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Friday, June 15, 2007

More Marriage in Massachusetts

posted by on June 15 at 10:22 AM


To put a constitutional amendment before the voters in Massachusetts two consecutive legislatures had to vote to put it before the voters. Supporters of a ban on gay marriage only needed the voters of 50 of the 200 members of the Massachusetts legislature. Last year they got 62 votes. Yesterday they got just 45.

What changed the minds of legislators that voted for the ban last year and against it this year? Getting to know gay couples, gay couples that have adopted children, concern for gay grandkids, help with yard work, and the efforts of Massachusetts’ Democratic governor.

From the New York Times:

One legislator who switched his vote was Representative Paul Kujawski, Democrat of Uxbridge, saying meetings with gay and lesbian constituents convinced him that “I couldn’t take away the happiness those people have been able to enjoy.”

Senator Gale D. Candaras, a Democrat, voted against the amendment Thursday, although she had supported it as a state representative in January. Ms. Candaras said her vote reflected constituent views in her larger, more progressive Senate district and her fear of a vicious referendum campaign.

Most moving, she said, were older constituents who had changed their views after meeting gay men and lesbians. One woman had “asked me to put it on the ballot for a vote, but since then a lovely couple moved in,” Ms. Candaras said. “She said, ‘They help me with my lawn, and if there can’t be marriage in Massachusetts, they’ll leave and they can’t help me with my lawn.”

The Boston Globe published this statement from Gale Candaras, a Dem member of the legislature that switched her vote:

“Same gender couples have been adopting children and building families here in the Commonwealth for about twenty years. In many instances, same gendered couples have adopted children with severe challenges, children no one else wanted, and they have worked miracles with them. These children would have lived lives of despair without these families.

I have been most impressed by the number of individuals who have called me and asked me to change my vote because they have changed their minds. One grandmother told me she had changed her mind and wanted me to change my vote in case one of her grandchildren grew up to be gay or lesbian. She did not want any of her grandchildren to be denied the right to marry the person they love.”

And the governor of Massachusetts worked his ass off to prevent the ban from going to the ballot—so don’t let anyone tell you there’s “no difference” between Democrats and Republicans on the gay issue. Again, the NYT:

From the Boston Herald:

“In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure,” Gov. Deval Patrick said to roaring applause after the vote in the Constitutional Convention. “Today’s vote was not just a victory for marriage equality, it was a victory for equality itself.”

The ban’s defeat affirmed the status of gay marriage in the only state where it’s legal. The five-vote margin of victory brought a surprising and dramatic end to days of fierce lobbying by Patrick and legislative leaders. In total, 11 lawmakers switched sides to defeat the proposed ban, a sudden shift that shocked ban proponents who said they didn’t see it coming….

Murray, DiMasi and Patrick were lobbying until the final moments. All three said they were unsure of the outcome even as they gaveled the Constitutional Convention into session. “This was as close as I’ve ever seen any vote,” DiMasi said. “I had to go with my instinct, and that’s what I did.”

And, finally, I can’t resist posting this story from yesterday morning’s Boston Globe. The leader of anti-gay marriage forces in Massachusetts predicted, well, let’s just enjoy the delicious quotes…

Kris Mineau, a leader in the campaign for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, said today he was confident his side has enough votes to get the measure on the 2008 ballot. “We’re feeling very good about this,” said Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute….

“We’re confident we have the votes, and we’re calling on Senate president Terry Murray to keep her word and hold the vote,” Mineau said. “If they don’ t hold the vote, you know we have the votes.”

Well, Kris, they held the vote and you didn’t have the votes. How you feeling now?

RSS icon Comments


God damn you Dan! Stop making me tear up at work!

Posted by CodyBolt | June 15, 2007 10:28 AM

Kris may now be a step closer to coming out. Let's not hand him the keys to the closet, though. He'll find them. In his son's pants.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 15, 2007 10:28 AM

Either or mentality is not reliable or applicable in this circumstance, Dan.

If all Democratic politicians were in the same situation (as in MA) across this country, then perhaps they could be relied upon to act like Gov Patrick. Eliot Spitzer is also backing up his words with actions.

It doesn't mean that the Democratic Party is going to do the right thing no matter what the outcome. It means that they will do the right thing when they are sure it will not harm them.

The MA story isn't a reason to support the Democrats. It is an example of what can happen when enough citizens take action and force/convince/coerce politicians to act responsibly - because it is right not because it will help them win the next election.

Posted by patrick | June 15, 2007 10:35 AM

So proud of my home state...

