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People of Faith Stand Up for Marriage in Maine

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Sep 14, 2009
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Even as anti-gay religious organizations ramp up efforts to rescind legal rights for gay and lesbian families in Maine, the fight has been joined by people of who do not believe that same-sex couples should face different treatment under the law.

A Sept. 7 Associated Press story carried at EDGE reported that a Portland, Maine Catholic church was set to make an additional collection from parishoners in order to help pay for a campaign to convince voters to take away the rights of gay and lesbian families, Proposition 8-style, in the next election.

The funds from the additional collection were to be funneled to anti-gay group Stand for Marriage Maine, a leading organization in the drive to eradicate marriage equality in the state.

Marriage equality for gay and lesbian families was approved by state lawmakers last May.

The effort to convince voters to rescind the rights of their fellow citizens is playing out in a manner similar to last year’s bitter and deeply divisive campaign to promote Proposition 8, the California voter initiative that consumed scores of millions of dollars, much of which was poured into the battle by two major marriage equality opponents: the Roman Catholic church and the Mormon church.

The Mormon church in particular drew scrutiny after the church’s leadership instructed the faithful to support the anti-gay amendment with funds and by volunteering.

Mormon volunteers from across the country poured into California along with the millions raised from coast to coast by adherents of the faith. In the end, Proposition 8 was narrowly approved, marking the first time existing rights had been taken from a minority group through a ballot initiative.

Even as the Catholic church dedicated itself in Maine to a repeat of last year’s blow to gay and lesbian families, money was pouring into Maine from the Mormon church and its membership.

An Aug. 18 article at EDGE recounted that much of the money being funneled into Stand for Marriage Maine has come from a handful of religious sources, including The Knights of Columbus and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), two major players in the California struggle last year.

The EDGE article said, "Most of the money raised came from the National Organization for Marriage ($160,000,) the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland ($100,000,) the Knights of Columbus, a national Catholic fraternal organization ($50,000,) and Focus on the Family’s Maine Marriage Committee ($31,000.)

"Stand for Marriage Maine has hired the California political consulting firm Schubert Flint, which managed Prop. 8, to run the campaign," the EDGE article continued.

"Advocates working to repeal Prop. 8 have raised red flags about Stand for Marriage Maine’s funding sources," the article went on.

"Californians Against Hate founder Fred Karger sent a letter to Maine election officials on Aug. 13 that warned of possible money laundering by the two religious denominations. He contends the Mormon Church is NOM’s largest funding source."

The article quoted Karger as saying in a press release that NOM "sure looks like they are trying to hide the donors in their latest effort to strip away marriage equality."

The article noted that, "NOM’s funding is a closely guarded secret, because it creates separate PACs in each state where it has launched campaigns against same-sex marriage laws.

"Karger has accused NOM of being a ’front’ for the Mormon Church. He accused the church of creating NOM in 2007 just to qualify Prop. 8 for the California ballot."

Pro-marriage group No on 1 Protect Maine Equality has thrown itself into the fight, but does not have the financial wherewithal to match spending from the anti-marriage side, which in California blanketed the airwaves with ads claiming that small children would be forced to learn about same-sex marriage in school unless gays and lesbians lost equal family rights at the ballot box.

Even so, the marriage equality group expressed optimism about the fight ahead.

Jesse Connolly, the group’s campaign manager, said that staff and volunteers had been "working hard night and day to try to defeat the campaign to repeal same-sex marriage."

Added Connolly, "We’re really excited about the level of enthusiasm."

Connolly admitted, "We’re expecting to be heavily outspent in this effort," but added that, "we’re planning on spending the money we need to win this election."

Meantime, people of faith also stood up in defense of the right of gay and lesbian families to marry.

A Friday, Sept. 11 release from Protect Maine Equality reported that the group Catholics for Marriage Equality had spoken out on the issue of the extra collection at Catholic masses in Portland.

The group stated, "Catholics for Marriage Equality calls on its members and all Catholics who share our support for marriage equality to take two peaceful but effective actions in our parishes this Sunday so that the diocese will know it is not speaking for all faithful Catholics."

The group called on Catholics who reject discriminatory legal treatment for gay and lesbian families to contribute not money, but letters of support for gay families when the basket was passed for the additional collection.

"First, instead of money, we urge parishioners who support marriage equality to place a note in the special collection envelope stating that they do not support the bishop’s stance to deprive same-sex couples of the right to civil marriage and will instead donate funds to NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality, which opposes Question 1, or to a charity that is inclusive of all families," the group said.

