Defending Traditional Marriage: Washington State vs. Maine

“As Maine goes, so goes the nation.” On election day, November 2009, the Pine Tree State harkened back to its old bellwether status — at least on the issue of same sex marriage. Defying the governor, the legislature, and the other powers-that-be (except the churches), stalwart citizens upheld the historical definition of marriage. By a margin of 53% to 47%, Maine became the 31st state in a clean sweep of states where the question has been decided directly by the people. Maine’s Catholic Bishop, Richard Malone, thanked the voters for “reaffirming their support for marriage as it has been understood for millennia by civilizations and religions around the world.” Said the Christian Civic League of Maine, a coalition of Protestant churches, “supporters of traditional marriage are now feeling a mixture of joy and relief, the kind of elation one feels after a narrow escape from disaster.”

It was a different story in Washington State where just 47 or 48 percent of the voters were of like mind with their counterparts in Maine. A 52 or 53 percent majority of Washington voters endorsed the full equivalency of same sex partnerships to marriage, minus only the title of marriage itself. Informed observers now expect that the Washington State Supreme Court, in its usurpatious way, will mandate marriage licenses as well on constitutional grounds. The “Justices” will draw the newly enacted bill from their jurisprudential quiver to kill the concept of marriage affirmed throughout our history. Thus they will continue the deconstruction of our Judeo-Christian heritage.

Because Washingtonians cannot amend our constitution directly, we the people cannot overturn constitutional rulings by the court. There can be no California style Proposition 8; no amending of the Washington State Constitution to declare marriage exclusively between one man and one woman. It appears, then, that the majority has effectively (if inadvertently) disenfranchised us on the question of same sex marriage per se, and that Washington is slated to become the sixth state to legalize it without having put the exact terms of so radical a change to direct decision by the people.

As in Washington, misinformation was a hallmark of the campaign to redefine marriage in Maine. Four years ago, during the 2005 election cycle, activists employed prevarications and misleading reassurances in persuading voters to add sexual orientation to Maine’s anti-discrimination statutes. Marriage was not at stake, they insisted; and yet in the very next legislature they introduced gay marriage, passing it into law by May, 2009. Happily, the people of Maine got their say this November.

On the moral level as distinguished from the political, precious little inclination exists in the homosexual community to heed “the laws of nature and nature’s God” (Declaration of Independence ). In defending such natural laws, activists immersed in sexual practices which are “intrinsically disordered,” and “contrary to the natural law” (Catechism of the Catholic Church , 2357), are generally weak or entirely unwilling to uphold the prerogatives of nature in the culture. They may go green on ecological issues, even as they advocate moral pollution that sullies society.

Nor are they likely champions of other virtues — like honesty and fair play, or the justice of first securing “the consent of the governed.” In Washington State our opponents employed an array of stratagems to keep the issue off the ballot, and avoid securing the consent of the electorate. Once we thwarted them on that score, they showed themselves disingenuous in public debates by denying that marriage was even at stake.

Furthermore, they disavowed fair play by destroying or stealing some 90% of our 6000 yard signs displayed around the state. Larry and Polly Stickney, who headed-up the Protect Marriage Washington campaign, had their family harassed in a manner reminiscent of the persecution inflicted on Californians who supported Proposition 8. I myself was stalked by a shrieking, self-proclaiming homosexual, because I dared to hand out our campaign brochures on a Washington State ferry (with official permission). In Maine the defense of traditional marriage campaign reported similar tactics, including “consistent awful rhetoric” and widespread vandalizing of yard signs. The spokesman in a television ad for Stand for Marriage Maine, Don Mendell, was threatened with loss of his job as a high school guidance counselor. This, mind you, from the same people who worship at the altar of the secular trinity of tolerance, diversity and choice.

In regard to religious faith in Maine and Washington, a 2008 study for Trinity College found both states equally irreligious, tied at 25% of the population (compared to 15% for the US as a whole). In other words, one-fourth of these citizens adhere to atheism, agnosticism, or deny having any religious preference.

