Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Reactionary Sunday, Oct. 2

Well, Catholics and fundies did it before and now it's local. As hard as it is to believe, the archbishop and bishops in Massachusetts, as well as the leaders of some fundamentalist black and Latino churches will offer or badger their parishioners to sign anti-same-sex-marriage petitions in church on October 2nd.

Like the previous national version to pass a federal DoMA, this is Protect Marriage Sunday. The idea is to use clergy and peer pressure in church, gather thousands of signatures to support the 2008 initiative to stop same-sex marriage here, and provide momentum to the anti folk.

As shown in the vote keeping the replace SSM with civil unions initiative off the ballot last week, legislators are tired of the issue. Also, more and more voters want them to get on with other matters and not strip existing rights from any groups.

The Boston Globe leads its city/region section with coverage today. It notes the relative passive and pathetic plight of those opposing the political spasm from the pulpits. The Freedom to Marry folks claim they will try to convince ministers not to preach for the petition. (However, a check of their site shows nothing.)

Equally lame so far is Catholic Citizenship. The group promoting political action by Catholics has former Boston Mayor and ex-civil libertarian Ray Flynn as chairman.

The four commonwealth bishops are sending their parishioners letters urging their signatures. The Globe quotes one as including:
"As faithful citizens, we have a moral obligation to defend the truth, no matter how counter-cultural or unappreciated our convictions might be," Bishop George W. Coleman of Fall River wrote to parishioners in a Sept. 12 letter. "The time is upon us to take a stand and to act, lovingly but firmly, to restore and defend the truth about marriage."
Of course, adding a theocratic veneer to a civil contract is not how they phrase it. Not only has Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, it has never had religious wording in its marriage laws or regulations. This initiative would introduce the sort of restrictions that California added to law in the 1970s, as well as stripping existing rights from a class of citizens.

We don't see how the petition drive can fail. It requires only about 66,000 signatures in a state with almost 6.5 million residents and several million registered voters. A similar low bar exists for two successive sessions of the legislature to approve this for the ballot – 50 or one-fourth of the General Court.

Those who want to keep marriage rights hold out hope that they can prevent 50 from voting for the initiative. Yet it would be hard to find any emotionally charged bill that a quarter of a legislature could not be convinced to support.

What remains shocking is that some minority clerics would put their reputations, moral position and churches behind an effort to remove rights from any group. Even if they hate all queers, the history of a majority voting on the rights of a minority is sad, shameful and unAmerican.

Anyone willing to cry, "Democracy! Let the people decide!," when he wants to take away a citizen's rights is confused at best and has a mob mentality at worst.

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