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Left In Lowell » Blog Archive » Open Letter to Senator Panagiotakos

Left In Lowell

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March 26, 2007

Open Letter to Senator Panagiotakos

by at 9:00 am.

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,
Lynne L
Left in Lowell

13 Responses to “Open Letter to Senator Panagiotakos”

  1. Mike Says:

    Nice job Lynne. Hope someone gets this in front of him.

  2. Paul@01852 Says:

    I second that emotion!!!

  3. Shawn Says:

    It is obvious you have an unshakable conviction, which I can only presume is a personal religious one

    Have you asked him? Seems unfair to assume his decision is based on religion. Maybe he just disagrees with you for other reasons.

    Personally, I want them to vote.. I EXPECT them to vote.

    Settle the issue once and for all, in a legal manner that meets the intention of the constitution. Otherwise, the marriages will forever be tainted and questioned.

    Not to mention, the integrity of the initiative petition process is a greater issue than any specific question.

  4. Ryan Says:

    Thanks for the open letter, Lynne. I appreciate the support. Let’s hope we can beat this thing once and for all.

  5. Lynne Says:

    I have been informed by people who know better than me, Shawn, but why don’t you ask him? And why do you automatically assume that I wouldn’t know?

  6. Laurel Says:

    Since Sen. Panagiatakos voted against bringing the Health Care amendment out of committee for a vote on the merits, logic dictates that he should have no problem with the princple of abstention on the Marriage amendment. His HC vote makes it clear that he feels no particular duty to vote on the merits of all amendments. Lynne, I think you have suggested a reasonable course of action for him, and I hope that he gives it serious consideration. Thanks for the open letter!

  7. Shawn Says:

    You open your letter saying you “presume” why he voted one way.. and then go on for 3 or 4 paragraphs referring back to that assumption.

    Doesn’t seem fair to choose the man’s motivations for him, and then challenge him on them instead of actually asking him first.

    He’s very approachable.. a member of the Lowell clans, so to speak.

    And I challenge him to vote on the HC amendment as well. As I said, my issue is the process I think needs protecting.. not the individual amendments.

  8. Lynne Says:

    I used presume because I don’t know for sure, but I DO know that on the several occasions I or others approached him on it, he absolutely - though politely - refuses to consider voting the amendment down.

    I don’t actually think this process needs any sort of protection. It’s so flawed, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I don’t care if the thing gets killed procedurally. We need to change the rules of amending the constitution. I don’t mind that something can be brought up in ConCon based on citizen petition; but the fault lies with the severely low bar for forwarding the amendment. I don’t think the Constitution should be treated as a frivolous piece of paper.

  9. Shawn Says:

    I would disagree with you on the level of the bar issue.

    In almost a hundred years since the initiative petition process came into being, only 2 have been proposed via people’s initiative (not via the legislature) have gone through.


    The point of this process was that the people could force an issue through when a legislature was arrogantly refusing to deal with it.

    The people coult put forth an amendment, but the legislature (via con-con) could stop it if they felt it was innappropriate. The bar to let them stop it was placed high (75%) so that and overwhelming number of them had to come together to stop a petition that was put forth via the people.

    (The legislature could have also proposed an alternate choice to put on the ballot with the original question.)

    Then, they are given two chances at it.

    Seems like a pretty good system to me, and as I said above, its worked well and not been abused for almost a hundred years.

  10. Laurel Says:

    Shawn, one may argue as you have that the system for getting initaitives to a vote might indeed be functioning well according to the criteria you layed out. But when it is used to discriminate against a minority, it is being misused. Also, there was rampant and well documented signature fraud which the AG and Sec of State chose to ignore. So the road traveled by this particular amendment is muddy at best. We should be ashamed of how our system, set up as it was on the assumption that it would be used honestly and with integrity, has been trampled into a dungheap.

  11. No More Deval Says:

    Laurel and all those who deride the democratic process,
    Give me my ballot! Let us all cast our vote, and the majority shall prevail. We adopt our laws by majority vote, and we elect our representatives by majority vote. Had not the SJC decided to legislate from the Bench, then none of you would be so subjected to the awful thought of the people of the Commonwealth deciding this issue. Our Constitution was created by the PEOPLE and for the PEOPLE. The decision shall rest with the PEOPLE, not an appointed judiciary. Had the SJC ruled against the desires of this hypocritical minority, the minority would be seeking to amend the Constitution and demand a vote.

    The following excerpt is taken from www.law.umkc.edu

    The Supreme Court, in its infamous decision in Dred Scott v Sandford (1857), ruled that Congress lacked the power to prohibit slavery in its territories. In so doing, Scott v Sandford invited slave owners to pour into the territories and pass pro-slavery constitutions. The decision made the Civil War inevitable. Chief Justice Roger Taney, writing for the majority in Scott, also concluded that people of African ancestry (whether free or a slave, including Scott) could never become “citizens” within the meaning of the Constitution, and hence lacked the ability to bring suit in federal court.

    Before the Civil War ended, Congress passed, and sent to the states for ratification, the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished “slavery” and “involuntary servitude” and authorized Congress to enact “appropriate legislation” implementing the abolition.

    There was not a single minority that voted to end slavery in this nation. The vote was cast by the majority based on what was morally right and just. The same would hold true when African-Americans and women were granted the right to vote.

    No one person posting here has the right to call into question the integrity and moral standing of any citizen of the Commonwealth or of the United States when it comes to voting on any proposed amendment to our Constitutional rights. The PEOPLE shall decide not the Courts. Had the PEOPLE left the issue of slavery in this nation to be decided by the Courts, the famous Dred Scott decision would ultimately still stand. GIVE ME MY BALLOT!

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Boy, it’s quiet in here now.

  13. ~thebull~ Says:

    My moonie friends….you don’t want this to come to a vote. The majority of voters in the commonwealth are older and religious. Your better off letting them legislate from the bench….at least you have a chance with the SJC. Voters would crush it in a heartbeat.

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