"Second, we ask supportive Catholics to sign our petition affirming that the Church can define marriage as it wishes for its members but that marriage as a civil right is the prerogative of the state to define," the group added.

The statement traced the origin and rationale for the group. "C4ME exists to give hope to those who are hurt and angry because of our bishop’s determination to overturn the legislature’s passage of marriage equality," the statement said.

"We will disseminate information that is truthful and respectful stating why marriage equality is a matter of civil rights and social justice that Catholics are free to support-indeed, may feel compelled to support as a matter of social conscience and responsible citizenship," the group continued.

A second release on the same day from Protect Maine Equality announced that another denomination, the Unitarian Univeralist church, had also stood up to the attempt to revoke fair and equal treatment before the law for gay and lesbian families.

The group released a statement jointly with the Unitarian Universalist Association’s leader, the Rev. Peter Morales.

"The May 2009 passage of marriage equality legislation in Maine was a historic step towards justice for same-sex couples and their families," the statement declared.

"We owe tremendous thanks to the citizens of Maine, including many Unitarian Universalists, and to their elected officials who supported this legislation.

"But now marriage equality is in danger in Maine," the statement went on.

"I call upon supportive Mainers to reaffirm their commitment to fairness for all families by voting against repeal of the legislation recognizing same-sex marriage."

The Rev. Morales continued in the statement, "I know that Unitarian Universalists in Maine will continue to be at the forefront of the struggle for equality.

"Commitment to the inherent worth and dignity of every person is at the core of Unitarian Universalism, and Unitarian Universalists in Maine have a strong history of support for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender (BGLT) rights.

"In 1996, the Unitarian Universalist Association called for full legal recognition for same-sex couples nationwide, and our faith community has advocated in support of marriage equality ever since," the Rev. Morales noted.

"We will continue this witness in Maine in the coming months."

Added the Rev. Morales, "Unitarian Universalists will stand on the side of love.

"I invite you to stand with us."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network’s Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association’s Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 16:37:00

    Do you really believe that a hateful Catholic zealot would allow a note, in support of gay families, to pass him without destroying it? How can we sue the Catholic church? I am disgusted with their attacks on us. Who the hell do they think they are?


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 16:49:14

    The General Accounting Office has identified 1,138 federal benefits and rights to civil marriage, none of which gays and lesbians have. Who has the right to say that certain "undesirables" have no stabilizing protections. Who has the right to say that children of same-sex parents deserve fewer benefits? The Catholic Church is such a disgrace. Join Americans United for Sparation of church and state before they turn their wrath away from us and start attacking your families for whatever reasons they deem necessary. I implore the straight community to take a stand against these NOM-skulls.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 17:15:17

    Can’t you just see Maggie Gallagher during the Salem witch trials, standing in judgement over some victim du jour with her long sleeved, walnut juice dyed, black Pilgrim’s dress, save the white collar and cuffs? Her puritanical expression, worn loosely over too tight facial muscles, is a face that has appeared to many throughout the centuries only now, she is the one donning the face of the unmerciful inquisitor. Those who felt it was their calling to burn witches in Salem were so convinced that what they were doing was correct and in line with God’s wishes. Little did they know it was a fungus growing in the wheat that caused these "devilish" seizures. The religious hysteria that ensued, due to these ergot poisonings lead, to the deaths of many, in the name of God, of course. For all the pain she’s caused, for all of the slanderous accusations of bestialitypolygamypedophilianecrophiliaburglary and any other negatives conjured up to supplement their weak case against our community, she and her brood will be held accountable. Both gay and straight people need to stand up to these hypocrites. Today gays are the target, tomorrow it’s whomever else is deemed, "undesirable".


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 17:15:21

    How many of you would like to be assigned to be raised by homosexuals? No choice whatsoever, just thrown in that "family" without a feminine or masculine personage? How many of you would get rid of your mother today, or father? Never have their influence. This is not about psuedo rights for the sexually confused. This is about the children. Nature discriminated against you first.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 17:28:10

    How many of you would like to be reared in a family that has nothing better to do than attack fellow Americans? How is it, "showing love" to strip families of legal protections? Don’t children of gays deserve stability too? Our commandment was to love, not exclude a segment of people from equal legal protection. Jesus never talked about gays, nor are gays mentioned in the Ten Commandments, nor in the Summary of the Law. No prophet expounds upon gays. It really wasn’t that concerning in early churches. Being judgmental is the worse offense. That’s spoken of so often that it would seem to be the more important lesson for us. It’s easy to love one of your own. If you merely love those who love you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? For even the very sinners love their lovers---those who love them.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 17:31:33

