It’s hard to avoid the word play that GLAD is glad. Today’s Left Ahead show with Gary Buseck was pretty jolly. He is the legal director and interim executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. Looking at the huge, sudden jump from 19 states with marriage equality to 30 or 35, he’d need a lot of be down.

When the SCOTUS declined to hear multiple cases from federal courts asking to uphold their same-sex-marriage bans, in effect the nine ruled that those bans were unconstitutional, that marriages should proceed. Yes, here and there an attorney general or governor makes a display of pretending to appeal or fight, but it’s kicking against the goads as the ancient Greek used to say.

GLAD was directly involved in the recent Utah case and in numerous others to expand or defend equality elsewhere. Buseck admits to being surprised that the Supreme Court refused to hear any of the cases and that the non-action was without dissent.

We spoke the unresolved federal districts, the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 11th. While those who have weighed in have all upheld federal court rulings against bans, if one district has a different finding (in this case overturning decisions on the unconstitutionality of such state laws or amendments), that would trigger a SCOTUS case to settle the difference. Buseck was unsure if any of those district courts would swim against this judicial tide.

Instead, he spoke at length at how the SCOTUS itself was loath to break ground on huge issues. Rather, they tend to follow the nation and its legal trends. He noted that the high judiciary has neither the power of the purse nor that of an army. So, it goes with persuasion and reliance on settled case law. With same-sex marriage, the preponderance of law is now solidly on the side of equality.

However, he did note the wild card of SCOTUS composition. With a five-to-four majority favoring equality, the potential retirement of 1, 2 or 3 of those justices, coupled with a GOP-lead government could make a dramatic difference in current trends. Of course, he’d like the SCOTUS to settle this before that is an issue or possibility.

Listen is as we warily speak to the certainty of continued opposition and obstruction in the face of inevitability of nationwide marriage equality. He referenced recent mention (by Prop 8 leader Frank Schubert at the Value Voters Summit) of looking for a partial-birth-abortion moment. The hope of the anti-gay sorts would be that they could identify an analog to turn the public against the obviously positive same-sex marriages.

Buseck agreed that even if all 50 states and the District have marriage equality, with or without a SCOTUS decision, some forces will not give up. They have not with a woman’s right to choose, contraception, gay rights and much more. However, as we approach 35 or maybe soon 39 equality states, reversing the gains becomes very difficult. Moreover, where there is wide comity and states respect marriages conducted elsewhere, such reversal becomes almost impossible.

Buseck did note in passing that a U.S. Constitutional Amendment could do that. However, with a requirement that three-fourths of the states approve it, and the vast majority of states permitting SSM, that is virtually impossible.

More likely, however, he sees increasing efforts at carve-out requests, based on religious, conscience grounds. He noted that the courts have to date not tested the sincerity of such beliefs where they granted exemptions. Those can be spectacular like Hobby Lobby or down to service businesses that are not related to religious institutions. Buseck sees how those requesting exemptions are easily go too far and encroach on settled anti-discrimination and public accommodation law. Yet, he expects many such requests.

We spoke of states’ rights. He traced the history of how domestic relations, including marriage was traditionally left to sates, following the ideas in the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers not specifically granted the federal government to the states. Yet in numerous instances, where state powers run afoul of the national constitution, states must bow. This happened recently in the Windsor case overturning the heart of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Listen as Buseck muses of what the most recent inaction of the SCOTUS might mean. Many thought Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was “ready to roll’ on marriage equality. Yet when the high court did not take any cases, it appeared that as there is no disagreement in the circuits, there is no rush. Buseck thought the real message may be a signal to the circuits to think long and hard before upholding any of the cases asking for support for marriage bans.

Buseck said that these cases really aren’t all that hard. He said it was difficult for the MA Supreme Judicial Court 11 years ago. Thus, they fretted and eventually ruled for equality, but gave the legislature six months to do something, anything to take the cup from their lips. However, now the issues are fairy settled. Do you want to treat some citizens as a separate class? The answer so far, circuit to circuit has been, no.

icon for podpress  GLAD's Gary Buseck [37:50m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

In a reprise of part of my MA ballot-question show, I hit casinos again. This was Ryan’s request but apparently he couldn’t get away to call in. Lackaday.

Regardless, I went at casinos again and specifically this time. Adding them to the MA economic mix would mean subtracting wealth and real growth here — a victory of fantasy over fact.

I spoke of how badly casinos perform in various U.S. areas. Each region had hoped against reason for the successful aspects of Las Vegas without the crushing economic and criminal downsides.

Our elected officials and the gambling (euphemistically gaming) commission members knew the right way to research, get bids for and regulate casinos. I describe where and how that works. They spit on those and rushed into the muck we face now in Everett and likely Springfield. I have nothing good to say about the efforts or results.

Honestly, it will be great of voters overturn the casino OK on Nov. 4th. If they do and either Dem. Martha Coakley or Republican Charlie Baker wins and tries to ram through a Springfield casino regardless, the legislature absolutely has to smack him or her down.

