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May 06, 2005

Dear John: We've moved on.

Well, Massachusetts Democrats have proven that we're ready to lead on gay marriage, probably adopting a pro-marriage platform plank for the convention this year. John Kerry, on the other hand, seems to be unhappy with this, possibly looking for another shot at the White House.

.08 has a fine post on all this, including his bullet-pointed reasons (I love bullet points) for supporting it as a delegate. I'll be an alternate at the convention this year, and if it comes to me I'll support it for the same reasons. As his second bullet points out, supporting gay marriage is absolutely a mainstream/majority position in this state, it's been a winner in local races for state rep, and most Democrats support it. (Of course, not all Democrats support it, but we can agree to disagree for now -- in the long run, I'm confident more and more folks will come around.)

Now, I don't have any illusions about the short-term, nationwide impact of this. Gay marriage is decidedly unpopular in many, even most, areas of the country. The Right will indeed use this as a cudgel to show how decadent we are, and how Democrats are infested by Satan, etc. And many Democrats, like Kerry, will distance themselves from it.

Tough. By their very nature, Progressives are always going to be ahead of the curve on many issues. But sometimes you have to stand on principle, and make the most eloquent, compassionate, and dignified case you can in defense of a minority position. I'm sure that we're right in insisting on civilized attitudes towards gays and lesbians. I'm not going to give up on my gay friends, colleagues, and neighbors because it's politically inconvenient for John Kerry in the short term.

If politics is the "art of the possible", then it's required of us that we do what we can. By no means do I disagree with David's recommendation to think strategically about this issue. For now, the state Democrats seem to be willing and able to take a punch from the outside press and pressure groups. I'm not worried -- the electorate has been pretty resilient so far, making it safer to take a bolder stand. And really, it's an opportunity for us in MA to show the nation what we're doing right.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 03:19 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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» Kerry Fallout from .08 Acres (and a Donkey)
Here's a roundup of reaction to Senator Kerry's recent comments regarding the presence of language supporting equal marriage rights in the Massachusetts Democratic party's platform. [Read More]

Tracked on May 9, 2005 7:01:17 AM


I'm all for gay marriage in the platform. And please don't misunderstand my basic point on "thinking strategically"! The point is not necessarily that we should go for civil unions rather than marriage; rather, it is that we should go for legislative solutions rather than judicial ones (and consequently, if civil unions are all we can get from a legislature, as in CT, then we should take it and say "thanks, nice work," rather than moaning about discriminatory legislators). By putting gay marriage in the platform, we (maybe) increase slightly the odds of having more pro-marriage legislators on Beacon Hill, which increases the odds of obtaining legislative solutions (such as a legislative rather than judicial repeal of the 1913 law). I see no reason for the party to shy away from this issue. MA is out front on the issue; we are right, and we should lead the way.

Posted by: David | May 6, 2005 4:32:49 PM

I'm not going to give up on my gay friends, colleagues, and neighbors because it's politically inconvenient for John Kerry in the short term.

Your gay friends, colleagues, and neighbors appreciate you saying so. It's quite unpleasant to be preemptively thrown overboard when the going gets tough.

I'm sick of John Kerry's "blame the gays" explanation of his failure. How's about "global test" in the first debate?! The guy sucked as a candidate, period.

Instead of running scared and trying to obliterate social issue distinctions between the parties, why aren't the Democrats trying to highlight and sharpen some of the economic issue distinctions? Or are there any distinctions? Are there any ideas at all? Is there any vision for this country on which to build a coalition?

No one is asking the Party to support gay rights and nothing else.

Posted by: worldcitizen | May 6, 2005 6:41:44 PM

The point is not necessarily that we should go for civil unions rather than marriage; rather, it is that we should go for legislative solutions rather than judicial ones (and consequently, if civil unions are all we can get from a legislature, as in CT, then we should take it and say "thanks, nice work," rather than moaning about discriminatory legislators).

I totally agree with this view, except for the asserted opposition of saying "thanks, nice work" with moaning about discriminatory legislators.

