Gay Marriage was defeated in Maine yesterday, but I think the message for Catholics is not that this vote defended traditional marriage. The lesson is all about how far right wing Catholic voices will take their lies. The following article from Right Wing Watch clearly demonstrates how lies are routinely used to further the traditional marriage cause. Marc Mutty presents a very sympathetic take on the idea of civil unions. Unfortunately for him, the people he represents, including the Roman Catholic Church, were doing everything they could in the State of Washington to kill civil unions with full marriage rights at the exact time Mutty is extolling them in Maine. Referendum 71 passed in Washington in spite of Catholic opposition.
Mutty's lies about his sympathy for gay couples and his endorsement of civil unions could very well have been the excuse undecided Maine Catholics needed to support Prop 1. Back in 2003 and 2004, Marc Mutty led the Diocese's opposition to all Maine civil union legislation. It would have been very easy for Maine voters to think Mutty spoke for the diocese, and that the diocese now had no problem with civil unions, because when Mutty isn't the spokesman for Stand For Marriage Maine, he is the official spokesman for the Diocese and has been for years.
In Maine, A Duplicitous Show of Sympathy for Same-Sex Couples
Right Wing Watch 10/18/09
"Disingenuous" doesn't begin to describe the performance by anti-equality leader Marc Mutty's recent performance at a debate on Question 1, the effort to overturn Maine's new marriage equality law. (You can watch the entire debate courtesy of Pam's House Blend here.)
In response to heartbreaking stories about gay partners denied access to a sick or dying partner or otherwise abused by lack of legal protections, Mutty presented himself as deeply sympathetic, and supportive of providing couples with legal protections through enhanced domestic partnership legislation:
What our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters look for when they speak to us in their commercials or they do presentations about all of the various injustices that they have suffered because they don't have marriage, we would say, fundamentally, we agree with you, there's been injustices, there's been wrongs that need to be righted. However, it is totally unnecessary for marriage to be redefined in order for them to have those benefits. There are alternatives, and those alternatives I think we're all familiar with, enhanced domestic partner legislation, and other like arrangements can be made that do not fundamentally change the definition of marriage but yet provides those same benefits that they seek. And I fail to see how those benefits would not be available through these alternative arrangements as well as they would through marriage and I think that is the ultimate compromise...(about 16:15 on the video)
Mutty made this point several times during the debate. In response to a question about "enhanced domestic partner legislation," Mutty enthusiastically endorsed domestic partnerships and civil unions as ways to right the wrongs suffered by gay couples:
"...there are options available to render right what has been wrong in the past, the example that Shenna presents to us, which is a tear jerker for all of us, that people who love each other who've been together can't have access to each other when the one is in the hospital, all the other examples she gave are certainly things we're very sympathetic to, but again all those things can be acquired through other arrangements, and again, enhanced domestic partnership legislation, a number of other options, civil unions is certainly an option that will provide all those same benefits, yet recognize that the two relationships are fundamentally if nothing else biologically very different. (about 34:30 on the video)
Now. For those who haven't been following the campaign to overturn Maine's marriage equality law, Mutty is directing the anti-equality forces on loan from, and on orders from, Bishop Richard Malone of the Roman Catholic diocese of Portland, which has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign. (550,000 came from Catholic sources, some of which have not been identified.)
Mutty and his boss are trying very hard to convince Maine voters that there's nothing anti-gay about stripping legal protections from same-sex couples and their families. And so, at the Lewiston debate, Mutty bent over backwards to appear reasonable and sympathetic by assuring voters that the injustices suffered by same-sex couples would be easy to fix with civil unions or enhanced domestic partnerships. But how can Mutty say any of this with a straight face -- or expect to maintain a shred of credibility -- when he knows the Catholic bishops are dead-set against domestic partnerships and civil unions?
Bishops around the country are opposing domestic partnership laws. Washington state's Catholic bishops are urging voters to reject the state's newly strengthened domestic partnership law, which is on the ballot in November. Earlier this year, the Diocese of Santa Fe opposed and killed domestic partnership legislation in New Mexico. In March, the Bay Area Reporter wrote that "bishops in Hawaii, New Mexico, North Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, and other states continued to franchise a 'pastoral message' – too similar to be coincidental – opposing not only same-sex marriage, but civil unions and domestic partnerships."
Where is the fully informed Catholic conscience in this charade of Marc Mutty's? Is he too nothing more than one of Bishop Malone's self described Catholics? I wonder if Mutty sleeps well at night. I wonder if Bishop Malone does.
Mutty's lies about civil unions and feigned sympathy for gay injustice probably did help the traditional marriage folks win in Maine. Just as not using the term marriage probably helped the gay partnership folks win in Washington. Which leads me to wonder just what the Catholic Church and other social conservatives are defending. Is it just this term 'marriage'?
Maybe this became true in Maine as a last ditch strategy, but not according to the USCCB, which has consistently opposed any partnered rights for gays, and opposed all anti discrimination legislation. Freedom of religious expression is seen as more important than protecting or extending individual human rights. I guess this is really important when your official teachings create any number of second class groups of humanity.
I don't think one can escape from the understanding that in the Catholic ecclesiastical world the only good gay is a self hating closeted gay who rejects any notion of personal love. The hierarchy teach and act as if they truly do believe that God did, in point of fact, make a big mistake when it comes to homosexuals. God somehow created a disordered sub group of humanity. The Church seems bound and determined to point this out and legislate this fact--even if it means lies about their own positions, lies from clergy about their own orientations and sexuality, and the insistence that all other gays live the same celibate lies--oops I meant lives.
The Maine vote is a large dose of another kind of official Catholic truth. That truth is it's perfectly acceptable to foster lies and purposefully deceive in the war against God's own creation. The end does justify the means. I bet Marc Mutty does sleep well at night. After all he is a good and faithful, if not truthful, Catholic.