After weeks of intense lobbying and endless speculation about who might vote how, a joint session of the Massachusetts legislature made blessedly quick work last week of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In a State House mobbed with revved-up campaigners on both sides of the issue, lawmakers took a quarter-hour to dispatch the proposal by a decisive margin. The vote was a victory for decency and civil equality, and underscored Massachusetts' long history of protecting individual rights.
Advocates of the constitutional ban needed only 50 of 200 votes to advance their cause to the ballot; they mustered only 45. More significantly, 151 legislators voted no on the amendment, leaving no doubt that proponents lacked the required 25 percent of the constitutional convention. Taken with the significance of the moment, legislators embraced after the vote, and some shed tears on the House floor.
After the defeat of the amendment became evident, the cheering among supporters gathered in the State House went on and on and on; the sense of relief was palpable, because the stakes were so high.
Meanwhile, people who dislike same-sex marriages have suffered no personal harm whatsoever from the defeat of the ban. Even so, yesterday's vote is unlikely to resolve the issue for good. Proponents of the marriage ban could well mount another petition drive. But amending the nation's oldest constitution is an arduous process by design, and it generally takes a couple of years at the least.
Time is on the side of equality. The state's first same-sex married couples have already celebrated their third wedding anniversaries. With each year that passes, it becomes ever clearer that the sky will not fall; that the institution of marriage has been strengthened, not weakened; and that giving everyone the right to marriage makes Massachusetts a happier place overall.
- The Boston Globe
Senate Democrats may have lost the fight over the vote of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. For the Bush administration, however, victory has to taste a little sour. Even among Republicans who dismissed the vote as a political stunt (and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman as well), few rose to Mr. Gonzales' defense.
And, really, why would they? Judging by his own testimony and events during his tenure at the Department of Justice, Mr. Gonzales is either an ultra-stealthy uber-toady for the Bush administration who judged federal prosecutors and agency staff by a political litmus test, or he was so far out of the loop as to be irrelevant.
Mr. Bush and his supporters in the Senate won the political battle by blocking a vote of no confidence. But they're still a long way from making a convincing case that Mr. Gonzales is capable of running an impartial and vigorous Department of Justice.
- The Hartford (Conn.) Courant