CITIZENS   FOR  LIMITED  TAXATION
and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

CLT UPDATE
Saturday, November 11, 2006

CLT joins battle to save Constitution in crisis


In using a procedural maneuver to deny the people a voice on the initiative petition on marriage, lawmakers betrayed their constitutional duty and their constituentsí trust. The end run around the initiative-petition process voted by 109 lawmakers also betrayed the democratic principles inherent in their oath of office....

The Legislature has failed miserably in its responsibility to represent and implement the will of the people.

A Telegram & Gazette editorial
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Irresponsible vote
Failure to take up marriage petition was deplorable


Gay marriage was the headline event yesterday at the state's Constitutional Convention. But the convention also did not act on an amendment designed to guarantee affordable health care coverage to all Massachusetts residents. Look for the backers of that proposal to file suit as early as today in Suffolk Superior Court, seeking to force the constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2008....

Barbara Anderson, head of Citizens for Limited Taxation and an advocate for such ballot questions, is among those who plan to file suit.

The Boston Globe
Friday, November 10, 2006
Boston sampler
By Steve Bailey


A lawsuit filed today by citizen activists who have mounted a long campaign to amend the constitution calls on the state's highest court to order Secretary of State William Galvin to put the amendment before voters on the 2008 ballot, unless the Legislature votes the proposal down on January 2.

The plaintiffs' suit, filed on behalf of the Committee for Health Care For Massachusetts, asserts that the up-or-down vote by the Legislature is required by the state constitution, the same argument made by gay marriage opponents who fumed yesterday when the Legislature voted to recess their convention until January without taking a vote on their citizen petition....

Former US Attorney for Massachusetts Donald Stern, who served as counsel to Gov. Michael Dukakis and is now a partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP, will handle the case for the plaintiffs, which include Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation, a longtime critic of the Legislature's handling of ballot proposals and laws....

Health Care For Massachusetts Campaign co-chair Barbara Roop said Friday that the suit is based on the plaintiff's interpretation of the constitution. "It's very clear that they're required to vote up or down," said Roop. "They're perfectly within their rights to vote it down, and we would have lost fair and square. We'd be very unhappy about that ... but they do have to vote."

Similar cases have been brought surrounding the Legislature's handling of term limits and gay marriage proposals, Roop said, and each time the court ruled that a vote is required under the constitution. Forcing the Legislature to take that vote is another matter, Roop said.

"The principle of law is very clear," she added. "The question is whether the SJC will grant a meaningful remedy" or issue a ruling that leaves a "core part of the constitution meaningless."

State House News Service
Friday, November 10, 2006
Seeking vote by Legislature,
health care ballot activists file suit with SJC


Massachusetts Democrats, who mouth platitudes about the sanctity of choice and the need for all voices to be heard, just silenced 170,000 citizens and denied all the state's voters a choice on one of the most hotly debated issues of the day.

Yesterday, the Legislature voted to recess until Jan. 2 - the last day of the current session - without voting on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. That likely kills an initiative petition signed by 170,000 Bay State residents to put a gay marriage amendment on the 2008 ballot.

Legislators were not being asked to approve or disapprove of gay marriage but merely to give the people the ability to decide the controversial matter for themselves. But our legislators, through their cowardly actions, have shown they don't trust the people who elected them....

Our legislators have been ducking this important issue for years, even before the SJC ruling in 2003....

Now, the Legislature has essentially repeated its 2002 stunt, letting the matter die without even taking a vote. The antitax group Citizens for Limited Taxation argues that the Legislature itself is violating the state constitution by refusing to vote on the proposed amendment....

The Legislature, if it favors gay marriage, has always had the ability to pass a law making same-sex unions legal. But that would have required legislators to stand up and place their names next to a vote. In the end, they found it easier to avoid that responsibility by ignoring the question.

The whole affair has been a sham from the outset.

