Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Who Lost What Last Week at the ConCon?

We had millions of winners but thousands of losers last week when the General Court in Constitutional Convention killed the amendment that would halt same-sex marriage. Yet, Gov. Deval Patrick pegged it best when he concluded, "Today's vote was not just a victory for marriage equality. It was a victory for equality itself."

What now for and from the nasties? For over three years, we heard from and contended with:
  • Those who would redefine marriage from its centuries old tradition here as a civil contract into a sacrament -- legislating personal religion.
  • Those who dislike, disrespect, despise and fear homosexuals, enough to do anything to hinder or harm them.
  • Religious politicians, such as the local R.C. Cardinal, who do as they're told.
  • Professional anti-gay fund-raisers.
They lost big time last Thursday. Yet, given their dishonorable actions and dishonesty, their vitriol and mean-spiritedness, we should not grieve for or with them.

Questionably the losing-est loser here was Massachusetts Family Institute/Vote on Marriage President Kristian (Kris) M. Mineau. Had he weaseled this amendment onto the ballot, the big-money wingers were poised to support his rag-tag groups. It was like the NBA draft for the kid from the projects. Only this time, he got cut before he got the contract.

There's a good chance he'll be out of here shortly. He is the relentless, single-minded, amoral sort that does well raising money. He has quite a history of twisting issues into slogans that obscure what his organizations are really about. There's a lot of call for that.

I bet he is attractive to the rich uncle of the anti-gay forces, Focus on the Family. There are many squirting holes in the dike that would spread marriage equality. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to hear that Mineau climbed onto his big white ass and rode off to fight this battle where he sees a chance of at least a short-term, tangible win. There's California, Washington and Oregon, for example.

Meanwhile, Mineau made the predictable, mandatory, Terminator-style promises:
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. Our team is looking at our strategic options going forward. You will be hearing from us again soon. In the meantime, do not be discouraged, keep the faith. Our work will surely continue.
His only other option would have involved uncharacteristic honesty. He could have abjectly apologized to the GLBT citizens, and the rest of us, for the turmoil and hate. I'll own ocean-front property in Colorado before that happens.

Truth is, they had a shot. With all their tricks and how well they gamed the system, they got disturbingly close. Future posts will deal with what we learned about the ballot-initiative process and how it needs updating. An initial comment set is here.

Mineau's other predictable bit of bluster was claiming he and his minions would defeat four legislators who voted for the amendment at the last ConCon session in January and against it last week. He told the Boston Globe that his folk would target two from each party.

That has to be the most impotent political threat so far of this century. In last year's regular and special contests, every pro-marriage equality legislator won re-election who was running. In every contest where pro- and anti-equality candidates contended, the anti ones lost. That's zero for Mineau's side. None, zip, nada, zero.

Other Losers

Mineau was not the only professional to tumble down the rocky slope last week. Most obviously, emerging with scrapes and bruises was Sean Cardinal O'Malley, and the entire Boston Archdiocese. His credibility has continued to dwindle throughout this process. While serving under orders, he let himself align with the worst of the homophobes and religious extremists. This is stinky stuff that will cling to his cassock for a long, long time.

It's a shame about Sean. He used to be a progressive and underneath may retain that compassion and the related good politics. Back in his D.C. days, he helped the poor, was instrumental in rent strikes, and lived his faith. Then as he became a professional church politician, promoted to archbishop and cardinal ranks, he turned into the good soldier we see and hear.

It's hard for those of us not in a military-style system to understand taking orders like that. Yet, we saw the previous Sean and this devolved one before us now.

He risked — then lost — much following Pope Benedict's mandate. There is a disconnect separating the dictionary definition of catholic from the Roman Catholic Church we have seen here in the past seven years. The campaigning and threats of this and the previous amendment battles serves to further exclude parishioners instead of being universal. Surely that is not what the Cardinal or Pope have in mind, but that's what they did, with vigor.

