The outgoing governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts wants to be the president of the United States. And, since Mitt Romney is running as a Republican, that means he needs to prove to the religious-right wing of his party that he’s socially conservative enough for the job. This means that whatever he said about gays to get elected governor of Massachusetts (hint: rather moderate in tone), they are Public Enemy #1 now.
Romney’s parting shot as governor and opening salvo as presidential candidate was to sue the state legislature in an attempt to force them to vote on a proposed amendment to ban gay marriage. While he lost the case, the court chastised the legislature for failing to vote. Yesterday, the legislature voted to advance the measure, taking it one step closer to getting it on the 2008 ballot. Should this proposed amendment pass, it would be asking voters to write discrimination into our state’s constitution.
Having grown up in a religiously conservative home, I understand the arguments against gay marriage. The Bible does not applaud homosexuality; indeed it numbers with the offenses punishable by death in the Old Testament. Since the religious right in this country seems to primarily concern itself with issues of sexuality, I am not the least bit surprised that this issue is a big one for that community.
OK, so religiously conservative Christians don’t like homosexuality. They think it is a sin. But does this mean that they get to legislate according to their religious views? Marriage in this country is a secular institution. It always has been. The Puritans were trying to escape the Sacraments, and so they established a marriage based on a social contract. By allowing same-sex couples to enter into this social contract, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not violating the Sacrament of Marriage. Instead it is bestowing the economic and social rights wrongly denied to an entire group of people. It is rectifying an injustice. This makes everyone freer.
Gay marriage is a civil rights issue. As such, it should not be up for a vote. Think Brown v. Board of Education if you need an example—do you think that the South would have voted to desegregate schools, or that they should have had the right to vote to keep African-Americans as second-class citizens? The same is true of the right for gays to marry. Their marriages have not damaged a single heterosexual union in Massachusetts. The state legislature needs to end this bigoted attempt to write discrimination into the state constitution.