Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Opinion: "General" Coakley vs. "Porky" Brown as US Senator

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Coakley seeks to ensure everyone's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Things went well for Martha Coakley in the primary race for Ted Kennedy's US Senate seat. She was the clear winner against her three male competitors, winning almost half the votes.

As John Kerry emailed me this morning: "That sound you heard was the glass ceiling being smashed into a thousand pieces."

She will go on to face Republican Scott Brown who has a juicy background that will make this race interesting. He is a former Cosmo model, and a foe of gay marriage.

Martha Coakley is no slouch in defense of lesbians and gays being able to marry, just as everybody else can. As Attorney General, Coakley has taken the Feds to court over the Defense of Marriage Act, specifically challenging the definition of marriage as that one man-one woman business. DOMA "constitutes an overreaching and discriminatory federal law" according to the lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Boston.

In her victory speech last evening, Coakley spoke of her commitment to marriage equality. Not so State Senator Scott Brown, who famously accused state Senator Cheryl Jacques and her same-sex partner having children as ‘‘not normal.’’ Then in March 2004 he was elected to the State Senate in a special election to fill her seat. In a career move, Cheryl Jacques resigned to become president of the Human Rights Campaign. Among his other major positions he is in favor of installing slot machines at state racetracks to solve the budget shortfalls, and although allegedly a Repubican sees no problem with waste in government, as long as it is GOP waste.

Will Brown lose his moral certainty against gay marriage to win an election? You betcha. The vacillation begins.

Brown has promised that ‘‘I’m going to continue to bring home the pork because it offsets what’s being cut. The second battle is to try to be part of the solution to the economic mess.’’ It is clear that "Porky" Brown sees gambling as our way to prosperity. And putting gays and lesbians in their places, far from the institution of marriage.

Pandering, but not to gays.

Brown is resourceful in many ways, though his logic is absolutely peculiar. Short on funds for his Boston College tuition, did he take a part time job or student loan to meet the shortfall? Neither. Instead, he found his way to the centerfold of Cosmo magazine as a hot stud back in 1984. Working the media is a Brown family occupation what with the Cosmo appearance combined with his wife being Boston's WCVB-TV reporter Gail Huff. Their daughter Ayla (one of two girls) was a contestant on ‘‘American Idol.’’ While at BC, and a basketball star, he also acted and sang in college productions, and joined the National Guard where he is still an active officer.

Coakley grew up in North Adams, and has close connections to the area. Here she is seen with North Adams Mayor-elect Alcombright, and Ben Dowling, the State Senator. Charles Giuliano photo.

Coakley has received the endorsement of Mass Equality, an organization of more than 200,000 members that works to protect, promote and defend marriage equality and to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. In the suit she filed in Federal Court seeking to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, Coakley called it "discriminatory and unconstitutional." And that is only one action in a multi-pronged effort to level the playing field for lesbians, gays and many others.

She strongly supported the MassHealth Equality bill, which ensured that Massachusetts cover the cost of health care for same-sex couples who would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid; worked to obtain civil rights injunctions in numerous cases involving hate crimes against members of the LGBT community; and supported efforts to address domestic violence in the LGBT community. Her office also conducted trainings for police departments around the Commonwealth on how better to respond to hate crimes.

Coakley is also at the forefront of the move to make all business and service buildings handicapped accessible. Full access to all aspects of life for everyone is a lofty goal, but that does not deter her from trying.

In the end we expect to see AG Coakley take Kennedy's seat, and bring yet another voice of reason to the United States Senate.

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