Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
If You Can’t Vote No, Abstain
Dear Senator Panagiotakos,
I’m writing this open letter in a public forum to ask you for something very serious. I’m asking for your help to preserve the civil rights of tax-paying and voting citizens of the Commonwealth. I am referring to the inevitable Constitutional Convention where, for the second time, legislators will vote whether or not to let civil rights of our gay neighbors, family members, and friends be decided by ballot. I’m talking about the anti-gay-marriage amendment.
I, and many of your constituents, have begged, pleaded, and cajoled you to change your mind on this issue. I’ve even used some strong language - which I still stick by - and many efforts to appeal to your logic and reason on this matter. It is obvious you have an unshakable conviction, which I can only presume is a personal religious one, and despite the fact it saddens me greatly, I have to respect that.
You have been strongly progressive on a lot of issues and I’ve been proud of your work more often that I’ve disagreed with you. It is your progressive spirit I appeal to now.
I am hoping to convince you, then, to abstain from voting on this matter.
I understand that you cannot bring yourself to vote “no” to the ballot initiative. A No vote, of course, allows for gay marriages to continue to be legitimate in the eyes of the state. It will not change your religion’s right not to marry gays in the church, but merely carry civil weight of the same rights and responsibilities of marriage that I myself have enjoyed going on seven years now. But we’ve exhausted all those arguments, so I will merely plead this: the people of the Commonwealth overwhelmingly wants this issue put to rest. They do not want another two years of a biting, hateful campaign. They don’t want any more out-of-state interference in our Commonwealth’s affairs; they do not want a vote. By voting “yes” on the constitutional amendment ballot initiative, you will be subjecting your constituents to inevitable media campaigns and harassment. And it will be that much easier to hurt our gay brothers and sisters with words…and maybe even worse.
If you go on the record with a “yes,” I believe your conscience will not be easy. In order to satisfy your religious convictions you would have put hate on the state ballot, put civil rights up for popular vote. What if interracial marriage had been put on the ballot in the midst of the civil rights era? Would that have been fair or just?
The bar for allowing a ballot initiative to change the state constitution is too low. By abstaining, you will keep your conscience clear on both accounts. If you cannot bring yourself to vote “no,” please bring yourself to allow the rest of the legislature to vote their conscience to prevent a civil rights disaster. You will have had no part in it, save to allow the Commonwealth to move on as it has, working on the important issues of the day, instead of continuing the distraction of hate and bigotry.
Thank you for your service,
Left in Lowell
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