Your Excellency? Even with a governor of Mass. the state constitution applies only to men. That could change.


Legislators are considering making the Commonwealth Constitution more gender-sensitive.

AP Photo/Charles Krupa, file

Out in public and in the Massachusetts State House, Madame Governor is usually right up your alley.

It’s the typical, perhaps even self-evident, title for Governor Maura Healey, the first woman elected Governor of the Commonwealth – a change in language made quick and easy when she took the oath of office in January.

And Healey is just one woman on a historic all-female cohort leadership team that includes Lt. gov. Kim Driscoll, Attorney General Andrea Campbell and State Examiner Diana DiZoglio.

While voters supported the change, some lawmakers say the time has come to reflect that change more formally — namely updating the state constitution, which currently only applies to elected officials with male pronouns.

“Clearly, the existing wording of the constitution has had little bearing on recent electoral gains by women. But words matter,” says Rep. Jenny Armini of Marblehead, said the Judiciary Committee Earlier this week when she introduced two amendments that, if passed, will add feminine and gender-neutral pronouns to the state constitution. “Language is a signal to the world. It’s a way of communicating our values, and it’s a tool for citizens to learn who – and what – is important.”

Armini’s proposals would update the government document to include titles for elected leaders such as “Your Honor” and “Your Excellency” rather than just the standard “His Excellency.” The amendment is one of several currently before the joint committee that target different aspects of the constitution’s gender language in different but similar ways.

According to the State House Intelligence ServiceThe committee has until April 26 to submit reports on each and May 10 to decide which, if any, it will submit to the Constitutional Convention this legislature.

For her part, Healey told reporters Tuesday she was unaware of the pending proposals, the news service reports.

“I think people know how to address me, they relate to me in a lot of different ways,” the governor said.

She also poked fun at the current language in the document, which was created in the 18th century, primarily by founding father and future President John Adams.

“I guess Abigail wasn’t involved,” Healey said, clearly referring to Abigail Adams.

As her husband pondered the founding document of the state and the rights of the people, Abigail Adams wrote a famous letter asking him to do so “Remember the ladies and be more generous and kind to them than your ancestors.”

In one of the proposed changes Under consideration, Sen. Will Brownsberger of Belmont offers to replace all pronouns mentioned in the document “he” or “his” with “he or she” and “his or her.”

Amherst State Rep. Mindy Domb has since submitted a change try to replace every occurrence of “he” in the constitution and replace it with “the person”.

Domb said the document, as it stands, “does not allow young women, girls or older women to see themselves in the constitution.”

Consistent with a point made in her remarks by Rep. Dawne Shand of Newburyport, Domb said she had heard her entire life “he” as it says in government papers, referring to everyone.

“It’s not an inclusive term. It’s a gendered term,” Domb said. “I grew up…heard my whole life, ‘Don’t worry, ‘He’ includes you.’ How does it engage me when I write “Mindy Domb, hey?” on a test…in first grade. It would be wrong and I would be corrected.”

Domb added her filing had “nothing to do with how gender is currently being politicized in our country.”

“There’s no danger of changing the ‘he’ to ‘the person,'” Domb said. “There is only one attempt to get 51 percent of the population into the constitution.”

Shand called Domb’s approach an “elegant solution.”

“It’s not just for the heads of state, it’s for all of us as citizens and how the language of our constitution speaks to each individual,” Shand said.

Armini’s changes would add gender-neutral language to the document. She said the proposals urge lawmakers to envision a time in “the not-too-distant future when someone who isn’t burdened by sex or sex assigned at birth is sitting in the corner office,” she said.

“The burden of history is heavy here,” said Armini. “How will future generations look at us with all our experience and knowledge? If we don’t make that change, will they assume we just didn’t care enough? Or that persistent sexism and prejudice prevented this?

“We have an opportunity to show our children that while Massachusetts honors its past, it values ​​its present and future more highly.”

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