A Salem News editorial
Friday, November 10, 2006
Legislature makes a sham of democracy


It used to be, not so long ago, if a referendum question passed, the Legislature accepted the will of the people. Then the reps just started ignoring the results. Now they have apparently decided itís just too darn dangerous to allow the people to vote, period.

The Boston Herald
Friday, November 10, 2006
Sanctimonious solons thumb noses at masses
By Howie Carr


Thatís great ... so why not take the vote? Why not record that opposition for the world to see? Why torpedo yet another voter initiative and confirm what many already suspect - that lawmakers consider voters little more than a minor inconvenience to maneuver around? ...

But hey, at least when lawmakers were stomping on our democracy they were clever about it....

A Boston Herald editorial
Friday, November 10, 2006
Lawmakers stall, while voters stew


In a move slammed by Gov. Mitt Romney as "the triumph of arrogance over democracy," lawmakers took a pass on a proposed gay marriage ban and virtually dashed any hopes voters will get to decide the issue in 2008.

Outraged proponents of the ban loudly protested outside the House chamber, with one of their leaders waving a copy of the state constitution.

"The oldest living constitution in the world, and this Legislature is thumbing its nose at it - is playing games with it," shouted Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman for VoteOnMarriage.org. "Thatís not democracy. Welcome to the Peopleís Republic of Massachusetts!"

The Boston Herald
Friday, November 10, 2006
Gay wed foes decry delay:
Vote postponed until Jan. 2


State lawmakers yesterday again refused to vote on a proposed ban on same-sex marriages, a move that activists on both sides said effectively killed any chance that the measure would appear on the 2008 statewide ballot.

The House and Senate, meeting in a special joint session, voted to recess before taking up a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would limit the legal definition of marriage to the union of one man and one woman. Lawmakers voted to adjourn the session until Jan. 2, the last official day of the session.

The Boston Globe
Friday, November 10, 2006
Legislature again blocks bid to ban gay marriage
Lawmakers recess without voting on constitutional amendment


The move yesterday by lawmakers to recess without taking up the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage puts the question off until Jan. 2 - the last day of the current legislative term - and effectively kills the measure....

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman for VoteOnMarriage.org, which filed the ballot petition with the signatures of more than 170,000 voters, said he and the groupís attorneys will consider all options, including appeals in state or federal court.

The Boston Herald
Friday, November 10, 2006
Delay likely to nix í08 ballot measure


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

Why is it that gay marriage activists and supporters -- especially in the Legislature -- insist that the state Supreme Judicial Court has ruled, and therefore cannot be denied, when it comes to the SJC's ruling on gay marriage and the rights of citizens, but then somehow finds it perfectly appropriate to ignore that same court and its previous rulings when it comes to the rights of voters?

Situational ethics?  Convenience?  Cowardly expedience, I charge.  [See roll call votes and more documents, below.]

The earlier drafters of the state Constitution never envisioned the cynical games future, less ethical, Legislatures would play with the rights of the people enshrined in the document which they created.  They assumed that legislators who followed them would possess the same integrity of their convictions.

The corruption of the process began with the initiative petition process, when initiative petitions cleared all the constitutional hurdles and were presented to the Legislature for its constitutionally-required up-or-down vote.  The legislative gamesmanship then turned to sending proposed laws by the people to a "study committee" to avoid a vote, where they died.  The SJC ruled that a failure to vote still moved the initiative to its next step, the collection of additional signatures and, accomplishing that further hurdle, onto the ballot for the voters to decide.

The principle is the same, the result should be as well.

This is why CLT (Barbara Anderson) has joined the constitutional crusade with the proposed amendment drafters of the Committee for Healthcare for Massachusetts in a class action lawsuit filed with the SJC yesterday.

It doesn't matter how you or I will vote on any question once it reaches the ballot.  First, it must reach the ballot -- Article 48 of the state Constitution must survive, for all of us.  It is often we citizens' last resort.  It doesn't matter what the question presented to the voters is or might be:  the voters must retain their constitutional right to vote on it.

