Friday, April 07, 2006

Once More to Battle in Providence

It's that three-hanky 1940s movie. The beloved older brother turn out to be a junkie and mugger. Everyone involved mourns and shares that sadness of human frailty.

Flash to 2006, replace the brother with the institution of marriage and what happens? How about:
  • Many deny that U.S. marriage rates have plunged, while divorce and never-married rates grow.
  • Some pretend that the new institutions of same-sex marriage and civil unions somehow caused these troubles that started decades before they even existed.
  • Thousands of devoted same-sex couples show the jaded hetero community how open-eyed, mature marriage can, in fact, work.
  • The most extreme rant with increasing volume that SSM will redefine marriage out of existence. It is to laugh.
In short, the personal responsibility that made for compassion, tragedy, understanding and possible future action disappears. The drama we end up witnessing is one of blaming others irrationally.

Down in that other P-town, Providence, Rhode Island, if it's Spring, it must be SSM debate time. Both sides -- equality and blame -- have been on display in the legislature.

As a refresher, the RI General Assembly has kicked this can up and down the halls almost annually for over a decade. They are getting closer, despite strong opposition to SSM from the Republican governor and senate leader. This year carries increased weight because of the recent Massachusetts SJC decision sending the out-of-state resident ruling on marriage back to the lower courts for determination on Rhode Island and New York. It is unclear whether those two outlaw SSM.

Down in Providence, there is much emotion on all sides. The aggrieved who are not allowed to marry have a clear stake. The fearful who are sure something, yes something dreadful, will happen in Rhode Island if homosexuals can marry. Massachusetts' entirely positive experience doesn't make any difference. The fearful predicted dreadful events for us. When that didn't happen, they ran behind the veil of the irrational -- it's too soon to know what will happen. It is to laugh.

The AP carries the stripped down version. The Providence Journal has the real thing (requires a tedious free registration; boo) .

Italian-American Catholic Ed Bonetti wants to see his 20-year-old gay son marry and raise kids. He told the House Judiciary Committee, "My son has so many wonderful qualities. But we can't even look to those points right now because he does not have the same rights and he's not being treated fairly."

Frank Ferri and Tony Caparco have been partners for 25 years. Ferri said, "The time has come to draw the line and stop treating us like we are deviants and subhuman. We are no different than you are and deserve no less than what good, caring, loving, dedicated citizens work hard for."

Other views included, Amazing Grace Church pastor Dennis Kessinger."Anthropology tells us no human society, ancient or modern, primitive or civilized has ever sustained itself with a buffet-like family model -- just pick what suits you."

On the anti extreme was Joanne McOsker, president of Catholics for Life. As the Journal reported it:
She said such a law would lead to "the spread of disease" and "the spoiling of human relationships."

"The gay movement has launched a massive assault on the sacred institution of marriage. If this bill passes, our government will be sanctioning immoral, unnatural and self-destructive behavior," McOsker said. "The adoption of children in these unions would be an act of moral violence against the child. The situation would endanger the child's personality, balance and harmony."
Fortunately for equality, civility and reason, the number of that kind of thinker is dwindling, in no small part because of the positive result of gay-rights, civil-union, and SSM experiences. Yet, the level of emotion and the intractable position of the extremists there (as well as here) suggest even New England is in for a loud, bumpy ride for the foreseeable future.

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