Protecting the rule of law

The 62 legislators who stood firm in their conviction that the people of Massachusetts should have the last word on the definition of marriage deserve to be praised and recognized. Seldom, if ever, has an issue become the subject of more arm-twisting and political maneuvering than the defense of marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Standing their ground against such pressure was a heroic act that deserves to be commended.

Senate President Robert E. Travaglini also deserves to be commended for guiding the last convention with a firm gavel. He could have hidden behind a group of legislators who were willing to betray their oath of office to advance the cause of a minority group that is forcefully trying to impose their lifestyle on society. But he stood firm and protected the rule of law.

Also, former Gov. Mitt Romney deserves recognition for his role in defending traditional marriage. He has shown that he can successfully deal with highly controversial issues with dignity and consistency.

But the battle is not over. The initiative petition will have to be approved once more by at least 50 legislators in a 2007 constitutional convention before it can come before voters on the 2008 ballot.

The political makeup of the 2007 Legislature will be even more hostile to the protection of marriage than the one that dissolved at midnight on Jan. 2. Six legislators who voted for the amendment are retiring and some of those filling their seats have publicly expressed their opposition to allowing the amendment to reach the citizens of Massachusetts.

What’s more, incoming Gov. Deval Patrick has openly said that he will actively work to prevent the measure from reaching the ballot.

We trust he will do so while at the same time upholding the laws of the Commonwealth. It was troubling to watch Patrick lobby legislators Jan. 2 asking them to let the measure die without a vote. It was a de facto call for legislators to violate their oath of office in open defiance of the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling of Dec. 27 that clearly stated that the constitution required legislators to hold an up or down vote on the merits of the initiative petition.

Some may wonder why there is so much pressure to avoid letting the people vote on the definition of marriage.

Arline Isaacson, co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus explained it best to The Boston Globe when she said, “We know that if the Legislature votes on the amendment, we will lose this year and next year, and it will go to the ballot, where it will likely pass.”