After months of the legislature trying every spin and dodge it could come up with, the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court has advised the legislature that nothing less than full and equal access to marriage will satisfy its November ruling. No civil unions, no domestic partnerships, no “separate but equal” bullshit. The legislature now has about 4 moonths to change the law to open marriage to same-sex couples in the state.
The legislature has a constitutional convention next week, at which it will be decided whether to approve an amendment to the state constitution undoing the court’s decision. The proposed amendment must be approved by two successive legislatures and then be approved on a general ballot, which means that the earliest it could be considered by the people is 2006. Meanwhile, the people of MA and the country will have had more than two years of married gay couples living peacably among them to figure out that straight people will still be getting married, the sky won’t have fallen, the earth won’t have gone out orbit and that life will continue on pretty much exactly as it had before. One hopes that the good people of MA and the nation will reflect on the utter lack of harm done the Republic and will cease their meddling in the federal and various state constitutions, but that may be giving too much credit to the good people of MA and the nation.
May, not June. The original ruling was handed down in November and the SJC stayed the ruling for six months, which expire in mid-May. If the legislature hasn’t updated the law, the SJC will presumably instruct the trial court to issue an order to the appropriate MA department to begin issuing and recording marriage licenses to same-sex couples on the same basis it does mixed-sex ones.
Hey, the day after my birthday. I’ll raise a toast to the first guys and gals getting in line the next day.
Related hijack: Right now, the Michigan legislature is getting ready to vote on a proposal I brought up in this post. It would determine whether an amendment similar to Ohio’s would be put before the voters to ratify. If you live in Michigan and do not want to see an amendment here like Ohio’s, please write or call and urge your senator and representative to vote against this proposal.
Unfortunately, I doutbt this will happen. It’s been a long and painful struggle to get here, and history tells me that it will continue to be a long and painful struggle - people won’t just say “Hey, look, everyone’s OK after all!” It’ll be more of the “Those damn immoral gays are threatening marriage and corrupting my children!!!”
The likelihood that one will support equality for gays increases when one knows people who are gay. Poll after poll after poll confirm this. As more and more married gay couples fan out to different parts of the country, I have hope that the people who come to know them and care for them as people will grow in their understanding of the validity and importance of recognizing them as a married couple. Voting to ban marriage is easier in the abstract. It’s a lot harder to mark that ballot to ban gay marriages when by doing so you’re invalidating the marriage of your friends Bob and Larry.