Friday, October 30, 2009

Maine's Anti-Marriage Equality Campaign Caught in a Web of Hypocrisy

The NO on 1/Protect Marriage Equality campaign has called out the Yes on 1 camp, specifically the Catholic Church, for the hypocrisy in claiming they "support" domestic partnerships and using this as proof of their tolerance of gays, when in fact they opposed DPs when they were first introduced. (Oh, and it's the Catholic Church that's fighting Washington state's new DP law RIGHT NOW.)

This announcement from NO on 1 was spurred by the new opposition ad that shifted its tone from crying wolf about marriage equality being taught in schools to saying that gays and lesbians already have their civil rights.

Today, No on 1 held a press conference. (Video from America Blog)

This was coupled with the following press release.
Yes Campaign Ad Promoting Domestic Partnerships a Sham
Biggest Funders, Managers Opposed DP

Portland, Maine (October 30, 2009)---The NO on 1 campaign charged that the biggest backers and manager of the Yes campaign have opposed domestic partnerships for same-sex couples for years, even though their latest political ad promotes Maine's domestic partner registry.

After weeks of a paid advertising campaign that attacked Maine schools --attacks that were rejected by Maine newspapers, the Commissioner of Education, the Attorney General and others -- the Yes campaign released a new ad this week applauding the state's DP registry as sufficient to protect same-sex couples and their families.

But in fact, campaign manager Mark Mutty, as director of public affairs for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, opposed the DP registry bill both in 2003 and again in 2004 when it passed in the Maine Legislature. In addition, Mutty and others associated with the Yes campaign were silent on the alternative bill to the marriage equality legislation this spring which would have expanded the DP registry.

"This is the height of hypocrisy and double-talk," said Jesse Connolly, NO on 1 campaign manager. "Their new ad actually invokes domestic partnership as a solution, yet they're on record either directly or by their silence as opposing even this measure of protection."

In testimony submitted for the 2003 DP bill entitled "An Act to Promote the Financial Security of Maine's Families and Children," Mutty wrote and signed on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland:

"Our opposition to LD 1579 is foremost rooted in moral and ethical principles that are not only applicable to Catholics, but serve society well as a whole. However there are more practical considerations…Several attorneys who have reviewed this bill have indicated their strong conviction that such a drastic change in the code would lead to mass confusion in the courts and tie up probate claims for months without clear resolution. These are but a few of the perhaps unintended consequences that such a measure would bring to Maine."

"When I wrote Maine's domestic partner registry law, no group fought against it harder than the Roman Catholic Diocese," said former State Representative Benjamin Dudley, sponsor of the bill creating Maine's domestic partner registry. "Now the Diocese, through its campaign against marriage equality, says they 'want to be tolerant of gays' and stands behind the registry law they fought so hard to defeat. I'd call that the height of irony."

In addition, Maggie Gallagher, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, which has contributed at least $1.6 million to the Yes campaign, has long opposed both domestic partnerships and civil unions. In fact, Gallagher, in 2002 argued against DP benefits because they "erode the status" of marriage.

Finally, the principals of the Yes campaign were notably silent on a 2009 bill entitled, "An Act to Expand Rights for Maine Families," which would have expanded Maine's DP registry, and was proposed as an alternative to the marriage equality law.

"The Yes campaign in the final hours of this election can't simply reinvent itself and try to claim some sort of new platform," added Connelly. "The record shows that time and time again, they either opposed domestic partnerships or were silent on them, even when they were offered as an alternative to full marriage equality. This is nothing more than a Trojan horse and voters should not be fooled."

"The DP registry, in fact, has a few but not the hundreds of protections spouses receive under marriage," added Mary Bonauto, the civil rights director at GLAD and a member of NO on 1's executive committee. "Separate systems are not equal and never have been. Domestic partner laws simply don't apply to the things that allow you to take care of your partner or your children, and it is still impossible for many people to get a family policy of health insurance without getting married.

"Marriage offers protection in times of greatest need and crisis," added Bonauto. "Equality, family, protection and respect only come in one package, and that's marriage."

The local media has already picked up the story. Hopefully this will ring a bell with some of the voters - a reminder of the blatant hypocrisy of the Yes on 1 folks.

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