Mass. Same-Sex Marriage Opponents Seek $5 Million in Damages

| Thu Dec. 14, 2006 3:08 PM EST

You've heard the argument that same-sex marriage threatens the institution of marriage—though you've never seen evidence because none exists (heterosexual marriage rates in Massachusetts, the only state where gay marriage is legal, increased slightly from 2004 to 2005).

Yesterday, a Massachusetts anti-marriage group, VoteOnMarriage.org, went so far as to sue 109 state lawmakers for $5 million in damages (almost $46,000 apiece) over the issue.

So what damage could possibly have been done to gay marriage opponents when only about 8,000 same-sex couples have married in Massachusetts? The suit centers on legislators' move to recess last month rather than vote on an anti-gay marriage amendment. VoteOnMarriage.org claims the move violated its constitutional rights to free speech and due process. Anti-gay groups obtained 170,000 signatures in favor of putting an amendment on the 2008 ballot, but they also need the support of 50 legislators in two consecutive terms before an amendment can appear on the ballot. Unless lawmakers provide those votes on the last remaining day of the session, January 2, which appears unlikely, gay marriage opponents won't get their way.

The suit basically amounts to foot stomping. The legislature used a democratic parliamentary procedural maneuver to avoid giving the amendment a yay-or-nay vote. Lawmakers' strategy is in keeping with the one-sided political discourse surrounding gay marriage: You either vote against it with maximum flourish or you don't bring the issue to a vote. Because same-sex marriage has the support of more than 50 percent of Massachusetts voters, the lawmakers put the amendment quietly to bed.

Good night and good riddance.