A better man for Massachusetts: after four years of Mitt Romney and his antigay political maneuvers--and with conservatives now planning a new push to undo marriage equality--gays and lesbians in the Bay State welcome progressive new governor Deval Patrick with open arms.
On April 1, day 87 of his first term as governor of Massachusetts The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the executive magistrate of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The current governor is Democrat Deval Patrick. Constitutional role , Deval Patrick Deval Laurdine Patrick (born July 31, 1956) is an American politician and the current Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. On November 7, 2006, Patrick became the first African American elected governor of Massachusetts and the second in United States history. ordered the marriages of 26 out-of-state gay couples who had wedded just after same-sex marriage Noun 1. same-sex marriage - two people of the same sex who live together as a family; "the legal status of same-sex marriages has been hotly debated"
couple, twosome, duet, duo - a pair who associate with one another; "the engaged couple"; "an inseparable became legal in his state on May 17, 2004--and just before nonresident non·res·i·dent
1. Not living in a particular place: nonresident students who commute to classes.
2. licenses were effectively blocked--to be registered in the state's vital records. It was an action his Republican predecessor, presidential candidate Mitt Romney This article or section contains information about one or more candidates in an upcoming or ongoing election.
Content may change as the election approaches. , had steadfastly refused to allow, citing a dusty 1913 state law that prohibited recognition of marriages that would not be legal in couples' home states.
Patrick's decision was a sweet, if largely ceremonial, victory for gays and lesbians in the Bay State after a period of backlash against same-sex marriage by Romney and others. And the payoff may soon be sweeter, as Patrick would like to repeal the 1913 law. "If the bill comes to my desk," he says one spring morning in his office in the State House in Boston's Beacon Hill Bea·con Hill
An area of Boston, Massachusetts, noted for its historic residences, brick sidewalks, and picturesque mews.
Noun 1. Beacon Hill - a fashionable section of Boston; site of the Massachusetts capital building neighborhood, referring to a measure currently making the rounds in the state legislature A state legislature may refer to a legislative branch or body of a political subdivision in a federal system.
The following legislatures exist in the following political subdivisions:
That kind of fresh talk on gay issues has Patrick's queer constituents swooning swoon
intr.v. swooned, swoon·ing, swoons
1. To faint.
2. To be overwhelmed by ecstatic joy.
1. A fainting spell; syncope. See Synonyms at blackout.
2. for their new governor, the first Democrat in 16 years (and the first African-American ever) to hold the office. A Harvard-trained lawyer like his friend and fellow Chicago native Barack Obama, Patrick, 50, the underdog in the Democratic gubernatorial primary last year, bested his two challengers, then trounced outgoing Republican lieutenant governor lieutenant governor
n. Abbr. Lt. Gov.
1. An elected official ranking just below the governor of a state in the United States.
2. The nonelective chief of government of a Canadian province. Kerry Healey Kerry Murphy Healey, Ph.D. (born April 30, 1960) was the 70th Lieutenant Governor of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. She served from 2003 to 2007 with Governor Mitt Romney. in the general election in November. His progressive platform included full support for marriage equality, which made him the rarest of politicians; gay and lesbian voters responded in kind, donating an estimated $300,000 to his campaign.
And now they're reaping the rewards. "It is so dramatically different to have a supportive governor in the corner office," says Lee Swislow, executive director of Boston-based legal group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders Founded in 1978, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is a non-profit legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression. . "He pledged his support of us, and we're now seeing the effect of it."
But while his effort to record those 26 same-sex marriages is certainly praiseworthy praise·wor·thy
adj. praise·wor·thi·er, praise·wor·thi·est
Meriting praise; highly commendable.
praise , Patrick's first 100 days have not been smooth. After a slew of early "missteps," as he puts it--spending over $12,000 on damask drapes drape
v. draped, drap·ing, drapes
1. To cover, dress, or hang with or as if with cloth in loose folds: draped the coffin with a flag; a robe that draped her figure. for his office as part of a $27,387 makeover and leasing a $46,000 Cadillac, which prompted a much-ballyhooed "don't give up on me" mea culpa--his job approval rating is down to 48% from his winning electoral vote of 56%.