The question therefore is this: Should the country as a whole, bow before the reality that an increasing portion of the American population is in spiritual decline, and is ever more hostile to Judeo-Christian ethics and morality? Should we reach an accommodation with citizens eager for a thoroughly pagan America? Or, on the contrary, should we draw courage from what happened in Maine, and carry on the fight with renewed vigor? In other words, should we contend fervently on behalf of an agenda which millions of Americans – mainly denizens of densely populated areas like Seattle WA and Portland ME – are sure to loath and despise?

As one involved in debates and public appearances around Washington State against proponents of the same sex agenda, my view is that we should take heart from the state of Maine and earnestly fight the good fight. Although we lost narrowly in the Evergreen State, we did give our opponents a run for their money – several times more money than our backers were able to raise. We won 29 of 39 counties, notwithstanding that most politicians, big corporations, and mainstream media were arrayed against us. We lost by only about five percentage points in a state where, due primarily to Seattle’s King County, the political climate is foul – possibly the worst environment for cultural conservatives among the 50 states. Last year, some 58% of Washington voters approved an assisted suicide law, and in 1998 a ban on partial-birth abortion was rejected by 57%.

In my ten debates around Washington State, I found my opponents’ arguments about as lavish as gravel in a jeweler’s display case. There was little sociology or political science; but a lot of the anecdotal approach predicated, presumably, on the assumption that most Americans are susceptible to a sob story. I believe postmodern pagans can be defeated soundly, for their ideology is fundamentally impoverished. We can win decisively if we determine to fight vehemently and imaginatively. We have truth, righteousness, and tradition on our side. Like our country’s Founders (and unlike our foes), we may proceed “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”

Here in Washington, we feel profound gratitude for the hard fought win in Maine. Let us all use that victory to redouble our resolve as defenders of our country’s cultural heritage. The state of Maine in 2009, with California, Arizona, Arkansas and Florida in November 2008, and half the 50 states prior to that, gave ample proof that most citizens are still somewhat conservative culturally.

These victories showed also that, at the state level, corruption has not yet reduced our political process to futility. Alas, the same cannot be said for indirect democracy at the Federal level, where the corruption in Congress, in the Executive and Judicial Branches, together with dysfunctional political parties and an electoral process dominated by incumbency and plutocracy, leads almost half the eligible voters to eschew voting altogether. But direct democracy is politically viable in 27 of the states, through the initiative and/or referendum process, so that the existing system is not without utility and worth at the state level.

In the fight against same-sex marriage, we can use direct democracy, together with election and lobbying of the 7400 state legislators, to prevent another postmodernist breakthrough. The great majority of states still confine marriage to one man, one woman. That should hold firm for a while; unless, God forbid, the Federal Government trumps the states on this issue, as happened with Roe v. Wade a generation ago.

But for the long run, a defensive, hold-the-line strategy will not suffice against a militant, well-financed, devious and sometimes vicious adversary. We must transform the Federal Government from a fiendish force to a friend. We do not show genuine love of country, if we acquiesce while Washington, D.C. promotes political, economic and cultural decadence.

As a proactive strategy, the closest thing we have that resembles direct democracy at the national level is an option set forth in the written U.S. Constitution itself. Article V contains the Framers’ written recommendation, the “convention for proposing Amendments.” On how the Article V convention offers at the national level something of what the initiative and referendum process provides at the state level, see my earlier articles in Catholic Exchange; also my interactive, online book, Treatise on Twelve Lights.

A situation as dire as we face today indicates, as Abraham Lincoln said, that “we must disenthrall ourselves” — think outside the box in which a sound bite culture tries to trap us –  ”and then we shall save our country.” Let us recognize that only radical solutions can really address our radical problems.

“The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise – with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country” — Lincoln’s second annual address to Congress, 12/1/1862.

By

writer, retired history teacher, practicing cradle Catholic, lecturer for Knights of Columbus, council 1379. Knight of the Month, October 2008, February 2009.

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  • http://www.tell-usa.org Robert Struble, Jr.

    My article on a related topic — homosexual infiltration and the clerical abuse scandals — is in CE for April 21, entitled, “No More Timidity.”
    http://catholicexchange.com/2010/04/21/129419/

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