Sunday, June 10, 2007

The End Cannot Come Soon Enough

Woe befalls those of the small brains and tiny hearts. Surely, yesterday's Pride parade and celebration saddened and further confused them.

Grinning, embracing, loving friends, spouses, lovers, all living loud and above everything happy. How hard it must be for those who hate and fear the other to see the rest of the world advancing while they fester.

With the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention reconvening Thursday, this sad little group is in its death throes. Even if it wins, in the sense of 25% of the combined legislature to advance its anti-marriage-equality amendment, it is denying and delaying its demise.

How unfortunate that the threshold for survival of the anti-gay forces is so low. In this case, a large majority of the public and 75% of the legislature doesn't even want to give these folk a shot at continuing their quest to strip marriage rights from homosexuals. Indeed if this odious attempt at legislating personal religion had been a legislator-generated initiative, it would have required 50% plus one of the ConCon to advance. Not bloody likely.

The pity is that they are willing to push this to the very bitter end. Without the nobility of soldiers in a lost war, they are more the Blanche DuBois of politics. In this case though, there's no nice mental-institution caretaker to take their arm on the way.

We saw more of their position again this week, but not from their usual lobbying arms. Rather the local archdiocese paper, The Pilot, ran another of its specious and spurious editorials in preparation for the ConCon.

This was one of the most embarrassing ones yet. It recapped the illogical and simply wrong arguments that it and Sean Cardinal O'Malley have been offering for the past couple of years. It is worth reading to remind yourself of how unfortunate and silly these folk can be.

The VoteOnMarriage sorts love to niggle with the MassEquality slogan that "It's Wrong to Vote on Rights." That could well be expanded into the more accurate but less powerful "It's Wrong to Vote to Remove Rights from Any Minority." That's the intent, the VOM folk know that, and they are dead wrong while MassEquality is dead right.

The anti-marriage-equality folk would also have legislators as well as their own minions believe that marriage is a religious institution, authorized by churches, legalized with a cleric's blessing, and not a right at all. Here I am appalled by even the Democratic Presidential hopefuls, all but one of whom seem to agree. Even those who favor civil unions and claim to support gay rights use phrases like "marriage is between a man and a woman; that's the way I was raised."

To the issue at hand and particularly the ConCon, that is not the way it has ever been in Massachusetts, not from colonial times. The Puritans escaped from theocratic intolerance and the mingling of government and religion. Here, while claiming personal religious fervor, they set church here and state there, with tall boundaries of law, regulation and custom.

The colonial governors went so far as to forbid ministers from performing marriages and only later let them speak at weddings. In Massachusetts, marriage has always been a civil contract.

The only role a cleric has in weddings here, even today, is the same as a Justice of the Peace, and one-day designated solemnizer, a town clerk, a judge or the governor has. They can act as an agent of the commonwealth in signing the government-issued marriage license.

For example, the editorial cites incest restrictions on marriage. Various states have different definitions of consanguinity. Those that permit closer ties decidedly do not have more birth defects, higher divorce rates, or laws permitting the evils irrationally linked to permitting same-sex marriage. As the pathetic Pilot piece put it, "Once marriage becomes a personal right, the institution of marriage fades. It is only a matter of time before polygamy, polyandry, incestuous relations and all other manner of partnerships will be accepted as marriage."

It speaks to the poverty of their position and their diminished numbers that they contend first that marriage is not a civil right, second that it is a religious institution and not a government controlled civil one, and three that no one has a right to marry, per se. All of those are wrong and each shows a willful denial of many centuries of history and culture, of hundred of years of Massachusetts history, government and culture, of the laws of both the commonwealth and nation, and of the simple reality that the vast majority of locals and Americans wed civilly with not even the veneer of a cleric signing the state issued document that makes a marriage.

We can understand why the VOM and archdiocese leaders play those games. We are not quite over the hump on this type of civil-rights issue. They hope to be able to twist 25% of the legislature one more time to put removing civil rights from a minority on the ballot for 2008.

Yet, we hear echoes of this in such theaters as the Democratic Presidential candidates' debates.

We have seen popular votes on stripping rights before. Sometimes it was for the majority, such as in Prohibition -- the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, rejected only by Rhode Island, and repealed by the 21st. In various states after reconstruction, we also saw repressive legislation such as poll taxes and literacy requirements that effectively removed voting as a right from Black Americans. To our national shame, none of these worked and all eventually were voted out by more rational and compassionate generations that followed.

Here we are again, with a 21st century version. It is difficult to believe that anyone who can function day to day could buy into that tripe. Perhaps they are not so far from Blanche DuBois as one might suppose.

If we have four or five legislators who find that reason, compassion and courage now, we won't have to endure the bitter campaign to drastically alter our commonwealth's marriage laws to conform for the first time to narrow religious doctrine. We won't for the first time in Massachusetts join the list of repressive and regressive states that try to strip small groups of citizens of existing rights.

A word to the wise...a word to the compassionate...a word to the lovers of on this hateful amendment.

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John Hosty said...

If you don't already have a account, you should get one. If you don't want one, I'll be glad to repost this there if you want. What you have to say captures in words what needs to be said. Every one should read this.

Great article!

massmarrier said...

Of course you're right, Mr. H. I need to dust off a little treasure occasionally and put it in the front window of BMG.

Thanks for the prod.

John Hosty said...

Is that seven people I see recommending your article on BMG? I know treasure when I see it!

AARRRGH! FREEDOM, STRAIGHT AHEAD! (err, I mean gayly forward?)

massmarrier said...

Many thanks, John. You're a great coach.

I'm so jerked around by this amendment. We've lost...we may have enough chance...maybe...

A big part of me can't believe we as voters or legislature would even consider such a disgrace. We have to finish and defeat this.