Archive for March, 2010

Who are your friends?

In the last week, both before and after the passage of the Health Care Reform bill, we have seen an amazing display of ugly acts here within our own borders. Last weekend, there were demonstrators on the Capitol steps who hurled racist epithets at members of Congress. Some black members said they hadn’t had that kind of experience since the 50s or 60s during the protest marches in the South.

Reports today include “a fax bearing the image of a noose. Profane voice mails. Bricks thrown, a gas line cut. White powder sent to an office” targeted at members of Congress.

We cannot dismiss these as just acts of a lunatic fringe. They are only possible because of the rabid rhetoric of the Republicans and their sympathizers in their efforts to stop the Health Care bill at all costs.

Let there be no mistake. The Republicans did not act as the loyal opposition, using their offices to influence the process as much as they could for the good of the country. No. Their primary objective was to thwart President Obama, and the country be damned. And their rhetoric — threats of communism, socialism, and apocalypse –  gave aid and comfort to those committing the violence.

These acts of violence deserve to be called terrorism just as much as Taliban guerrillas, Islamist bombers, and Nazi Brownshirts. These are terrorists the same as anyone who uses violence and intimidation in attempting to get what they cannot  get in the democratic process, and they are all — 100% — on the side of the Republicans and egged on by flaming talk show windbags like Rush Limbaugh.

Until the Republicans change their strategy and start putting the country before their political rabble-rousing and fund-raising tactics, they deserve to be judged by the company they keep.

Marriage Equality is the Present and the Future

It is town meeting season here in New Hampshire, and many smaller towns have an article up for consideration by petition to ask for a state-wide vote on a constitutional amendment to define “marriage” in a way that negates the decision of the legislature last year.  Some towns have passed this non-binding resolution; others have discarded it.  I am happy to say that my town did the latter.  Here is what I had to say to the meeting.

Mr. Moderator and citizens of Hollis.  Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this issue.

On the day that the governor signed the gay marriage bill into law, I was proud to live in New Hampshire.  Proud that our state chose to do the right thing using the legislative process and taking action through our elected representatives.  No one can dismiss this change by claiming it is just judges exceeding their authority.

I believe that, in passing this legislation, the legislature was acting in the best traditions of New Hampshire where the rights of the individual are held in high esteem and we go the extra mile to be sure our citizens have the freedom to live their lives as they wish without unnecessary interference from government or other narrow interests.

I was proud again in January that the first gay marriage under the new law was celebrated at my church a few minutes after midnight of the New Year.  I emphasize the word “celebrated”.  It was indeed a joyous occasion, just as many weddings have been here and worldwide throughout history.  Many members of the congregation attended, regardless of their own sexual preference or relationship status.

It pains me to think that there is the slightest possibility that the joy and fulfillment of marriage could again be denied to good citizens who, in this regard, wish for nothing more than most everyone here believes they are entitled to.  It troubles me to think that there are those who would have us step backwards on the long road that we have been traveling as a nation toward true equality for all people.

I am confident that the judgment of history will say that we did the right thing in legislating marriage equality.  I believe that 20, 30, 50 years from now, it will be unthinkable to outlaw gay marriage, just as we now find it unthinkable to outlaw interracial marriage or reinstate segregation.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”  I ask that we all stand on the side of justice, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the right of all of our citizens to be treated equally and with respect under the law.

I oppose this resolution.

Thank you.