Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Middle Ground in Vermont Hearing

With more action than a tennis tournament and about the same amount of volleying, day three of the Vermont SSM bill played this-but-that for most of two and one-half hours. The live stream last evening pulled me in and held me as strongly as a whirlpool.

No one can honestly hold that last evening's stifled pro or con-SSM views. It was tit for tat. With over 1,000 attending in various rooms in the building and sharing a live feed for those not in the Judiciary Committee's room, there were more speakers than time. That let the committee line up one from each side in turn...for hours.

Live-stream note: This week, the Burlington Free Press is running the Senate hearings on the SSM bill off its front page. Those considerate green-mountain folk have been holding these from 6 p.m., so those testifiers and voyeurs alike can participate.

Pic note: Art is from and claims no rights. It's nice though.

The tenor of the evening was largely country civil. Only a couple of the anti-equality sorts were unable to restrain themselves. One woman did scream repeatedly about her unwillingness and inability to accept homosexual relationships. She was pathetic.

Unfortunately, the hearings illustrated two on-going issues:
  1. Many anti-gay sorts are still angry and disappointed from their 2000 loss that legalized civil unions.
  2. As I have held many times here, there will be neither acceptance nor compromise from the anti-gay, anti-SSM, anti-marriage equality people. They think differently and rely much more on emotion.
I had imagined that long-term positive experience in Vermont, Massachusetts and elsewhere would mollify, perhaps even enlighten, the anti side. Not so.

Last night too, many anti-SSM folk fell into circular reasoning — their own whirlpool. Asserting that marriage was only between a man and a woman, they triumphantly concluded that this proved that marriage could never expand to SS couples. Huh?

Many also played the redefinition card. Some held that Party A/Party B lingo on a license somehow ruined marriage for everyone. Others said that if those dreadful homosexuals were allowed to marry, their own marriages would be cheapened.

More befuddling was the constant reference to God's law. The conflation of various religious rites with the state licensing and solemnization of marriage was the theme of the anti side yet again. Despite hearing repeated pro-SSM folk noting that the gay and lesbian couples were not asking, much less demanding, that any church perform its own ritual on top of the marriage, the anti testifiers again and again said the marriage was the religious ritual. It would have been good if the pro-SSM witnesses had been plainer and more repetitive about the rite being irrelevant to legal marriage, the icing and decorations on the cake as it is.

I can't even dignify those who contend that marriage is for procreation exclusively wrought by a penis releasing sperm into a vagina. That's so untrue and so disrespectful of the millions of straight or gay couples who choose not to reproduce, who cannot reproduce, or who adopt or use artificial insemination. The spurious argument that a child not being able to finger biological grandparents spoils all is inane beyond belief.

Most confusing was the mingling of church-and-state talk. Some anti folk threw in a mention of respecting the U.S. and Vermont constitutions here, going on to say we were founded on Christian principles and that marriage was what the church said it was. The big fat fact that this doesn't square with legal marriage can be damned, with all of us progressives and liberals.

I ended up the long evening tired and a bit saddened. It does appear that this bill, with a third of the legislature signed on as sponsors, will sail into port. Then the somewhat cowardly Gov. Jim Douglas may veto it, may sign it or may let it become law by not acting. He really is being silly about this and seemingly insipid in his avowed wish that people would just leave civil unions in place, go away and be quiet.

It might be close on a veto override, which would take a two-thirds majority (of those present). There would be a level of politicking the state has not seen since 2000. Perhaps a better analogy was the plebiscite on the state lottery in 1976. That is the last such initiative that went to the voters. The current anti-SSM folk are making noises for such a vote, but Vermonters are not Californians and they don't rush or even walk toward the polls for such.

From here, it's very likely that this bill will pass and perhaps even it will become law this session. If the latter happens, the anti-gay types will give new intensity to disgruntled. Frankly, this group may well die off before they develop the humanity and compassion to accept same-sex marriage.

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1 comment:

Ryan said...

Nice round-up. thanks.