It may be preposterous to say the Massachusetts State House is the center of the universe, but it’s something a great many people do all the time. When people call Boston the “Hub,” that’s exactly what they’re doing - whether they know it or not. Oliver Wendell Homes coined the term and Bostonians, ever so humble, have embraced it ever since. Fanning our ego, history has had a way of making Beacon Hill integral to revolutionary movements in America over and over again - such as now, when Senate President Therese Murray presides over a Constitutional Convention, on Thursday, June 14th, that will help decide if marriage equality ought to exist.
Unfortunately, according to several sources of mine on Beacon Hill, equality does not have the support it should: enough to make sure we win this upcoming Constitutional Convention. Whether she likes it or not, as Senate President, Therese Murray is now the Hub of the Universe: her actions on June 14th will decide if she is to become the heroine we all hoped for when she became Senate President - or MassResistance’s favorite new senator, one who will allow equality to go on the ballot unobstructed. Her fate is in her hands.
The reason I say this is simple: it’s true. The vast majority of state legislators support equality. There’s enough support to kill this amendment like they killed a similar one last year, on health care. Tens of thousands of supporters signed a bill to make health care a constitutional right in Massachusetts. A majority of state legislators supported the amendment, but not the leadership. The leadership, especially Senator Travaglini, was willing to kill it at all costs - the very same year the same people said a ban on marriage equality deserved an up-or-down vote. Hypocrisy, it appears, is often a politician’s favorite hobby.
This year, state legislators are a few votes shy from having a full 75% of the legislature supporting marriage equality. Senator Murray claims to support equality, yet has declared there will be a vote on it. She will even vote against a marriage ban, but that doesn’t change the fact that by allowing a vote her place in history will forever be sealed. She’ll become the Senate President who was known for allowing the rights of a minority to be decided by the majority - a vote that the editor-in-chief of Bay Windows, New England's largest GLBT newspaper, thinks is likely the glbt community could lose. Former Senate President Travaglini fled the State House before he had to suffer that fate; Murray ought to think twice before she puts basic human rights at risk.
Unfortunately for her, Senator Murray owns this marriage amendment. When she accepted the position as leader of the Senate, she accepted all the responsibility that comes with it. With a simple motion, she could make this all go away. Yet, Murray has refused to use her position to defend the rights of gay people. She’s allowing a vote even though she, as with almost 75% of the legislature, claims to support marriage equality. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Years from now, when all is said and done, Senator Murray will be remembered for being the first female President of the Massachusetts State Senate. However, that memory will pale in comparison to how people will view her on gay rights. In her grand moment at the center of the universe on marriage equality, she’ll be remembered either as a hero, who stood up for the minority, or the villain who allowed basic human rights to potentially be stripped away forever. Nearly omnipotent on this one issue, the decision of how she will be remembered is in her hands - because that’s how it works when you’re the hub of the universe.