ACLU of Massachusetts Applauds State Attorney General’s Defense of Marriage Equality

May 16, 2007 12:00 am

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Statement of ACLU of Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose

BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley recently made a forthright statement of her well-founded legal judgment in a speech to the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association: marriage equality in the Commonwealth must be defended in the event that a proposed constitutional amendment survives the next legislative step onto the ballot. The ACLU of Massachusetts applauds Martha Coakley’s leadership on this issue.

Predictably, the Attorney General has come under fire from opponents of equality. They conveniently forget, however, that Coakley’s stand is principled: it would be wrong to take away anyone’s fundamental right to equal treatment under the law through a popular vote.

We wonder how the opponents of equality would feel if this situation were reversed: if they were not being asked to simply accept that others be treated equally, but were actually themselves threatened with being constitutionally denied important legal rights and protections. We suspect they would be grateful for the leadership of a civil libertarian like Coakley.

Voting on the rights of others undermines the most fundamental values of the Commonwealth. The right of every citizen to be free from this threat trumps the right of those who want to use the ballot initiative process to nurse a grievance against another group of citizens.

As a part of the MassEquality coalition, the ACLU of Massachusetts is working to defeat the proposed amendment in the Legislature. If it unwisely goes to a vote, we will help fight it on the ballot. And if the result of the election were that popular prejudice stripped away the rights of an entire class of citizens, we would join Attorney General Coakley in fighting to overturn it-but it would be far wiser for the Legislature to simply stop this measure now and to bring this divisive discussion to an end.

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