Friday, August 05, 2011

Clarity of Delusion Up North

A wonderfully clarifying double hit appears in the big Maine newspaper. Writing in the Portland Press Herald, out GOP activist from there Steven Scharf:
  • Predicts in no uncertain terms that any 2012 ballot initiative to restore SSM would fail
  • Slips in what his side would really like — to redefine marriage as church ritual
I hope Equality Maine distributes this opinion piece widely. It should be a great inspiration in their efforts to turn tens of thousands of indifferent voters to American-style equality fans. They don't have to convert anti-LGBT citizens, just wake up fence sitters to say, "Oh, sure, I'll support fairness and equality."

Scharf's magical numerical thinking runs counter to polls that show the previous urban/rural divide is disappearing. Moreover, Mainers already have an established history of knocking down gay-rights before finally going to the ballot and in effect saying, "OK, we'll jerked you around long enough. You win."

More telling than the piece's bluster is the paragraph that includes, "The fact is, I believe that government should get out of the marriage business altogether." Read the many comments that follow, which jump up and down on that.

Typically the anti-homosexual and anti-SSM organizations bring this up repeatedly, as do some gay-rights splinter groups. Somehow they remain oblivious to the obvious distinction between civil marriage and religious rite.

Facts and history are plain enough. Marriage in this country and most others is a civil matter, a contract recorded by the government and requiring both prior approval (license) and petition to dissolve (divorce). Those, apparently a minority, who choose can layer a religious ceremony on top. Yet the license that the cleric signs legalizing the marriage after that ceremony is a government document, which the minister or cognate does as a temporary government agent.

Getting the government out of marriage is, to finally accurately use the term, redefining marriage. We can temporarily set aide the inefficiency, even chaos, likely to ensue without the civil contract recording and oversight by state governments. Instead concentrate on the underlying message of transferring marriage to religious institutions.

That is an unbelievably terrible idea that would redefine a system that has worked excellently from colonial days into nationhood. The only aim would seem to be to erase another clear First Amendment hands-off separation to make the most reactionary feel better.

No thanks. We have a working system...without redefining marriage to suit the religious right. Marriage is civil. Church ritual is a personal option.

Here's hoping the Press Herald opinion piece gets a lot of pushpin-on-the-corkboard display.

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