All people come before their government as equals

As I prepare to leave Massachusetts for Texas, I leave just as the legislature passes and Governor Patrick signs a bill repealing a 1913 law that forbids out of state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if the marriage would be illegal in their state of residence. Originally, the law was to bar interracial couples from marrying in Massachusetts, but in recent years was invoked by ex-Governor and still homophobe Mitt Romney to bar same-sex couples from marrying in Massachusetts.  The final barrier to marriage equality is now gone in the Bay State.

One of the arguments opponents of the 1913 repeal used was that repeal would throw other states into chaos, forcing them to deal with legal issues not of their own making – Good.  Perhaps what we have done, by rightly standing on the side of love in Massachusetts may one day soon force a legal showdown that will make marriage equality the federal law of the land.

Today’s Boston Globe editorializes:

AS THE Massachusetts Legislature scrambled to adjourn last week, opponents of an effort to repeal a discriminatory 1913 law used to bar out-of-state gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts thought they had a powerful weapon. With the bill already approved on a voice vote by the Senate, opponents would insist on a roll call vote in the House, thus forcing each representative to declare publicly what opponents considered a controversial, even politically damaging, stand.

Opponents clearly misjudged the mood of the voters, who did not flood the State House with calls or protests. The House debate offered critics a respectful hearing, but in the end the vote wasn’t even close.

The Globe would like to recognize the 119 House members who stood up for equal rights with their votes Tuesday. (Three members were not voting, and 36 voted No.) We have listed the Yes votes below.

One of the striking things about the list is that it is truly bipartisan; five of the state’s 19 House Republicans voted yes, including the House minority leader, Bradley Jones. It includes legislators from big liberal cities and small conservative towns. Five years after the state Supreme Judicial Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, it is likely that every legislator can count some gay couples among his or her constituents.

Governor Patrick signed the bill Thursday, with an emergency preamble attached so it takes effect immediately. “All people come before their government as equals,” he said.

Just so. The “normalizing” of same-sex marriage, and of gays and lesbians in society, may never be accepted by social conservatives.

But it is happening, and Massachusetts can be proud of its part.

I wish I had been there for the vote.  I had been at the state house for every other important vote on this marriage equality journey.  On of the very first things I did as a UU minister, eleven days after my ordination, was to march at the state house with the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry on June 14, 2007, the day the Massachusetts legislature, gathered in constitutional convention, defeated a proposal to overturn the  equal marriage law.  For the most part, this part of the battle has won.  And I am off to Texas.

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