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Dwight Duncan -- 03/29/2004 11:26

I've been thinking about today's convention, and why it makes sense to split the Travaglini-Finneran Amendment (currently on its third reading and thus up for possible amendment itself). To refresh everyone's recollection, the Leadership Amendment purports to be a compromise: It defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, "to protect the unique relationship of marriage," and then grants same-sex couples "entirely the same benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities" as marriage under state law.

Obviously, this is an incoherent mish-mash, appealing only to politicians who want to have it both ways, by ostensibly offering something for everybody. Both sides of this debate, however, are adamantly opposed to it: gay marriage opponents like myself, because this is just gay marriage by another name; and gay marriage proponents, because this seems discriminatory on its face. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck, with all the benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities of ducks, why can't we call it a duck? (Our side's response is that it is not actually a duck: male pairs and female pairs are really quite different from male-female couples, not least because only the latter can engender children, and provide children with both a mother and a father.)

There are also enormous practical problems with getting such an amendment favorably voted on at the ballot box in November 2006. As gay-marriage advocate Prof. Laurence Tribe of Harvard has said, "[I]t's a dead sure loser from the word go...It's ideally written to get zero votes." (Adina Levine, Tribe Explains Goodridge, Harvard Law School Record, Mar. 18, 2004.)

The real compromise would be to split the amendment, one regarding marriage and the other regarding civil unions. The people of Massachusetts would then have a clear choice in making this important decision. Come November 2006, all the possible public policy permutations would be on the ballot. If you favor gay marriage, vote "no" on both amendments, and the Goodridge decision will stand. If you favor the status quo that has existed since time immemorial, vote "yes" on the definition of marriage, and "no" on civil unions. And if you favor the mish-mash, vote "yes" on both amendments.

This approach, which gives the people several options, and avoids a Catch-22, is favored by the people themselves. The Globe reported on Feb. 22 that "71 percent of people questioned said the issue should be decided by the voters in a statewide referendum...A majority—57 percent—expressed a desire to have several options presented to voters." (Frank Phillips, Majority in Mass. Poll Oppose Gay Marriage, A1.)

Separating the two questions on the ballot would also make it much simpler for the voters to understand and vote on.

From a legal perspective, having two independent amendments would also avoid significant federal constitutional problems. The Travaglini mish-mash combining marriage and civil unions into the same amendment would be subject to an immediate facial challenge on federal constitutional grounds of equal protection in federal court. As Professor Tribe stated, "There are things about it that make it very vulnerable under the Federal constitution." (Adina Levine, Tribe Explains Goodridge, Harvard Law School Record, Mar. 18, 2004.)

The deMacedo proposal to split the amendment is a genuine compromise. No voter or constituent could reasonably complain about a legislator who votes for a compromise that clearly presents both ballot questions and allows the voters themselves to decide each issue.

Article V of the Declaration of Rights of our Massachusetts Constitution, written by John Adams, says, "All power residing originally in the people, and being derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government, vested with authority, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, are their substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them."

Let's see if our legislature, assembled in constitutional convention, is prepared to vindicate the right of the people to decide this question, which goes to the heart of the social contract.

Chris Funnell -- 03/25/2004 14:30

How should ordinary citizens respond to politicians who are prepared to use almost any means - even unconstitutional ones - to win?
Example: former Sen. Cheryl Jacques said, "I'll take a victory on this any way I can get it."

Robert Bradley, vice chairman of Massachusetts Family Institute observed, "This kind of political degradation can only exist in a one party-state, and the solution is to hold the culprits accountable...

...It does seem that access to power is all that matters in our Commonwealth, and this will only change when ordinary citizens get fed up and act."

"We'll REMEMBER in November!", say many to their legislators who want to vote on a clean amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Chris Funnell -- 03/24/2004 11:37

Marriage has always been the union between one man and one woman. Before there was law or any form of organized religion, there was marriage. Marriage has always established the smallest unit of society, an arrangement in which children are born to and raised by their natural parents.
Now, millennia later, four non-elected members of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (SJC) have redefined marriage.
Before it is too late, the voters of Massachusetts must take back democracy and reclaim the institution of marriage from the overreaching state judiciary. It is the responsibility of the people, and their elected representatives, to stand up to this judicial tyranny and defend the concept of marriage as between a man and a woman
Now would be a good time!

