In the first week of the new year gay marriage was in the news.
The first headlines came out of Massachusetts, currently the only state where same sex marriage is legal. Unfortunately, it may not stay that way. On Tuesday, Massachusetts legislators advanced a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Only 50 legislators had to vote yes and the margin was 61 for /131 against. So what happens now? The same vote must be taken in the next legislative session and if it passes the measure will be voted on by the people of Massachusetts. How crazy is that? Imagine the outcry if the same action were taken so that people of different races or different religions could not marry? No one would stand for that. For the sake of the hundreds, if not thousands of same-sex couples couples in the state, we can hope the new legislators won’t let this advance to a “popular” vote. If you want to read more on this, the are some good articles on Towleroad: Massachusetts Lawmakers Advance Gay Marriage Ban Proposal and Gay Marriage in Massachusetts: The Next Step. The good news, if you can call it that, is that the make up of the state legislature will be different next time; 17 of the 61 who voted for the ban will no longer be in office. To paraphrase Towleroad, civil rights should not be voted on.
So far, that seems to be a view shared by New York’s new governor Eliot Spitzer. In his comments at the October Empire State Pride Agenda dinner (which took place just weeks before the November election), Spitzer said, “We will not ask whether this proposition of legalizing same-sex marriage is popular or unpopular; we will not ask if it’s hard or easy; we will simply ask if it’s right or wrong. I think we know in this room what the answer to that question is.” While Spitzer didn’t address this issue directly in his first State of the State address this week, his people made it clear to the press that same sex marriage was still on his agenda for this year. You can read more from Towleroad on this issue too: Spitzer Aide Insists: Gay Marriage Still on the Agenda.
Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards also weighed in on gay marriage this week during a appearance in New Hampshire. He acknowledged the need for civil rights, but didn’t know if it should be called partnership or marriage. He admits he’s conflicted on the issue. It is good to see, however, that he is at least thinking about it in a constructive way. See Towleroad’s John Edwards on Gay Marriage: “I Don’t Know the Answer.”