Nouveau Jim Crow

By EDITORIAL  |  July 7, 2006

That’s why this talk of the people needing a voice, of the legislature needing to act, is vile hypocrisy.

Gay men and lesbians who wanted to enjoy the same legal benefits of marriage as their heterosexual brothers and sisters turned to the courts in frustration. And there is ample and painful precedent for their action: it took scores of federal-court decisions in the mid 1950s and ’60s to bring the promise of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865, to fruition.

Where would the civil-rights movement have been if Tom Reilly had been in the fight? It’s a safe bet that the schools of Little Rock, Arkansas, still would be segregated.

When legislative redress is denied, the courts ensure our civil liberties, our basic rights. And that is what gay marriage is: a basic, fundamental human right.

No thanks to most political leaders, equal marriage rights have finally become law in the Commonwealth, due to the agency of last resort — the judiciary. Legislative adoption of marriage rights would have undoubtedly been preferable. But that is wishful thinking — and now beside the point.

Reilly and O’Malley are latter-day Jim Crows: Reilly because of his political desire to have it both ways, and O’Malley because he is promoting redneck theology as a public practice. Romney, of course, is busy actively courting Jim Crows throughout the land.

It’s time for Patrick and Gabrieli to unequivocally say that the issue of civil rights — marriage rights — for gay and lesbian couples was settled by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. That any effort to interfere with those rights is as repugnant as it is undesirable. And with that, they should urge the legislature not to vote on the issue again.

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