In Their Own Words:Citizens speaking out on their right to vote on the Marriage Amendment
'I find it appalling'
As the constitutional convention nears and reports of arm-twisting escalate, I find it appalling that Nancy Pelosi is working to undermine those of us who signed the petition to put the issue of same-sex marriage on the ballot. Legislators wonder why they have so much trouble getting people out to vote, yet our state senator and state representative both voted against the democratic process. I thought Republicans were supposed to be for limited government, not big government telling the voters what they can and cannot vote on?
The issue is no longer about religion, morals, personal opinion or otherwise. It all boils down to whether government still belongs to the people and the initiative petition process still works. If Republican legislators like Brad Jones continue to undermine our democracy and dont vote on behalf of the people, I see no reason why they shouldnt be challenged in a primary even if they are part of the leadership team at the State House, but those people dont vote in a Republican primary.
This issue is not going away and itd be the first thing Id bring up in a Republican primary especially since Rep. Jones is standing next to Nancy Pelosi on this issue as we approach June 14.
DOROTHY GREEN, Reading
Campbell supports people's right to vote
Linda Dean Campbell earned a reputation on the Methuen City Council as an independent thinker. Good.
She will need that independence to fight an uphill struggle to ensure that the marriage amendment comes before the voters.
Thankfully, Rep. Campbell has said she will vote yes on the amendment when it comes up for a vote, now scheduled for June 14.
I commend Campbell, because this is about more than just marriage now. If the people don't have the right to vote, they don't have anything.
As John Quincy Adams put it, "Always vote for principle, thought you may vote alone, you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost." Representatives are supported to represent the people-and the people want to vote! Thank you, Rep. Campbell, and keep up the good work!
KATIE GRAYTON, Methuen
Gay marriage question belongs on state ballot
A June 5 article in The Republican, "Group calls for keeping gay marriage," and some readers of the MassEquality ad in the Sunday paper are attaching importance to 102 area people signing on to the marriage plank of the gay agenda.
While most of the names are known activists, I am disappointed to see that Holyoke Mayor Michael J. Sullivan and area college presidents have thought it somehow necessary to accede to the gay lobby and sign on to the ad.
What is ironic is that the 170,000 signers of the marriage petition are often trivialized as a "small percentage of the state's population" and therefore "meaningless." Let's see - 170,000 vs. 102? I urge all area voters to contact their state representatives and senators as we near the June 14 marriage amendment vote.
Thank Reps. Michael P. Kane, D-Holyoke, Donald F. Humason Jr., R-Westfield, Thomas M. Petrolati, D-Ludlow, Sean Curran, D-Springfield, Mary S. Rogeness, R-Longmeadow, Todd M. Smola, R-Palmer and Sen. Gale D. Candaras, D-Wilbraham, for their courageous and steadfast support. Thank our new area Rep. Angelo Puppolo, D-Springfield, for his promised support.
These legislators are all under tremendous political pressure from House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray and a powerful gay lobby to change their vote. We hope other members of our local delegation know that the voters want them to follow the constitution and the will of their constituents and let the people define the meaning of marriage.
KEITH DAVIS, Holyoke
Gay marriage vote is not a political circus
I have fond memories of going to the circus as a child in the small town in Pennsylvania where I grew up. When the circus came to town, several of us boys were permitted to leave school to help set up. I can still remember watching in awe as the elephants carried the huge tent poles and set them in place (we carried the tent pegs).
Our governor has stated that if a citizen-proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage in Massachusetts as only between one man and one woman is allowed to be placed on the ballot, the state would be crippled by a "political circus." It is not clear to me the definition of "political circus," but I suspect it differs greatly from how I would define the circuses that provided great enjoyment for me.
He also stated: "If this does get to a popular ballot, there is very little other business that will get done in Massachusetts politics and policy making while that is pending." If such an absurd statement were true, that would not speak well for the competence of those we have elected and their ability to perform the jobs they were elected to do.
Are those who promote same-sex marriage so afraid of the democratic process that they must resort to scare tactics such as this?
BRADLEY BAKER, Richmond
Bribery and gay marriage
Over the past two weeks, the Boston Globe and the Herald have published a string of accounts where Gov. Patrick and members of the legislature are offering posts and positions in exchange for a vote against the proposed marriage amendment. Such open and blatant illegal activity is indicative of the Tammany Hall administration of New York, not the modern world.
Mr. Walsh and Mr. McGee, do your duty and stop this criminal activity.
Steven White, Lynn, MA Ward 7
Lawmakers must follow the law and vote
I wanted to thank Rep. Timilty for holding a vote on January 2. He knows we have a right to vote on marriage ourselves.
