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  •  Why Sen. Kerry Should be Proud of Massachusetts (none)
    Senator Kerry:

    The Supreme Court of Massachusetts declared Wednesday that anything short of full marriage rights for gay couples is unconstitutional. Hours later, American University professor Alan Lichtman interviewed on WTOP radio about the political implications of the ruling. Said Lichtman, "the music you now hear is from a party being thrown at the White House."

    The White House isn't supportive of the decision, of course. The reason the White House is throwing a party, says Lichtman, is that the ruling came down in Massachusetts, your home state. Gay marriage can now become the centerpiece of its attempt (already underway) to define you as an elitist New England liberal who's out of touch with mainstream American values. "Look at those radical liberal activist judges up there in Massachusetts," they'll say. "Can we afford to allow John Kerry to bring those values into the White House?"

    How will you respond? I'm afraid you won't say much at all. You'll say that you're personally opposed to gay marriage, but that you support civil unions. You'll say that the matter should be left to state legislatures, and that the court overstepped. I'm just guessing of course, but I bet I'm pretty close.

    We know for certain what George W. Bush will say. He will stand and condemn this "attack" on "traditional American values." And you'll be hesitant to challenge him, because you know that a majority of Americans are opposed to gay marriage. And that's why you're so afraid of this debate - because you believe that to get elected you must oppose this ruling. You're wrong, and you can win this debate. But you have to act now.

    Listen to what the Massachusetts court said on Wednesday. "The State may not interfere...with the decision of any religion to refuse to perform religious marriages of same-sex couples. These matters of belief and conviction are properly outside the reach of judicial review or government interference.

    But neither may the government, under the guise of protecting 'traditional' values, even if they be the traditional values of the majority, enshrine in law an invidious discrimination.... That there may remain personal residual prejudice against same-sex couples is a proposition all too familiar to other disadvantaged groups. That such prejudice exists is not a reason to insist on less than the Constitution requires."

    This isn't judicial activism, Senator Kerry, and you know it. This is a powerful blow to prejudice and intolerance, a ruling steeped in a proud American tradition of advancing social justice, and a decision based on the ideals that Americans treasure most. Ideals like liberty, justice and fairness under the law for every American. We're all proud of these ideals, Senator, and you should be proud of your state for affirming them.

    But the American people aren't hearing any of this. All that they're hearing is George Bush and his partisans telling us that this ruling undermines our values. And they're wrong. So stand up, Senator Kerry, and applaud. Stand up and seize this opportunity to tell the American people that you support this ruling because it is fair, and because it is just.

    It won't be easy. You'll have to trust that Americans' sense of fairness is more powerful than their fears and their prejudices. It's a gamble, and it may not pay off. But at least you'll be making a stand. And those of us who understand what American values are really about will reward you for being brave enough to stand with us.

    And so when George Bush derides you for your Massachusetts values, stand up and challenge him. Tell him that Massachusetts believes in fairness, and so do you. Tell him that Massachusetts believes in liberty and justice for all Americans, and so do you. Turn to the President and say, "I'm proud of the people of Massachusetts and I'm proud of all Americans who believe in liberty and justice for all. The question is, why don't you, Mr. President? Why don't you?"

    This is a debate you can win, Senator Kerry. Bring it on.

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