One of the reasons the gay marriage debate is so complicated is that while the principle is simple, the implications, consequences, and ramifications are far-reaching. It’s a tremendous can of worms, and a great many of these issues will need to be hashed out before the matter can be resolved.
One of those worms is playing itself out inside the hallowed (and increasingly empty) halls of the Boston Globe.
For years, the Globe (a very gay-friendly environment, and one of the major forces behind the gay marriage push in Massachusetts) has offered benefits to the “domestic partners” to its gay employees. Simply fill out a form, and your live-in lover had access to health insurance and all the other perqs working for the Glob entail.
However, those only were extended to the gay employees. Straight employees had to marry their significant other before they could carry them.
Well, now that gay marriage is in in Massachusetts (and, apparently, to stay), the Glob has decided to end this rampant double standard. After January 1, no “domestic partners” will be offered coverage — only lawfully-married spouses, of whatever combination of genders.
This is a very, very clever move by the Glob. On the one hand, they are simply implementing fairness and equality across the board, with a single standard offered to all employees. On the other, they are coercing their gay employees to join the ranks of the lawfully-wed, and giving them even more of a stake in seeing the status quo (legal gay marriage) preserved, and not overturned, as a great many of the people in Massachusetts would be inclined to do. They are also setting up more and more people to demand to have their marriages “grandfathered in,” should the ban pass, as they will not want their marriages declared invalid after being sanctioned by the state.
This is yet another reason why I argue that the way gay marriage was implemented in Massachusetts was exactly the wrong way. A panel of seven judges heard the arguments, and four of them (led by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, married (in a non-gay way, one presumes) to New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis) decided the issue for the whole state. The public outcry was as loud and angry as it was predictable, and the political fights since then have been indeed bloody. The legislature — which should be the body to decide on the matter — has repeatedly and forcefully and determinedly shirked its responsiblities, dodging the issue at every turn, even actively crushing petition drives to put the matter before the electorate in a state-wide referendum.
Many, many people in Massachusetts have very strong opinions on gay marriage, and they want a chance to make their voices heard. They want to be able to vote on the matter, to have their say in it, and they are not happy with the judges that made the decision for them. They are also growing increasingly angry at the legislators who are doing all they can to keep them from voting.
But, come November, I am willing to bet that nearly every one of those legislators who’ve been fighting against the people’s right to vote on gay marriage will be sent right back to Beacon Hill, safe for another two years. Oh, maybe one or two will be defeated, but hardly anyone will end up paying the price for their snubbing of the voters.
After all, this is Massachusetts, after all, the same state that keeps re-electing Ted Kennedy (D-Chivas), John “Just a gigolo”) Kerry, and almost gave us President Dukakis.