This lawsuit appears to be the best immediate vehicle available to ensure its survival -- resuscitate it -- and a remedy is long overdue.


The Telegram & Gazette
Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Telegram & Gazette editorial
Irresponsible vote
Failure to take up marriage petition was deplorable


In using a procedural maneuver to deny the people a voice on the initiative petition on marriage, lawmakers betrayed their constitutional duty and their constituentsí trust. The end run around the initiative-petition process voted by 109 lawmakers also betrayed the democratic principles inherent in their oath of office.

To get the initiative on the 2008 ballot, at least 50 of the 200 lawmakers must vote "yes" in two consecutive legislative sessions, while meeting as a constitutional convention.

In Julyís constitutional convention, lawmakers cynically put off the issue until after Election Day. Thursday, the Legislature evaded its responsibility again, recessing until the last day of the current legislative session, effectively killing the initiative.

The evasion of responsibility was hardly a surprise. Since the issue of same-sex marriage came before the Supreme Judicial Court in 2003, the Legislature has failed time and again to do its duty and address the issue forthrightly ó despite months-long windows of opportunity left open by the SJC before and after its November 2003 ruling.

The Legislature has failed miserably in its responsibility to represent and implement the will of the people.

Return to top


The Boston Globe
Friday, November 10, 2006

DOWNTOWN
Boston sampler
By Steve Bailey, Globe Columnist

[Excerpt]

Gay marriage was the headline event yesterday at the state's Constitutional Convention. But the convention also did not act on an amendment designed to guarantee affordable health care coverage to all Massachusetts residents. Look for the backers of that proposal to file suit as early as today in Suffolk Superior Court, seeking to force the constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2008.

The suit will argue that the Legislature violated its own rules in July by referring the amendment to a study committee. The amendment was sidelined after the Legislature passed what was hailed as a landmark bill to provide healthcare to everyone in Massachusetts.

"We believe that the incremental strategy that has pitted hospitals and insurers against employers has to be replaced with one that brings everyone to the table to figure out how to efficiently deliver excellent quality to everyone," says Barbara Waters Roop, co-chairwoman of the Health Care for Massachusetts Campaign, an advocacy group. Barbara Anderson, head of Citizens for Limited Taxation and an advocate for such ballot questions, is among those who plan to file suit.

Return to top


State House News Service
Friday, November 10, 2006

Seeking vote by Legislature,
health care ballot activists file suit with SJC
By Michael P. Norton

A lawsuit filed today by citizen activists who have mounted a long campaign to amend the constitution calls on the state's highest court to order Secretary of State William Galvin to put the amendment before voters on the 2008 ballot, unless the Legislature votes the proposal down on January 2.

The plaintiffs' suit, filed on behalf of the Committee for Health Care For Massachusetts, asserts that the up-or-down vote by the Legislature is required by the state constitution, the same argument made by gay marriage opponents who fumed yesterday when the Legislature voted to recess their convention until January without taking a vote on their citizen petition. The health proposal would make access to health insurance a constitutional right.

Former US Attorney for Massachusetts Donald Stern, who served as counsel to Gov. Michael Dukakis and is now a partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP, will handle the case for the plaintiffs, which include Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation, a longtime critic of the Legislature's handling of ballot proposals and laws.

Other plaintiffs include Massachusetts Nurses Association Executive Director Julie Pinkham, former MDC Chair and Suffolk County Sheriff John Sears, Ann Eldridge Malone of the Alliance to Defend Health Care, Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board Youth Committee Chairman William Spring, and journalist and author Ben Lipson.

The health care question has not emerged for an up-or-down vote during six meetings of the Constitutional Convention held over this two-year legislative session that ends January 2. In July, the convention voted 118 to 76 to send the health care question to a special committee of the Legislature. It has not surfaced from that committee and the question's sponsors say the special committee has never met.

