Referendum petition drive comes up short. Would have forced state-wide vote on Legislature's repeal of "1913" law.
This was a fight about principle - against overwhelming opposition and suppression from all sides.
|Thousands of certified sheets ready to be taken do the Secretary of State's office.|
This was arguably among the most difficult petition efforts ever in Massachusetts. It was done strictly on principle. It had no effect on people living here, only on people living in other states. And it was complicated to explain to the public. More than anything else, this was about regular citizens saying loud and clear to the liberal elites: "We're not stopping. We're not giving up. We're not taking this lying down."
But the obstacles that appeared before us were quite overwhelming:
Many people were afraid that if they signed, their names would end up on homosexual web sites and they would be harassed. As we all know, this happened with the Marriage Amendment petition signers, and a lot of people were harassed.
Homosexual activists terrorized our petition gatherers across the state. They would come up to them and scream horrible things, and then call the police (or store managers) with phony complaints and charges. It happened constantly. Homosexual websites sometimes tracked our signature-gathering activities. And they even tried to intimidate the MassResistance office by sending us a stream of obscene emails.
The Archdiocese of Boston opposed the effort and took extraordinary steps to thwart it. They contacted every Catholic church in Massachusetts and told them not to allow petitions to be gathered there. Priests spoke from the pulpit against it, and ordered petition gatherers off the property.
(Ironically, in July the Archdiocese issued a strongly worded statement denouncing the Legislature's repeal of the 1913 law -- and the Cardinal himself publicly signed our petition!)
The pro-family group Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) publicly opposed the effort, discouraged people from participating, and refused to help us contact churches they were affiliated with. (Basically, we were told, they were afraid that if we forced a statewide election, it would be too difficult a fight and they wanted to avoid that.)
Since this actually only affected people in other states, we were counting on out-of-state donors to help with funding. For example, we were all ready to mail petitions to 80,000 people who had signed the Marriage Amendment. This would have been a huge boost! But we needed money to at least pay for postage. Unfortunately the out-of-staters we asked (including the American Family Association) all turned us down. What we learned is that, basically, they've given up on Massachusetts. But we haven't.
Our friend Larry Cirignano, who helped run the Marriage Amendment petition drive, had agreed to come in run this petition drive (for reasonably generous pay). But after taking the first few weeks off to attend the Democratic and Republican national conventions and then a values voter convention, Larry suddenly abandoned this effort to work instead for the Jeff Beatty US Senate campaign. Larry never explained to us why he did this, but he did mention that a certain MFI director had pressured him not to work with us. (This was very hard for us to recover from. But over the last few weeks a stalwart group of people stepped up and did yeomen's work.)
Unlike with initiative petitions and constitutional amendments, we didn't have months to plan this. We had to act within days of the repeal of the 1913 law, and immediately get to work.
All in all, mostly positive things came from all this. Over a hundred new people we'd never seen before showed up and became very active! People who'd never thought of getting involved worked their hearts out. Volunteers teamed up and did whatever they could for every signature. They put in countless hours engaging people on street corners, in malls and supermarkets, outside of churches, and driving from town to town across the state. There were young mothers with babies working side by side with people in their 80s. They all knew that this is the cutting edge of the effort -- to fight back in Massachusetts.
We also connected with many, many Protestant (and some Catholic) churches that knew what the core of this struggle really is. And there's no question we'll be bringing on several thousand new activists from the people who eagerly signed the petitions!
Moreover, this experience forced us to become better organized and disciplined. MassResistance is clearly much stronger and more effective than before this started. And we will have expanded in size tremendously.
It's interesting what adversity can do to you. When things finally began to come together the synergy was amazing, and we're continuing to build. As a result. when the Legislature gets back into session in January we will be there - much stronger than ever before! (And if we ever need to do a petition drive again, we've now learned that process pretty well.)
To everyone who got involved: You are heroes. You're not just sitting on the sidelines and wringing your hands. You're not afraid to confrong what needs to be confronted. You are part of the vanguard out in the streets defending civilization. And it will get bigger, you can count on it.