Queer Eye for the Legislative Guy

by David Trumbull

March 26, 2004

Monday, March 29, the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention reconvenes to, again, take up the question of same-sex marriage. I watched, on television, parts of the earlier debates. Did you see the debates? Did you see the suits some of the representatives and senators wore? Really, they could use a few more gay members of the Great and General Court –you know, to give the place a little fashion sense. Some of our Solons could stand to see the inside of a salon! The best kept secret in the State House is not whatever became of Mayor Curley’s desk –it’s the value of using a moisturizer!

You have to give the gays one thing. For a small group, they pack a lot of political punch. Same-sex marriage will directly affect what, two or three percent of the population that is gay? Actually, less than that, as not all gays will choose to marry even if given the opportunity. But from the news accounts, you might conclude that same-sex marriage is the biggest issue facing the people of our commonwealth. The crowds gathered within and without the State House for the last round in this slugfest were huge –the largest in living memory some accounts alleged.

Opponents cited, among other reasons, Biblical condemnations of homosexuality. And they warned that approval of gay marriage would lead to further abominations, including bestiality. This reminded me of the commandment (Leviticus, chapter 18, verse 23, Authorized Version): "Thou shalt not lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: it is confusion." To which I add, "it certainly is for the beast!"

Proponents spoke of the myriad financial and legal benefits of civil marriage, quite apart from any religious significance of the union. This reminded me that even many heterosexual civil marriages in Massachusetts are not truly marriages in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, which does not recognize remarriage after divorce.

Republican Governor Mitt Romney and our President George W. Bush clearly support limiting marriage to the heterosexual variety that mankind has known through history. Polls show the voters oppose same-sex marriage. And even pro-gay marriage legislators conceded, in the debates, that an amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman would have the votes to move ahead onto the ballot. No, there is absolutely no ground swell of support for same-sex marriage. So why are we spending so much time on it?

It all comes down to organization and activity. The gay and lesbian community takes very seriously the rights we all have as Americans –the rights to organize, to protest, to support candidates for election, to vote for our own office-holders, to file legislation and lobby for its passage, to file lawsuits to assert their claimed rights, and to use the free press to promote their positions. Hurrah for them, I say. This is what every American and every group in America should do whenever you feel your rights are being taken away.

This is the lesson I take from the same-sex marriage debate. A small group, when organized, vocal, and willing to put their time and money behind their words, can be heard on Beacon Hill. Got a beef with the system? Then do something. Organize and exercise your rights. A good place to start would be by joining a local ward or town political committee.

David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee; he may be contacted at (617) 742-6881 or Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.