The Corner

“Let us not see this state, which first established constitutional democracy, become the first to abandon it.”

The governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, at a rally today on the statehouse steps to protect marriage:

It’s quite an interesting view I get from those windows.

All I have to do is glance this way to see the stream of tourists. They come in duck boats, trolleys, and as foot pilgrims.

They’re not here for the beauty. They’re here for the history.

For this was the place where an astounding idea was born. It revolutionized America, it revolutionized the world.

The idea was this: our nation would be guided by the voice of the people.

This nation would trust the voice of the people rather than the wisdom of a king, or anyone else.

The idea was embodied in the first Constitution, written by John Adams, here in Massachusetts. It established how the voice of the people would be heard – through elections and votes, petitions and initiatives, representatives and senators.

Lincoln said that as elected leaders, we promise to follow the law, to follow the Constitution. He called this “America’s political religion.”

Last week, 109 legislators decided to reject the law, abandon the Constitution, and violate their oath of office.

For the Constitution plainly states that when a qualified petition is placed before them, the legislature “shall” vote. It does not say may vote, or vote if its procedures permit a vote, or vote if there are enough of the members in attendance. It says “shall” vote.

A decision not to vote is a decision to usurp the Constitution, to abandon democracy and substitute a form of what this nation’s founders called tyranny, that is, the imposition of the will of those in power, on the people.

As I listened to the debate in the legislative session last week, I was struck by the irony, and the hypocrisy. Legislators so energized to protect the newly discovered gay right to marry had no compunction about trammeling the long established, constitutional right of the people to vote.

The issue now before us is not whether same sex couples should marry. The issue before us today is whether 109 legislators will follow the Constitution.

Tomorrow, I will send these 109 a copy of the Constitution and of their oath of office.

And this week, we will file an action before the courts, calling upon the judiciary to protect the constitutional rights of our citizens.

Let us not see this state, which first established constitutional democracy, become the first to abandon it.


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