CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

CLT UPDATE
Wednesday, July 26, 2006

State Rep. Petersen steps in it again


Barbara Anderson's vitriolic tirade against the Massachusetts Legislature last week ("Legislative trickery at work on gay marriage debate," Viewpoint, Thursday, July 20) makes me think she has perhaps been attending columnist Ann Coulter boot camp retreats on the sly.

My colleagues and I were compared to bad spouses, lemon cars, and - excuse the crassness - upchuck. If, Barbara, you were seeking a nomination to the Guinness Book of World Records for most amount of vitriol and invective in one column, I so nominate you.

Barbara and I may differ greatly on what her and my vision is for the commonwealth of Massachusetts but her colorful accusations that I, as her "alleged" representative, am not heeding her and other voter's will, are false.

It is my constitutional duty, as framed by our founding fathers, to consider what matters should be voted on by our citizens....

Sadly, Barbara Anderson's constant harangue against our Massachusetts government - while occasionally entertaining for its witty analogies - does little more than fuel the intractable divide that exists in our country today.

Barbara is, of course, entitled to her opinions, as is Ann Coulter. In Coulter's case we've seen that the more outrageous her invectives against legislators who don't buy into her world view, the more books she sells. I sincerely hope that Barbara isn't forsaking constructive dialogue for caustic cheap shots to sell more newspapers.

The Salem News
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Gay marriage:
Anderson needs to tone down the rhetoric

By Douglas W. Petersen


Rep. Douglas Petersen says a critical newspaper column by Barbara Anderson, accusing him of cowardice for not supporting a move that would put a proposed gay marriage ban to a public vote, was riddled with inaccuracies.

Petersen, a Marblehead Democrat whose district includes the town as well as Swampscott and part of Lynn, found himself the target of Anderson's pen after the Legislature voted to recess until Nov. 9.

In doing so, no action was taken on the amendment to ban gay marriage. Petersen repeatedly has stated he would not vote for such a ban. Anderson, a Marblehead resident best known for her tax reform initiatives, has said the issue should be put to a public referendum in 2008....

Petersen described Anderson's column, which compared him to a rodent and vomit, as grossly inaccurate.

"It was not terribly factual and over the wall," he said. "Maybe she got up on the wrong side of the bed or had a bad day at work. You would need a shoehorn to fit any more invectives in there.

The Lynn Daily Item
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Marblehead rep defends stance on gay marriage


After twenty-six years being cited in newspaper items across the commonwealth, I have found my favorite mention ever! From the July 26 Daily News story, "Petersen fires back at Anderson," comes this prize-winning sentence: "Petersen described Anderson's column, which compared him to a rodent and vomit, as grossly inaccurate."

I love it, but must still ask for a slight correction....

What was wrongly done to deny a fair vote to gay marriage opponents could in the future be done to any of us who collect signatures for any constitutional amendment.

So, to clarify my attack: My state rep is a rat protecting the chickens. Makes me want to upchuck.

Letter to the Editor
The Daily Item
July 26, 2006
by Barbara Anderson


Barbara Anderson's CLT Commentary

Chip sent you my column about the Constitutional Convention and my state rep, Doug Petersen. Today Petersen responded, and we simply have to share this with you. Just in case you think, sometimes, that our opponents are smart.

My column ran in the Salem News, so Doug did an op-ed to that paper, comparing me to Ann Coulter. Apparently he considers this an insult. Then note that he says, again, just in case anyone missed it the first two times, that he doesnít think legislators should vote on controversial issues in an election year!

Even more fun is the interview he did with our other local paper, the Lynn Daily Item, which does not carry my column. So Lynn readers also got to read my attack, and will hopefully get to read my letter to the editor.

I really didnít call him a rodent and vomit, but he seems to think I did, and responds that this is "grossly inaccurate." A Marblehead activist e-mailed me to ask why he didnít say "totally inaccurate." Good question.

Sometimes all you can do is have fun.

