byDwight G. Duncan
Above: A rainbow flag flies in front of the Statehouse dome June 14. Below: Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray address a crowd of same-sex marriage supporters at the Statehouse immediately following the defeat of the marriage amendment. Pilot photos/ Gregory L. Tracy
Our state legislators, led by the governor, speaker of the House, and Senate president, have finally killed the citizen-initiated amendment to our state constitution regarding marriage. Why? Because allowing a popular vote in 2008 on the proposed marriage amendment risked undoing for the future the revolutionary redefinition of marriage by our state Supreme Judicial Court in 2003, enacted by a majority of exactly one judge (4-3), which purported to definitively, as a matter of state constitutional law, uncouple marriage from its historical and natural nexus to procreation and mother-father parenting, and make the sexes fungible when it comes to marriage: male-female, male-male, female-female, whatever: they’re all the same!
The Book of Genesis, and Jesus Himself, had a different take: “Male and female He created them. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
The Massachusetts Constitution, originally written by John Adams in 1780, begins with a Declaration of Rights. (By way of contrast, a Bill of Rights had to be added onto our United States Constitution by amendment.) Its Article Five is a resounding proclamation of what Abraham Lincoln would later call “government of the people, by the people, and for the people”: “All power residing originally in the people, and being derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government, vested with authority, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, are their substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them.”
We now have a provision to the Fifth Article added by our state judges and legislators: power to the people, except when it comes to gay marriage, which shall be the new sacred cow, above and beyond the people’s grasp.
Whatever you do, don’t let the people vote on that, because they might do what all our ancestors did from time immemorial, and the other 49 states and the federal government have done, and all but a handful of foreign nations, which is to reserve “marriage” for those types of relationships which can actually engender children and/or provide children with both a mother and a father.
This “consensus of humanity” view is now to be dismissed as bigotry, hatred, “homophobia.” Catholic Charities won’t do gay placements for adoption? Well, they must be shut down. Soon we can expect that priests, ministers, rabbis and imams who refuse to perform gay weddings will no longer qualify to solemnize state-recognized marriages--on the same logic of intolerance.
Does the Catholic Church continue to teach that homosexual acts, along with adultery, masturbation and fornication, are intrinsically disordered “expressions of the vice of lust”? That biblically-rooted, natural-law voice must be silenced, shouted down or at least swamped by a culture of pervasive pornography. Fortunately, we still have the First Amendment, even if long ago the American Civil Liberties Union let its Gay and Lesbian Rights Project, and its Reproductive Rights Project, eclipse its Free Speech Project. (It never was particularly strong on religious freedom, and certainly not the religious freedom of the Christian majority in this country.)
Yes, we lost the battle over the proposed state constitutional amendment. (The earliest a state constitutional amendment defining marriage could appear on the ballot is now 2012.) But, in spite of what the media say, we’re winning the war--not in Massachusetts, obviously, but throughout the country.
Many states, in the wake of the Goodridge decision here, enacted their own state constitutional amendments protecting marriage as it’s always been to forbid the import of gay marriage. No other state has yet followed Massachusetts’ example. Thanks to the re-election of George Bush, due in no small part to the presence of marriage on the ballot in swing states in 2004 in reaction to Goodridge, we now have a United States Supreme Court with new justices that will not mandate gay marriage on the nation or on unwilling states.
Remember that the Fifth Article of the Massachusetts Constitution makes the people the original source, under God, of government and laws. We the People still have the final say. Government officials are supposed to be our servants, not our masters. Thank God for the 45 legislators who voted to let the people decide. Keep the faith, and if they call you bigoted or benighted or old-fashioned, just plead the (Massachusetts) Fifth: “Power to the People.”
Dwight Duncan is a professor at Southern New England School of Law. He holds degrees in both civil and canon law.