Chris Funnell -- 03/19/2004 15:08

Get off the Civil Rights Bus!

African-Americans are becoming more visible and more vocal in their pro-family concerns. On March 11th there was a definite increase in minorities showing support for the amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman both inside the Statehouse, outside on the front steps, on the sidewalk and across the street at a special all day prayer gathering.

Several ministers from predominantly black congregations took part.

The use of the term "Civil Rights" has been an affront to the African American community and was eloquently expressed in an Op-Ed by African-American leader Rev.Alex Hurt in the Brockton Enterprise (1/25/04).

"Now how does our struggle compare to gays and lesbians asking for the "civil right" to be married? I'll tell you there is no comparison. Blacks who know their history (and we do) see this as an attempt to hijack our bus and ask us to sit in the back."

Pastor Hurt referred to the more than two hundred years of slavery, coercion and mistreatment during which their families were redefined without their permission. Some 140 years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation the struggle still continues with far too many living at or below the poverty level. Half the new cases of HIV/AIDS are found in the Black Community and fatherlessness is at % 60. Almost a million African American men are in jail.
To those who say that allowing men to marry men is the same struggle as that of his forbearers, Hurt says, it is not only historically inaccurate but an affront to true understanding of their past and present struggles.

"Veterans of the civil rights movement ought to be offended at the efforts of homosexual activists to seek special rights and benefits based on a behavioral characteristic that, unlike race, is neither inborn, involuntary, immutable, innocuous, nor in the Constitution." Hurt goes on to say that Dr. King sought to end legal segregation, bridge the gap between the races, and bring black and white Americans together. Marriage, likewise, exists to bridge the gap between the sexes, bringing men and women together. Homosexual activists want legal authority to create male-only and female-only "marriages" that permanently deny children a mother or a father.

"Social experimentation with family forms hasn't helped African American families and children, and I'm here to give this warning: Learn from the Black experiment, children are not better off when mothers and fathers aren't raising their children together."

Hurt warns that those gay activists who would use African American history and their unique struggle to redefine the family do Blacks a terrible injustice by hijacking their civil rights history, thereby diminishing their struggle and disregarding their history.

Gay rights advocates should hop off the civil-rights bus!

Chris Funnell

Chris Funnell -- 03/18/2004 14:31

March to May 17th

In less than two weeks, on March 29th, the Constitutional Convention will reconvene at the Statehouse. Legislators have one more chance to address the thorny issue of same-sex marriage and should act in favor of the bifurcated amendment to ban same-sex marriage, which lets the people decide.
The amendment to ban same-sex marriage has yet to receive its rightful vote. The Ma & Pa amendment addressed one issue...the definition of marriage. This is what 130,000 Massachusetts citizens signed a petition to endorse. Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman deserves a full and fair hearing as a stand-alone measure, before the gavel goes down.
The Travaglini-Finneran Amendment, which went to the third reading on March 11th is a compromise that satisfies no one, confuses the electorate, writes words into our constitution that have yet to be defined, and creates a bastion of freedom of speech and religion questions. It is simply not acceptable and some would even call it insane.
Between now and March 29th voters should contact their legislators to find out how they stand on the marriage issue and demand an opportunity to vote on this cornerstone issue. We urge lawmakers to amend this flawed proposal to consider marriage separately from civil unions, which have yet to be defined.
This bifurcation, or splitting of the amendment, will allow a vote on the separate proposals. Inaction rather than passing the Amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman would leave no recourse to the SJC decision and thus allow same-sex couples to marry in Massachusetts in May, making ours the first state in America to allow gay marriage. The citizens and the legislature must act now.
It's time for the legislature to take back democracy and ultimately bring this constitutional matter before the voters.
Justice Spina, of the SJC wrote in a separately filed dissenting opinion:
"What is at stake in this case is not unequal treatment of individuals or whether individuals rights have been impermissibly burdened, but the power of the legislature to effectuate social change without interference from the courts, pursuant to art. 30 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights."
Justice Spina emphasized that the "power to regulate marriage lies with the Legislature, not with the judiciary.
The SJC has an unfortunate history of activist rulings.
Twenty years ago, it ruled that the best interests of a child are not dependent on sexual orientation or marital status of the parents or guardians. Studies are showing these findings in error. Children do best in a home with a mother and a father. However, ten years ago it created a "right" to homosexual and lesbian couples to adopt children. Now, with the Goodridge decision, the Court has invented a new "right" to homosexual marriage, claiming great numbers of children in homosexual homes who need protection. Is this circular reasoning, the Court creating its own self-fulfilling prophecy or both?

