This evening the Massachusetts legislature effectively killed an initiative petition proposing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage by postponing their vote on the measure until January 2007. Because they did not adjourn, but simply recessed, Governor Romney cannot order them back into session. Romney was understandably pissed and accused the 109 legislators who voted to recess until January of disgracing their oath of office. By January, however, we will have a new governor, Romney will be soon forgotten, and same-sex marriage will have become a permanent feature of our landscape.
The above photo shows a group of anti-gay protesters across the street from the Massachusetts state house on Beacon Hill in Boston. They stood with their signs and their chants and their prayers, while for the most part, it was known since late last evening that the legislature would recess without voting on the issue of same-sex marriage.
In the background is the Robert Gould Shaw (1837 – 1863) memorial. Shaw led the very first African-American regiment to be formed in the North, the hallowed Massachusetts 54th, during the American Civil War. Although Shaw and many of the brave men under his command were cut down at the battle of Fort Wagner (South Carolina) in 1863, their legacy is one of freedom and courage in the face of inequality and injustice.
In the photograph, it almost looks as if Shaw and his regiment are marching over the protesters.
Those who made their slogan “Let the people vote” believed that they could win by masking their bigotry as democracy. Despite the appeal that their false populism had for many in Massachusetts, there is absolutely nothing democratic about relegating an entire class of people to second class status. Democracy can never allow itself to be subverted in order to inflict inequality and injustice upon a minority group. Our legislators in Massachusetts demonstrated today their grasp of this basic truth. They did the right thing.