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

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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.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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