxes in 2000, most of our reps and senators were silent-- strangely silent. Those that bothered to reply--no matter where they stand philosophically-deserve our respect.
State Rep. Christine Canavan (D-Brockton) was the first to respond. Canavan tells the Web, “I would not vote to annul any legal marriage. Personally, and as an individual, I have no problem with gay marriage.” But, when asked if she supported putting the issue on the 2008 ballot, Canavan said, “Perception is reality. I represent the 10 th Plymouth District when I vote in the legislature. The press has done a good job of framing the Constitutional Convention activity in that fashion that any perception of tampering with their right to vote is their reality. Even constituents who will vote against the Constitutional Amendment in the voting booth still want the opportunity to vote.” Canavan, who represents West Bridgewater, and parts of Brockton and Easton, voted to put the question on the ballot.
State Senator Brian Joyce (D-Milton), who represents Avon, Canton, Milton, Randolph, Stoughton, West Bridgewater, and parts of Braintree, Easton, and East Bridgewater, has a different point of view. He says, “I support the continuation of gay marriage, with all of its associated rights and responsibilities. Thousands of gay and lesbian couples (and their children) live together in families and deserve the protections, benefits, and obligations that come with marriage—rights that most of us take for granted.” As for placing the issue on the ballot, Joyce says a firm, “No.” “I don’t believe that we should put the civil rights of a minority into the hands of a majority vote. However, if more than 50 legislators vote for the amendment again next legislative session, it will be on the 2008 ballot.”
State Rep. William Galvin (D-Canton), who represents Avon, Canton, and parts of Stoughton, says, “ As you know by my voting record, I am opposed to this amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution. Created by our forefathers, the Massachusetts Constitution is a document that should not be easily changed. With this in mind, I plan to continue to vote accordingly when this comes before the next scheduled session of the Constitutional Convention.
State Rep. Louis Kafka (D-Stoughton) tells the Web, “ I do support the continuation of gay marriage within the Commonwealth, and No, I do not support putting the issue on the ballot in 2008. Thomas Jefferson spoke of certain unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence- among them, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For some in the gay community, that happiness lies in the right to marry and to have that marriage be recognized by the Commonwealth in the same way it does all others.”
Kafka represents Sharon, and parts of Walpole, Stoughton and Mansfield.
Senator Mark Pacheco was meeting with Al Gore and was unable to respond. He voted against placing it on the ballot on January 2. Katherine Joy, an aide to State Rep. Geraldine Creedon, delivered this strange reply to my two questions: “Rep. Creedon asked that I contact you. The Representative voted on January 2nd to place the question on the ballot. This was a recorded roll call that has already been published in the Enterprise.” When I told Ms. Joy that my questions weren’t answered with that reply, she said she’d “get back to me.” What a joy, I’m still waiting.
Most Reps and Senators who were sent emails and were called never bothered to respond to these two questions that might concern their constituents. They included John Quinn, Elizabeth Poirier, Philip Travis, Robert Creedon, James Fagan, Virginia Coppola, Susan Gifford, David Sullivan, Therese Murray, Joseph Driscoll, and David Flynn. Of this group, Rep. Coppola, Rep. Fagan, Rep. Flynn, Rep. Gifford, and Rep. Poirier voted to place the question on the ballot in 2008. Of course, another Constitutional Convention must also have at least 50 reps vote affirmative to place the gay marriage question before voters next year. Part of the responsibility of voters is to let your representative know how you feel. As of now, only lobbyists on both sides of the question seem to have a mouthpiece.
Watch your wallets. In the final months of the Romney administration, financial experts at the State House spoke of tax income to the state exceeding all predictions, and a possible “rainy day” fund of over a billion dollars. Former Governor Mike Dukakis, only days before the inauguration of new Governor Deval Patrick, was saying that “ Massachusetts is in the worst shape it’s ever been, and we could have over a billion dollars in debt.” Patrick repeated those claims days later. Yet, Patrick overrode all of the cuts Mitt Romney made before leaving, some of the “pork” variety (i.e. a gazebo in Braintree), others more imperative for social needs. You can bet the income tax will never be “rolled back” to the original 5%. In fact, don’t be surprised if it must go up a bit. And, the promised relief to our property tax bills? As Tony Soprano would say, “forgetaboutit.”
And, just when you’ve covered your right pocket, watch the left one. The politicians are trying to roll the MBTA debt into the State’s general obligations—meaning taxpayers will, once again, be subsidizing the MBTA. In the face of horrid service, rising prices of tickets, and the disastrous introduction of the “Charlie Card”, comes the news that Governor Patrick will be working on making that proposed rail extention to New Bedford and Fall River a reality. Does it matter how it affects the safety of people in Easton, Stoughton and Raynham. No. Does it matter that it could disrupt wildlife and cause problems with environmentally sensitive areas? No. The trains will be done, at a cost close to a billion dollars when they are finished. And, after it’s built, the trains will be half empty and Rt. 24 no clearer of cars. It’s an easy prediction from inside the Web. Bet on it.
(Mark Snyder is CEO of PMPNetwork.com, the internet’s entertainment superstation. His radio feature, The Entertainment Minute, is heard on WMJX-FM/ Magic106.7 FM, WROR-FM 105.7 and WBOS-FM 92.9. Mark can be reached by fax at 781-344-7207, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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