    Still I Rise: You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops. Weakened by my soulful cries. Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own back yard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise. (Dr. Maya Angelou)


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 17:56:52

    Let’s create a board game and name it, "Referendum". With just one roll of the dice, rights could be stripped away, NOM-skulls could land in a prized square, a "Family Values" Republican could go down in flames, or an "activist judge" could be appointed to the bench. Oh! You landed on a slippery slope! Guess it’s bestiality for you! Put that sheep down! Roll the dice, win a beauty pageant. Roll the dice, your crown gets taken away! Slippery slope, oh!, polygamy, who knew? Roll the dice, the Bishops and priests line up to form a wall, ohhhh, another scandal! Get out of Jail free card. Procure property in Iowa and marry your partner, oh! Nom-skulls show up dressed as Pilgrims breathing fire and beating their sanctimonious breasts on your lawn. When is this game going to be over? Sincerely, 1EqualityUSA


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 18:18:32

    60 Minutes did a piece about gays in which twins were featured. (Google video 60 Minutes, Gay, twins.) This segment, headed by Leslie Stahl, spoke of physiological components to one’s sexual orientation. Studies are being conducted about orientation being influenced by the mother’s own immune system. The more boys a mother has, the greater the chances that one of her youngest will be gay. (Population control? I wonder.) The mother’s immune system, subjected to the "y" chromosome, sees it as a foreign substance, so that by the 3rd or 4th male, physiological responses are often set into motion, a combination of genetics, hormones, and immunological systems are being studied, as to why some turn out gay. There’s so much we have yet to learn about this. I would like to know what modern day Christians think about this research and how that effects their opinions on those of us born gay. These boys are so young and innocent and natural. I cannot comprehend anyone being able to point a judgmental finger at these youngsters. Back in Biblical times, had they known, what we are just now beginning to comprehend, perhaps Paul (Saul) would have had a deeper understanding. Perhaps any religion that discriminates against gays would benefit from this research. Christ Jesus must have known, as He stayed so silent on the subject of gays. Google video this segment. It’s fascinating.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 18:20:01

    I find it interesting that Homosexuals call it "anti-gay" when in reality it is actually "pro-traditional marriage". Maine, just like California will let the voters speak and there will be an amendment just like prop-8 passed. Homosexuals can’t attempt to redefine marriage and not expect to be pummeled by voters. It’s about the kids folks. Every kid has a right to a father and a mother. Why are homosexuals trying to strip rights from children?


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 19:14:15

    As for harming marriage, similar arguments were shot down in Massachusetts. Your moral beliefs cannot strip others of contractual protections. We should not have any "onus" or burden, or any other hoop to jump through to justify our existence. We are American citizens and many disagree with your beliefs. There are over 1300 rights that we are being denied because of other peoples’ beliefs. This persecution has gone on long enough and we are not tolerating "outsider status" any longer, just to satisfy your comfort level. The government’s ENDORSEMENT of one group’s values, especially if others that don’t hold those views, is COERCION. Your unfounded fears didn’t prove to have a legitimate secular purpose and it failed, hence, gay marriage.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 20:47:20

    It’s interesting how pro-gay advocates cite the Savior / Scriptures as having no reference to morality, fornication, adultery and homosexuality. Sodom and Gomorrah ring a bell anyone? You don’t have to look too hard...


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 20:49:52

    What about the children. Every kid deserves a mother and father. What is wrong with protecting that?


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 20:51:36

    How are "Gay" couples having children these days anyway? From what I can remember about the Birds and Bees class at school, home and in life it takes a man and a woman to have children.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 22:27:42

    I dot have children, many of the couples that I’ve known for years have no children. The two couples that did have them are doing very well. Stirring up fear to bolster your weak stance is typical, boring, and old. NOM-skulls just don’t like a certain strand of Americans and era doing their best to oppress what they consider to be "undesirables". If we are the target today, who’s next?