Chris Funnell -- 03/16/2004 15:49

Top o'the Mornin' !

Getting my Irish up" "Fighting Irish" "No Irish Need Apply" , The Irish have had some battles to fight as they came to the melting pot, not unlike the latest group to demand fair treatment. "So, why can't we march in your parade...?

As I checked out corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread and shamrocks at the local supermarket, the young girl working the register said with a bit of envy, "I wish I were Irish. We French Canadians don't have a holiday."

"St. Pat's is for everyone." I assured her, "Just wear green and you'll be fine!"

"May the road rise up to meet you, and may the wind be at your back" goes the old Irish blessing.

A modern day version of an Irish blessing might sound something like, "May all your traffic lights be green." But if all lights were green we would have a terrible situation out there on the roads. A red light can be a life saver.

The 17th of March is not just a day to honor Saint Patrick but it is also Evacuation Day, which is about overcoming English oppression. The message is, ‘Hooray for the underdog!' something with which so many groups can identify.

The inclusiveness of the Irish celebration has its limits as gays have found out when they wanted to march in the St. Pat's Parade. There are ground rules. You can't go around wearing the bright orange of the archenemy and be received warmly.

One of the strengths of the Irish culture is the family bond with values firmly rooted in faith. Mom and dad and their commitment are the foundational unit and safe haven for future generations and nucleus of the extended family.

When values clash as in the same-sex marriage debate, we tend to fall back on those ancient values.

Wearing bright orange or rainbow colors rains on our parade, and puts a damper on the fun, especially for the wee people.

It's not that you're not welcome, because we are known as a hospitable people...but don't push your luck!

Chris Funnell -- 03/14/2004 22:46

Songs of Freedom

Gay rights advocates may feel it is appropriate to sing patriotic and civil rights songs to bolster their self-image as freedom fighters but they are ignoring the main point of our American patriotism. We began as one nation under God. Try as the secularists might to expunge God from our national conscience and as pagans and shamans of diversity try to pluralize and neutralize our faith, each gay pride parade and photo-op of gays kissing only awakens the national psyche which is pretty straight. The majority does not approve of homosexuality, they don't even like to talk about it. Pushing it is going to backfire. There's a lot of ‘live and let live'rs out there but the silent majority is being roused.

The numbers just aren't there for the gay rights freedom fighters, when those who reverence the God of our forefathers rally to the cause, they will drown out the sound of false patriotism, false freedom and false advocacy. We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

This is not about putting anybody down but raising people up to a higher standard of living. Look into our eyes and you will find many more Good Samaritans than bigots.

This is not a defense of past injustices, because there have been many. Children have been molested and abandoned and hurt. Hurting people hurt others, sometimes in the name of love and advocacy. Approximately one in four children have admitted to being molested by family members or ‘friends' of the family. Women have been held down unjustly for generations, sexually harassed, victimized by spousal abuse and predators. There is a constant barrage of news stories about the latest body discovered. Under such conditions it is understandable why so many have difficulty trusting the opposite sex or finding them attractive.

But, be careful when you sing the songs of our faith. You may sing patriotic songs, even though you deny the God referenced there, but when you appropriate "This little Light of Mine" you are stepping on holy ground. The light referred to in that song is the Holy Spirit.

