Legislators are expected to meet July 12 in Constitutional Convention and vote on the proposed amendment that would constitutionally define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
As a citizen initiative petition, the measure would require the approval of one-fourth of the Legislature in two consecutive years before it could come before voters.
Supporters of the amendment, including the Catholic Church, are not concerned about obtaining the 50 votes needed to move the measure forward. Rather, they are concerned that political maneuvering may thwart the vote altogether.
Why the concern? Because that is precisely what happened four years ago. In 2002, then-Senate President Thomas Birmingham abruptly adjourned a Constitutional Convention before a vote could be taken on a similar proposed amendment to protect marriage. Birmingham’s action had a catastrophic effect on marriage in Massachusetts. It paved the way for the Supreme Judicial Court’s redefinition of marriage in 2004.
It’s been reported that opponents of the amendment are working on strategies to quash the vote and ultimately prevent the citizens of Massachusetts from deciding the definition of marriage. One apparent option is to convince enough legislators to leave the chamber to prevent a quorum. No quorum, no vote.
According to a 1935 Supreme Judicial Court decision, legislators in Constitutional Convention are required to take “final action” on citizen initiative petitions.
VoteOnMarriage.org, a coalition that includes the Church, is asking voters to clearly tell their legislators the following: “You have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. That oath includes your duty to take final action on the Protection of Marriage Amendment. We expect that you will!”
Constituents can help their legislators do the right thing. We should not allow tricks to deny the people’s right to vote. It now depends on you.