Karyn Polito Will Officiate the Senate President’s Same-Sex Wedding

Now no one really doubts the sincerity of her support for marriage equality.

Associated Press

Associated Press

It seems that Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito has found a way to convince both sides of the debate that she’s completed her “evolution” to same-sex marriage supporter. The Boston Globe reports that she will officiate State Senate President Stan Rosenberg’s wedding to his domestic partner, “according to people with knowledge of her decision.”

Ten years ago, she was a vocal opponent of gay marriage, leading the charge to overturn the court decision that made Massachusetts the first state to allow it. By 2013, when she joined Charlie Baker’s ticket, she had reversed her stance. Like a whole lot of people who have done the same in those 10 years, she says it’s because she got to know gay and lesbian parents. Others, though, said she moderated her position because Charlie Baker’s campaign insisted. Given the vehemence of her prior opposition, many people remained skeptical. Last month, Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham questioned Polito’s conversion, but Polito “bristled.”

Whether you want to believe me or not, my actions will obviously prove, beyond you, my sincerity and commitment.

By agreeing to actually perform a wedding—the date isn’t set, by the way—she seems to have followed through on showing her conviction through actions, not words. In the Globe report, both supporters and critics of her new position alike seemed to agree that she has left no doubt about her commitment. Rosenberg certainly must not doubt it. No one wants to use an officiant who harbors secret disdain for your way of life.

“This is an issue that you can’t flip-flop easily on,” Mary Lou Daxland, president of the conservative Massachusetts Republican Assembly told the Globe. (She was being critical.)

But that’s evidently not true. In a Globe poll taken in 2004, 35 percent of Massachusetts residents supported legalizing gay marriage and 53 percent opposed it. Those numbers have more than flipped. A 2014 Globe poll found that 77 percent of residents thought same-sex couples should have the right to marry. Just 17 percent opposed it. This is a world where President George H.W. Bush, whose son was reelected on the backs of dozens of statewide votes to ban same-sex marriage in 2004, served as witness at a 2013 same-sex wedding.

So Polito is in good company. No, you can’t give her credit for bravely leading on the issue. In fact, you can deduct points for her leadership in the other direction. You can begrudge her the early opposition, the long evolution, and the final conversion at a moment of political expedience. But same-sex marriage’s success in the past decade is in great part thanks to conversions like this one. And Polito seems intent to show that whatever her history, you can’t count her as anything other than a same-sex marriage supporter, for whatever that’s worth.