Dishonest defense of dishonest tactics to push gay marriage in Massachusetts

Dishonest defense of dishonest tactics to push gay marriage in Massachusetts

When proponents of creating the institution of gay marriage in Massachusetts (who therefore oppose the proposed constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage) engineered a legislative gimmick to avoid a vote on the amendment, they circumvented the state Constitution and the will of 170,000 voters. Now the leaders of the same-sex marriage movement are twisting the English language like they twisted the Constitution to say what it does not say.

In a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, John Reinstein and Arline Isaacson claim that Article 48 of the state Constitution did not require the Constitutional Convention to vote, up or down, on the referendum question.

Yet nothing in Article 48 requires a vote on the merits of any given petition. It says that “final legislative action” or “an unfavorable vote at any stage preceding final action” “shall be taken only by call of the yeas and nays.” It is a provision that requires accountability, not action.

This is bald-faced baloney. Article 48 of the Constitution (as amended by Article 81) says, in #4, Section 2:

If a proposal for a specific amendment of the constitution is introduced into the general court by initiative petition [...] such proposal shall, not later than the second Wednesday in May, be laid before a joint session of the two houses, at which the president of the senate shall preside [...]

Section 3 then says:

A proposal for an amendment to the constitution introduced by initiative petition shall be voted upon in the form in which it was introduced, unless such amendment is amended by vote of three-fourths of the members voting thereon in joint session, which vote shall be taken by call of the yeas and nays if called for by any member.

Finally, Section 4, which Isaacson and Reinstein quote:

Final legislative action in the joint session upon any amendment shall be taken only by call of the yeas and nays, which shall be entered upon the journals of the two houses; and an unfavorable vote at any stage preceding final action shall be verified by call of the yeas and nays, to be entered in like manner.

Read that carefully and re-read their letter. Note how carefully they cut and pasted the Constitutional provision, twisting it’s meaning such that it no longer says that the Legislature “shall” vote to make it mean “they may vote if it pleases them.” Typical of the dishonesty which has pervaded the campaign to push through this blatantly dishonest policy right from the beginning.

After the twisting of the Constitution, they add: “The constitution requires that initiative proposals go through the Legislature, but it allows the Legislature to operate under its own rules and procedures, including the rules for recess and adjournment.” Does this make any sense at all? There are boundaries to the Legislature’s free hand. Otherwise they would be free to completely ignore the Constitution. The recess and adjournment they voted on in November was a blatant subversion of the Constitution, a legislative trick designed to subvert the will of the voters and the Constitution.

Isaacson is the head of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Alliance and is on the board of MassEquality. She’s been the spearhead for the whole gay marriage activism in Massachusetts. Reinstein is legal director of the Massachusetts ACLU.

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