I say yes on 3.

~Mike

icon for podpress  MA casino vote [22:54m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

A huge surprise to many of us was the SCOTUS not hearing five states’ request to uphold their bans on same-sex marriage, following federal court rulings. That likely means anther six that area appealing from a different federal district will hear the same. That would add 11 more states with marriage equality, for a total of 30, a.k.a. 60% of the U.S.

To help us keep our grounding in the fast shifting sand, we’ve asked the legal director and interim executive director of GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocated & Defenders) to join us. Gary Buseck has been with GLAD for over three decades. he was deep into the Utah appeal this time.

We’ll ask about the short-, mid- and long-range implications of the Supreme Court inaction, as well as the rapid evolution of marriage equality here. The anti-equality sorts have shown they won’t back off on gay rights, marriage rights, even women’s right to choose. We’ll see what Buseck figures is coming.

The quick guide to the four MA ballot questions is:

  • No on Question 1
  • Yes on Question 2
  • Yes on Question 3
  • Yes on Question 4

Residents should all have gotten a booklet with details on the four. If you can’t find yours, click over the the secretary of the commonwealth’s site for the details.

I went through the four and provided short-form pro/con arguments for each, along with my position. If you haven’t decided, have a coffee or other drink while you hear me out on these.

Otherwise, I noted that I”m trying to schedule some candidate chats before the Nov. 4th general election. Dem. Gov. candidate Martha Coakley will surely be on again. We just had Evan Falchuk (United Independent Party). GOP candidate Charlie Baker is still not responding, but I keep trying. I may go back to indy Jeff McCormick. If you missed the first guest appearances of any candidate, check our archives.

If you are hi-info, you noticed that I had not listed Scott Lively, the other indy for the job. I enjoy having guests on whom I disagree with in several big areas. Lively would qualify there; he is virulently anti-homosexual and a huge parent’s rights guy. Truth be told, I have’t asked him on the show. I probably won’t. i don’t know that I could be civil, a trait I value highly

If you missed the WGBY/WGBH TV debate-like event with the five last night, it is available at the bottom of this page. If for no other reason, spend an hour and revel in Lively’s answers. Which one of these is not like the others?

Back to the ballot questions, be sure you decide before you get to the polls….or just do what I say.

~Mike

icon for podpress  MA ballot questions [22:22m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Come late Tuesday Nov. 4th, we’ll know a lot about Evan Falchuk’s run for Gov. of MA. Of course, we’ll know whether he is the next head of the commonwealth, and we’ll know whether his United Independent Party will have official status for the next election.

He joined us for the second time. Catch his initial appearance and details of his platform here. You can learn more about his positions at his campaign site.

As usual, I was intrigued by his openness, by his optimism, and by his lack of canned speech. Frankly, I find that most candidates have programmed responses they try to return to on show, at stump speeches or in debates and fora. At the end, we chucked about how no topic is off limits for him and he likes it that way.

Click below to listen in as we hit on his progress and his campaign’s outlook. He doesn’t shy away from him low poll numbers. Instead, he’s into big issues. He is confident that his UIP will get at least 3% of voters to win party status for the next election. With that, he expects to flesh out future ballots, and attract change-minded candidates up and down.

It won’t hurt that the UIP wouild then get the 10-times fundraising advantage official party candidates have in the current system that hobbles independents.

Listen in as he excoriates the Boston Globe for editorializing to exclude him and the other two independent gubernatorial candidates from its televised debate. That was one of the many times he or I used “appalling” in the show.

Evan Falchuk provided a clear sense of what might be possible beyond the two standard parties in MA politics.

~Mike

icon for podpress  Falchuk Update [36:38m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Coakley v. Baker Preview

September 10, 2014 | Comments Off

We held forth on yesterday’s MA primary. We clawed a bit at the top contenders and previewed the November 4th campaign. Listen in below as we highlight and smudge the key players.

First note that in both GOP and Dem primaries, the divisive and distinguishing players did not prevail. The implication was that voters were low-information or that the had no belly for the big visions and distinctions offered by the likes of Tea Party Republican Mark Fisher or true progressive Dem Don Berwick. People who did not or would not vote for them should stifle themselves in political complaints.

We speculated about Dem winner Martha Coakley’s ability to unite Dems and attract the unenrolled (53% of MA voters) and Charlie Baker’s chances of turning his Christmas tree résumé so only the good side shows. Ryan contends that if he wants to claim the good parts of his Gov. Bill Weld/Big Dig experience, he’ll have to own the terrible outcomes too. Likewise, he was the architect of the Harvard Pilgrim turnaround with job slashes and rate hikes.

Both major candidates claim the other has no vision and neither puts anything out to be criticized. Mike holds that they have a short time to give the voters some faith in what their administration would do and how.

We figure that Dem shortfalls Steve Grossman and Berwick won’t drive voters to Baker. Likewise neither LG candidate is likely to make much difference in the outcome.

