Governor Deval Patrick discusses marriage equality in this week’s podcast. The podcast is available at the following link: www.mass.gov/governor
For those who need/want to read the text:
TRANSCRIPT – “Marriage Equality”
Hello, this is Governor Deval Patrick.
We continue to work hard on an ambitious agenda for the Commonwealth. We are moving forward on initiatives to keep guns and gang violence out of our communities, to create new jobs (such as with our life sciences and clean energy initiatives), to bring affordable healthcare to children and the uninsured, to reduce property taxes and to create the strongest system of public education (pre-K through college) in the history of our Commonwealth.
These are things that demand our focus and attention, yours and mine, now and over the next few years. None is easy. But success with each will strengthen this Commonwealth and secure the future for us and our kids. To make these initiatives succeed, we need to come together and stay together, to pull in the same direction.
But just at the moment we need to come together, another ideological issue threatens to pull us apart.
2007 marks the third year for marriage equality in Massachusetts. I know emotions run high on both sides of this issue. And while I know that some differ from me on my support for marriage equality, I think even the opponents have to acknowledge that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry has not undermined my own or anyone else’s straight marriage. The institution of marriage is as strong as ever. In fact, Massachusetts has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country.
Even though there has been no disruption to family life, and even though most of us have accepted the notion that private choices between private adults ought to be respected and legally protected, there are still those who feel we ought to decide by majority vote whether this small minority ought to have a right to private choices. So, on June 14, at a constitutional convention here in the State House, our legislators will be asked to endorse a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality.
For several reasons, I think they should vote “no.”
First, the court has not granted gay and lesbian couples any right different from anyone else. The court has affirmed the principle that people come before their government as equals, that’s all, saying simply that if the government is going to give marriage licenses to anyone, it has to give them to everyone, regardless of whether the spouse you choose is of the same gender.
Second, we have never in this state used the ballot process to limit individual freedoms and personal privacy. Our constitution is designed to protect freedom and stand against discrimination. Yet with this proposal we are being asked to take freedom away from some people and to insert discrimination into our constitution. Where then does that stop? Shall we take away the freedom to worship in religions that the majority does not approve of? Of course we shouldn’t.
Third, even if you don’t support marriage equality, you have to realize that if this issue is placed on the ballot for a vote in 2008, for the next two years little else we need to do will get done. If we don’t lay this question to rest at the constitutional convention on June 14, a toxic debate will eclipse all the other business that you and I care about and drive us apart, just when we most need to work together. Instead of advancing our agenda in Massachusetts, we will spend the next two years surrounded by advocates from all over the country trying to make Massachusetts a political circus.
A number of advocates and members of the GLBT community have asked me to help end this debate once and for all on June 14, and I will do all I can. But with due respect, it will not be just because I believe that marriage equality is right. It will be because I believe that equality is right. Because every time the court affirms basic equality for any one, it affirms basic equality for all of us. And whenever basic equality is threatened to one, all are threatened. That is as true today as it was on the great civil rights questions of the 50s and 60s.
I ask you please to stand with us. Whether you support the right of adults to make private choices about whom to marry or just feel that we have bigger challenges to face together, call your State Reps and Senators and tell them it’s time for us all to move on. Ask them to vote to defeat the ballot initiative once and for all in the constitutional convention on June 14. Ask your friends, your family and your neighbors to reach out as well.
In our Commonwealth, all of our citizens should share the same rights and responsibilities without regard to skin color, or religion or disability. Our justice cannot be conditional. On the decision to marry or anything else, people must be able to come before the law as equals. Let’s come together now and keep this item off the ballot, and, once again, let Massachusetts serve as a national model of progress.
Thank you again, and we look forward to hearing from you.