One of the themes here was that constituents called their legislators and told them they had changed their minds. Two examples of this:

My grandparents: Painfully Catholic; years ago, an unmarried couple (hetero) wanted to rent an apartment from them. My grandfather didn't know if he should, so he asked his preist, who told him not to. So he didn't.

But ten years ago, they rented to a gay couple. People change. They learn. It's just hard when you're life is progressing and you have to be the one waiting. But it will come.

Posted by Dianna | June 15, 2007 10:36 AM

Agreed, CodyBolt. I had to wipe away a tear or two while reading this. Although, I laughed out loud when I read the quote from the woman who changed her mind so that her gay neighbors would continue to help her with her lawn.

Posted by motomotoyama | June 15, 2007 10:39 AM

Well, thank god her lawn's safe.

Jebus, while it's good she supports it, I wish she had a less self-serving reason.

Posted by Jessica | June 15, 2007 10:39 AM

*crying like a baby*
Hooray for lawns! Hooray for kids nobody wants to adopt! Hooray for Massachusetts! Hooray for Gov. Patrick! I'm calling my aunt right now to tell her how much I love her state.

I'm feeling a little less bitchy, thanks Dan.

Posted by bitch on heels | June 15, 2007 10:48 AM

the fact remains that many of (voting) older folks do not know (or know they know) and gay couples or people.

Posted by infrequent | June 15, 2007 10:54 AM

How is Kris Mineau feeling now? "Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute that backed the amendment, questioned the legality of what he said was rampant horse trading in the final hours, saying there was 'tremendous pressure and we believe some tremendous incentives' to flip votes." (from an AP article)

The same article quoted another legislator, Richard Ross of Wrentham, who changed his vote: "Ross said he no longer believes that people should vote on the matter, and feared that 'hatred and vitriol' would dominate the ballot question campaign.
"'Nine thousand of them have now married, who have blended into society, who have hurt no one,' Ross said. 'I just couldn't see exposing them to all of that stuff over the next two years. I know there's going to be a lot of folks that I need to apologize to in my district,' he said. 'Whatever happens I'm moving forward. I know I did the right thing.'"

Posted by David | June 15, 2007 10:58 AM

A big victory there, Dan. It just goes to show that a lot of the anti-gay marriage folks simply jump on the bandwagon out of fear of the unknown. Once they get a better understanding of things, they're cool with it. I live in Michigan, and an anti-gay marriage ammendment was passed here a couple years back, by a landslide no less. Sadly, I didn't vote back then. I didn't really care one way or the other, until I started reading your column in the local Metro Times paper. You help people without a clue, like me, get in the know a little bit. There will always be the loons that gay-bash in the name of God, but I think most level-headed people in this country will come around in time, as they gain more familiarity with gay people, and the associated old-school taboos fade away. At least I would like to think so. Keep fighting the good fight.

Posted by marc in detroit | June 15, 2007 11:06 AM

"Support Gays: Keep your yard FABULOUS!"

Kinda has a nice ring to it...

Posted by Griff | June 15, 2007 11:25 AM

Thanks for the post Dan.

There is something about the reasons for the changes in votes that seems to me like a magical moment after several years of politicians on the national stage making the wrong decisions for the wrong reasons completely seperated from considerations of human dignity and a vision of just peaceful society.

My father came out in the 60s. I wish he could be alive to see this today.

Posted by mirror | June 15, 2007 11:35 AM

I love this photo and I love all the quotes (even the lawn one). Thanks for the round-up.

Hurray for Mass! I am confident that in my lifetime marriage equality will be on the books in all states. Today we look at laws that made it illegal for interracial couples to marry and think WTF? That'll be the general reaction 50 years from now when people remind their kids there was a time when Uncle Rick and Uncle Paul wouldn't have been able to get married.

Posted by Kristi in Kitsap | June 15, 2007 11:45 AM

As Lyndon Johnson said: The first lesson of politics is you have to be able to count. Looks like someone in Massachusetts couldn't count yesterday. Thank god!

Posted by Prospero | June 15, 2007 11:47 AM

@1 Seriously! My heart is warm today.

Posted by Callie | June 15, 2007 11:49 AM


My grandmother had to go to Tijuana to get married because she was Korean, her husband was white, and it was illegal in the US.

Seriously. WTF.

Posted by matt | June 15, 2007 1:30 PM

I love that the anti-marriage guy wasn't even trying to claim to have a majority of the votes. He claimed to have about 1/3, as I recall, all that would be needed to pass the buck to the people.

I wonder how that would have gone down. But I'm glad the elected representatives did their jobs appropriately.

Posted by prometheusnox | June 15, 2007 2:44 PM

Yeah, I cried.

People are changing their minds. I almost can't believe it.

Posted by Rebecca | June 15, 2007 4:46 PM

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