But there are legislators who are also trying to stall a vote. Sen. Brian Joyce and Rep. Bill Galvin need to hold a vote. They shouldnt be cowards like last time. They need to meet in session again so why not vote on the marriage amendment? A vote only takes a minute or two. I know Sen. Joyce and Rep. Galvin dont want cowardice to be their legacy. On Dec. 27 the Massachusetts SJC said a vote had to be taken. They should fulfill their obligation and vote on marriage on May 9. Thank you.
MICHAEL HERATY, Canton
Voters should have right to weigh in on marriage
In Gov. Deval L. Patrick's statement on gay marriage posted on Jan. 2 prior to the last constitutional convention he stated, "I favor ending this petition initiative promptly. If adjournment (as has been done in the past) can accomplish that, so be it. If the constitutional convention chooses to vote on the merits, I want to be utterly clear that I believe a vote to advance this question to the 2008 ballot is irresponsible and wrong."
Newly elected Senate President Therese Murray has signaled that the convention will likely be postponed. Irresponsible and wrong? The people of Massachusetts filed a legal petition to have a ballot initiative. At least 38 states have had ballot initiatives. Why should the people of Massachusetts be denied that same right? Has our governor and the majority of legislators forgotten the meaning of a democracy?
HELEN CHESTER, Agawam
Lawmaker upheld constitutional duty
The gay special interest groups should not be able to silence the majority of Massachusetts voters on an issue as crucial to our future as marriage. But that is what they nearly did by delaying and delaying a vote on the marriage amendment.
We are fortunate that when a vote was finally taken Rep. Karyn E. Polito, R-Shrewsbury, stood tall and cast a vote to send the amendment to the people. I commend her for upholding her constitutional duties to vote on such proposals and to place her trust in the people and the democratic system of government.
DEVIN BIRD, Shrewsbury
Trying to uphold time-tested values
My compliments to Robert Z. Nemeth for an excellent and fair column, "On gay marriage and Finneran's fall" (Sunday Telegram, Jan. 14).
In regard to gay marriage, I'm sure he has the gratitude of all who have been called mean-spirited, bigots, prejudicial and/or divisive because we are upholding time-tested values. The right to vote is a freedom we want not only for ourselves, but for all - a right that has cost the lives of many in our nation and should not be discarded or ignored by those elected to represent us.
The 62 legislators who had the courage and integrity to protect this right for the people of Massachusetts certainly embody the virtue of faithfulness to oath referred to by U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan commenting on the downfall of Thomas M. Finneran. As stated in a Thanksgiving Day message, "This is the land of the free because it is the home of the brave."
CHRISTINE D. TOLOCZKO, Worcester
The [Berkshire] Eagle sees opposition to gay marriage as an act of tyranny by the majority. In the dictionary, democracy is defined as the rule of the majority. Since gays comprise an estimated 7.5 percent of the population, what gives them the right to overrule the majority?
Also, The Eagle talks about "their" civil rights being infringed upon. First of all, I think the Eagle is confusing "civil" rights with civil "rites." Civil rights include the right to vote, to seek public housing, to use public facilities. No where in either the state or federal Constitutions is the right to marry listed as a "right."
Massachusetts, however, does have a clause that allows for referendums to put such questions before the people, where they belong. Refusing to allow the will of the people to be heard and voted upon is a serious breach of the faith that we have placed in our lawmakers.
To get back to civil "rites," the swearing in of duly elected public officials is a civil rite; as is a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of a new business. So is a ceremony performed by a justice of the peace. Marriage, as defined by Webster's dictionary, is a union of a man and a woman for the purpose of establishing a family and home. It does not equate marriage with two men or two women. One of each is all that is required.
So, what are you afraid of, Eagle? That the people will make their will known and gay marriage will fall by the wayside? Perhaps it should.
RILEY BATES. Hinsdale
Legislators show courage with gay marriage vote
I was pleased to read that several commonwealth legislators in Western Massachusetts had the courage to vote in favor of the gay marriage ballot question.
I was dismayed by the tone of The Republican's Jan. 4 editorial on the subject, which stated that "the vast majority of lawmakers want the Legislature to spend its time on something other than gay marriage," and "it's time to move on."
The truth is that this issue is very important. There are persuasive arguments in either direction, and the people of Massachusetts should have an opportunity to make the final decision. Then it would be "time to move on."
JOHN A. FATHERLEY, Chicopee
Thanks to 62 lawmakers for letting citizens vote
A million thanks to the courageous state representatives and senators who voted in favor of the Marriage Amendment. They also refused to participate in the shameful filibustering by those who were ready to violate their oath of office by voting to recess the Constitutional Convention on July 12, Nov. 9 and twice on Jan. 2 in their attempt to kill the petition initiative.