But, he asserts, "there's been a lot more going on than decorating my office and picking out drapes." He boasts that since taking office January 4, he has streamlined the permit process for new construction and business expansion, signed a regional greenhouse initiative, and gotten on track to add 100,000 new jobs by the end of his first term. And that's what the people of Massachusetts care about, he says: "They want to know that they've got a governor interested in having and doing the job."
It's a clear dig at Romney, who always seemed preoccupied with running for president while he was governor and who now distances himself from "liberal" Massachusetts--and decries same-sex marriage--every chance he gets on the campaign trail. "He's a very nice man, but I think most Massachusetts voters, including many of the people that supported him, realized that he wasn't really interested in doing the job," says Patrick. "I think we all can appreciate that you can't govern by photo op. You govern by results, and we're about results."
One major result he'd like to see is the defeat of a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage, which conservative legislators are angling to advance to the 2008 ballot. Democratic leaders refused to bring the measure to a vote last year, but after Romney sued in December to force them to--and the state's supreme judicial court gave them a stern rebuke--legislators reversed course, and the measure passed on January 2, the last day of the 2006 legislative session. If the measure prevails a second time this year, it would go before voters (ballot measures require approval in two consecutive legislative sessions). The first constitutional convention (a joint meeting of the state house and senate) of 2007 was scheduled for May 9 but will likely be postponed so that legislators can focus on the state budget.
Still, a vote is likely sometime this year. "I think we all expect that there will be a vote on the merits on the merits adj. referring to a judgment, decision or ruling of a court based upon the facts presented in evidence and the law applied to that evidence. A judge decides a case "on the merits" when he/she bases the decision on the fundamental issues and considers this time, and I think we can win it on the merits," Patrick says. "The best argument is the practical fact that if this issue goes to the ballot, then we will become a national battleground and little other business will get done."
However, only 50 yes votes (from a combined body of 200 representatives and senators) are needed, and marriage equality advocates believe 57 legislators are currently in favor of the measure. That means Patrick and newly elected senate president Therese Murray Therese Murray is an American politician from the state of Massachusetts. As of March 21, 2007 she is the President of the Massachusetts Senate, becoming the first woman to lead a legislative body in the state. , who also supports marriage equality, have a lot of convincing to do. (The measure passed in the January 2 session with 62 votes.) If they fail to be persuasive enough? Same-sex marriage supporters say they hope Patrick would call in political favors or appoint eight of the "yes" legislators to different state positions, thus undoing the margin of victory.
Asked about such strategies, Patrick demurs, suggesting that the yes votes just won't be there in the end. "People have moved on from this issue in Massachusetts over the last couple of years, and we've shown that the sky hasn't fallen," he says.
In addition to his support of marriage equality, Patrick has also impressed observers by appointing three openly gay officials: Elyse Cherry as head of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Stan McGee as assistant secretary for policy and planning to the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development, and John Auerbach as the commissioner of the Department of Public Health. Auerbach oversaw the recording of the out-of-state marriages, since the registry is part of his department. "If you look in the corner office, it looks like the state," says Cherry happily. "You've got people of color Noun 1. people of color - a race with skin pigmentation different from the white race (especially Blacks)
people of colour, colour, color
race - people who are believed to belong to the same genetic stock; "some biologists doubt that there are important , gay people, white people. He has proven that his is an office of inclusion."
So far, so good--though everyone, Patrick included, knows more remains to be done. "We haven't gotten to everything in the first 3 1/2 months," the governor says, like making good on a campaign promise to take "concrete steps" to protect transgender transgender or transgendered
Transsexual. Massachusetts residents under the state's hate-crimes laws and broadening civil rights laws to include "those who identify across genders."
Of course, he adds, there's still plenty of time: "We want to have something to do for the rest of the term."
Henderson is the associate editor of In Newsweekly in Boston.