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Portland Press Herald’s Dueling Referendum Columns

Yesterday must have been a “fun day at the office” for the Portland Press Herald staff, as the paper published 2 columns on the same topic- but on opposite sides of the fence.

First, there was this from Greg Kesich entitled SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: ‘No’ vote would uphold traditional Maine values. Some excerpts:

Both sides in the same-sex marriage debate can agree on one thing: This November’s referendum seeking to overturn Maine’s marriage equality law will be decided on voters’ deeply held values.

For those who believe that you should live and let live, treat others as you want to be treated and that you should keep government out of private lives, the only vote can be “no.”

Last spring, Maine became the fifth state to legally recognize marriages between partners of the same sex. It was the first to pass it through the legislative process without being forced into it by the courts.

That’s important, because a change this big should not be imposed from above. Maine’s Constitution puts the ultimate authority in the hands of the people, so this year we will be in the position of asking a primarily heterosexual electorate to pass judgment on whether same-sex couples should be able to forge legal relationships that will recognize them and their children as families.

Sure, this is new. But the values behind it – fairness, privacy, tolerance of people who are different than you – are not new and have long traditions in Maine.

The Legislature and the governor did the right thing when they passed this law and Maine voters should do the right thing as well. In November, we should vote “no” on Question 1.

There are many beautifully made points regarding marriage and recognition in the piece; I recommend a full reading of the piece.

Below the fold, a column from the other side of the debate by a card-carrying member of the Mike Heath fan club…Then this from Kesich’s coworker MD Harmon, a long opponent of equal rights, entitled SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: ‘Yes’ vote will correct lawmakers’ mistake. A quick blip:

When the issue of same-sex marriage arose in Augusta, a compromise was offered. Rep. Leslie Fossel, R-Alna, proposed a domestic partner registry that would have offered protections and benefits similar to those obtained in marriage without transforming the age-old institution itself.

The proposal sank without a trace, making inevitable a statewide people’s veto referendum on whether we will redefine marriage so that it no longer includes either a husband or, alternately, a wife. And thus no longer also includes either a father or, alternately, a mother, when children are involved.

There’s much more to Harmon’s editorial, but I want to focus on one piece of it first.

The allegation that the “compromise bill” did not get full consideration is not even slightly true. The Fossel mess, LD 1118, was given the same consideration as Senator Dennis Damon’s marriage equality bill, LD 1020, which eventually sailed through the Legislative process and was quickly signed into Maine law by Governor Baldacci.

When its sponsor, Les Fossel, was for whatever reason NOT available to read his own bill (!!!) LD 1118 to the Judicial Committee at the Augusta public hearing, it was read aloud by Senator Damon for the absent representative.

It was discussed at the hearing and later by the Judicial Committee at the Statehouse, where it failed decisively by vote to be recommended/come out of committee.

But that didn’t end it. Different representatives and senators discussed and tried AGAIN to re-introduce this bill’s essential elements during the debates and votes for LD 1020.

But there was just very little support for this bill.

I know- I was there and bore witness to every MINUTE OF THE PROCESS. So don’t tell ME that this poor bit of legislation didn’t get its fair amount of time and consideration; it did- and then some.

Harmon continues with the “carbon-copy thinking” for which his ilk are so well-known:

Social science confirms that wisdom: Children need both fathers and mothers, and the fact that some couples are either intentionally or unintentionally childless means precisely nothing for the vast majority of couples that include offspring.

… a marriage between a man and a woman is a family-building voyage into the future, launching generations to come.

It is no wonder that proponents of same-sex marriage fight so hard to keep their campaigns in the hands of the courts, or failing that, in the control of a few legislators more easily swayed than the entire body of citizens. After all, in no case yet has same-sex marriage come up for a statewide vote and been approved.

How, proponents ask, can same-sex marriage affect others? Consider that if the veto effort fails, we will no longer require that marriages be composed of husbands and wives and mothers and fathers, but “Spouse 1 and Spouse 2,” or “Parent 1 and Parent 2.”

And that’s not marriage, but something entirely different.

UGH. Honestly, I apologize for the blatant bigotry of some of my fellow Mainers, who have so far “jumped the shark” that known documented TRUTH is tossed aside for the sake of making their   weak points.

Lemme again discuss the numbers regarding those “few legislators”- or even better, let’s get those numbers from EQME’s Betsy Smith:

The legislative- uh, the judiciary committee… we needed 7 votes to win; we got 11.

In the Senate, we needed 18 votes; we got 21.

In the House, we needed 76 votes; we got 89.

This was a perfect example of how the people lead and the leaders followed.

These numbers weren’t even “squeakers”- these were all solid numbers of support.

But this sort of editorial dishonesty displayed by Harmon is “part and parcel” for someone who has long been known to be a Mike Heath supporter. This from 1998, when instead of telling readers to vote “yes”, he was telling them to vote “no” against gay rights:

The effort to defeat the ”people’s veto” referendum Feb. 10 to overturn Maine’s new gay rights law is now in full cry. So let’s look at what we’re being told – and not being told – about it.

First, we can learn something from the intense personal attacks on Michael Heath, head of the Christian Civic League and the point man in the veto campaign.

Heath, who is one of the most civilized, honorable, decent guys I know, is undergoing (as he knew he would) the most vicious, dishonorable, deceitful campaign against his reputation, character and sincere beliefs that I have ever seen anywhere on any political issue.

His basic beliefs are in the absolute mainstream of his faith’s teachings and practice, not only now but historically. Yet he – and by extension everyone who holds those beliefs – is being not merely criticized, but demonized.

Speaking of Mike, he has switched gears this week away from blaming the rainy summer weather on “Teh Evul Gayz” (as the weather has been REMARKABLY hot and humid for almost a week now!) to instead- I kid you not!-compare Portland’s graffiti problem to same sex marriage.

Some bits of his latest unhinged rantings, entitled: “The Handwriting On The Wall”.

Those who stroll through the streets of Portland today will see many buildings marred with graffiti. Five years ago it was rare.  At first, there were a few sporadic cases, a solitary scrawl on a backstreet wall. Now graffiti is in every cross street and lane, and even in the Old Port, the most beautiful part of the city.

By now many readers are wondering why I am so concerned about the plague of graffiti in our cities. I am concerned because there is a close parallel between graffiti and same sex marriage. Both are warning signs that our society is very sick indeed, and may be entering its final crisis.

Graffiti was once called vandalism, named for the barbarian hordes which sacked Rome. Similarly, same sex marriage was once called perversion, a term which literally means turning away from the truth.  Today same sex marriage is called a “civil right” a misperception spread by gay radicals, with the help of the liberal establishment. In our politically-correct society, we do not use the words ‘vandalism’ or ‘perversion,’  because we do not want to offend those in positions of power and authority.

Yet the truth remains – graffiti can never be art. In fact, graffiti performs the opposite function of art. Unlike art, which uplifts and ennobles the viewer, graffiti obscures and effaces what is  noble in man, and in the process,  demoralizes a city.  

Similarly, same sex marriage performs the opposite function of marriage. Where marriage is for procreation and the education of children, same sex marriage produces no children, and misleads the young regarding the most basic fact of marriage, that marriage is between one man and one woman. For that reason, same sex marriage will eventually destabilize society, just as true marriage shores up and strengthens society.

Heath REALLY NEEDS that vacation to Tanzania…, especially if he wants to be well rested and in good shape for when His Holiness The Peter comes to town!

All I can think is Mike Heath believes that if one throws enough sh*t at a wall, eventually something will stick…

Good luck with that.

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