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Whose Rights are Being Denied?

July 15, 2009

Here’s a claim, and think carefully before you guess who is making it.

I am being denied my rights.  A group of people are saying the way I live my life is unacceptable, and consequently I’m being harassed, called names and I live in fear of physical harm.  I even hide where I live and work.

Probably most of the people reading this blog would assume this is the claim of a gay person describing the religious rights’ objection to their “lifestyle.”  In fact, it’s the complaint that is becoming more common from the far right.  This is the phenomenon that Bill Nemitz writes about in his fantastic column in today’s Portland Press Herald. He gets at the bizarre and more commonly claimed position that those who want to deny others the right to marry are having their rights limited.  I think they’re talking about the denial of the right to deny others their rights.  Interesting.

Here are a few key quotes, but I really recommend you read the whole piece.

Twenty-five years ago last week, a trio of young thugs beat up Charles Howard and tossed him off a bridge to his death in the Kenduskeag Stream in Bangor – all because he was homosexual. If you were gay or lesbian in Maine back in those days, you had good reason to be afraid.

Now, as the campaign to repeal Maine’s same-sex marriage law shifts into high gear, fear is once again in the air. Only this time it’s not the homosexual community that’s quaking.

It’s their opponents.

“I know what you’re saying – there is some irony there,” agreed Marc Mutty, now on leave from his job as public affairs director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland to run Stand for Marriage Maine.

Still, Mutty said, “We feel like the minority that’s being discriminated against. We are being treated like pariahs everywhere we go.”

But by complaining loudly and often that they’ve been called names and heard things go bump in the night since they launched their campaign, might Stand for Marriage Maine’s organizers also be portraying themselves as an oppressed “minority” (Mutty’s word, not mine) in the hope that they will be perceived as the victims this time around?

Those who are trying to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law are learning – many for the first time – how frightening it can be when someone gets in your face or dials your home phone out of the blue and calls you a nasty name.

At the same time, those who are defending the law are learning – many for the first time – that the more the social pendulum swings their way here in Maine and beyond, the less they need to live in fear.

What a difference a quarter-century makes.

Read the full piece here.

h/t Debbie

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