News & Politics

Massachusetts marriage: part 417

Today, for what feels like the millionth time in the past 3 1/2 years, the Massachusetts legislature is voting on whether to send a referendum to the votes to let them decide whether same-gender marriage will continue to be legal.

More than eight thousand families in Massachusetts would have their current legal status endangered, and both marriage rights and civil unions would be off the table for the rest of us queers. If we can kill this bill today in the Constitutional Convention, it’s over – there are no more versions of the amendment in the pipeline. It feels like do or die today.

I am off to the State House in a bit with Roo and will write more later when we know the outcome. A vote is expected between 1 and 3 today, and it’s going to be breathtakingly close.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in obsessively refreshing for up-to-the-minute reports, Bay Windows is live-blogging the day. If you live in Massachusetts, or if you have family or friends here, please make a phone call before 1 pm today.


ETA: if you’re looking for a more personal perspective on what marriage means for LGBT families – both in Massachusetts and elsewhere – Dana just posted a great review of a book called The Brides of March.


4:04: Just got home. Someone is refusing to nap when it’s convenient for Mama (the nerve), so for now, I’ll just say: HELLS, YEAH!!!

Details to follow.


So what we will do with ourselves now? Since November 2004, when the state’s Supreme Judicial Court rules that nothing in the state constitution prohibited consenting adults to get married, regardless of gender, the state legislature has voted on marriage rights no fewer than 14 times.

In the meantime, thousands of couples have gotten married, and dozens of lawsuits – some successful – have been filed by out-of-state couples to get their Massachusetts marriage recognized at home. The impact has gone beyond Massachusetts and the surrounding states, though: as people have seen the sky not falling, and the poll numbers show that an ever-increasing number of people in Massachusetts do support same-gender marriage, a handful of states have established civil unions or domestic partnerships. This is progress, despite the national backlash.

And today was huge. The amendment, which needed 50 votes to turn into a 2008 ballot initiative, got just 44 votes. Some legislators changed their mind at the last second, including the state rep in my mother-in-law’s district (and this after she wrote him an angry letter declaring that she hoped none of his children would grow up to be gay. Fair enough.)

I can’t help but feel pissed at those 44 legislators for having the audacity to think they get to choose who gets to be a legal family and who doesn’t. But 151 legislators – including some republicans in conservative districts – voted with their conscience. Wow, do I love this Commonwealth.

pic 3.jpgBecause of Murphy’s law of babies, Roo took the longest nap of his life this morning, so we were on the train on our way to the State House when NSG called with the news of how the vote went down. I couldn’t believe we missed it. But the State House was still a site to behold when we arrived: throngs of people cheering, hugging, crying, and screaming congratulations across the crowd. A woman grabbed Roo’s hands and yelled “hooray for your moms!”

Across the street were the protesters. Their signs ranged from typically offensive – “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” – to appalling – “Fags burn in hell, wedding ring or no.” An older man screamed at some Episcopal priests about how all we wanted to do was teach “buggery” in elementary school. And then there was the guy with the sign that said “Unitarians are Jew-haters.” (Maybe he was lost.)

When the pro-equality legislators emerged with their staff to greet the crowd, the scattered screams and songs turned into a more unified chant of “thank you, thank you, thank you.” Some of them were crying. All of them were beaming.

I felt so grateful to be there to experience this, and to have Roo there with me. I can’t wait to tell him about this day, so he can say he was there the day his state made history by making sure his family would stay legal.

(Pictures courtesy of The Boston Globe, since I can’t figure out how to get mine of my phone).


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No Comments

  1. Pingback: Even bigger news flash: MA legislators vote to defeat same-sex marriage ban! at LesbianDad

  2. what’s next?
    1. repeal 1913 statute
    2. let freedom roll across the land, friends

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