From The Patriot Ledger:
BOSTON - Lawmakers and the state Supreme Judicial Court are once again playing hot potato with gay marriage.
On Wednesday, the Legislature is scheduled to take up a proposed ballot question seeking to ban same-sex marriages. The measure needs a total of just 50 votes in both houses of the 200-member body to clear its first hurdle.
Meanwhile, the SJC - the same body that legalized gay marriage in a November 2003 ruling - is expected to issue an opinion on the constitutionality of the proposed ballot question. The court heard oral arguments in the case Thursday.
Gay marriage supporters hope that lawmakers postpone their decision until the high court issues its decision, which could take months. Opponents, however, are pressing lawmakers to vote as scheduled on the ballot question, which needs approval this year and again in the 2007-2008 legislative session to be placed on the 2008 ballot.
Lawmakers are usually loath to take a position on a controversial issue that may be moot. Should the Supreme Judicial Court throw out the proposed ballot question, lawmakers would be off the hook.
Senate President Robert Travaglini has hinted, through his spokeswoman, that he will postpone Wednesday’s debate.
‘‘It’s premature to make any kind of comment on the gay marriage amendment until we hear from the SJC,’’ said Ann Dufresne, Travaglini’s spokeswoman. ‘‘We don’t even know if there will be an amendment. It all hinges upon the SJC.’’
It seems to be standard practice for the Legislature to wait until a court has ruled on an issue, so perhaps they will not give in to the right-wingers on this and change the way they do things.
To be quite honest, I get the impression that this is an open and shut case for the court. Reading this article, it seems that a law cannot reverse a court decision, which is what originally allowed same-sex marriage in the state. If this is the law on the books, I do not see how the court can rule that this amendment can be allowed to go forward.
Civil rights supporters in the state need to keep up on this. If, for some reason, the court allows the legislation to go through, people that care about civil rights need to contact members of the Legislature and inform them that they are against the amendment. If the Legislature votes to put this on the ballot, they must get out and vote. Just because Massachusetts is at the forefront of gay rights, doesn’t mean that the wingnuts are going to give up on their attempts. They will continue to fight, and we must make sure that we are there at every step, doing our American duty and defending the rights of our citizens.