On Saturday afternoon a man was standing in Congress Square with a sign that read, "No on 1," meaning "Question 1," on the election ballot which would legalize gay-marriage in the state of Maine.
I was feeling rather bold I guess, because I approached the man (who was standing where the Christian fundamentalist "Preacher" and his clan usually chant every evening) and politely asked him if he was married. He told me he was. I then asked how same-sex couples getting married would personally affect his heterosexual marriage. He responded with a litany of falsehoods, inaccuracies and outright illogical arguments.
First, he told me that allowing same-sex marriage is a legal issue because such a law would be in direct defiance of the law prohibiting same-sex marriage. Except that the state of Maine currently has no such law.
While same-sex marriage is not, as of this moment, legal in Maine, the state has not amended its constitution--as many other states have--explicitly banning marriages of gay couples. (North Carolina passed such an amendment to its state constitution earlier this year.) In other words, the way our state constitution currently stands, even if "Question 1" fails at the polls this November, same-sex marriage supporters could still make another bid for equal rights in the future.
Next he told me that the Constitution is the "law of God" and was inspired by Christian gospel. This is, of course, nonsense. In fact, the only mention of "religion" anywhere in the U.S. Constitution is in the First Amendment which states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Finally, the man told me if gay-marriage is allowed, then other "extreme" (his exact word) acts would follow, like public nudity becoming acceptable (his actual example). "I don't want my kids to walk down the street seeing men and women naked," he told me. He then went on to blame homosexuality for the spread of AIDS and broken marriages.
But wait--it gets better.
This person also told me that he once was gay himself, but "found God" and realized the error of his "sins." So this fool is actually just a gay man in denial which, honestly, almost makes me feel bad for him. (Almost.)
I continued to argue with him, remaining calm and respectful the entire time. But, as you can see, nothing this man said was grounded in anything resembling reality. He argued the Bible is "fact," to which I countered, "No. Gravity is a fact. The Bible is a book." He remained unpersuaded.
I eventually abandoned the conversation--not that I harbored any notion I could change this man or at least offer some critical counter arguments to his message. I did not. I merely wanted to try to get a better understanding of why bigots such as this individual think the way they do. All I came away with, however, was that this person is extremely ignorant, uneducated and misinformed. As I was leaving some haggard looking man walked over to the sign-holder and said, "Yeah! I agree!" Then he asked, "What's '1'?" (This guy was, in retrospect, probably drunk.)
When the sign-holder told him it's about "same-sex marriage," the other man asked (again, his exact words), "What's that? Is it like having sex without a rubber?"
If people wonder why I am often so resentful of the overall lack of education in this country, it is because such ignorance leads directly to hateful speech such as this.
Here's hoping Mainers do the right thing and pass "Question 1" next month if only to stick-it to intolerant hatemongers such as this moron.
Portland Green, Tom MacMillan, a candidate for Maine House of Representatives, District #118
at a recent rally in support of gay marriage.