Here in Maine, we’ve been through months and months of hysteria, misinformation and outright nastiness from self-styled defenders of marriage who have mounted a referendum effort to repeal a measure passed last May by the Legislature and signed by the Governor that legalizes same-sex civil marriage.
I’ve done my best to stay positive while doing my part for the campaign working to defeat this referendum. This afternoon, however, I happened to get a look at one of the websites promoting passage of the referendum. This is what I found.
If that link doesn’t seem to work, by the way, please enable popups in your browser. I’ve put up a picture of the page rather than an actual link because, well, because I’m damned if I’m going to give that site a link! If all else fails, you can go directly to the picture by clicking here.
Please take a moment to read the copy on that page and to study the picture that accompanies it. I’m asking a lot here because I’m about to start a rant, and I really, really want you to know what I’m talking about.
Let’s start with the headline which suggests that Question 1 is the only thing protecting schoolchildren from an onslaught of homosexual propaganda. No matter that Maine’s Attorney General has rendered a formal opinion that states that the law as enacted has no impact at all on what is or is not taught in Maine’s schools. The Stand for Marriage Maine (SAMM) folks must know this, unless they are as obtuse as they seem to hope Maine voters are, but they continue to beat the same drum. It’s hard to imagine they have any other purpose in mind than to sway through fear voters who don’t know about the AG’s opinion or who don’t know enough to believe it.
Next they talk about “national organizations” bringing a fight to Maine. If this doesn’t qualify as an attempt to manipulate through distortion, I don’t know what would. The facts are these: The referendum is to repeal an act of the legislature, not to enact anything. The truth about this claim appears when we “follow the money.” According to campaign finance reports, the bulk of the money funding SAMM and the referendum itself comes from out of state. It’s the effort to preserve the existing law that is funded overwhelmingly by contributions from people here in Maine.
The rest of the text is speculation and innuendo about Massachusetts, but it drops a nasty little zinger about attempts to limit parents’ rights to control what their kids learn in school. I suspect that this is an attempt to connect SAMM’s agenda with the same parental anxieties that only a few weeks ago launched that brainless resistance to President Obama’s speech to school children.
My suspicion is strengthened by the photo. According to the 2000 census, Maine is the whitest state in the nation. Nevertheless, SAMM offers an image that features an African-American teacher, black like Obama. Perhaps this is something besides a blatant appeal to racism, but given the content of the text on the page I have serious doubts.
In the photo the blue-eyed blond in the back looks as if she is hearing something that she doesn’t believe. The other kids, however, merely look troubled and confused. The narrative of the photo is therefore this: a teacher who is an alien influence, like Obama, is filling the minds of our innocent children with poisonous ideas from an out of state conspiracy of homosexuals. Some children (e.g., the blond symbol of white America) will be able to resist these lies, but what of the rest? What will they do, the picture asks, if we don’t beat back these invaders by undoing the law our own elected representatives enacted six months ago? The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Vote Yes!
There are certainly poisonous lies coming from out of state, but they appear on the SAMM page and do not come from existing law or the campaign to preserve it. A responsible and legitimate political organization would offer actual information upon which a voter might base a reasoned decision. SAMM, however, offers a skewed and paranoid vision of our schools and state government based on half-truths, innuendo, racism and homophobia.
This is simply more than I can keep silent about.