Let's all congratulate Justice Barbara Lenk for her freshly appointed status on the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. With two decades of judicial experience, and this having been her third time through the confirmation process, it's clear she's eminently qualified for the position.
Yet, in being confirmed by a 5-3 vote on the Governor's Council, the 3 votes against her confirmation -- votes no doubt motivated by prejudice, for Lenk is now the first known lesbian to have served on the SJC -- is a frustrating reminder of just how far we have to go in this state. Let's take a look at the three Governor's Council members who voted against Lenk.
Mary-Ellen Manning, arch hack, perhaps the most nominal Democrat in the country and unfortunately my own Governor's Councilor, focused her attacks on Lenk around icky sex questions, doing all she could to link the topics of incest and homosexuality together, with cries of The Children thrown in for extra fun.
It's unfortunately the common tactic by bigots on anything to do with preventing gay candidates from winning or glbt civil rights issues from passing. No wonder why she couldn't wait to get on the Howie Carr show to complain about it. Those are her peeps.
Arch conservative Charles Cipollini (R) voted against her because she's a lesbian; well, that's the only possible deduction I can come up with. The fact that she's a lesbian colors her opinion on marriage equality, says he, and apparently anyone who supports the Goodridge decision isn't fit for the SJC. Well, at least if they're a lesbian.
Never mind the fact that issue is dead and buried, long since decided and defended. Never mind the fact that by his logic, everyone would be effected -- gay or straight -- because everyone is effected by marriage. We simply can't allow gay people to serve, according to him.
Add Jen Caissie (R) to that territory. While Caissie and others on this list of names complained Lenk wouldn't support legal precedent, Caissie was upset over Lenk's support of one firmly-established legal precedent in this state: the Goodridge decision. Straight IOKIYAR hypocrisy.
Unfortunately, because of the obscurity of the Governor's Council, it's relatively easy for just about anyone to get on the council when a seat opens up -- and to stay there as long as they want, after. Because of that, we get lots of rabid right-wingers on the council, with the non-rabids, moderates and liberals likely to soon move onto bigger and better things. It's the one body in this state where the extreme right almost controls the majority, and some of the five councilors who's votes Lenk received are little saner than Caissie, Ciponni and Manning.
David Kravitz, over at Blue Mass Group, and someone who's worked for several justices on the Supreme Court of the United States, has long called for the end to the Governor's Council -- as has the Boston Globe. They're right.
Meanwhile, Marry-Ellen Manning said that everyone who was going to vote against Lenk was being portrayed as a bigot. Well, Marry-Ellen... if the shoe fits.