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Book of Matthew: A response to Maine’s Question 1

Published: November 6, 2009
Section: Opinions


I originally planned to write a fun column this week—a cute little satirical piece featuring Barack Obama, Joe Lieberman and questionable Halloween costumes. It might have even been funny. Occasionally, my obscure political jokes do hit their mark.

But I don’t feel like trying to be funny right now. There are two numbers obstructing my vision; two numbers that are pushing all other creative thoughts from my mind.

53-47.

That was the final “score,” you could say, of the vote on Question 1 in Maine. Fifty-three percent of voters chose to repeal the state’s six-month-old same-sex marriage law on Tuesday, while only 47 percent chose to uphold it.

So close. Only six percentage points. But that was all it took for thousands of Maine residents to have their hopes of equal rights dashed upon the rocks.

Very little has been made of this referendum. The news media, it seems, prefers to focus all of its analytical power on the other elections that were held that day—like the governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey, or the special Congressional election in New York’s 23rd district. I suppose they are more interesting stories to cover. They deal with colorful political personalities and the possibility of a Republican/Democratic civil war (depending on who you ask).

Where is the in-depth coverage of this important civil rights issue? Am I missing something?

Some might ask me why I care; why I, unaffected as I am by this vote, should feel so distraught about its result. After all, no one is trying to take away my rights. No one is trying to stop me from getting married. I’m a straight white male, the most privileged class in the US of A!

I care nonetheless. I reject the notion that we must only concern ourselves with issues that affect us personally. And the truth is, we all have a stake in the push for same-sex marriage whether we acknowledge it or not. Any time we allow the majority to single out and subjugate a minority group, we are, in effect, subjecting our society to tyranny by the majority.

Could I have done more to stop this injustice? Yes. Should I have done more? Absolutely. I can’t stop thinking about all the citizens who were not called out to vote, and all the voters who were not persuaded to choose equality. I could have helped to shrink the six-point margin of defeat, maybe even erase it all together.

I’m sorry for the 47 percent of Maine voters who wanted this so badly—the gays and lesbians who wanted the freedom to marry, and their straight allies who wanted to give it to them.

As for the 53 percent who stopped them…

Let me just say that for as long as I live I will never fully understand what motivated you people to vote the way you did. You didn’t just participate in the democratic process. You voted against your fellow citizens; people who are just like you in every way except their sexual orientation.

Why did you do it? What gave you the right to dictate how they should be allowed to live their lives?

Was it because the Church told you to? Was it the kind old priest, who, despite his own personal transgressions, insisted that the kindness mandated by the teachings of Christ only apply to those who were “moral” enough to receive it?

Was it because you thought you were defending “the family?” Did you buy into the ridiculous notion that two men or two women cannot possibly raise children as well as heterosexual couples can?

Or was it simply because of some immature revulsion to the idea of two men spending their lives together? (Two women are OK, of course, because otherwise that would mean the downfall of the porn industry that you hypocrites so vigorously support).

Grow up. Seriously. The rest of us are tired of you.

Did it ever occur to you, as you stepped into the voting booth with pen and ballot in hand, to accept your fellow men and women for who they are and get on with your lives?

Apparently not.

I will say this. Amid all the bad news there is one small consolation to be found. There will be more elections. There will be more chances for states to reclaim equal rights for all of their citizens. This is not over.

But you would think that in a nation supposedly founded upon the principle of equality for all, such a long struggle would be unnecessary. You would think that freedom loving Americans would be only too willing to extend their freedoms to their neighbors.

Wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, with every passing election the phrase, “all men are created equal,” sounds less like a moral truth and more like a bad joke.