Health Care For Massachusetts Campaign co-chair Barbara Roop said Friday that the suit is based on the plaintiff's interpretation of the constitution. "It's very clear that they're required to vote up or down," said Roop. "They're perfectly within their rights to vote it down, and we would have lost fair and square. We'd be very unhappy about that ... but they do have to vote."

Similar cases have been brought surrounding the Legislature's handling of term limits and gay marriage proposals, Roop said, and each time the court ruled that a vote is required under the constitution. Forcing the Legislature to take that vote is another matter, Roop said.

"The principle of law is very clear," she added. "The question is whether the SJC will grant a meaningful remedy" or issue a ruling that leaves a "core part of the constitution meaningless."

The amendment's sponsors gathered more than 71,000 signatures in 2003, launching the intensive process to amend the constitution. In July 2004, lawmakers meeting in Constitutional Convention amended and endorsed the plan by a vote of 153 to 41. This year, before sending the plan to a study committee, lawmakers said the constitutional requirement should be put on hold while a new state health insurance access law is given time to work.

The authors of the constitutional amendment say it represents the hammer that will force state government to successfully implement the new law, known as Chapter 58, and does not specify a specific approach to reform.

In a statement released along with a copy of the complaint, Roop said: "The amendment's supporters have done everything in their power to let the people decide if they want to create a collective right to affordable, comprehensive health and mental health care coverage for every Massachusetts resident. By failing to cast the up or down vote required by our constitution, the General Court has shut down the 'people's process' and damaged the very fabric of democracy Massachusetts-style."

"The secretary has no comment," said Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of State Galvin. "As is the procedure in these matters, he would be represented by the attorney general."

Senate President Robert Travaglini could not be reached for comment Friday. Travaglini said Thursday, after voting against recessing a convention that was on the verge of taking up the citizen-sponsored gay marriage question, that he would have preferred that "we record ourselves on the issue, and decide final action in that fashion." Travaglini, as Senate President, is scheduled to preside over the session's final convention in January.

Return to top


The Salem News
Friday, November 10, 2006

A Salem News editorial
Legislature makes a sham of democracy


Massachusetts Democrats, who mouth platitudes about the sanctity of choice and the need for all voices to be heard, just silenced 170,000 citizens and denied all the state's voters a choice on one of the most hotly debated issues of the day.

Yesterday, the Legislature voted to recess until Jan. 2 - the last day of the current session - without voting on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. That likely kills an initiative petition signed by 170,000 Bay State residents to put a gay marriage amendment on the 2008 ballot.

Legislators were not being asked to approve or disapprove of gay marriage but merely to give the people the ability to decide the controversial matter for themselves. But our legislators, through their cowardly actions, have shown they don't trust the people who elected them.

A State House News poll Sunday showed 56 percent of respondents want the gay marriage amendment on the ballot even though 63 percent say they would vote against the question if it were. Clearly, that means that even some supporters of gay marriage believe the matter should be decided by voters. But for our legislators, democracy is too much of a gamble.

The proposed constitutional amendment required the support of just 25 percent of the Legislature - 50 legislators - in two consecutive sessions to make it to the 2008 ballot.

In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage with a 4-3 ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court. The first such marriages took place in May 2004. Such a far-reaching restructuring of the social fabric should be decided by the people or their elected representatives, not a one-vote majority of a court.

Currently, 44 states have laws or constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage. Since the landmark Massachusetts decision, constitutional amendments banning gay marriage have passed in 27 of 28 states where they have been proposed. On Election Day, seven of eight states considering such amendments passed them.

Arizona Tuesday became the first state to defeat a gay marriage amendment at the polls. But at least Arizonans had a say in the matter. Massachusetts legislators won't even give voters that chance.

Our legislators have been ducking this important issue for years, even before the SJC ruling in 2003.