In various European, nominally Catholic, countries, the citizens/parishioners/voters hear the homilies and are aware of the policies. They smile and nod and pick which they obey. There's the matter of birth control and adultery and on and on.

Here, O'Malley has further marginalized the church's power and influence by putting his and its credibility on the line. He played an extremely heavy political hand, while skipping arm-in-arm with the most unsavory characters.

He lost and as a result the R.C. Church lost.

Sundry Schlemiels

Consider another lapsed liberal, former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn. Like O'Malley, he's a good Catholic kid who grew up to favor civil rights, the working class, and leftist causes. He also turned sour and aged badly.

However, in that same Globe piece, he exhibited a lot more insight and honesty than Mineau:

"The people who are advocating same-sex marriage are very, very determined," said former Boston mayor and US ambassador to the Vatican Raymond L. Flynn. "They're very active, and they participate in the process. Give them credit: They know how to wage a political campaign, and politicians respond to that kind of pressure."

Flynn conceded that it may be futile to try again to place a gay marriage ban before voters in Massachusetts. "Clearly the petition can be ignored by the Legislature," said Flynn, adding that supporters of "traditional families" need to galvanize and become as politically active and vocal as the forces in favor of same-sex marriage.

Raybo, as we used to call him when he chased fire trucks and did good deeds, is a particularly sad case. I don't want to know what went on in Rome that made him a bad ambassador. However, we are aware that he lent his remaining good name to this anti-gay, anti-civil-rights effort. His is the first name on the amendment petition and will forever link with this shame.

He is a cautionary tale to all of progressives. His accomplishments now appear only by squinting through this lens of regressive politics.

Next, the many dupes looked dejected and rejected. Mineau and O'Malley's people roused the gullible and repeatedly bused groups of them into the big city, where they received professionally printed Let the People Vote! signs, replete with their very own pine slat handles.

Most of these folk, according to press interviews as well as my own conversations with them, honestly seemed to believe that they had the right and obligation to work to enact religious laws in our civil code. They also seemed to believe that they should have an absolute right to a plebiscite that could strip a minority of existing civil rights.

They were simply used by the anti-marriage-equality groups. This was not as bad as, say, the Children's Crusades, but it had whiffs of that. Stir up religious ideas and feelings, park the innocent and sincere in harm's way, and keep telling everyone it's God's will.

Perhaps some of the suburban papers will interview some of these troops. Do they feel out of touch with the commonwealth? Do they feel used?

We have no reason to suppose that Mineau, O'Malley or Flynn will apologize to them, or ever admit the baseness of their motives. Certainly continuing to pretend that they acted for democracy and for the good of other humans is much more palatable.

Finally, the bitter jester of the movement went on the Net with an embarrassing podcast as the ConCon session concluded. You can hear Article 8/MassResistance's Brian Camenker call Maine's anti-gay poster boy Mike Heath at the suddenly constituted Christian Education League. Over at the site, you can listen to the Homosexual Totalitarianism podcast.

Camenker drops any pretext of fairness or equality. He upbraids the Vote on Marriage folk for not attacking homosexuality directly. For rational humans, this is an unbelievable tirade, but probably the only honest comments to come out of the anti-marriage-equality crowd.

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Anonymous said...

MM, you forgot to mention Willard. In the style of Camenker: Ex-"Governor" Romney lost his crusade "against" homosexual "marriage" that he himself is responsible for.

Did Willard win or lose last week? I'd say both and neither, depending one whether today's spin-o-matic is set to clockwise or that direction the liberals spin in.

massmarrier said...

Wee Willy Romney, eh? As a number of lefty and righty blogs and some print columnist asked, "Where's Romney?"

Like Waldo, he disappeared in the crowd. Yet the anti-gay sorts, would have expected him to come to Beantown and make a display to prove he really, truly was anti-SSM.

To your point, he seems to do everything he can to show he doesn't believe in anything except advancing himself.

Bwah ha ha ha.

Gay Curmudgeon said...

Hey, I think the Mass Resistance people lost their minds. I theorize on the subject here: