Because it bears repeating

Before I launch into one of my usual tirades about opposition to marriage equality here in Maine, I'm going to give a shout-out to The Critter, who managed to be almost entirely fuss-free for the first four plane rides of his life. Give it up for The Critter, everyone!!

Anyhow, our recent trip to my home state (proudly the first to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage, for those of you curious why I will never, ever move back) made me glad to live in a state that may yet treat The Better Half and me like full-fledged human beings. (Since we're on the subject, why not go here and make a contribution?) The Kennebec Journal has a whole mess of articles about the fight for marriage equality in Maine, and I'd like to mention a couple of things about the opposition.

From their summary of the fight so far (which doesn't really have any new information), I would like to highlight one thing:
Melcher said two things have struck him as somewhat surprising about the Maine campaign.

One is the heavy involvement of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, which took up a second collection plate at churches to raise money to repeal gay marriage.

In case you weren't aware of it -- yes. Yes, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland recently instructed all the churches in the diocese to take up a second collection on a recent Sunday for the express purpose of fighting the civil rights of gays and lesbians. A diocese that is closing many of the churches in the state because of low attendance has decided that it can do without gays, lesbians and their loved ones. Being as it were that I don't show up at parties when I'm not invited, I think it's safe to say that I won't be bothering to attend any Catholic masses in Maine for the next ever. Since I'm trying to keep things civil around here, I'll leave my comments at that.

However, these days the other loud voice in opposition to treating gays and lesbians like human beings belongs to the Rev. Bob Emrich. (I'm sure going to miss you, Michael Heath.) From the KJ profile:
On a beautiful Sunday, in a small white church in rural Maine, the Rev. Bob Emrich began his sermon by recalling a question he'd been asked by a television reporter.

"Is this a religious issue?" Emrich was asked.

Emrich, a major player in the effort to overturn the state's gay-marriage law, said at that moment, he didn't have a good answer to the question.

But on this Sunday, he used the question as a way to share his belief that religion shouldn't be confined by the walls of a church.

"It's sort of sad the question even needs to be asked," he said to the 70 or so gathered. "Every part of life is defined by your relationship to God."

No. No, what's sort of sad is that, in the United States of America, people think that their religious beliefs should have any bearing on the civil rights of people who don't share them. Actually, that's really sad. There are plenty of people who think their lives are just dandy without defining them in religious terms whatsoever. Every part of Emrich's life might be defined by his relationship to God, but I'd prefer it if said relationship would butt out of my ability to share a life and a home with the consenting adult of my choice. The appalling arrogance of the fundamentalist Christian movement never ceases to amaze me.

All of this makes me incredibly grateful for my own faith community, and the voice of my bishop. Still, given that the opposition to marriage equality is coming almost entirely from religious institutions and people, it's no surprise that gay and lesbian people often choose to leave the church. Hard to blame them, really.


  1. Marriage is a religious invention. Secular government should get out of religious marriage. Let people be married according to the rite of their choice; the First Church of Rodney would be happy to marry anyone, for example. But have government only recognize a civil union and leave the marriage bit up to the religious authorities.

    A good example is religious divorce; divorce on the government's part in the US is a civil issue and isn't complicated in the slightest by religious authorites. Catholics and Orthodox Jews, just to name a couple of religious groups, have different laws for divorce than the government. One can have a civil divorce and be married in the eyes of the religious authorities, and vice versa. Why not have this arrangement on the entrance rite as well?

  2. I am all for religious institutions setting whatever standard they want for marriages (or whatever they want to call it). Fine. Sure. Go nuts.

    On the other hand, I am wholly uninterested in having the beliefs of others impinge on my civil rights.

  3. Something that occurs to me lately is just how often gay marriage opponents invoke the founding of the country. Can you please tell me why it is that these guys never seem to remember that the Founding Fathers really were pretty big on the whole separation of church and state thing? If you want to argue for religious laws being enshrined in the nation's laws, go ahead, but invoking the Founding Fathers is rather silly. Can't you just say the Founding Fathers had it wrong, as they did on some other issues (3/5ths compromise, anyone?).

  4. Gadfly John's point is one of my favorites: churches make their own marriage rules, but the government has to have something that is the same for everyone and not separate but equal. As long as government recognizes any marriage it must recognize all consenting adult marriage.
    But Elizabeth's point is also excellent: Founding Fathers had slaves. Founding Fathers believed women should not vote. Founding Fathers did not say a word about marriage, and neither should our government. I don't particularly understand why married couples get rights other people don't.
    Further back, though, the Biblical stand against homosexuality is not a Christian one (as much is Christian is someone who believes in Jesus as the Son of God). Jesus said nothing about sexuality. He said the codes in Leviticus did not apply to Christians. He said that part of the Old Testament that refers to homosexuality (and is often mistranslated anyway) is moot for his contemporary times. If we ignore, in our legal code, the part of the Bible that says stone to death adulterers; if we ignore in our legal code the part of the Bible that says stone to death anyone who wears clothes with two different cloth fibers in it; if we ignore in our legal code the part of the Bible that says when your husband dies before you have a male heir you have to sleep with all his brothers until you get a boy; then why are we basing law on the one bit in there that says you can't sleep with another man in your wife's bed? btw, I think that's just about propriety not homosexuality---I read it to say, for heaven's sake, find another place for that 'cuz it's not polite to your wife. No wife? No issue.
    But my biggest problem with the whole post, Dan, is that a Church should not be allowed to collect for a political issue. That should mean their privileged status as an apolitical body should be revoked.
    Small wonder I left the Catholic Church a long, long time ago.

  5. As I've mentioned before, the irony of remarks like Emrich's is that my relationship with God as a Christian is what led to my acceptance of gays as part of His creation. But that is beside the point you're making, Dan--and you are correct.


  6. And yay for Owen!!!