Pelosi trying to defeat Mass. amendment

by Michael Foust, posted Thursday, May 17, 2007 (12 years ago)

BOSTON (BP)--House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working to help keep a proposed constitutional marriage amendment in Massachusetts off the 2008 ballot, The Boston Globe reported May 17, and her effort may be paying off.

Pelosi -- who personally supports "gay marriage" -- has spoken in recent days with Democratic leaders in Massachusetts, telling them that any statewide battle over "gay marriage" in 2008 would have national implications and could hurt Democratic chances to take the White House and hold Congress, The Globe said. Among those she has spoken with are Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore Dimasi and state Senate President Therese Murray, the Globe said.

The amendment, if passed by voters, essentially would reverse the state high court's landmark November 2003 ruling legalizing "gay marriage," which took effect six months later.

Pelosi's effort -- as well as that of other key Democrats and liberal activists in the state -- could be working. The Globe reported that sources say the amendment now may have the support of as few as 52 legislators, down from the 57 votes that backers believed they had just a week ago. The amendment needs at least 50 votes to make the '08 ballot. Legislators could vote on the amendment in the joint constitutional convention as early as June 14, although The Globe said a vote would not take place if state Democratic leaders are not yet able to defeat it.

But Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute and a leading supporter of the amendment, questioned The Globe's partiality and motives in running the story. In early May, days before the legislature met in a constitutional convention that was recessed without a vote, Mineau told Baptist Press the amendment had "57 confirmed votes." He told BP May 17 he's confident the votes still are there. The Globe named four Democratic lawmakers in its story who it said previously backed the amendment, but who either might leave their seat for another job or could change their votes.

"This story is really tabloid reporting," Mineau said. "It's not of the caliber one would expect from The Boston Globe -- unnamed sources, the citation of four legislators, three of whom have made absolutely no indication or made any statement ever indicating they were switching their vote or considering switching their vote."

The fourth lawmaker, Democratic House and Ways Means Chairman Robert A. DeLeo, has opposed the amendment all along, although The Globe said he was a prior supporter.

"I have no idea how his name got in there," Mineau said.

Pelosi and other national Democrats, Mineau said, should stay out of the debate. Homosexual activists say Democratic U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts have agreed to help them defeat the amendment, the newspaper said, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has offered to help as well.

"It's totally uncalled for," Mineau said. "They don’t even represent the state.... This is a Massachusetts issue. We're using our resources here in the commonwealth to pursue this campaign, and that's what our opponent should be doing. Shame on them for calling on outside resources to stifle the citizen's right to vote here in Massachusetts."

Among the key votes The Globe cited:

-- Democratic Rep. Brian P. Wallace, an amendment supporter, is a "leading candidate" for a job at the Massachusetts Sports and Entertainment Commission, the state's official agency for attracting sporting and entertainment events to the state. He would take the job before a vote, The Globe said.

-- "At least four" unnamed lawmakers who support the amendment "have signaled that they may switch" their votes, the newspaper said.

-- The Globe said two top Democrats -- DeLeo and Speaker Pro Tempore Thomas M. Petrolati -- are being pressured. But, as mentioned before, DeLeo has voted against the amendment.

The Globe published the story on the third anniversary of the first "gay marriage" ceremonies in the state. There is, the newspaper said, "growing confidence" among opponents the proposal can be killed. That would be a major defeat for conservatives, who saw the amendment pass with 62 votes last session during the first of a required two votes. It qualified for legislative consideration when a record 170,000 signatures were collected.

Pelosi, the newspaper said, "emphasized to state Democratic leaders that national Democratic officials feel strongly that a high-profile … issue in 2008 would galvanize conservative voters nationally and undercut their efforts to capture the White House and keep control of Congress."

National Democrats can play a role because Democrats control both chambers in Massachusetts, and because the amendment must receive backing from at least some Democrats to pass. Additionally, Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick is working to change lawmakers' minds.

"[T]here's been a humongous increase in the level of pressure on these legislators," Mineau said, "with the governor, the [Massachusetts] speaker of the house and the senate president personally twisting their arms, and Speaker Pelosi calling from Washington twisting arms. And a sudden influx of $750,000 overnight to conduct a four-week, all-out media blitz against us."

The $750,000 media campaign will be conducted by MassEquality, a statewide homosexual activist group, and will use 30-second TV ads featuring homosexual couples, The Globe said.

The Massachusetts Family Institute marked the three-year anniversary of "gay marriage" in the state by giving a "white paper" to every legislator, reminding them of the meaning of marriage. The meaning of marriage, the paper said, "has a transcendent and mystical quality which has been understood in the sexual expression of the male-female union."

"In virtually every known language, for all recorded time, marriage has meant the union of man and woman," it said. "The potential to create life -- to transform a man and a woman who have joined hearts into a mother and father together creating a legacy -- has given marriage a reverence and awe unparalleled in human experience."

The paper continued: "Your twin brother can be your friend, but your friend cannot become your twin brother, even if a court were to say so. Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron because marriage at its linguistic and historical foundation unifies what is distinct of man and woman."

The 50 votes the amendment needs is only one-fourth of the legislature. Despite the optimism by opponents, The Globe said, few are ready publicly to predict the amendment's defeat.

"There are legislators who are listening closely and are receptive to us, their constituents, to the married couples that are meeting with them, and are giving serious consideration to whether it makes sense to advance this to the ballot," Marc Solomon, campaign director for MassEquality, told The Globe.

But one person opponents are trying to change -- amendment supporter and Democratic state Rep. Paul Kujawski -- hasn't changed.

"I am listening to everybody," Kujawski was quoted as saying. "But if the vote were tomorrow, my vote would still be the same."


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