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Twenty-four hours before the vote was cast on the marriage amendment, the 50 votes necessary to advance the amendment were still there. According to pro-traditional marriage sources, months of lobbying by same-sex couples had not changed the hearts of most of the legislators who ended up flipping their votes June 14.
It was instead the intense arm twisting by Gov. Deval Patrick, House speaker Sal DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray that convinced them to yield to power rather than to the common good.
Immediately following the June 14 vote, Arleen Issacson, co-chair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, said it best: “If it wasn’t for them, we never could have gotten this.”
The turn of events surrounding the June 14 constitutional convention was not an exercise in democracy. It was a public spectacle involving political coercion and, many speculate, quid-pro-quo promises. Those seem to have been the weapons used by the state’s three most powerful leaders. A handful of legislators succumbed to that pressure, ultimately betraying their consciences and complying with the dictates of a lobby that has succeeded in the unthinkable: redefining marriage. Justice and truth were trashed June 14 in Massachusetts.
The people of Massachusetts have been deprived of their right to define marriage in their state. The 170,000 citizens who signed the ballot petition have been ignored.
Same-sex marriage proponents won the day, but lost their credibility. As we move forward, it is now clear that they lack the integrity expected of anyone trying to advance their cause within a democracy. For them, as one prominent same-sex marriage advocate announced last fall, it was payback time and the amendment had to be killed, no matter the means. The Massachusetts leadership handed them the definition of marriage on a silver platter.
Democratic leaders, not only locally but nationally are staunch supporters of same-sex marriage. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s decision to lobby democratic members of the Massachusetts Legislature to block the ballot petition leaves no doubt as to the true position of the party leadership on this issue -- despite their reluctance to acknowledge their pro-same-sex marriage position at the national level. Distressed voters nationwide should take note of the June 14 vote in Massachusetts as we look toward the 2008 presidential elections.
Catholics have a moral obligation to work for the common good. Only a renewed grassroots participation in public life will change the direction in which our society is heading. A new generation of compassionate, yet faithful Catholics, is sorely needed in our political environment.
The faithful of Massachusetts should strongly rethink their political alliances in light of this vote. As long as we continue to blindly re-elect incumbent politicians, nothing will change. Unless new faces appear in the Statehouse, any future effort to defend the traditional definition of marriage will be dashed as it makes its way through an institution filled with politicians more interested in political gain than in serving the common good.