Thursday, June 14, 2007

We'll take a brief break from the usual baseball talk and other assorted nonsense to get serious, since today was a historic day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The state legislature voted today not to send a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage to the people. The amendment needed the support of 50 out of the 200 legislators to be sent to the voters. It only garnered 45 votes.

It's not often that the politicians in this state get it right, but they did today. The state constitution should not enshrine bigotry among it's provisions. All people should have the same rights, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or whatever.

And at the end of the day, who does this hurt? The argument that making gay marriage legal somehow "undermines traditional marriage" seems ludicrous to me. I'm married. How does the fact that my homosexual friends, or the gay couple down the street are married have any affect on my marriage. How does it change the fact that married people who are not gay have lost nothing - they still have exactly the same rights they had before.

The other argument you hear is that "the people should vote on this". I don't think that's true in this case, or in any case involving civil rights. We elect our leaders and, hopefully, they have a bit greater vision on the big picture than the average citizen. We hope they show a bit more wisdom about what is right and wrong than the masses. It doesn't often work that way, but it is the ideal.

Think of it this way: if people in the South had been asked 50 years ago to vote on Jim Crow laws, how do you think that vote would have gone? Today, it seems ludicrous that African-Americans had separate (and frequently not equal) public facilities like bathrooms, drinking fountains and waiting rooms. In the 1950's, Jim Crow was the norm in a large part of this country. It was finally ended, but if it was put to a vote of the people in those states, it certainly would have taken a lot longer and those laws might still be with us today.

So, congratulations to the 151 members of the Massachusetts Legislature that stood up against bigotry today. I hope that 50 years from now, my children and grandchildren will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.


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