Barbara Anderson


The Salem News
Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gay marriage:
Anderson needs to tone down the rhetoric
By Douglas W. Petersen

Barbara Anderson's vitriolic tirade against the Massachusetts Legislature last week ("Legislative trickery at work on gay marriage debate," Viewpoint, Thursday, July 20) makes me think she has perhaps been attending columnist Ann Coulter boot camp retreats on the sly.

My colleagues and I were compared to bad spouses, lemon cars, and - excuse the crassness - upchuck. If, Barbara, you were seeking a nomination to the Guinness Book of World Records for most amount of vitriol and invective in one column, I so nominate you.

Barbara and I may differ greatly on what her and my vision is for the commonwealth of Massachusetts but her colorful accusations that I, as her "alleged" representative, am not heeding her and other voter's will, are false.

It is my constitutional duty, as framed by our founding fathers, to consider what matters should be voted on by our citizens. It is also my duty to make sure that every citizen of the commonwealth be treated equally under our laws.

With respect to the gay marriage ballot initiative brought forth to the Constitutional Convention on July 12, legislators were asked to consider a petition that in my view would write discrimination into our constitution by taking away civil rights from gay and lesbian citizens. As a fellow representative of mine recently remarked, "Sometimes there are important civil rights and human rights issues that should not go to a popular vote (slavery, segregation) ....Changing our Massachusetts Constitution to deny any minority a right enjoyed by the majority is very dangerous."

Columnist Anderson called the vote to adjourn the Constitutional Convention before taking a vote on the ballot initiative "trickery," and quoted me as saying that many legislators may have done this for political reasons.

I would say that the vote to adjourn reflects not trickery but a cooperative effort by legislators to gain more time to consider a matter of extraordinary and serious significance. It seems very reasonable that on an issue of this magnitude, legislators should deliberate on this matter without the glare of the media and the heat of elections. We are scheduled to take up this issue again on Nov. 9, 2006.

Like my colleague Rep. Teahan (whom I quoted above), I agree with her that toying with civil rights on a ballot initiative is very dangerous. Our founding fathers took great pains to ensure that the majority could not deny the rights of the minority. I respect that.

Speaking for myself, I am not "tricking" anyone. I have been very forthright in my views that I cannot support a ballot initiative that would exclude certain people from rights enjoyed by a majority - particularly if that exclusion is written into the constitution. So yes, I feel strongly that this is an inappropriate issue to put before citizens.

It should be noted that many of the people who find themselves in the minority are gay and lesbian families in the very same district Barbara Anderson asserts I am "disgracing." These families are working, paying their taxes, caring for children, caring for elders, devoting time to their communities, and yes, worrying that the protections of marriage may be stripped away from them by a citizen-driven initiative backed by opponents of marriage equality.

Sadly, Barbara Anderson's constant harangue against our Massachusetts government - while occasionally entertaining for its witty analogies - does little more than fuel the intractable divide that exists in our country today.

Barbara is, of course, entitled to her opinions, as is Ann Coulter. In Coulter's case we've seen that the more outrageous her invectives against legislators who don't buy into her world view, the more books she sells. I sincerely hope that Barbara isn't forsaking constructive dialogue for caustic cheap shots to sell more newspapers.

Douglas W. Petersen of Marblehead is currently in his eighth term as state representative from the 8th Essex District.

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The Lynn Daily Item
Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Marblehead rep defends stance on gay marriage
Petersen fires back at Anderson
By David Liscio


MARBLEHEAD -- Rep. Douglas Petersen says a critical newspaper column by Barbara Anderson, accusing him of cowardice for not supporting a move that would put a proposed gay marriage ban to a public vote, was riddled with inaccuracies.

Petersen, a Marblehead Democrat whose district includes the town as well as Swampscott and part of Lynn, found himself the target of Anderson's pen after the Legislature voted to recess until Nov. 9.

In doing so, no action was taken on the amendment to ban gay marriage. Petersen repeatedly has stated he would not vote for such a ban. Anderson, a Marblehead resident best known for her tax reform initiatives, has said the issue should be put to a public referendum in 2008.

