Gay marriage in MA safe (for now – 5 years)

Yesterday the MA legislature defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in the state; that is, the vote ensured that there would be no general ballot measure in 2008 for the voters to vote on this question. The next time it could possibly come up again is in 2012.

This is a good thing; personally I have a really hard time with the idea of people getting to vote on whether some group of people should have rights that a majority of the general public does have, or not.

But, one of the sentences in the article I’ve linked above that really struck me was this: “This was the 18th time legislators had taken up this issue since gay marriage became legal in 2004.”

WTF??? Aren’t there some real issues these legislators should be acting on? Ones that might actually improve life in the Bay State? or help people who are in dire need? or enact a budget? or… well, you get the idea. Eighteen times they have instead spent their time (and the taxpayers’ money!) debating the gay marriage measure, being lobbied, voting, etc etc etc. In the last two and a half years. Sheesh.

Well, and the other thing. In this country we’ve pretty much muddied the issue all along with semantics. People who are married do have “civil unions”, because their marriage has a license issued by the state. Legally, that’s all that matters; it’s what gives the couple the various rights and responsibilities of their “coupleship”, not whether they may or may not have been joined in front of a minister, in a church, or whatever. Even when the pastor says “by the power vested in me” – that’s given by the state. “Marriage” is a ceremony conducted by the spiritual authority or leader or church or faith the couple may subscribe to. So, why don’t we just say, states give the legal power and authority to relationships; and if churches wish to “marry” people, or not, that’s up to them. Whether they do or not, couples who want to be joined together legally can do so, under the auspices of the state.

Hah. Easy to say, not likely to happen. It’s just too long-standing of a tradition that we “marry”, whether it’s in a church or spiritual venue, or at the justice of the peace or city hall. And some people have really strong feelings about who gets to do it.

OK. rant over.

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