Monday, July 02, 2007

The Marginalized: VoteOnMarriage

There may not be too much to say VoteOnMarriage/Massachusetts Family Institute after its most recent defeat of many. I have already predicted that the leader, President Kris Mineau, may be well out of here shortly. There are so many places for him to pull his dirty tricks, so many with the gullible to tap for donations.

This is the third in a series of people and groups who marginalized themselves in their quixotic, yet vicious, attempt to take existing rights from a minority group. Part one on the RC Church hierarchy is here, and part two on the MassResistance folk is here.

There are some clear distinctions in the goals and losses. Cardinal O'Malley clearly seemed to be following (with too much vigor) the mandates from his Pope, and if it helped fill masses and collection baskets in tough times, so much the better. The wee MassResistance group has made it plainer and plainer from their blogs, testimony, defunct radio show and podcast that they really hate and fear homosexuals.

VOM and Mineau seem much cruder. As Mike Heath's version of the Christian Civil League of Maine during the extraordinarily nasty failed effort to repeal gay rights there, VOM depended on anti-gay propaganda and scare tactics for fund raising. When hate was high enough, the bank account swelled.

Both groups appealed to the basest instincts of a minority of citizens. Don't share liberties. Game every process in the book to keep others, particularly homosexuals, from getting what you take for granted. As the cliché goes, hell, it's a living.

In Maine, the CCL did its do for several years, relying on sensational lies about protecting homosexuals in fundamental areas like employment discrimination. They also predicted the ruin of Massachusetts following legalization of same-sex marriage here. Meanwhile several funny things happened. First, as here, enough gay men and lesbians, singles and couples, were out that most voters realized they were plain folk deserving of equality and fairness. Then life streamed right along in Boston and elsewhere here, thanks very much.

This is relevant because of the strong parallels. In both states, polls drifted higher and higher favoring equality. The majority of voters and a greater majority of legislators chose fair over nasty, equal over cruel.

Since the failure in Maine to overturn gay rights sections of laws, the legislature there two years ago defeated an attempt to write a ban on same-sex marriage into law. That was a clear signal to the anti-gay forces that they didn't have anywhere near the two-thirds they'd need for such a constitutional ban.

The VOM can then look to CCL to see how it has shrunk in influence and hung near financial ruin without a viable discrimination campaign. Over at the main VOM/FMI site, Mineau did his best Terminator impersonation -- "We are not going away. We won't stop fighting until the citizens have had their say. There are too many children that are counting on us to continue the battle."

We could be snide and point out how hard these groups worked against the interest of kids. They fought gay adoption, in the face of massive evidence that children fare at least as well with two gay parents as two straight ones. They also worked for laws that would prevent same-sex couples from having legal rights and privileges that straight ones get, rights and privileges that help the kids get health care, education and a fair chance at life.

So, let's stay with their We are not going away.

Let's make it plain. They are already gone. This amendment drive was hanging by a single hair and was their last chance to remain a viable organization with any following in the government or with the public.

They gulled thousands, raised millions of dollars, and twisted concepts of democracy in the most cynical and dishonest possible ways. Even those who hate and fear the likes of lesbians and lefties will not fall for that routine yet again.

The unspoken glory of this victory for marriage equality is what did not happen as a result. The big money and heavy lobbyist/PR types were poised to invade here with very unctuous ounce and dirty dollar that the thought necessary. It seems Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family puts our commonwealth somewhere below Hell's comfort level. Legal gay marriage and democrats everywhere!

An influx of funds and staff for VOM/MFI could have bolstered Mineau's minions for years. The least they had to do was get this amendment on the ballot to justify the money and effort from outside.

There is the moot debate in the lefty community about whether the solid 60% or more of polled voters would in fact have voted to retain same-sex marriage here. I firmly believe that the amendment would have torn apart communities and families, as well as diverted us from meaningful reform and repair of the state, only to lose in a general election in 2008. Yet, it is so wonderful that we can stay on task for fixing the broken parts -- schools, health-care, roads and more.

Here, the legislature in Constitutional Convention on June 14th said plainly that we do not vote to strip any minority of existing rights. Nuff said.

VOM is dead. Legislators don't want to hear anything Mineau has to say. The thousands of jerked-around citizens are likely feeling foolish and used for contributing money or time.

Whether MFI formally folds too or remains a shell like the CCL remains to be seen. Both groups made dramatic claims in the strongest terms of the perils of gay rights, same-sex marriage, and even adoption by homosexual couples. Their selling points have proven to be lies again and again and again. Each time, they lost influence in all their publics.

Short-term after the amendment lost, anti-gay/anti-marriage equality forces call for the defeat of at least four legislators who previously voted to advance the amendment but changed last month. Much like the years of sensational screaming of the horrible effects of SSM, this threat is the realest example of how these groups marginalize themselves. They promise what they can't deliver. They do it often enough that they become the voice of the street crazy becoming fainter and fainter as embarrassed bystanders walk away. (Pardon, but I have to ask then does VOM then become Voice of Morons?)

It is tempting but would be facile to say that electoral endorsements and calls for defeat guarantee the opposite. True enough, in the last general election every single candidate the anti side supported lost in the primary or election and every one they opposed won.

It would miss the point to claim that there is a cause and effect. Instead, it appears as though not enough voters care enough or listen enough to make any difference. VOM and their buddies are politically impotent. They can't affect change or influence elections.

There is a definition of marginalization. Legislators, party big shots and voters alike seem to have gotten it by now. Those folk promise much and deliver little or nothing. VOM and their ilk have pushed the panic button and promised poll power repeatedly. Their only partial success was gaming the system enough to get the amendment into the second ConCon. They don't impact elections and have put themselves way up in the nosebleed seats for the future.

Life is possible on the margins of society, but why would anyone live in such diminished capacity?

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Anonymous said...

Because the people want to vote

massmarrier said...

Well, welcome to representative democracy!

We don't run a populous state like town meeting for many good reasons. Article XLVIII of our constitution was a safeguard against rogue legislation, not a way to strip minorities of existing rights.

The VOM people claim that now the "vote" for the anti-SSM crowd will be on legislators who defeated the amendment. That would mean turning out virtually the whole General Court, from interest groups who have been unable to unseat a single pro-equality legislator in many tries.

Vote away.

Anonymous said...

Anon, are you speaking for all the people? Because I know quite a few happily straight folks who really don't care if this issue never goes to a ballot, because they don't feel the need to interfere in other people's lives.

Anonymous said...

Well I know a bunch of gay couples who would love to vote on the matter.

The only real way to end the stalemate is to have a vote.

And please, don't give me the populous state or rogue legislation crap.

We are talking about changing the definition of a word. And the definition of a cultural institution.

We are not talking about raising the price of garbage stickers.

massmarrier said...

There is no stalemate. The VOM folk had more than their shot and lost.