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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Irish Elk
Friday, February 06, 2004  
The Marriage Movement site is worth bookmarking, particularly in the wake of this week's Massachusetts SJC ruling.

Contributor Elizabeth Marquardt writes:

Is it just me or does it seem like the four justices on the Mass High Court are actually trying to anger their opposition? In the Goodridge decision they declared that anybody who disagreed with them on gay marriage was "peddling in stereotypes." No recognition at all that people in good faith might disagree with them. Now, in the decision handed down yesterday, in which they said that only same-sex marriage and not civil unions would satisfy their ruling, there is this:

The court seemed to offer one alternative. In a footnote, the decision found that same-sex unions would not have to be called marriages if "the Legislature were to jettison the term 'marriage' altogether."

Tell me, is this "alternative" offered in any kind of good faith? The justices tell members of the Legislature and anyone else who might oppose same-sex marriage -- even those who are genuinely concerned about the rights of gays and lesbians and embrace civil unions for that reason -- that sure, you don't have to call it gay "marriage" if you don't want to, as long as you jettison the term marriage altogether.

In other words, they say, give up the thing you care about most, and you win.

Even the NYT -- a house organ for Mrs Anthony Lewis -- has noted the court majority's tone of belligerent arrogance:

For example, the majority opinion that only marriage, and not civil unions, would be permissible under the state Constitution was brusquely dismissive of Justice Martha B. Sosman's dissenting argument that civil unions would give gays exactly what marriage would, except for the ability to name it marriage.

Reacting to Justice Sosman's reference to the "Romeo and Juliet" line "That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet," the majority fired back:

"The denomination of this difference by the separate opinion of Justice Sosman as merely a 'squabble over the name to be used' so clearly misses the point that further discussion appears to be useless."

Justice Sosman, in turn, accused the majority of being "activist" and said that the majority opinion "merely repeats the impassioned rhetoric" of gay marriage supporters who filed briefs in the case...

* * *

Providence Journal columnist David A. Mittell in December wrote a piece headlined, "The Globe butts in: Gay marriage and democracy" (free registration required):

Now comes the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to upend marriage and strip the people of their say in the matter -- by a single vote, among seven lawyers appointed with varying motives by politicians named Dukakis, Weld and Cellucci. This is simply not the way this epochal matter should be decided.

That the decision was written by Margaret Marshall, whose appointment, in 1999, was abetted by The New York Times and its wholly owned, wholly inferior subsidiary, The Boston Globe, diminishes the likelihood of public acceptance, and increases the bitterness of those who oppose gay marriage. Had the legislature come to this decision, foes would have retained their democratic prerogatives.

As it is, we are likely to see bitter, distracting, unending stridency on both sides of the issue -- just as we have on the abortion question...

...My thinking on gay marriage has shifted. I'm a believer in compromise, and until recently favored domestic partnerships on that basis. Obviated would be the many cruelties and inconveniences of gay life, while the convictions of those who hold that marriage is rightfully between a man and a woman would continue to be recognized in the law.

But the Vermont domestic-partners law opened a cornucopian legal minefield, still to be crossed. For example, heterosexuals looking for a shortcut to a benefits package are bound to sue for inclusion, and win. Then we will have side-by-side systems of marriage, the only point being to placate certain citizens by calling one of them something else. For businesses, for the law, for citizens, one system of marriage and divorce is more practical than two.

I now think it's all or nothing. I'm for all.

But effecting that should be a democratic act. It should not be imposed from on high by one former New York Times columnist's (Anthony Lewis's) wife (Margaret Marshall), who was heavily promoted by The Times's local subsidiary…


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