Because the elected legislature of Maine passed and the elected Governor signed a bill recognizing same-sex marriages in the Pine Tree Street, I unequivocally oppose putting a “Citizens’ Veto” on the state’s ballot to overturn this new law. If I lived in that scenic state, I would not sign the petition and would urge my fellow citizens to do the same.
I would tell those pushing such an initiative that they already have recourse at the ballot box. They can vote against legislators who supported the legislation.
That said, the Maine Constitution does allow for such vetoes. As it appears concerned Mainers are pursuing this path, their fellow citizens should show them the same respect they would show anyone pursuing our constitutionally guaranteed right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Some, however, don’t want to extend them that respect. Reminding us of the behavior of gay marriage advocates who targeted those who financially supported California’s Proposition 8, our reader AndreasLights offers a warning which sounds more like a threat:
. . . according to the Secretary of State in Maine, the names and home addresses of each person signing the veto petitions will be available for publication under the Freedom of Information Act.
Potential signers of the veto petition should be aware that this is not an anonymous process. Contributors to Proposition 8 in California were horrified to learn that their names and home addresses were made public.
In fairness, Maine voters should be aware of this in deciding whether or not to stand up publicly against marriage equality (sic) and must be willing to accept any ramifications as a result of their act of petition.
In a republic, people who petition the government for a redress of grievances should not expect “ramifications” similar to those experienced by financial backers of the “Yes on 8” campaign. Such ramifications define how totalitarian and authoritarian regimes respond to opponents.
In nations ruled by such regimes, intimidation replaces debate as a means to resolve political differences. Here, we should respond to such differences in a civil manner.
To be true to the American spirits, gay marriage supporters who wish to ensure that this “Citizens’ Veto” is itself vetoed should themselves be prepared to rationally make the case for gay marriage and to respectfully take issue with those who favor such a constitutionally-sanctioned veto. Given the religious liberty clause in the Maine legislation, their task should be relatively easy; this provision provides them the means to counter the strongest argument of gay marriage opponents.
The law distinguishes civil marriages from religious ones. No church nor any other religious institution need perform or otherwise sanction same-sex marriages. Each remains free to define marriage according to the doctrine of its faith.
By threatening signers of the petition for a Citizens’ Veto, people like Andreas only embolden those who favor such a ballot initiative. They should instead prepare themselves for a public debate on the measure should its proponents gather enough signatures to put the matter before Maine’s voters.
A tactic of intimidation will certainly alienate wavering voters and likely alienate even some voters sympathetic to their case. Should they eschew intimidation and promote civil opposition, they will better be able to make their case to a somewhat skeptical public, those who oppose gay marriage on a personal level, but trust their elected legislators to resolve controversial issues of public policy.
Once again, it seems gay marriage advocates would rather personalize the issue, by demonizing and intimidating those who disagree with them rather than challenging them with sound argument and considered respect.
Why do advocates of gay marriage continually respond to their adversaries by engaging in what one prominent gay marriage opponent called the “politics of personal destruction“?