Can't we (and shouldn't we) do both?

Posted by: worldcitizen | May 6, 2005 6:48:59 PM

I don't remember Kerry doing any blame-the-gays talk after the election. None at all. I do remember that Bill Clinton advised Kerry to take some anti-gay positions during the campaign, and Kerry refused. Kerry's always had a consistent position: pro civil unions, against gay marriage. I disagree with him (I'm for gay marriage), but I don't see anything wrong with him sticking to his position on this.

Posted by: Karen V. | May 6, 2005 8:10:55 PM

I don't remember Kerry doing any blame-the-gays talk after the election.

Surrogates certainly did.

I do remember that Bill Clinton advised Kerry to take some anti-gay positions during the campaign, and Kerry refused.

On the contrary, Kerry took his advice. During the campaign, he announced his support for a Massachusetts constitutional amendment to undo the SJC's Goodridge decision and make marriage hetero-only. He also got Kennedy to remain silent on the issue--the previous year Kennedy had announced opposition to a similar amendment, and he has since announced opposition to the one that's under consideration now.

These decisions hurt the fight against the amendment here. It might have been justified if he had gone on to win the Presidency, but he didn't. He kicked Massachusetts gays in the teeth and accomplished nothing by doing it, other than sharpening his image as a politician with his finger in the wind. This latest, apparently unsolicited opinion is nothing but gratuitous pandering to Louisiana homophobes.

I've supported Kerry with dollars, signage, letters to the editor, and my vote. I won't do it again--not for Senate reelection, and certainly not for President.

Posted by: worldcitizen | May 6, 2005 9:45:00 PM

I tend to agree with .08 that the inertia, momentum, and percentage of people who support equal marriage rights in Massachusetts will only increase over the next few years.

On the one hand, it means that the longer the legislature stalls, the more support they'll have when they do move on the legislation. Stalling now would seem to improve the probability that gays will get full marriage rights instead of some half-hearted compramise.

On the other hand, the longer they stall, the longer a minority population in the state goes without equal rights.

In the mean time, I have a suspicion that the more gay marraige enters neighborhood conversations (not be in the news, not politician-speak, but us regular joes talking to other regular joes), the more people will move from "leaning against it" to "indifferent" to "leaning toward it". You're not going to change a bigot in one conversation, but there are many grey areas in people's minds between no gay rights and equal rights, and every good conversation helps to move one mind a bit closer to equality.

Posted by: stomv | May 7, 2005 10:53:40 AM

No. we haven't moved on, Charley. This has been shoved down people's throats before they ever thought about it. Then told they are biggots if they do not agree. Now state party is taken next step.
This will hurt because this state dem party has been taken over by persons whose main interest is gay rights with teacher's unions' interest a close second. Unfortnately these are not the concerns of most working class people who should be voting democrat.
The state dem party should not be the personal sounding board of a select few and their pet causes. But that is what it is and now they are driving away people who support civil unions and not yet comfortable with gay marriage.
Thanks for screwing things up even more then they are , Phil. But you will attract more "fans" with this endeavor.

Posted by: The troll | May 7, 2005 12:06:25 PM

The state dem party should not be the personal sounding board of a select few and their pet causes.

Are you challenging the accuracy of the reported polls, troll? In particular, the one that reports 71% of Dems support the right of same sex couples to marry?

Posted by: worldcitizen | May 7, 2005 1:35:10 PM

tell me about this poll, worl citizen. A link perhaps would be nice, and then i will be happy to comment on it.
You sound like it is a big deal to challenge "the accuracy of the reported polls."

Posted by: The troll | May 7, 2005 7:57:50 PM

I cannot overstate the the negative impact that occurs when people are accused of being biggots. They take a defensive position and fight hard and never give in. Unlike Civil Rights Of The 60S gay marriage (GAY MARRIAGE, NOT GAY RIGHTS) snuck up on people. And in the same breath they were told if you do not accept less, such as civil unions, you are a biggot.
Well surprise. Many many many people, (who won't admit so to progressives and gays that make up majority of readers of this blog)said "fuck you" and dug in their heals. They are pissed. And these people could have easily been won over.
But the arrogants prevailed.

