The cost of civil disobedience, so-called

The cost of civil disobedience, so-called

Jay Fitzgerald: ‘Clear constitutional duty to vote’

A busy week prevented me from posting on the biggest political story of the week:  The Legislature’s ‘indifferene to, or definance of’ its constitutional duty to vote on the gay-marriage amendment. To which we should add its ‘indifference to, or defiance of’ its constitutional duty to vote on other constitutional amendments. Despite Susan Ryan-Vollmar’s silly admonishment that critics of the Legislature should ‘grow up,’ she does bring up the interesting issue of whether citizens should refuse to abide by a bad law on moral grounds. She specifically refers to Martin Luther King Jr.’s classic “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” But please note the word ‘jail.’ Martin Luther King Jr. was willing to pay the price for his civil disobedience. Can the same be said of lawmakers who have sworn to uphold the constitution and now hide behind parliamentary rules? Are there great moral issues at stake that justify the Legislature’s refusal to constitutionally act on other amendments that have nothing to do with the gay-marriage issue? Aren’t lawmakers turning the legal notion that ‘we’re a nation of laws and not men’ on its head as it applies to those amendments? Now that the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. has been grandly invoked, let’s see if lawmakers are prepared to pay the price for their convictions by stripping them of their law licenses and taking other actions against them for their refusal to perform their proper constitutional duties on a host of other amendments. I think we’d quickly find their reactions resemble less the moral certitude of MLK Jr. and more the politically expedient hackery of Billy Bulger, who first pioneered the parliamentary tricks we’re now debating. ...

We may add as well that, according to MLK’s calculus, the law itself must be immoral. How is the law requiring an up-or-down vote on a constitutional amendment itself immoral?

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  • I’m surprised that no one else has commented on this.  The obvious tactic of the MA state legislature is to wear down those opposed to gay “marriage”.  That will lead to a reduction of the number of votes-in-favor in the legislature before they ultimately take a vote, assuming that VOM comes back with a new amendment petition.

    These legislators are trying to give the impression that they are on the frontlines of the next great civil rights battle.  In reality, they are cowards who are trying to duck what they think is a tough vote.  The courageous (and legal) thing for them to do would be to vote “yes” or “no” on the measure.

    Shame on the Massachusetts legislature!  If they don’t vote tomorrow then I sincerely hope that the lawyers among them (like my state rep, Robert Rice) find sanctions placed upon their law licenses.  I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

  • “How is the law requiring an up-or-down vote on a constitutional amendment itself immoral?”

    Perhaps these MA politicians are afraid of having their immorality documented in historical archives for the ages.

  • The most disgusting part of this is that when the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of gay “marriage,” we were told that the Governor and Legislature had a duty to obey SJC decisions and accept gay marriage whether they liked it or not.  Now the same SJC, while claiming they cannot force the Legislature to do anything, as at least been honest enough to say that the Legislature has a moral and legal duty to vote on the amendment.  All of a sudden, apparently, gay marriage proponents believe SJC decisions can be ignored.  Well, maybe we should turn the clock back three years and ignore the Goodridge decision.

  • Wow! Miracles do happen.  Travagliani is a phony pro-abortion “Catholic,” of course, but kudos to him for showing some conscience at last – and shame on Deval Patrick for trying to prevent it.

  • I’m surprised that the legislature voted to advance the amendment.  Hopefully they will continue to feel the heat this year and advance the amendment measure to the 2008 ballot.

  • Maybe I spoke too soon. reports a motion to reconsider.  We will see how this develops.

  • Dom, you and everyone else with a blog that mentions anything about marriage has been in one way or another swarmed with indiviudals with baiting, taunts, and name calling.  Even when charitable, they just keep coming with no independent substantive argument. All blogs seem to be on moderation. There is no civility in this debate.

    Over time it just grates on your nerves, in which I think what occured with our legislature and they just want the harassment to end so give them what they want to well… shut them up. I really don’t want to generalize or phrase the situation like that, because there has been reasonable compromise on our side. The FAQ of Vote On Marriage addresses the accusation of fraud and more importantlythe Benefits Fairness Act.