Monday, September 27, 2010

Constitution calls for equal treatment, and that includes marriage | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Last year, my first foray into the realm of public political persuasion was an e-mail letter to the editors of my local daily newspaper, the Portland Press Herald.  The purpose of my letter: To rebut an opinion espoused by M. D. Harmon, the social conservative, Christian right representative of that paper's editorial board.  Often his opinions are a lot of dogmatic turd-polishing in defense of positions that seem indefensible to me.

I know, I know: reverting to name-calling isn't particularly productive when trying to have civil discourse... but Mr. Harmon's views, not to mention a certain smugness that seems born of ideological blindness, tend to hit a raw nerve in me.

That, and I have a hard time coming up with a more succinct & accurate term than turd-polishing for his kind of pabulum. At some point, I will have to search the Thesaurus for some less inflammatory moniker. In the meantime, I suspect in private that Mr. Harmon has similarly pejorative labels for my views (what's a modern slang word for heretical sinner?), or worse. So I guess we're even.


Mr. Harmon was crowing about the then recent repeal of Maine's marriage equality legislation via public referendum. He claimed the results were indicative of some sort of tipping point in public opinion & political direction that would surely snuff out the immoral & quixotic [in his mind, anyway] march towards gay marriage rights.

Simultaneously, he was sniffling & boo-hooing about how all his narrow-minded fellow social conservative ideologues were being mistreated by the left, professing that liberals & progressives were unfairly characterizing their position as bigoted. I found this combination of conservative triumphalism & shallow "woe is me" victim-ism too much to bear silently. I wanted to rip this guy a new asshole, which - considering his obvious homophobia - seemed the appropriately ironic outcome.

Apparently, Mr. Harmon's boss doesn't like him any more than I do. They requested I re-write my letter into a full-blown opinion editorial to be published under Maine Voices section of their Sunday sister paper, the Maine Sunday Telegram. They even made me provide sources for statistical claims. Which I provided.

So I wrote this:

You should have seen the comments that the on-line version received. It's too bad the Press Herald's web site doesn't archive them [only the original article is still on-line].

There were a couple of good faith, albeit thinly reasoned, moderate replies who insisted that I was wrong to name their anti-gay marriage stance as bigotry. Their basic argument went something like this:

  • We do not hate gays.
  • We do not intend unfair discrimination.
  • We just cannot fathom the concept of a marriage involving same-gendered persons [usually for reasons of faith]. 
  • Accordingly, we cannot support allowing gays & lesbians to marry.
  •  Thus, because we do not hate and do not intend to be unfair (i.e., no malicious intent), our vote against gay marriage rights is not "bigoted".
When I countered that the definitional characteristic of the word bigot was an obstinate & intolerant devotion to one's own opinions or prejudices, I never heard from then again.

At the same time, not a single commenter even attempted to rebut my Constitutional argument.

I can only assume they concede the point. Or, more likely, they have no real respect for our Constitution. These guys really don't get that fundamental rights are not (or, at least, are not supposed to be) subject to popular vote in a referendum. What are rights, if they are subject to being vetoed by the whimsy of popular vote?

A vast majority of the responding comments were, however, zealous and unabashed taunts & vitriolic gay-bashing. I was stunned at the viciousness & ferocity. Only a razor's edge separated many of them from the recent "All f*ggots must die" remark that one of Sen. Saxby Chambliss' staffers offered up on-line after the successful filibuster of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell vote. And, all the while, professing to be true Christians.

Really? I have trouble reconciling Jesus Christ's "turn the other cheek" morality with the vitriol offered up in defense of their position. I offer a reasoned Constitutional argument as to why their position is untenable, opine that the greater value is equality for all in law, and term their refusal to acknowledge such is bigotry, and their chief reply is intolerant hate-speech. Kinda proves my point.

Why do people who claim to be Christians align themselves with such clear evil?

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