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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

They did the right thing!

After all the blustering, speculation, wild unproven allegations -- not to mention political posturing and outright intolerance -- the Massachusetts Legislature did the right thing and opted not to buy the absurd concept that the people of Massachusetts had the right to vote to deny a class of citizens a right granted to them under the state Constitution three years ago.

This a more than a victory just for gay and lesbians couples who will now have the right to marry -- and care for each other in hospitals, share property and all the other rights afforded to committed male-female partners. It is a victory for a state that says it will not allow hate, intolerance and bigotry to be enshrined in the Constitution.

It is also a victory for Deval Patrick, Sal DiMasi and Terry Murray -- who showed true leadership in getting the representatives of the people to see what fairness dictated. It is a particularly resounding victory for Patrick and Murray, who replaced figures who stood, to a greater and lesser degree, for the enshrinement of discrimination.

In a strange way it is also a victory for Mitt Romney, who led the forces calling for a ban on gay marriage as part of his effort to put his own ambitions ahead of the best interests of the state he was elected to lead.

Romney can now use the repudiation of his crusade as proof that he really is out of step with Massachusetts -- and therefore the right and true conservative he claims to be. Never mind all the flip-flops.

The story line will read like this: Mitt won the first round by the force of his persuasion. When he left, Massachusetts reverted to form. Therefore only Romney has what it takes to stand up to liberals.

Among the biggest losers are the Massachusetts' four Catholic bishops, who improperly injected themselves into the political fray by labeling the "the leadership of the Democratic Party" as the culprits behind the swing in votes.

Never mind that a number of Republicans voted to kill the amendment (including two vote switchers) and two key members of DiMasi's leadership team -- Thomas Petrolati and Angelo Scaccia -- bucked the Speaker.

Another big loser was Kris Mineau and the Massachusetts Family Institute, who waged a McCarthy-like smear campaign suggesting that Patrick and Democratic leaders improperly offering inducements for votes -- without coming up with any proof for the smear.

In the end, this was a vote about right and wrong. It was right not to undo three years of marriages (and divorces) of committed same sex couples. And it was right to take this divisive issue off the table.

Myth Romney will no doubt seek to capitalize on the vote as he continues to pander to the Religious Right. But this issue will no longer be front and center in the 2008 presidential elections. Instead we will be able to focus on the real issues -- like an immoral war that is far more of an abomination than anything that could be dreamed up by the Theocons to change the subject.

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