"The state Constitution clearly spells out that it's the job of the Legislature and not the general public to make tough decisions, particularly when they concern amendments like the one to ban gay marriage," Petersen said Tuedsay. "My wish is that we make this a very public legislative vote. We are the gatekeepers, which is why the Founding Fathers brought us into the picture. We aren't just a pass-through. Besides, I feel very capable of making that decision."

In her column, Anderson also slammed Petersen for earlier statements he made regarding why the legislative vote on gay marriage should be held during a year when many of his colleagues are not up for re-election.

Anderson wrote: "The 'defense of marriage' activists, who were looking for their first vote, also watched in dismay as the constitutional convention adjourned until Nov. 9. They were told they will get their vote then; this is probably a lie. Even if it's not, the truth isn't much better: Rep. Doug Petersen, D-Marblehead, who voted to adjourn, was quoted in this newspaper explaining that 'It was the judgment of people on the (convention) floor that many members might vote differently if they didn't have an election looming in their own backyard. ... Swell. My alleged representative thinks its OK that his fellow legislators who have opponents this year are cowards who don't want their constituents to know how they would vote on gay marriage. Now, pay attention, because this is where you 'get it.'"

Petersen defended his words, reiterating that the issue of gay marriage is controversial and any vote could be marred by the glare of the media spotlight. Instead, the vote should be taken during an off year, giving legislators opportunity to better focus.

"Frankly, I don't think we should be putting a civil rights issue on the ballot," he said. "Our Founding Fathers took great pains to point out that at times the majority can bludgeon the minority, and they put all sorts of checks and balances in place to assure that doesn't happen. A ballot question should not address civil rights, unless we're talking about increasing them. But decreasing them, no, I think that is extremely dangerous and would be unprecedented."

Petersen described Anderson's column, which compared him to a rodent and vomit, as grossly inaccurate.

"It was not terribly factual and over the wall," he said. "Maybe she got up on the wrong side of the bed or had a bad day at work. You would need a shoehorn to fit any more invectives in there.

"What's next?" he added. "Denying Hispanics the right to vote? Should we put that on the ballot? The gay marriage ban is an important issue, and the delay is not something earth-shattering in any way."

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Letter to the Editor
The Daily Item
Submitted:  July 26, 2006
Re: Petersen fires back at Anderson


To the Editor:

After twenty-six years being cited in newspaper items across the commonwealth, I have found my favorite mention ever! From the July 26 Daily Item news story, "Petersen fires back at Anderson," comes this prize-winning sentence: "Petersen described Anderson's column, which compared him to a rodent and vomit, as grossly inaccurate."

I love it, but must still ask for a slight correction. I did not compare him to vomit. My exact statement, which referred to the Legislature in general, was "If state government were a car, we'd get a refund through the Lemon Law. If it were a spouse, we'd get an annulment or divorce. If it were a meal, we'd upchuck." This clearly refers to my response to Petersen's actions, and is not a description of his persona. Odd that he took it as such.

I was writing about the Big Digaster and about the Legislature's actions in the recent Constitutional Convention on the gay marriage issue. Petersen says that it is his job to decide if an initiative petition for a constitutional amendment should go on the ballot, and he is correct. The constitution requires that 50 legislators must vote Yea on a petition before it can go forward, and if proponents can't get 50 votes, there is no ballot campaign. But there MUST be a vote, one way or the other.

It is NOT Petersen's job to ignore a petition signed by thousands of registered voters, and refuse to vote on it at all, just because he doesn't agree with it. I don't know how I feel about the issue myself. But I do know that, according to Article 48 of the state constitution, it is his sworn constitutional duty to give both opponents and proponents a fair debate and a roll call vote, Yea or Nay, on the issue. He admits again that he voted to adjourn the Convention so that legislators did not have to take a controversial vote before the election.

What was wrongly done to deny a fair vote to gay marriage opponents could in the future be done to any of us who collect signatures for any constitutional amendment.

So, to clarify my attack: My state rep is a rat protecting the chickens. Makes me want to upchuck.

Barbara Anderson
Marblehead

also executive director, Citizens for Limited Taxation
Anyone wanting to read the entire column attacking Petersen can go to www.cltg.org

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