Chris Funnell -- 03/12/2004 02:17

Passion on the Hill

The Statehouse was abuzz Thursday, March 11th inside and out. Beacon Street was lined with media trucks and the steps bedecked with signs and people chanting pro-family slogans. "One Man, One Woman, God's Way!" Across the street in the Commons a day-long prayer service was organized with various speakers including Rev. Gilbert Thompson of New Covenant Church, one of the largest black churches in Boston. He led prayer and at one point instructed some from the flock to escort someone with unloving signage away from the Christians gathering for prayer, not to persecute.

The "anybody-makes-a-family gang" were mostly found congregating inside on the third floor commandeering what we felt were our songs. The National Anthem, My Country ‘Tis of Thee and This Little light of Mine. The Cheek! Their plan was to make a lot of noise and dominate the scene. They did a pretty good job of it. The State Police were out in force and after a while implemented crowd control by cordoning off passageways so people could walk past demonstrators who took up positions in clusters. At one point they closed down the building. Thousands of people came to show their concern. Both sides sang patriotic songs and carried signs about justice that quoted the Bible. The opposition's strategy appeared to be - take all their slogans, songs and especially their exclusive right to the institution of marriage.

We have become color-coded protestors. Yellow stickers say "Support One Man One Woman, Coalition for Marriage MA & PA" which is the nickname for the amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. White stickers say "Let the People Vote!" on the other side there are many wearing Mass Equality tags and carrying signs that read "Civil Unions: Separate but unequal" or "No Discrimination in the Constitution" . Red stickers said "I agree with the SJC". The atmosphere was kind of like a soccer game with the opposing teams with their colors and chants, full of passion and fury.

In the afternoon they had sung themselves into a more laid back mode and when 2 p.m. rolled around they set up camp in the Great Hall which is the cheeriest spot in the Statehouse with its four story tall atrium and glass roof showing blue sky and puffy clouds. There were few chairs and most sat on the floor, covering the marble floor and munching on snacks. There was a party atmosphere as banners from each town added color above our heads and several large screen monitors showed the droll proceedings in the House Gallery.

It felt a little like kindergarten as groups sat or reclined on the floor watching a series of uninspiring speeches. After my feet recovered I felt less like one of the gang and more like an interloper, hearing the predominantly pro-gay heckles and jeers. They mocked the good stuff and cheered at all the wrong times. It was surreal. I had plunked myself in the midst of them because my feet were aching from standing in the corridor for hours waiting for the Great and General Court to begin.
After a while some instigators came in to address the crowd, sounding like gym teachers, "Ladies and gentlemen, they are drowning us out upstairs! We need to get up there and make some noise!" The crowd didn't respond. They probably had sore feet like me. I was delighted to hear my crew upstairs were getting their cheering section together.

Upstairs they were just getting warmed up. "We'll Remember in November!" a middle aged lady bellowed. Soon everyone was into the cadence. A group of blacks lead by a soul brother circled the halls. He got us into the rhythm thing, "One man, one woman. God's Way!" Over and over again.

Outside Travaglini's back door we waited for the Senate to file past but they must have used the secret passage. We admired the lavish mahogany molding around the door and the stained glass window above the door with an open Bible motif. References to scripture are found everywhere on the walls. Someone walked by with a hand written sign that read "God loves my lesbian marriage!" Another said "Families Matter!" "That's the point!" my new acquaintance, Donna, a mom from Avon responded. "They keep stealing our lines." We were finding the opposition plucky but no one was uncivil until one of the pro-gay activists came down the cordoned line, looking each of us in the eye and calling us "Bigots! Bigots!" Another followed along chanting "Let the bigots vote!"

There were some sweet little old ladies on both sides who looked like fish out of water in the heated political scene.

As I stood in one spot I saw many familiar faces from local news stations pass by chasing sound bites and cameras panning the crowds. I could not muster up a smile for the camera. My dogs were barkin' and it was time to find a seat.

At the end of the day we traditionals felt we wuzz robbed. Nobody liked the Finnegan-Travaglini Amendment except the pols. They can say they made everybody happy but in fact neither side is.

Now the slogan will be "Two, four, six, eight, the amendment better bifurcate!"

(That is when they amend the amendment into two seperate amendments).