It took the steadfastness of Senate President Robert L. Travaglini, the fear of the state Supreme Court's opinion, and I believe, intercession by the Holy Spirit, to force the issue to a vote and compel them to simply abide by Article 48 of our constitution that demands they take a vote.
And shame on those in our local area, particularly the supposedly conservative senators, who are influenced by a small, but rich and powerful lobby that seeks to dominate the State House. As an independent voter I offer my undying support to the 62 fearless legislators.
To the rest, I pray that they will turn away from the ingenuous civil rights excuse and let the constitutional process work.
HARRISON DAVIS, Holyoke
Our right to vote on ballot issues
I am writing in response to the Jan. 4 [Berkshire Eagle] editorial, "A vote to deprive gays of their rights." This editorial is very inconstant in how civil rights protected by the Constitution should be upheld. Its main point is that gay marriage is a civil right protected by the state's Constitution, and should not be subjected to a vote. The argument is an appeal to authority and hinges on the importance of upholding the state's Constitution.
The editorial also states that "Government requires a scalpel, not a blunt instrument, and this ballot question reveals like no other before it the dangers of referendum government."
The last time I read the Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII stated: "Legislative power shall continue to be vested in the general court; but the people reserve to themselves the popular initiative, which is the power of a specified number of voters to submit constitutional amendments and laws to the people for approval or rejection; and the popular referendum, which is the power of a specified number of voters to submit laws, enacted by the general court, to the people for their ratification or rejection."
The editorial holds that referendum government is dangerous. Is the editorial suggesting that we change our Constitution to exclude referendum initiatives? But it is a civil right accorded to us and protected by the Constitution. The editorial seems to suggest that while we cannot vote on gay marriage because it is a civil right protected by the Constitution, it would be acceptable to vote on and change our civil right of popular referendum which is also protected by the Constitution. It is a logical fallacy to hold both of these positions while also holding that the state should "not deprive any group of a civil right accorded to them by the Constitution."
Either we must uphold both civil rights or hold that both are subject to change.
MICHAEL WOOD, Pittsfield
Legislators broke the law
On Nov. 9, Worcester representatives James Leary, Vincent A. Pedone, Robert P. Spellane, Edward M. Augustus, and Harriette L. Chandler, broke the law by voting to dismiss, instead of voting, on the marriage amendment. They were required by Article 48 of the Massachusetts constitution, which was previously upheld by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, to vote upon all citizen initiative amendments duly brought before them.
This is not to say they had to vote to give the people a chance to vote on this important issue of marriage. They just needed to give a simple up or down vote, allowing the procedure to continue or to end. Now people are finally trying to take their government back by suing those law-breaking legislators in federal court, and forcing them to do their jobs.
Our rights under the petition process must be restored. There seems to be no other way. These people do not listen to those who elected them. Our local representatives and Senators, Leary, Pedone, Spellane, Augustus and Chandler, could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars in damages because they refused to do their jobs.
Finally, they are being held accountable. They can make all these recent letters to the editor and the lawsuits go away by simply allowing a fair up or down vote on the marriage amendment on Jan. 2, 2007. I hope they do for the sake of our democracy.
RUTH DRISCOLL, Northbridge
Stop name-calling and let the voters decide
It was both predictable and not surprising that the [Berkshire Eagle] editors chose to highlight Representative Smitty Pignatelli's words "hatred" and "frivolous" in today's article about the gay marriage lawsuit (Dec. 14).
It's always easier to make your opponent's position look silly when using narrow-minded and unintelligent catchphrases to describe their views. After all, which of us would not be opposed to something full of hatred and frivolity - let alone narrow-minded and unintelligent?
This article was the first I'd heard of a planned lawsuit and while I may not think much of it, let's not use it as a smokescreen to skirt the issue at hand: simply put, at least 170,000 citizens of this commonwealth have asked our state legislators to bring this issue to a vote, whether it will appear on the ballot in 2008. 109 of these legislators have simply refused to vote.
I am not convinced by Gary Buseck's contention that there is no "requirement" to vote, but beyond that, let's stop thinking like minimalists and start acting in good faith - do what you've been elected to do! Regardless of how you feel about the issue, a petition has been filed and many of your citizens are asking for a vote.
Stop the stonewalling and name-calling. Whatever your views on marriage, give the system a chance to work as it was intended.
Gay-marriage debate should be put on the ballot
I am very disappointed in our lawmakers' decision not to allow the people of Massachusetts to vote on marriage. We are supposed to be living in a democracy, but if we allow groups such as supporters of gay marriage to bully lawmakers into violating their oath of office, it is really a tragic day for all of us.
All people should have their say on this issue, not just the people who can wield their power with money and threats. Our representatives are supposed to represent the people as a whole and should allow all of us to have our say on this issue. Please vote to put this on the ballot.
JOAN MITZA, Billerica
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