Monday, October 10, 2005

Amateur Hour: Immigrant Law Student Behind Flawed "VoteOnMarriage" Research

In Massachusetts we are on the very front lines of the culture war. So you'd expect the powerful, well-funded groups behind the new marriage initiative would have hired top-notch constitutional legal researchers and consultants to design their legal and political strategy. But no, it turns out an immigrant law student and political novice played a large role in the VoteOnMarriage plan.

Many pro-marriage conservatives in Massachusetts wondered where the odd ideas behind the VoteOnMarriage plan came from, especially its "grandfathering" of existing homosexual "marriages". Why didn't they propose a "clean" definition of marriage which would of also ban "civil unions"? (Such wording had already been devised: See House Bill #H653.) Especially bizarre and flawed are VoteOnMarriage's claims that:

-- the already existing homosexual "marriages" had been "legally granted";
-- that these "marriages" should be considered a "substantive right" that could not be taken away;
-- that such an act (declaring the existing "marriages" null and void) would be an ex post facto action contrary to Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

Now we learn from the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) -- which along with the Mass. Catholic Conference is behind the marriage initiative -- that an immigrant law student intern (funded by the Alliance Defense Fund) is behind the flawed research and strategic recommendations. From MFI's September/October 2005 newsletter:

"Sergei's [Semyrog, an immigrant from the Ukraine] delved into Article I of the U.S. Constitution to determine whether existing homosexual marriages could be rendered null and void by a state constitutional amendment implementing a traditional definition of marriage. He concluded that 'if we were to try to repeal the prior marriages, we would be defeated quite easily.' He added, however, that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage would rise above a constitutional challenge."

MFI also believes that the "reciprocal benefits" legislation (akin to "civil unions") which they plan to file would defuse homosexual demands for government goodies ... though the homosexual activists have already publicly ridiculed this strategy. Well, the intern also was involved in this part of their plan. The MFI newsletter continues:

"Sergei's main assignment this past summer was to draft reciprocal beneficiary legislation. This bill, referred to as the Massachusetts Reciprocal Beneficiary Contracts Act, will enable two unmarried individuals to enter a contractual relationship in which they are able to share certain benefits. He patterned the bill in part after legislation that Hawaii passed in 1997 ... 'We don't want this relationship equal to marriage,' explains Sergei, noting that he painstakingly tried to distinguish between this relationship and marriage. Writing legislation is a particularly tedious task that requires one to identify and review every existing law that will be affected."

Does this strike you as authoritative legal and political thinking? (Yes, we know we've broken our promise not to comment further on this fiasco. But this revelation was just too much.)