In 2002, citizens petitioned for a ballot question limiting marriage to a man and a woman. But legislative leaders would not let the matter come to a vote, adjourning the constitutional convention before the question could be considered.

In 2004, after the first same-sex unions had taken place, the convention approved a ballot question banning gay marriage but permitting civil unions. The Legislature reversed itself the next year, and the question died.

Now, the Legislature has essentially repeated its 2002 stunt, letting the matter die without even taking a vote. The antitax group Citizens for Limited Taxation argues that the Legislature itself is violating the state constitution by refusing to vote on the proposed amendment.

Legislators, led by Senate President Robert Travaglini and House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, have made a travesty of democracy in Massachusetts. They pay lip service to the democratic process but, in the end, ignore it.

The Legislature, if it favors gay marriage, has always had the ability to pass a law making same-sex unions legal. But that would have required legislators to stand up and place their names next to a vote. In the end, they found it easier to avoid that responsibility by ignoring the question.

The whole affair has been a sham from the outset.

Return to top


The Boston Herald
Friday, November 10, 2006

Sanctimonious solons thumb noses at masses
By Howie Carr


What about the civil rights of the 170,000 people who signed the petitions to put the question of gay marriage on the ballot?

The Legislature was very, very concerned yesterday about the civil rights of some citizens, but the rights of others can be trampled upon, as Gov. Mitt Romney put it last evening, with impunity.

Itís too bad the 170,000 donít have as much money as MassEquality and the other gay-affiliated lobbying groups. Because apparently the more money you pony up, the more your rights get protected.

Where is the ACLU when you really need them?

The vote to thumb their noses at the state constitution was made by 109 solons - 109 legislators who disgraced their oath of office, as Romney said last night.

Hereís the irony, or maybe hypocrisy is the word: When the state Supreme Judicial Court, on a 4-3 vote, invented a right that has never before existed in human history - gay marriage - everyone in the sodomy lobby nodded solemnly and said, "The court has spoken." The decision must never be countermanded.

Of course, that same SJC has also ruled that on any proposed constitutional amendment, the Legislature must vote. But that ruling by the SJC ... well, thatís not anything anyone needs to worry about abiding by. Laws? We donít need no stinkiní laws.

The Legislature, meeting in joint session as it did yesterday, is called a Constitutional Convention - the ConCon. And thatís exactly how the reps and senators were acting yesterday, like cons.

Thereís only one reason the sodomites want to stop a statewide referendum on gay marriage. Because they know theyíd lose it. They lost six more statewide votes Tuesday, in the middle of a Democratic wave.

Yet they have the audacity to cite polls purporting that 60 percent of the stateís voters would approve their abomination. So whatís the problem with allowing a vote, if youíre going to win. Sen. Ed Augustus of Worcester actually cited the figure, and then said it was time to move on.

Of course, the solons claim they arenít really sidestepping the constitution. They didnít adjourn, which would have enabled Romney to order them back into session, which couldnít have hurt his 2008 presidential bid.

No, they recessed until Jan. 2, at which time theyíll recess until Jan. 3, at which time theyíll recess until ... oh darn, the session ran out, and 170,000 people will have had their civil rights violated. But who cares about them? They go to church, and most importantly, they donít give money to reps.

It used to be, not so long ago, if a referendum question passed, the Legislature accepted the will of the people. Then the reps just started ignoring the results. Now they have apparently decided itís just too darn dangerous to allow the people to vote, period.

All the usual suspects were present and accounted for. Sen. Jarrett Barrios from Cambridge, whose wife, er husband, is named Doug. He suggested that everyone vote to end this conversation.

End this conversation? Whatever happened to the First Amendment? Donít you want to celebrate diversity?

Then there was Sen. Brian "Multiple Choice" Joyce, who has lately been following Deval Patrick around like the lapdog that he is. He said gay couples deserve the same rights, which I guess means heís buried the hatchet with Cheryl Jacques (rhymes with Fakes), who had the temerity to run against him for Congress back in 2001.

