Thursday, February 12, 2004

Day 2

Last night, something amazing happened: MA state lawmakers voted twice against their leadership. The final vote, a compromise measure by Senate President Travaglini and the Miniority Leader Leeds, failed 104-94 (101 needed to pass).

The first vote on Speaker Finneran's amendment was even closer, 100-98. But his crafty maneuvering is what spelled this measures doom (that and the patently flimsy promise of civil unions). "Do not be seduced by this piece of paper," said Representative Michael E. Festa, a Melrose Democrat. "We throw them not even a fig leaf. We throw them half a piece of paper, and say, `Trust us.' "

Now, the leadership thinks that it has another solution. No not letting the members vote on its own bills and amendments, but another one of their own. The Globe's Rick Klein reports that "Last night, Finneran allies began drafting several new approaches. The one most likely to emerge early in proceedings today was drafted by one of Finneran's top deputies, House Ways and Means Committee chairman John H. Rogers.

The Rogers amendment would ban gay marriage and establish civil unions, though it would not explicitly identify as many rights and benefits as the Travaglini approach." I am betting on another thumbs down.

The atmosphere in there is tense. The building is besieged by two diametrically opposed interests, with Christian conservatives praying for the souls of pieced homosexuals. The press have set up their own den outside the house floor and now I get a sense of what it must have been like to live in Vicksburg, MS during the Civil War. The members lounged was filled with gossiping members and catered food.

One plan, which was somewhat foiled, was that the liberals would vote for the Travaglini amendment to go to 3rd reading (where, true to form, they don't actually read it) at which point they would vote against it to have NO constitutional amendment on gay marriage and the court ruling would be in full force. The bill failed to make it to 3rd reading, and despite members interest to hear openly gay Senator Jarret Barrios' amendment or the original Representative Travis DOMA (both Democrats believe it or not). Members spoke emotionally, although I wouldn't necessarily say eloquently. For my taste, there were too many citations of JFK, RFK, MLK, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and Lincoln. Better were cases when Afro-American members got up and spoke about their first hand experiences of being discriminated against and being second class citizens. It is much better than a white Jewish woman from the wealthy suburbs of Newton talking about the historical persecution of Jews. True, it did happen and 6 million murdered was beyond words (that's why they call it The Holocaust), but it is not comparable.

The speaker and the senate president conspired to stop the proceedings last night after their amendments failed. We start all over at high noon today. Stay tuned for more posts as I can make them.

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