This archived article was written by: Joshua Behn
Dear citizens of Maine who voted “Yes” on Proposition 1,
On Nov. 3, you went to the polls and voted to end recognition of gay marriage in Maine. As a supporter of gay marriage, I thank you for participating in this election. Having said that, I probably caused you to do a double-take. You are wondering how on Earth I could possibly thank those who crushed the hopes of thousands of families in your state who are denied the rights of medical and legal determination, funeral disposition privileges and inheritance, to name just a few.
I am almost beside myself in anger at the near- sighted mistake that you made. Today there is pain and defeated sorrow in the hearts of many. You call “us” non-traditional deviants and yet, when we make efforts to honor your traditions, you attack and deny.
We love the partners that you abused, beat and treated with disdain; we take the children you abandoned into our homes and loved them as our own; we paid the taxes you evaded, paid the medical bills of those you left to suffer from chronic illness, forgiven the immigrants that you sent back to starve, and buried the dead that you cremated and scattered, without ceremony. You beat the downtrodden and broken-in-spirit with the higher law that you profess to keep.
The pit of vipers and den of thieves does exist, but not in the Castro in San Francisco, West Hollywood in Los Angeles, Key West in Florida or Provincetown in Massachusetts. It exists in your hearts of selfish righteousness. Your crimes of omission are judged far more harshly than “our” crimes of commission. Your victory will be recorded by posterity, for refusing to acknowledge that precious spark of humanity which allows us all to bring something unique and special to the alter.
I speak of “individuality,” not “righteousness or wickedness,” for one can celebrate the one and still uphold the other. As you have found in other areas, the two can be exclusive in relation to each other. Just as you no longer believe in temporal justice being served through the pillage of Jericho or Canaan, crusade or inquisition, so can you believe in the lack of temporal justice in this. Let God condemn, not you.
And still, thank you for the sword you stab me with, for you have done your duty to your community by voting. I adamantly disagree with that vote, but praise you for upholding the democratic process. You claim that our causes will destroy this wonderful country (that we both love) and tremble with fear at the consequences of societal reinterpretation. I believe this destroys our country no more than the gains of the civil rights and suffrage movements. The country will not be destroyed, only the particular vision for it that exists solely in our minds. Society will continue, but in a changed form.
One of our “visions for this country” will be destroyed, and either one of us may have to make the determination if we are willing to live in that opposite ideology. As the Jews once had to decide if they would be able to continue to live in Nazi Germany, so may we in the end have to choose between living in a country that has embraced differing ideals; be they liberal or conservative.
No matter the eventuality (I may emigrate to Canada, you may call Iran home, or we may continue to exist in our sparring relationship), it is marvelous that citizens can act to decide their fate. You may label me an abomination, tattoo an upside down triangle on my arm and put me into a concentration camp, or even kill me, but all the while I will give you the tools of democracy that may create an authoritarian regime.
From the bottom of this author’s heart, thank you for voting your conscience. In writing this, my conscience is clear, for I would rather be destroyed by the hands of those who stood up for their beliefs, than those who didn’t even care or whose true ideology lay in: the most recent episode of survivor, their reaching the next level in World of Warcraft, or the outcome of the world series.
As Christ had no patience for the lukewarm, neither do I. All deserve the title of “patriot” whether they be a Torey sympathizer or a Continental Army officer; evangelical or atheist; bigot or tolerant; you or me. Only one group of citizens are not patriots, and they are those who failed to participate in the election in any capacity.