Philip Spooner at the legislative hearing
As I drove past the park last week, I saw an opponent of same-sex
marriage standing stubbornly in a driving rain, desperately struggling to hammer a
huge American flag into the center of a vast sea of signs saying YES On
1! – that is, drive these homosexual weirdos out in the name of God and
country. I came by 20 minutes later and she was still there, soaked but
fervent. That pretty much defines the tone of the campaign here against
same-sex marriage. Hysteria, anyone?
Tuesday, Mainers will vote on whether to repeal the same-sex marriage
law that easily passed last year. In the usual confounding fashion of
referendum language, supporters of gay marriage vote no – don't repeal
– and opponents vote yes. And as usual, the final impassioned days of
the campaign have highlighted stark differences between the two
campaigns. Unsurprisingly – change is scary – those for repeal have
gone for the fear factor.
"Stand For Marriage! Don't Let Public Schools
Teach Homosexual Marriage!" screams one omnipresent ad, with the
picture of a kid holding his head in his hands (though could he be
saying, Let me make up my own damn mind?) Another ad frantically zooms
unintelligible clips around on a screen to prove that, "It's already
happening! Don't be fooled!" The Yes campaign asks for support to "help
us stand up to the vast network of wealthy homosexuals." Letter-writers
urge a Yes vote "to show the state trusts in God." And one dire ad warns
us not to allow homosexual marriage "to be taught to second graders."
Hmm. Today, my second grader has reading, writing, geometry and gym. I
think her heterosexual marriage class is on Monday.
of gay marriage have waged a thoughtful, upbeat campaign, as they
should, focused on
the elemental concept of fairness. In their ads they've presented
traditional, common-sense Mainers who happen to believe in equality.
Dumont, a Catholic grandmother from blue-collar Lewiston: "I've raised
four children and always treated them as equals...My son is a good man
in a loving, committed relationship. He and
his partner have created a loving home for my youngest grandchild. They
work, they go to school, they participate in the community they live
in. They share the same joys and sorrows of any other family. Yet there
are some who think they should not be treated equally. My family
deserves better. Marriage is a great institution – it works and it’s
what I want for
my children too."
Philip Spooner, 86-year-old World War Two veteran and "lifetime Republican," born on a potato
farm, with four sons who all served in the military, "including the one
gay son," testified at the legislative hearing. "Americans have shown
the world again and again that we can figure
out how to take all kinds of different people and live together as
neighbors and fellow citizens...That is what we fought for in WWII –
that idea that we can be different and still be equal...My wife and I
did not raise four sons with the idea that three of
them would have a certain set of rights, but our gay child would be
left out. We raised them all to be hardworking, proud and loyal
Americans...I think if two adults who love each other want to get
should be able to. Everybody is supposed to be equal in this country.
Let’s make sure we are in Maine."
And let's make sure people
show up at the polls on Tuesday. The vote is reportedly too close to call.
Opponents will be out, driving rain or no, in the name of their God,
and their fear, and their dreadful certainty. We all deserve better.