Last night, by a comfortable margin of 53-47%, the citizens of Maine became the 31st state to vote down gay marriage (as has every single state that has given its citizens a chance to vote on the issue).
Not surprisingly, the mainstream liberal press is beside itself with frustration, especially because it drives yet another nail in the "inevitability" and "wrong side of history" arguments we are often fed.
As I wrote on National Review this morning, Maine voted for traditional marriage "despite it being a liberal state, despite a 2-1 funding disadvantage, despite aggressive legal action against traditional-marriage defenders, despite unusually high voter turn out, and despite Rachel Maddow and the elite press running interference."
And unlike in California's Prop 8 victory for traditional marriage, proponents of gay marriage can't blame this Maine loss on "Mormons, on African Americans who turned out for Barack Obama, or on confusing ballot wording."
They can however, blame it on Catholics, and some angry members of the gay marriage movement are already doing so.
As I wrote back in September, the Catholic Church in Maine - with the strong leadership of Bishop Richard Malone - effectively and institutionally supported efforts to preserve traditional marriage. I have been told the Catholic Church contributed upwards of $500k to the final $2 million or so that was raised by defenders of traditional marriage.
Now, like what happened to the Mormons in the wake of Prop 8, some gays are calling for a systematic attack on the Catholic Church and her freedoms in retaliation for Maine. In case you have any doubts about what happened to supporters of Prop 8 after that was decided, the Heritage foundation has posted a summary:
Supporters of Proposition 8 in California have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, vandalism, racial scapegoating, blacklisting, loss of employment, economic hardships, angry protests, violence, at least one death threat, and gross expressions of anti-religious bigotry.
Now read what one gay blogger wrote today in the wake of the Maine referendum today:
"[Maine voters] have bowed their heads to the nameless, faceless financiers of campaigns which continue to sew bigotry, hatred, and suspicion of their fellows. They have bowed their knees to potentates in the Catholic and Mormon Churches and claimed that this was about their freedom of religion.
... The day will come very soon when Maine will regret turning its back on equality. It is time that the legislature of Maine strip the Catholic Church of all its exemptions. It is time to force the National Organization into the light. It is time to purge their dens of iniquity and shame and to force them into the light.
It is time to dismantle those who seek through deception and fraud to repress others."
Nor is such out-in-the-open hatred of the Catholic Church confined to isolated individuals - no less a figure than Andrew Sullivan, an openly-gay and widely-read author for The Atlantic Monthly - and who still claims to be Catholic - wrote today:
"After Maine, where the Catholic church actually organized a second collection to raise money to prevent gay people from having civil rights, the situation shifts again. Using a tax-exempt church to raise money to defeat the civil rights of fellow citizens is not too shocking in the age of Benedict. It is shocking if one believes in a separation of politics and religion, and if one believes that the church of Jesus should stand in solidarity with the marginalized, rather than seeking to marginalize and demonize them still further.
It is time to acknowledge that the Catholic church hierarchy can no longer pretend that it isn't the active enemy of gay people and our families. That this church hierarchy - especially in its more conservative wing - is disproportionately gay itself and waging war against their fellow gays through the cowardly veil of the closet, is not new. But it is, as we flinch with the sting of defeat, harder to take than ever.
It is time to demand that gay priests who are actively fighting against the dignity of gay people own their enmeshment in injustice, stigmatization and cruelty."
The Atlantic is a major publication, Andrew Sullivan is a significant figure. This is serious. And authors such as Sullivan are getting a free-pass for legitimizing lies and hatred against the Church.
All this is especially ironic when one considers how the gay marriage movement tries to cast itself as one that is seeking tolerance and acceptance of all. Well, apparently the Catholic Church isn't a legitimate recipient of such treatment. I would be more encouraged if leaders of the gay marriage movement would call out or apologize for outbursts against the Church like the ones I've cited above.
Nonetheless, in the coming days and weeks, we need to be vigilant for anti-Catholic rhetoric and attacks. Don't be surprised if a lot of damning stories about the Church are published in the short term. Even if the issue of gay marriage isn't mentioned, you can bet reporters who have something against the Church are dusting off their old file folders right now.
Now of course, this oft-repeated smear that the Catholic Church hates gay people and hates equality is completely without foundation. Just look at a portion of the statement Bishop Malone released today:
“These past few months have served as a teaching opportunity to explain to parishioners and the wider community about how and why the Church views and values marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It has also been an opportunity for listening, and I trust that those who voted for such a radical change did so out of concern for our gay brothers and sisters. Respect and acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation is not a point of controversy — indeed, it is a teaching of the Church. While the Catholic Church will continue its commitment to work for the basic human rights to which all people are entitled, it remains devoted to preserving and strengthening the precious gift of marriage.”
That sure doesn't sound like hate speech to me.
For our part, meanwhile, we have to be charitable and confident in the teaching of the Church and be consistent in our own witness to it. Defining marriage as between one man and one woman is not to treat gays as inferior or unequal. This definition has overwhelming historical, cultural, sociological, and religious support.
Such anger and retaliation from the gay community are a sad indicator that they have no more arguments. Nonetheless, whenever the Church is attacked, we must defend ourselves and the Church we love, continuing to articulate the truths of the human person which reason reveal and faith confirms.
Truth, after all, is the foundation for equality, and for every valid social justice movement. So it should not surprise us that the only way the gay community is now attempting to establish its legal "right" to marriage is through power and intimidation.
update - I won't clutter my post with more examples, but I'll add just one more. There are many others:
The Bishop of Maine, Richard Malone, must be quite pleased with himself. He ran a campaign of lies, hate and distortions -- and convinced enough Maine voters to vote with him. It's going to take me a couple days (or more) to get my head around this one. But, for now, suffice it so say: HATE was the winner in Maine. Hate and the Catholic Bishop. But, this isn't over. Time and justice really are on our side.