Well, yesterday the Masachusetts legislature met in a Constitutional Convention to discuss various proposed amendments to the state’s Constitution. At the bottom of the agenda was the issue of gay marriage. Opponents had drafted an amendment forbidding it, collected more than enough signatures, and submitted it, all according to the law.
Now, this was hardly the first time they had done this. In prior sessions, the legislature had taken a brief look at the matter, then promptly tossed it in the circular file. (That’s right, in Massachusetts the people have no direct access to amending their Constitution. Everything has to go through the legislature, and they can freely ignore whatever the people want.) This year, though, with all the heat and fury over the issue, they realized they could not so readily flip the bird to the people to whom they have to pretend are important once every two years, when they stand for election.
Naturally, a lot of people are furious. The Boston Herald let the cowards of Beacon Hill have it with both barrels. Even the Boston Globe (owned by the New York Times, and whose mottos seems to be “all gay marriage, all the time”) slammed the move, saying that the learned solons should have just killed it outright. They did give them slight credit for not simply letting the matter die quietly, as they have in the past, but touted the delay as “time for productive debate” and “educating” people on the issue, quietly glossing over the amazingly fortuitous timing of placing the vote two days after the election — which means those who do vote on it will have almost two years before having to face the voters and explain their actions.
There seem to be a few rules that govern Massachusetts politics: Don’t take the high road if the low road is easier. Don’t ever espouse principle over expediency. Don’t do the right thing if it might annoy someone. Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow — unless you can push it off even longer, or scrap it entirely.
And above all, don’t bother listening to the people. They’ll forget whatever you do today by the time election day rolls around again.
Sadly, these rules seem to hold very, very true.
Massachusetts likes to refer to itself as “the cradle of liberty,” citing its key role in the American revolution. It’s a fit metaphor. Unfortunately, Liberty has grown up and left the crib, leaving only a smelly, befouled diaper behind.