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-14 22:32:14

    Studies have shown that couples fare better than single people, when it comes to health, wealth, stability, and fidelity. If pairing is so good for people, denying gays the right to pair off in contractual unions seems counterintuitive, even cruel. If marriage is good for couples, it’s good for society as a whole. Should those born gay be ineligible for such a healthy, stabilizing, happy relationship? Equal means equal. Damage done to the sanctity of marriage has been done long before gays opted for equality. If NOM really was concerned about the sanctity of marriage, more emphasis would be placed on protection of women from abuse, infidelity, spur of the moment marriages from youngsters with no impulse control, divorce, and on and on. Most of the gay couples I know have been together for years and years. They don’t stray. They work hard, pay for college, pay taxes, vote, buy houses, start businesses, create art, save lives, and genuinely enjoy their pursuit of happiness. Who has the right to say that these American citizens are not worthy of committed marriages? Will the rancor subside when it is proven, beyond a doubt, that there is a genetic component, a biological component to one’s orientation? Will the judgmental finger pointing and painful rhetoric cease? Who has the right to say which families will have benefits and which will not? Who has the right to say that the children of same sex parents deserve fewer stabilizing protections? People are gay and that is not going to change. Would you rather people stayed in the closet and lived an outward lie? That’s dishonest. It’s possible, but dishonest. Be yourself, your truthful self, just as God made you and don’t let someone else’s discomfort about your difference make you lie to the world. Be honest and treat others well. Have integrity and show patience when angry, homophobic people taunt. Fear is their weapon of choice. Disprove it with civility.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-15 00:13:26

    "What about the children?" must be the new battle cry for NOM since all of their other arguments fell flat. Well, what about the children? You must be very naive if you think that just because you’re successful at stripping some gay Americans rights away, that gays will suddenly decide that they won’t have children. If you hypocrites really cared about children, you would want them to have all of the stabilizing benefits afforded to all couples.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-15 08:34:45

    "I find it interesting that Homosexuals call it "anti-gay" when in reality it is actually "pro-traditional marriage"." Actually, you have it completely backwards. Allowing gay people marriage equality doesn’t change a single thing for straight people - it doesn’t change who they can marry, it doesn’t change how they marry, it doesn’t change their options of how to conduct themselves within their own marriage. It doesn’t change how religiously (or even how seriously) they can choose to take it. It doesn’t change a single aspect of their marriage. Denying marriage to same sex couples doesn’t do a thing to protect traditional marriages. In fact, one thing it really does is prove to young heterosexuals that you can have successful adult relationships without marriage, and it adds an unpleasant political overlay to what should be a personal choice. Anyone whose principle enjoyment of their marriage comes from being able to look at their neighbor and croon "Nyah, nyah, nyah" is hardly being Christian - and is pretty screwed up in the first place.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-15 11:40:34

    The General Accounting Office has identified 1,138 federal benefits and rights to civil marriage, none of which gays and lesbians have. Logically, how is continuing to ban gay families from equal rights going to stop them from having children? They will have children whether or not they are covered by protections enjoyed by heterosexual couples. All you do when you ban gays from these protections is make it unsafe for "these" children. Is that your desire? Is that what you hope to achieve? Hypocrites! If you really cared about children, you would care for all children. You make me sick!


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-15 11:42:44

    It’s easy to love one of your own. If you merely love those who love you, what quality of credit and thanks is that to you? For even the very sinners love their lovers---those who love them. Remember, love the bigot, hate the bigotry...


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-19 23:34:34

    Hell Ya at leas some churches stand on the side of love!!! Thank you Unitarian Universalists and Progressive Catholics! It’s kind of ironic, in a sad way, that the Church of "Jesus Christ" of LDS is the one who are trying to strip the rights away from loving individuals who’s only goal is to proclaim their commitment to each other. Um wasn’t Jesus the one that hung out with prostitutes and helped and care for those who no one else would, and wasn’t he all about love too? or do i have the wrong jesus here.....? But hey i just feel bad for their leaders for being so fearful which only leads to their actions manifesting in hate and discrimination. and i say LEADERS because i know that not all mormons and catholics support such distorted efforts. For you can hate us or love us, but fuck, there’s no way in hell you’re going to stop us!!! Love will conquer all. encouragement,praise, & applause to all those couples fighting for their rights and for those who are brave and compassionate enough to stand by them in their fight. The future is on your side, forgive those who hate, and give love and thanks to those who lend a loving hand.


  • Anonymous, 2009-09-27 08:31:23

    "Anyone who knows history, particularly the history of Europe, will, I think, recognize that the domination of education or of government by any one particular religious faith is never a happy arrangement for the people." (Eleanor Roosevelt)


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