Massachusetts could ban voter petitions that trample LGBT rights
The US state of Massachusetts could outlaw voter petitions which jeopardise the rights of minorities.
An amendment which would restrict petitions which are voter-led, was endorsed by the Massachusetts Legislatures Joint Judiciary last week.
It could be added any day to the Constitutional Convention calendar for the current session.
While petitions that are “inconsistent” with the rights of individuals are already banned in the Declaration of Rights, the amendment would mean that minorities would not be overpowered by the voting power of the majority.
The sponsor of the amendment, Representative Byron Rushing, says that “fairness and equality can disappear when the majority determines the rights of a less powerful group.”
It would be applied to new laws being proposed as well as changes to the constitution.
The move comes after enough signatures were filed by anti-trans activist to put a question on the 2018 ballot to repeal a law protecting transgender people’s rights to use a gender-appropriate public restroom.
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The law had also protected against anti-LGBT discrimination in restaurants and other places of public accommodation.
Senator William Brownberger, who is the chair of the Judiciary Committee said the amendment would infringe on the “freedom to marry”.
He added that it could be applied to “women’s rights questions in the future.”
But the amendment would not be in place for the 2018 ballot, even if adopted.
Despite this, Rushing says he thinks that the 2018 question would not be on the ballot if his amendment had been introduced.
When the Supreme Judicial Court in 2003 legalised same-sex marriage, activists came close to bringing forth a question on a ballot to re-ban it.