The state’s constitution needs to get with the times, according to lawmakers who are proposing a change to the official manner of address for His Excellency the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, now that the duly elected executive is a “her.”
“History has blown by the Massachusetts constitution,” 8th Essex state Rep. Jenny Armini said during a hearing before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary this week. “Clearly, the Constitution’s existing language had little impact on the recent electoral fortunes of women. But words matter.”
According to the state’s founding document, as written by John Adams, the Governor of Massachusetts should be referred to as “His Excellency” and the Lt. Governor as “His Honor.”
This has worked, mostly, over the hundreds of years since the state’s constitution was adopted, but it has grown a bit cumbersome in the era of Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll.
The pair are the first two women to lead the state, and so for the first time the Legislature, who will need to send them bills to sign including the masculine pronouns neither uses, finds itself wondering whether “he” really works.
“Our constitution does not allow young women, girls or older women to see themselves in the constitution,” 3rd Hampshire Rep. Mindy Domb told the committee. “‘He’ is not an inclusive term, ‘he’ is a gendered term.”
Lawmakers have offered a few different constitutional amendments, H. 30, 31 and 32 as well as S. 10, which are now in front of the committee for their consideration of how best to address parts of the state’s laws indicating how the commonwealth’s leadership should be called.
For the governor’s part, she seems to not care in the slightest. She is, after all, rather used to being the first to do a thing and at the end of the day it’s quite clear in whose pocket the keys to the corner office will be found.
“I think people know how to refer to me, they refer to me in a lot of different ways,” Healey told reporters Tuesday.
Herald wire service contributed.