I just got back from spending almost the entire day at the State House. I'm exhausted, angry and hurt. So forgive me if I'm not completely coherent.
The Travaglini/Finneran amendment (banning marriage and establishing civil unions) has passed today. The first reading passed 129-69. The second reading passed, but I don't know the final tally on that. The third reading will take place on March 29--maybe through the 31st.
Many of our supporters in the legislature voted for the Travaglini/Finneran amendment on its first reading. This was done for strategic reasons--it was the least bad amendment, so if anything was going to go to the ballot (we all knew this was an uphill battle) this was preferable. Supporters were able to defeat the hideous amendments sponsored by Rep. Phil Travis and Rep. Paul Loscocco.
There is still the possibility of defeating the amendment. Arlene Isaacson, the lobbyist for the MA Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus spoke to the crowd of supporters and mentioned that many who supported the amendment on its second reading were on the fence. There is the possibility of swaying some of them.
The third reading will still be a battle. Amendments to the amendment are still possible. Nothing is settled.
People who are on our side can still help us defeat this amendment. Some suggestions for action:
- Write or call the folks who voted with us and thank them! They need to hear from us. This was not an easy vote for many of them. Let them know their work is appreciated. Many of them may pay a political voice. Bryan Joyce (from Milton, I think) told us that he is facing a challenge this fall because of this issue. Others will as well. let them know how important this was and help to get them re-elected.
- Continue to contact your legislators. Tell them the truth about our lives and the importance of this issue. Make it a human issue! Something that always sticks in my mind is story about a legislator in Minnesota who took a lot of flack for his vote to include sexual orientation in that state's non-discrimination laws. There was a letter from a constituent that touched him, that told the truth about a person's struggles with harrassment and discrimination. He kept that letter and pulled it out whenever he was challenged because of his vote.
- Continue to check the MassEquality web site for updates. They will post action alerts and ways for people to get involved. Consider donating to them. We will need all the resources (time, money, energy, skills...) we can get.
- Remember, this is not the end! This is but one battle. We will fight through the 29th. If it passes there, it must pass again next year. If it passes then, it will go to the voters in 2006. We need to engage in a two-year public education campaign. We need to take a long-term approach while still trying to beat this in the short term. We must be ready for the long haul!
OK, bed time. I've earned my sleep.