On his way out of the State House, Mitt Romney has left Massachusetts a nasty legacy: punishingly high local property taxes, an unexpected billion dollar deficit, and a mobilized gang of rednecks.

Every dog, of course, has his day. Never mind that Romney’s last “victory” was really Travaglini’s will.

If the struggle for civil rights in the 1950s and ’60s showed us anything, it’s that progress isn’t linear. It jerks along. It comes in fits and starts. But it comes.

Public officials like Senate president Travaglini need to be educated, to be convinced, that the time for sitting on the fence has passed. That to oppose in any way, shape, or form the right of gay and lesbian people to enjoy the same right as so-called straight people to marry — in name and in fact — is to act like a bigot.

Bigot is, to be sure, a nasty name. But what would you call someone who denied women or blacks the right to vote? Or said to women and African-Americans, or even to recently naturalized citizens, that, sure, you can vote, but your vote will count as only a fraction of that of a man or white people or those born in this nation. That is the difference between supporting civil unions or full marriage rights.

Governor Deval Patrick gets it. He understands that the time has come to not only grant full marriage rights to all Massachusetts’s citizens, but to call it “marriage.” And his unqualified support for gay marriage on the eve of the State House vote is a heartening indication that the battle next time will be joined and led from the top.

Gay marriage will come up for a vote in the next legislative session. The idea that our state constitution, which is older than our national constitution, must be amended to specifically prohibit gay marriage should be defeated.

A first step in making that happen is to e-mail Senate president Robert Travaglini (with a copy to every state senator who voted yes on this deadly lunge at basic civil rights) this simple message:

Dear President Travaglini: Please support equal rights for all. Please support gay marriage and defeat the measure to amend our constitution by whatever means are necessary.

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