Listen in and hold us accountable.

icon for podpress  MA Primary Recap: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Bumped a day — to have something to talk about — this week’s show will be on Wednesday. We’ll cover the complex MA primary. If you can join us live, click here Wednesday, Sept. 10th at 2:30PM Eastern.

As always, the show will be demand later at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes channel.

If you keep scorecards, you can compare Mike’s previews from last week, here.

Republican’s have a crayon-worthy ballot, with really only the choice between two gubernatorial candidates. They didn’t begin to contest most races, ceding them to Dems. On the donkey side, six statewide slots have three or at least two in the primary.

We’ll get to draw sweeping, maybe reasonable conclusions from the specific winners Tuesday.

First a plug from Mike, poll worker: The Dem ballot is complex, with three candidates for many positions. Do yourself, other voters and the poll worker a favor. Come prepared with your picks.

No Ryan, so just Mike chatting up the primary candidates. I ran down the Dem and GOP ballots, highlighting differences. I also pointed to the Left Ahead archives. The Dems appear there, as does Republican gubernatorial contender Mark Fisher. If you are unfamiliar or unsure, listen to them in their own words.

I confessed that in a very unusual move for me, I endorsed in one primary race — Deb Goldberg for Treasurer.

We’ll do the follow-up on the primary the next day, Wednesday, September 10th at 2:30 PM Eastern here. For the others, you can check me on my calls. I don’t think the only contested GOP slot, Governor, will be a contest; Charlie Baker wins easily.

On the Dem side, the candidate with the best platform, Dr. Don Berwick should be a weak third, with Martha Coakley edging Steve Grossman by maybe 10%. I picked Steve Kerrigan for Lieutenant Governor and Maura Healey for Attorney General (tight race though).

As Ryan didn’t show, I have no one to share the blame.

icon for podpress  MA primaries 2014: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Both of your usual suspects hosts, reunited for a what-happens-now segment on the post-Ferguson picture. We figure a few major changes will happen and the serious stuff will take much longer.

The easy-to-reach prize is removing military armaments, vehicles and weaponry from local police. Even many GOP members of Congress are in a WTF? mindset here. We also spoke of the harder, deeper solutions, such as:

  • Charging bad-actor cops who kill or maim without justification
  • A nationwide database of people killed by police
  • Having universal per-municipality civilian-review boards
  • Mandatory body-cams on cops

Many of the big fixes will take longer and may require pressure from the POTUS down to local police chiefs…a decade or more in he making. Our hope here is that the spotlight on Ferguson will catalyze those essential changes.

Listen in as we kick around issues of police accountability, the duty for public safety and restoring a public level of trust in law enforcement.

icon for podpress  Post-Ferguson: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

The third and final in our series of MA Treasurer/Receiver General candidate, Deb Goldberg, joined us today for a straight-ahead performance. Two telling comments came near the end. One is that she has a serious agenda, which she would like to have 4 or 8 or 12 years to bring to fruition. The other is that she defines herself as an unabashed, lifelong progressive Democrat who does not see any conflict or distinction among the professional, personal and political. Click below to listen in.

Note: Goldberg connect about 7:28 into the program. She was given a wrong number, but figured it out.

Note Two: We made multiple attempts to have GOP candidate Mike Heffernan on the show. He did not return the numerous calls, his website’s email system is broken, he does provide a regular email and does not respond to FB messages. I chalk it up to typical MA GOP avoidance.

Amusing (at least to me) aside: Deb was smart enough to solve a staff-created problem that might have prevented her show. Despite repeated emails, as recently as yesterday, specifying the call-in number and that while I am in Boston, the show servers are in NYC, she was given the wrong number by a staffer. Ours starts with an NYC 718 and not the Worcester area 781. She laughed and said that her resourcefulness in finding the right number of Left Ahead showed what kind of Treasurer she’d be.

Goldberg said a high priority would be ensuring the stability and growth of the 60B public-employee pension fund. She said current Treasurer Steve Grossman has set a high standard in returns. She would want to match or better that. She’d speak with each fund manager to make sure they balanced safety and growth goals.

She sees huge challenges in the school building authority. As with much MA infrastructure, we have deferred maintenance and face large expenditures to give kids safe places to learn.

As with the other two Dem candidates, she sees a big need for financial literacy. She praised Grossman’ pilot effort here for all ages and genders as well as immigrants. In fact, repeatedly throughout the show, she returned to the currently disadvantaged that she saw the commonwealth and the Treasurer’s office in particular could help. Listen in as she describes how the office might improve the lives of women, minorities and immigrants.

While she praised Grossman’s efforts in many ways, she has additional programs in mind. One of the more striking is a state public bank. The model she referenced is in North Dakota. She spoke highly of it aiding in state development as well as weathering the big recession best in the nation. She wants us to join states like Illinois in considering it.

She has definite plans on how to use the office to promote MA businesses, from lending to procurement.

You can get more detail on her and her platform at her campaign site here.

~Mike

icon for podpress  Deb Goldberg [35:10m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download