Rep. Kathi Lee Reinstein of Revere said, "We are here to advocate for acceptance of our neighbor."

Unless they signed the petition, in which case, bleep íem.

So this is the new world of Massachusetts politics. Looks a lot like the old one, only even more sanctimonious.

Return to top


The Boston Herald
Friday, November 10, 2006

A Boston Herald editorial
Lawmakers stall, while voters stew


Itís heartening to know that 87 lawmakers, including Senate President Robert Travaglini, have the courage of their convictions.

But the 109 others who voted to scurry away from the State House last night under cover of darkness instead of taking a vote on a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage are simply cowards.

Gay marriage supporters like House Speaker Sal DiMasi are fond of saying that Massachusetts voters have moved on - that the right of gay couples to marry is now the accepted norm here - that Bay Staters have embraced that their gay neighbors have the right to marry. Thatís great ... so why not take the vote? Why not record that opposition for the world to see? Why torpedo yet another voter initiative and confirm what many already suspect - that lawmakers consider voters little more than a minor inconvenience to maneuver around?

Perhaps because they didnít have the votes to reject the amendment. That might have changed in the next session - when a second vote was needed to advance the proposal to the ballot - but they wouldnít risk it. They walked away instead.

But hey, at least when lawmakers were stomping on our democracy they were clever about it. By adjourning until the final day of the session (no plans to vote then, either) they rendered Gov. Mitt Romney all but impotent on this issue. He can stamp his feet all he wants, but heís virtually powerless to force them back.

But this isnít a chess match. More than 170,000 voters - who returned lawmakers to power in overwhelming numbers Tuesday - asked them to vote on this amendment. Yesterday, they laughed in those votersí faces.

Return to top


The Boston Herald
Friday, November 10, 2006

Gay wed foes decry delay:
Vote postponed until Jan. 2
By Kimberly Atkins


In a move slammed by Gov. Mitt Romney as "the triumph of arrogance over democracy," lawmakers took a pass on a proposed gay marriage ban and virtually dashed any hopes voters will get to decide the issue in 2008.

Outraged proponents of the ban loudly protested outside the House chamber, with one of their leaders waving a copy of the state constitution.

"The oldest living constitution in the world, and this Legislature is thumbing its nose at it - is playing games with it," shouted Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman for VoteOnMarriage.org. "Thatís not democracy. Welcome to the Peopleís Republic of Massachusetts!"

Backers of same-sex marriage, currently allowed in the state, said the issue is a matter of civil rights that should not be decided by voters. Lawmakers must approve the proposed constitutional amendment two consecutive times to clear the way for the issue to make the ballot.

Backers of the citizen initiative gathered 170,000 signatures, more than enough to put it before lawmakers. Under Massachusetts law, it needs the approval of at least one quarter of the Legislature, or 50 lawmakers.

Romney said the 109 lawmakers who voted to recess the Constitutional Convention session, virtually killing any chance of the question appearing on the 2008 ballot, "disgraced their oaths of office."

By recessing until Jan. 2, the last day of the legislative session, lawmakers made it highly unlikely the measure will be acted on before the session ends.

Sen. Jarrett Barrios, a Cambridge Democrat who is gay and married, pointed to his wedding ring and warned that putting the question on the ballot will open the doors to a campaign vilifying gays.

"You donít have to live next to us, you donít have to like us," said Barrios. "We are only asking you today to end the debate so that we can sleep easily knowing that while you may not live next to us or even like us that we will at least have the right to enjoy the same rights the rest of you enjoy."

Gov.-elect Deval Patrick favors gay marriage, which was legalized by the stateís highest court in November 2003. Romney, aggressively courting conservatives and the evangelicals in his bid for the White House, has made national headlines attacking it.

Praising the 87 lawmakers who voted against recessing, including Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, Romney said, "Whether or not you favor same-sex marriage, you should be very concerned that the rule of law and sovereignty of the vote of the people have been trampled."