Posted by: The troll | May 7, 2005 8:11:48 PM


Posted by: the troll | May 7, 2005 8:12:45 PM

I'm talking about the one Phil Johnston mentioned in the Globe article linked to in the original post. (unhappy) I assumed you had clicked through already and would know what I was referring to. (I don't subscribe to Globe archives, so you'll have to find the original on your own if you want to see it.) In any case the exact numbers from one poll are all that relevant, and I didn't mean to imply that they are.

My point was the platform plank seems to have broad support among Democrats. What is your evidence for calling this a "pet cause" of a "select few"? Because it doesn't affect you and because you personally don't support it?

Re: "bigots"

That old story. If only you weren't so rude and pushy, people would love you and would have granted you your rights a long time ago.

Posted by: worldcitizen | May 8, 2005 1:12:50 PM

The poll results are at http://www.unh.edu/survey-center/bg305.pdf.

Thanks to sco at .08 for the link.

Posted by: worldcitizen | May 8, 2005 1:57:16 PM

Can't this place get a smarter troll? I can't figure out if this one is satire or not.

Posted by: zed | May 8, 2005 2:36:41 PM

Read the poll. Thne question starts out with "in general" then asks if if respondent if marriages should or should not be allowed by law. This to me includes civil unions.
That is a lousy question, I want to see the question phrased as 'in general, do you believe a marriage should be tetqween a man and a woman.
Sopry Zed, i'm the best you get. If this blog just wants to be a love-in between the mutual admiration society then so be it. But why can't John Kery, a democrat,m take a position on an issue at the state democratic convention. Is it because he does not agree with the democratic party chairman and his merry men.
What happened to critical thinking.

Posted by: The troll | May 8, 2005 8:31:39 PM

Hi Troll,

The question is phrased this way:
“Let’s turn to another topic… the issue of gay marriage which was legalized in Massachusetts last year. In general, do you think gay
and lesbian marriages should or should not be allowed by law?”
Should Be Allowed: 56%
Should Not Be Allowed: 37%

I don't see what's unclear about that. Look, if you don't agree with what most people think, it's fine to stand on principle, but please don't claim we're "shoving this down people's throats." However you want to read the poll, it certainly would not indicate that.

And to others: Troll may seem irrational to us on our little "love-in", but he represents the feelings of a significant portion, even a majority, of the national electorate. And these folks need to be won over, with real patience, understanding and compassion for *them* and *their feelings*. I don't claim to be perfect on this count.

I don't want a culture war. I want a culture *peace*.

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | May 9, 2005 8:46:03 AM

Here is my point on the poll. 1. My opinion on gay marriage is does not matter, but I favor it. (I am pissed at myself for telling you this because it sounds like I am pandering to get credibility with you. but it seems i am being seen as Archie Bunker because i think the other side has a reasonable argument. ie. the SJC dissenting opinions)
Any way I have seen many polls before that were way off. There is nothoing wrong with challenging the results of a poll. Especially when it contradicts evryday observations. I have not had time to research this particualr poll and look for others. Maybe I will.
This poll is inconsistent with what I hear people saying. People that surp[rise me. People I thought were more liberal. I am probably a little older then most of you, and my circle of friends and associates includes all trypes of different politics, age, ethnicity, and economics.This poll does not match what I am hearing. And I believe becaiuse I am not an active progressive in the state democratic party, like most of the readers of this blog, active in gay rights, in tune with the strong progressive movements in Cambridge and Somerville I talk to a bigger circle of people with diferent politics, age, etnicity, and background. People who are not afraiod to tell me how they feel.
I do not buy these numbers. Sorry. Does that make me a biggot?

Posted by: The troll | May 9, 2005 10:12:19 AM

Chaley, thanks for defense in your last comment. With friends like you.....