Chris Funnell -- 03/11/2004 09:09

The eleventh hour call going out to legislators on Beacon Hill is loud and clear from the Coalition for Marriage..."No Compromise!"

Those who support marriage as only between one man and one woman are not in the mood to barter or back down. The compromise bill proposed by Senate President Robert Travaglini and Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran would pass the amendment to ban same-sex marriage and create civil unions, and is totally unacceptable.

This compromise makes as much sense to traditional marriage advocates as being told to "hang your clothes on a hickory limb, but don't go near the water." If same-sex marriage is not acceptable, what makes civil unions with all the rights and privileges of marriage acceptable? We are left by this compromise with something worse than nothing. Marriage would become a word for an arrangement in name only, stripped of the time-honored significance recognized by virtually every religion as the foundational unit for the family. This is the dumbing-down of marriage, seeking the lowest common denominator and adjusting down to it rather than aiming high as has every previous generation including our parents and grandparents.

All the arguments against same-sex marriage still argue against civil unions. A rose by any other name is still a rose. A same-sex civil union is still an aberration and should not be sanctioned, legitimized or rewarded by an amendment to the Constitution.

This is not as gay marriage advocates say, rooted in bigotry and small-mindedness. In fact, it is the scope of civil unions that concerns some pretty big minds at a number of law schools who have sent out a cautionary memorandum on the Finneran-Travaglini Amendment up for consideration March 11th.

A team of distinguished law school professors, including Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, have released a memo expressing their grave concern that the Finneran-Travaglini Amendment which bans same-sex marriage but establishes a constitutional right to civil unions "will do more harm than good - and perhaps more serious permanent harm than Goodrich itself."

The legal eagles issuing their analysis to the Massachusetts Catholic Conference cite a wording anomaly in the amendment that is self-contradictory.

"...only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Massachusetts. Two persons of the same sex shall have the right to form a civil union if they meet the requirements set forth by law for marriage."
They point out that the amendment will likely fail in its intended purpose of protecting the meaning of the term "marriage," and may instead negatively affect marriage as a legal and social institution; and 2) The amendment raises serious religious liberty issues statewide "particularly with respect to the Church and traditional religious organizations and communities."

The separation of church and state issue, which has been a serious point of contention, continues to need clarification. The Massachusetts Constitution, the forerunner of the US Constitution states clearly in Articles I & II, that our right and duty is to worship God. The framers of the Constitution were referring to the One True God; it is only in this context that the oldest constitution in the world should be understood. Even civil marriages in those days were performed in that context.

Early colonists were raised on scripture and would have been familiar with the verses in Matthew's Gospel ..." Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."

Massachusetts legislators dare not rush in where angels fear to tread.
In passing this compromise instituting civil unions they would be stripping the inherent meaning of marriage, which God established in the beginning Lawmakers ironically, would not only violate the state Constitution but the Hebraic Law it is based upon.

Some of the signers to the memorandum, though opposed to a Constitutional amendment, were not opposing statutes by the legislature authorizing civil unions, domestic partnerships or other benefits packages.

"Even while maintaining a nominal distinction between marriage and civil unions, an amendment transforming civil unions into a constitutional principle is likely to have far-reaching and negative consequences on the right of citizens and institutions to disagree on questions of sexual ethics. It is one thing for a legislative body to create a statutory package of benefits to meet social needs, and quite another for it to guarantee civil unions that are precisely identical to marriages as constitutional right. Statutory measures provide the legislature opportunities to craft religious exemptions and other distinctions in an effort to find a balance among competing liberty claims. The constitutional approach...potentially trumps any accommodating legislation; worse yet, it gives wide-ranging license to judges to enforce a new social norm on organizations touched by the law...Churches and religious organizations that fail to embrace civil unions as indistinct from marriage may be forced to retreat... even losing tax-exempt status, academic accreditation, and media licenses, and could face charges of violating human rights codes or hate speech laws."

The other signers of the memorandum were:
Professor Dwight G. Duncan, Southern New England School of Law
Professor Scott FitzGibbon, Boston College Law School
Professor Thomas Kohler, Boston College Law School
Professor Gerard Bradley, University of Notre Dame Law School
Professor Robert Destro, Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America

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