March 22, 2004
written by Bob Murch

Dear Legislators,

My name is Bob Murch, and I live in Salem, Massachusetts.  I am 30 years old, a taxpayer, a registered voter, a property owner and a small business owner.  I have been in a committed relationship for over 9 years.  I also happen to be gay.  This is the second letter I have written to you.

In the first letter I wrote to you I appealed to you as a human being, to protect my civil right of marriage.  In this letter I will attempt to appeal to you as a leader.

Not having any experience in the political arena I am playing a huge game of catch up.  I feel very guilty that until now, I have not done my duty as a voter and done more research to see just whom I was voting for.  Having watched every minute of this year's constitutional convention I can sadly say I am not alone.  I am willing to bet there are lots of people surprised by who they voted for after hearing and seeing their state rep and senator vote on any amendment to add discrimination to our constitution.

Having a very personal stake in this issue makes me more than impartial but I have always prided myself in being open-minded. Believing that I was not suited for politics I left it up to someone else.  Realizing we live in a representative democracy I TRUSTED my vote to the legislators I helped elect.  In turn I expected those elected to make the right decisions.  I gave that trust too easily and I realize only now how taken for granted that gift of my vote has been.

You see I believed that in order to even get on the ballot, a candidate must already have proven that he/she is  a leader.  I mean that when crunch time came, and the important decisions needed to be made, they would be able to put aside their personal beliefs, and popular or not, do the right thing for the people who entrusted them to make that decision.  I believed that the people we elected were better people than we were, better leaders able to see through the smoke and mirrors and see their choices as simple, right or wrong.  I have learned I was asking way too much.

You may think I was being naive but the forefathers of our constitution believed as I did.  They knew the people could not be trusted with every issue that would arise.  They knew from experience that given the opportunity that people in a democracy, from fear, or ignorance, could vote to hurt one another.  That is why they gave us certain rights guaranteed in our constitution and set up a system of elected officials to represent our best interests and protect the minority from the wrath of the majority. Can you sir or madam, say that you have lived up to that responsibility?

Abraham Lincoln was a leader.  Regardless of a Supreme Court decision, people's want, or consequence, Lincoln chose to do the right thing and announce the emancipation proclamation.  He believed that doing the right thing was worth the cost.  He was willing to face an election, the history books, and his country and look them square in the eye knowing he had made the right choice.  The choice to ensure people's rights rather than suppress them.  Ultimately he died for that choice. Seems to me some of you should be ashamed about even thinking about how this might face your next election after voting for or against any amendment to the constitution.

An aide to one of our senators recently told me "The legislature really is representative of the Commonwealth on this issue."  How sad I told him.  On issues like this the legislature should not mirror the people.  People have the right to vote uninformed, out of hatred, and for convenience.  We the people often vote for the flavor of the month or whatever tickles our fancy.  That is something we elected all our officials NOT to do. You do not have that luxury.  You have our trust.

Some of you have begged to "let the people be heard and let the people vote."  This is not the voice of a leader.  That is nothing less than the gutless whimper of a coward.  There are those of you are betting your political career that if the people were to vote on same sex marriage than history would forgive you for your inaction and you would be able to say it was the will of the people that amended the constitution.  If the people are allowed to decide what rights some have and others do not what responsibility would you the legislature bear?  If this is your thinking do not believe history or your constituents will reward you with another term or a worthwhile legacy.

You have sworn to protect the constitution and to protect your constituents from the most powerful enemy of democracy...ourselves.  I ask you to do the job you were elected to do, live up to the grave responsibility you accepted when you took office, and be the leaders you promised us you would be.  Protect the constitution from discrimination and stand up for what is right.  I'm afraid you underestimate the people's power to vote as you have your own.  I truly believe if you find this voice buried under years of compromising and politicking and use it, you will not stand alone.  Show some faith and stop being afraid to lead.

Today I have the right to marry my partner of 9 years.  On May 17th I will apply for my license.  Any vote to send an amendment to the people is a vote to take away my right and officially make me a second class citizen.  One of your colleges in the last convention said "Watch carefully the votes."  I, like every other citizen who is disgusted by the thought of your endorsement of prejudice and discrimination being written into the constitution will be watching as well. Remember, the constitution of the state will serve us long after your term has expired.  Are your opinions and beliefs so great as to subject all of Massachusetts to them after your gone?  Is that to be your legacy?

Will you rise to the occasion or act like a coward?  True leaders know that no matter what mistakes they have made in the past it is never too late to be a leader.  Leaders can be made.  That decision is in your hands.

To those who have already demonstrated your leadership and voted NO to any amendment banning gay marriages I thank you.  You have lived up to the spirit of the very document you swore to uphold.  I hope that the next time you meet in Constitutional Convention you will be joined by many more.  The constitution is the only place where our rights and equality are protected.  If you write discrimination into the constitution how can I possibly trust you to protect me?

Yours Truly,

Bob Murch

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