Posted by: The troll | May 9, 2005 10:15:21 AM

One of our loftier aims in starting this blog was to create a bridge linking members of the so-called "progressive" community who otherwise wouldn't necessarily know each other, and also a bridge linking folks of different viewpoints who might find something here to be of interest. And, really, what good is any bridge without a troll lurking underneath it?

Seriously, I've said it before and I'll say it again. I agree with The Troll sometimes, and disagree with him other times. Just like I agree sometimes and disagree other times with everyone else who posts their thoughts here (including my co-bloggers). And, unlike a true internet troll who is just out to disrupt (and whose comments I would feel free to delete), "the Troll"'s comments are always civil and always advance the debate, misspellings and all. I, for one, welcome anyone who challenges what I or anyone else around here has to say, as long as the challenger has a reasoned basis for doing so. The great thing about the Socratic method is that when you are forced to defend your views, you inevitably improve your ability to articulate them next time. If this place can serve as a virtual Socratic method for those who post here, so much the better.

Posted by: David | May 9, 2005 12:05:40 PM

Hey David, F U.
No, seriously, thanks.
You are right I want people to defend their view, and many timnes this is lacking.
Boxing fans and people experienced in jury trials know that reasonable people can see the same thing completely different. Gay marriage is such a personal issue to many who contribute to this blog that they marginalize those who may see things differently. It is not on top of peoples list of issues, but when many are pushed.
I for one cannot compare the semantics as to "civil union" and "marriage" to woes suffered by blacks pre civil rights days. Or even post civil rights days. I for one find that offensive and that is what I see gay community doing. That is the strategy. Keep saying it like it is so and then it will be accepted by main stream media and anyone who objects is a biggot. Sorry, not here buddy.
Some times I think this blog is made up of a college class and david is the professor. he is the only consistent reasonable voice here. I have know idea right now if i agree with hi often or not, he just is reasonable.

I might even start editing my comments before I push post.

Posted by: The troll | May 9, 2005 1:46:54 PM

Kerry has been consistent, but that doesn't mean he is right or is immune from attack.

Kerry knows that going to the South and commenting on the MA Democratic party is not going to play well here, he wants us to attack him -- works better for his Southern strategy if he's on the outs here. It's just a shame that his base would be treated so poorly.

He had every opportunity (as did you Troll) to attend platform hearings and offer a dissenting opinion (maybe you did). I attended 2 hearing and there was nothing but support for this plank -- which replaces the old one that was outdated.

The people who get involved in the direction of the party are always a little ahead of the rest -- it's called leadership -- if you don't like it, get more involved.

I also support the Troll point of view, and he has a point that progressives don't talk to enough "average voters" -- the problem I have with him is his arguing style -- he often argues against things no one has said and willfully misreads posts and comments. My favorite troll post is the single word "arrogance" post above -- averaging 3+ misspellings and typos a post, I'm not sure what to make of this correction.

Posted by: Noho-missives | May 9, 2005 1:59:20 PM

Noho, i may start editing my posts, But really dude, you have too much time on hands

Posted by: The troll | May 9, 2005 2:03:01 PM

As for party delegate - Been There. Done That. Like many disgruntled dems. Party not interested in being inclusive. Hence new rules limiting delegates.
You are kidding me about getting involved, right?

Posted by: The troll | May 9, 2005 2:12:59 PM

Mostly kidding troll -- but not about getting involved -- it's the progressives/activists who are being shut out by the new rules. The party is skewing power to office holders (government and party officials). The part of the party that you say is not being inclusive is the part that agrees with you -- they want to cool down the platform and play it safe for a 2006 gov win.

Posted by: Noho-missives | May 9, 2005 2:19:04 PM

Troll, I don't see anyone here throwing around the word "bigot". Can we discuss this issue without it all coming back to "stop calling people bigots"? Because I'm happy to grant that, fine, most people who oppose gay marriage aren't bigots, but there is still far more to the issue than that.

Posted by: Brittain33 | May 9, 2005 4:15:28 PM

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