The vote came after two hours of emotional debate.

At the urging of House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, many lawmakers were planning to block the ballot question.

Gay marrage advocates, who crowded into the State House by the thousands, praised DiMasi as "a true champion of individual and civil rights."

Return to top


The Boston Globe
Friday, November 10, 2006

Legislature again blocks bid to ban gay marriage
Lawmakers recess without voting on constitutional amendment
By Andrea Estes and Scott Helman, Globe Staff


State lawmakers yesterday again refused to vote on a proposed ban on same-sex marriages, a move that activists on both sides said effectively killed any chance that the measure would appear on the 2008 statewide ballot.

The House and Senate, meeting in a special joint session, voted to recess before taking up a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would limit the legal definition of marriage to the union of one man and one woman. Lawmakers voted to adjourn the session until Jan. 2, the last official day of the session.

The 109-87 vote to recess dealt a crushing blow to opponents of same-sex marriage looking to override the landmark court decision three years ago that put Massachusetts on the vanguard of gay rights. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled in a 4-3 decision in 2003 that gays and lesbians could legally marry under the state constitution.

"It's over; it's over," said Arline Isaacson, cochairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. "It would make no sense to come back and debate it all over again. What's the point? They don't have the votes to stop same-sex marriage."

Gay marriage opponents, including Governor Mitt Romney, angrily accused lawmakers of willfully denying the public a chance to vote on an amendment that had the support of more than 170,000 people who signed petitions to get it on the ballot.

"This is the Constitution of Massachusetts," said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute. "The constitution says that this Legislature has the obligation to take final action on our amendment."

"They just trashed it," Mineau said, throwing the constitution to the ground.

The vote followed daylong rallies outside the State House by hundreds of activists on both sides of the issue. They lined up on opposite sides of Beacon Street, with signs, costumes, and makeshift drums.

Lawmakers decided not to formally adjourn the Constitutional Convention, legislative sources said, because Romney could have ordered the Legislature back into session over the next two months. By recessing, the lawmakers may have prevented Romney from calling them back to vote on the measure.

Shortly after the vote, Romney called a press conference and blasted the 109 lawmakers who voted to recess, saying "we have witnessed the triumph of arrogance over democracy."

"Today, by effectively avoiding the constitutionally required vote on same-sex marriage, 109 legislators disgraced their oath of office," Romney said, adding that it was clear the intent was to kill the measure altogether.

Mineau urged Romney to take legal action to force a vote, but the governor acknowledged that because the Legislature had recessed instead of adjourning, he was probably powerless to do anything about it.

"My options are limited," Romney said. "But we will explore any other alternatives that may exist to protect the constitutional rights of our citizens."

Two days before the latest fight over gay marriage in Massachusetts, seven other states passed bans on same-sex marriage in Tuesday's election, including Colorado, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Arizona voters narrowly rejected a ban.

But same-sex marriage opponents fear that other states will follow the lead of Massachusetts in letting gays and lesbians wed. Two weeks ago, New Jersey's highest court ruled that same-sex couples were entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples under state marriage statutes.

The Massachusetts ban needed the backing of at least one-quarter of state legislators in this year's legislative session to advance to next year's legislative session and, ultimately, to the 2008 ballot.

Legislative leaders had scheduled a joint session in July to take up the proposed ballot initiative -- but then they put off the matter until two days after the general elections. Gay marriage opponents attempted to put a similar measure on the ballot in 2002, but legislative leaders adjourned and did not vote on it.

This time, House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage, marshaled his leadership team to collect votes to recess. They needed just 101 votes, far fewer than the 150 needed to kill the proposed ban outright.

Before voting to recess, lawmakers considered a different amendment that would have outlawed both same-sex marriage and civil unions, a measure that sparked more than 2Ĺ hours of emotional debate. That amendment was placed on the agenda by same-sex marriage supporters. They figured the more extreme measure would fail, but would give lawmakers a chance to voice their opinion.

