A handful of prominent Massachusetts legal figures have written to state legislators urging them to pass a law
that will carry out the ruling of that state's Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) allowing gays to marry. The letter
greeted them at the start of legislative session on Jan. 5.
'We see the SJC's ruling as unequivocal: The
existing ban on marriage for gay people is unconstitutional ... . We urge each of you as members of a
coordinated branch of government sworn to uphold the constitution, and the rule of law, to use the remainder of
the time period in the court's stay to take any and all steps possible to facilitate the orderly issuance of
marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples.'
Lawrence Tribe, the constitutional scholar at Harvard
University, was the primary drafter of the letter. Signing it were William Weld, the former U.S. Attorney and
Republican Governor of Massachusetts; former state attorney general Scott Harshbarger and James M.
Shannon; and Renee M. Landers, president of the Boston Bar Association.
All of the signers had made
their positions public at earlier dates. However, it is unusual for them to take such a public stance in lobbying
Openly gay state Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios has said that he intends to apply for a marriage
license when they become available in the spring. He told the Boston Globe that the letter would have a
positive effect, though no one is predicting the extent of that effect.
In a Jan. 3 column in the Globe, Patrick
Guerriero, a former mayor and Massachusetts state legislator and executive director of Log Cabin
Republicans, called the SJC's decision 'a conservative ruling on gay marriage.'
He pointed to the court's
argument that 'exclusive unions, recognized by a civil marriage license, will provide greater family stability and
a more ordered society. Self-proclaimed pro-family groups should be embracing stable relationships, not
encouraging transient ones.'
Guerriero reminded readers that the legislature 'repeatedly failed' to act on
lesser legislation, including domestic-partnership and civil-union legislation that he had introduced.
American Family Association (AFA), based in Tupelo, Miss., has been running 'America's Poll on Homosexual
Marriage' on their Web site for the last few weeks. Only votes with a valid e-mail address will be counted. The
survey says, 'Results of this poll will be presented to Congress.' But perhaps not, if current results hold up.
More than 800,000 people have voted and so far, the AFA's presumed favorite position—'I oppose
legalization of homosexual marriage and 'civil unions''—has garnered only about 32% of the vote. Nearly 60%
of those voting 'favor legalization of homosexual marriage.' The vote in favor of 'civil union with the full benefits
of marriage except for the name' is coming in at about 8%.
Several listservs and Web sites have been
promoting the poll, including the libertarian site at Reason magazine. Under a thread called 'Torture AFA' there
has been speculation that the principle purpose of the poll is to gather e-mail addresses to solicit new
members for AFA. One poster anticipates receiving one beginning 'attention faggot lovers .. ..'
in Sweden, the official national church, the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden, is preparing a ceremony for
same-sex couples. That has prompted international grumbling from nine Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and
Pentecostal church leaders who have written, 'This action will inevitably affect ecumenical talks and relations
in a negative direction.' The letter has not affected plans by the Church of Sweden.