Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Am I nuts?

Seems like I've been here before, but one of the stranger dimensions of the marriage rights
conflict is how few people have thought about what might happen if the opponents of marriage equality win.

The opponents have not, because they are trapped in the desert religions' cult of victimhood, and because
right-wing causes in general exist to provide a living for their lobbyists. The worst that can happen to these
foundations is to win. In the dark corners of their souls, they are sure (or hopeful) that they will lose. Eventually,
they will. The worst fears of their scare campaigns will not materialise, and an embarrassed silence will descend
upon the issue, very much like that which now hides the exact parallels between this battle and that over
mixed-race marriage two generations back.

The proponents, in particular Mass Equality, have not thought about it, because they are a) in serious denial
and b) obsessed with playing nice. They are sure they will win. Eventually, they will.

No one in the Great and General Court has thought about it, because they are only able to think as far as
the next election, and about not offending their constituents.

I'm not talking about eventually. I'm talking about now. And now is when something very very bad is
very likely to happen. People who support equality in marriage need to lose the denial and plan how to
turn a probable electoral defeat into a permanent social victory.

The last time law-abiding American citizens were deprived of rights they had previously enjoyed
was in the aftermath of Plessy v. Ferguson. What an ugly precedent that is. The state
with the oldest written constitution in the world would have to figure out what to do about
the 9000 or so same-sex couples who are now married. Nobody has advanced any idea about

I would guess that your courageous legislative representatives would consider throwing those
9000 couples a bone in the form of the most timid form of civil unions they can cook up.

What if the couples said "no?" All at once? On the State House steps? Nice sound bite,
that. Deval thinks he's in trouble now?

What if some or all of them sued? What if they sued on the basis of the sanctity of contract,
which is the Commonwealth's chief interest here, not the right to marry. If I were a conservative capable
of foresight (perhaps contradictory, I know), that would worry me. It would worry me because if this
particular Federal Supreme Court were asked to rule against its most cherished principle and precedent, it
becomes very tough to forecast the outcome.

What if the state courts in addition had a dozen new Goodridge cases to consider? That's especially true
this week, since the SJC may be one vertebra closer to having a spine again.

What could happen from this storm of litigation is that the opponents of equal marriage rights might,
accidentally, create one or more legal decisions that would make their position and their amendments
untenable everywhere.
Has anyone played out this possibility to the legislature's gutless holdouts? The chance that by placating the "let the people vote" mob in the short run, they might become goats to the right, rather than heroes?

And don't forget kerosene to help burn those 9000 marriage licences.


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