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Wow! It sure has been a tumultuous few months up here in the great state of Maine. Locked in a heated battle to squeeze votes from the squishy middle, the NO on 1 campaign and the Yes on 1 campaign have gone into full battle mode.

Yesterday the Yes on 1 folks couldn't back away fast enough from Paul Madore and the Maine Grassroots Coalition who appeared at a poorly attended press conference to spread their message of intolerance towards all things gay:

A group opposing gay marriage, called the Maine Grassroots Coalition, warned the effort to legalize marriage is part of a radical agenda to promote homosexuality and indoctrinate people to think its normal.

More anti-gay fervor below the fold...

Although I really don't want to, I am going to link to  Americans for Truth. This organization is one of the vilest of them all, spewing some of the worst condemnations and lies about gay people that you will find anywhere. Peter Labarbera is the President of Americans for Truth and he was in attendance at Mr. Madore's little hate-fest press conference. Seems these people don't like being shunned from the spotlight. There is definitely a bit of division in the hate ranks just before the election.

Last night there was an awesome debate at the University of Southern Maine in Portland between Marc Mutty Brian Souchet of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM)representing their side and Mary Benauto, Civil Rights Director of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) representing our side. The video (which I can't seem to embed) is definitely worth a look. Mary, in her quiet, unassuming way demolished this man - chewed him up and spit him out. His whole argument consisted of "radical redefinition of marriage," and "it's not dicrimination if it's different." Mary had a few great retorts such as,"maine's gay and lesbian citizens aren't trying to 'radically redefine marriage.' They wish to join marriage." Or, responding to Mr. Souchet's constant referral to "the purpose of marriage is procreation," her example of the two 85 year old nursing home residents who can marry and enjoy all the rights and priveleges of marriage. To which Mr. Souchet replied, "Well that's an exception to the rule."

The debate was originally scheduled between Mary Bonauto and Marc Mutty, spokesman for the Catholic church and chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine. No one seems to know what happened to him, except that NOM seems to have taken control of the Yes on 1 campaign. They are after all their single largest contributor. Just yesterday a federal judge denied NOm in it's attempt to shield it's donors from funneling money through them (Mormon church anyone?) into the coffers of Yes on 1.
 
But I digress. I wanted to share a letter to the editor that I sent in and was published in my local paper, The Brunswick Times Record.

Dear Editor,

In the past several months we have seen a great variety of letters to the editor regarding the issue of marriage equality. Some of them have been articulate, passionate, and sincere, some of them have been inchoate and rambling, and some of them start off innocently enough yet end in a big heaping pile of bigotry.

You know the ones. The writer begins with the qualifier, "I have nothing against gay people, but...." Or, "I have friends who are gay, but..." And the perennial favorite, "I think same-sex couples should have all the same rights as married couples, but marriage is a sacred union of one man and one woman."

Sacred union. It has quite a ring to it. "Marriage is a sacred union of one man and one woman." And how do they purport to know this? Because, as they will tell you over and over, their Bible tells them so. Yes, the same Bible that tells them to go out and stone adulterers to death. The same Bible that admonishes in Leviticus 24:16 to "put to death he who blasphemes the name of the Lord."

Funny, I can’t recall anyone being stoned to death lately, and I can name at least fifty people off the top of my head who have committed adultery. And how can we forget the prohibitions against eating pork, cutting ones hair, eating - wait for it - lobster, or wearing polyester and cotton pants. The list goes on and the admonitions are silly. But there they are, right in the Bible.

So here we have the Catholic church, and other denominations, using verses from Leviticus to strengthen their arguments against gay people participating fully in society. Yet when it is pointed out to them how hypocritical it is to cherry pick verses that support one’s prejudices while ignoring verses that do otherwise, they tell us Leviticus’ admonitions were the laws of Moses meant for the Jews. Furthermore, when  Jesus died on the cross the slate was wiped clean and those laws no longer apply. Then they go right  back to Leviticus and cherry pick more of their favorite verses about abominations and putting homosexuals to death.

It would appear that only gay people are subject to the "laws of Moses for the Jews."

This whole notion of my life, my happiness, my love being subject to the religious beliefs of others fills me with anger and sadness. I cannot for the life of me wrap my brain around the fact that there are people out there who don’t want for me that which they wish for themselves.

We have been together for twenty years, and the love I have for my partner is deep and profound. The commitment we have for one another, even in the absence of marriage, is strong, resilient, and everlasting. We are good neighbors, we pay our taxes, we run a business, and we are close to our families. How can there be people out there who can’t - who won’t - understand that our marrying would strengthen the institution of marriage, not weaken it.  How is it better for society to prevent my relationship from benefiting from the stability that marriage brings? How is less marriage better than more?

I know there are people out there who will never budge. For them it is black and white. Their Bible and their priest, reverend, or minister tells them that homosexuality is a sin, homosexuals are going to hell, and there will be NO marriage for the gays - ever. These people will vote Yes on 1 and there is no convincing them otherwise. Fair enough.

The people I want to reach out to are the ones who are deeply religious, yet torn between reconciling what they hear in their church with what they intuitively feel is a matter of fairness and equality. Maybe they know someone who is gay, has a gay child, or someone in their family is gay. If this describes you, then please hear me out.

If you can find it in your heart to remember the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," then please vote No on 1. I and many thousands of committed same-sex couples in this state would be forever grateful. We could look forward to a day when we wouldn’t have to enlist an army of lawyers to try and protect our relationships, the children of gay couples would be covered by either parent’s health insurance, life-long committed couples wouldn’t be ripped apart in emergency rooms. In short, we could look forward to the day when we would  have all the rights and responsibilities that go with civil marriage.

If you find that you just can’t vote for marriage equality because your religious beliefs  won’t allow it, yet you are torn because of your sense of fairness, then I implore you, please leave the first referendum question on the ballot blank. It will solve your conundrum, and I and thousands of others will be eternally grateful. We will not forget.  

Sincerely,

Mark Fish

I have gotten many calls from area residents and they have all been positive. After donating, working, and calling, I feel that baring my soul and laying it out there is all I have left. This is going to be a razor thin election and I need to feel as if I did everything I could within my means. It is hugely important that the forces of bigotry and hate are defeated here on Tuesday. It will be the first time that the people of a state have voted to affirm marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.

If you haven't done so, please  give what you can.  As we go down the stretch to election day on Tuesday, every dollar counts.

me and Russell

Originally posted to Rumarhazzit on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 06:37 PM PDT.

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