"You don't have to live next to us. You don't have to like us," state Senator Jarrett T. Barrios, an openly gay Cambridge Democrat, said in an emotional speech. "We are only asking you today to end the debate so that we can sleep easily knowing ... that we will at least have the right to enjoy the same rights the rest of you have enjoyed for time immemorial."

Proponents of the ban argued that regardless of how legislators felt about same-sex marriage, they ought to respect the wishes of the people who signed a petition to put it before voters in 2008.

"You don't represent their vote; you represent their interest in allowing them to vote," said Philip Travis, a Rehoboth Democrat who has been one of the leading legislative opponents of gay marriage.

Possible scenarios for the Legislature on Jan. 2 include: an up-or-down vote on the proposed ban; adjournment without taking the measure up; a filibuster by supporters of same-sex marriage until the session ends at midnight, or denial by same-sex marriage supporters of the quorum necessary to proceed.

A spokeswoman for Senate President Robert E. Travaglini said he expects the Legislature to vote on the amendment Jan. 2. But after the vote some same-sex marriage supporters said if Travaglini, who ran the constitutional convention, had really wanted an up-or-down vote, he would have pressed for one yesterday.

Travaglini insisted that he was against delaying the vote.

"I didn't think it was the appropriate action to take," he told State House News Service. "But I'm just one of the members in the Constitutional Convention."

Travaglini told DiMasi and some senators yesterday that he would not entertain a filibuster on Jan. 2, a Senate source said.

The raucous scene outside the State House was reminiscent of many past legislative votes on gay marriage.

Supporters and opponents yelled, sang, chanted, and waved signs from either side of Beacon Street. The rallies were noisy but otherwise peaceful.

Ban supporters said they were livid about the recess strategy, which was reported in the morning's Globe. Gathered on the Boston Common side of the street, they sang songs such as "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and shouted, "Let the people vote!" One man held a massive helium balloon that said, "Jesus is Lord."

"It's subverting the will of the people," said Bob McDonald, a community college professor from Danvers.

Angie Capomaccio, 77, of Andover, standing next to McDonald, held a sign that said, "Give God his rainbow back."

"I know that, like other people, they're good people," she said. "But a marriage -- that's crossing the line."

Lisa Wangsness of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Return to top


The Boston Herald
Friday, November 10, 2006

Delay likely to nix í08 ballot measure
By Kimberly Atkins


The move yesterday by lawmakers to recess without taking up the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage puts the question off until Jan. 2 - the last day of the current legislative term - and effectively kills the measure.

The measure would allow voters in a 2008 ballot referendum to decide whether to ban same-sex marriage currently allowed in Massachusetts, but legislative approval is needed first.

If no vote is taken on the matter before the end of the day Jan. 2, the measure fails since it requires legislative approval by lawmakers in two successive Constitutional Convention sessions to move forward.

Now, lawmakers are likely to reconvene only to allow the final minutes of the legislative year to run out without reaching a vote. If a vote were to take place, only 50 of the stateís 200 lawmakers need to approve the measure to send it forward.

Yesterday, Gov. Mitt Romney blasted the vote to recess, but admitted that by recessing rather than adjourning, options to force a vote are limited. Had the lawmakers adjourned, he could have sought to compel them to reconvene to finish the remaining items on the conventionís calendar.

But now, the convention will likely close without a vote just minutes before Romney turns the reigns of the Corner Office over to Gov.-elect Deval Patrick. Patrick has stated in the past that he hopes the measure dies, with or without a vote by lawmakers.

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute and spokesman for VoteOnMarriage.org, which filed the ballot petition with the signatures of more than 170,000 voters, said he and the groupís attorneys will consider all options, including appeals in state or federal court.

Return to top


NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml


Return to CLT Updates page

Return to CLT home page