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Maine's Not Wrong, It's America

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Language. People get upset when you use it. Like when you call a voting bloc bigoted just because they didn't vote your way. Well, let's look at the meaning first. According to Merriam-Webster, to be bigoted is "to be obstinately convinced of the superiority or correctness of one's own opinions and prejudiced against those who hold different opinions: a bigoted group of reactionaries."

So, by that definition most people are bigots. Yes, most believe that their opinion is the right one and often refuse to bend on many issues. Maine's repeal of its same-sex marriage law is proof of that. But it's not the fault of bigots in Maine, in California, or in any other state where they have voted, may vote, or will vote to uphold or repeal same-sex marriage laws and the equal rights of gays. It's the cowardly Congress, Senate, president, and Supreme Court. The very people who know that civil rights should never be left up to the electorate. Ever.

People often don't do the right thing in the privacy of the anonymous voting booth. Hidden fears, hidden bigotries -- deep-seeded ones many didn't even know they had -- come out. That's why equality for blacks would never be up for a vote. Imagine if we began voting on interracial marriage again. Given the recent justice of the peace who refused to marry an interracial couple, I'm not sure that interracial couples would be able to marry when all the ballots were counted.

The fact is, no civil right should be left up to the masses. Our founders were very clear about equality in the Constitution, and as the T-shirt on my website reads, "Equal = Equal." No, it's not the fault of homophobes or those religious zealots frightened by their churches. It's the churches themselves and the cowardly government that fails to tell all religious institutions to get out of politics or be taxed. And until religion's death grip on our society is loosened, the Constitution must continue to be interpreted by the (hopefully) educated legislators and presidents, and the (hopefully) learned Supreme Court justices whose charge it is to enforce and maintain the equality promised for all Americans, including couples who are of the same gender and wish to marry.

Until President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and nine Supremes do their jobs, do what they know must be done, and once and for all grant federal same-sex marriage to all, until a law is passed that no state can deny anyone the right to enter into a legal contract based solely on gender -- in other words, until someone decides to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution -- then this battle will continue to be won and lost state by bigoted state.

The founders did not want all the power to sit with the people, which is why we are a Republic and not a true Democracy. Maine is a prime example as to why. Shame on the president, the leading Democrats, and all the other "liberals" out there who didn't wake up and denounce Maine's vote and pledge to go all the way to the Supreme Court, pledge to get an item on the congressional agenda, pledge to equal the playing field.

Today, gays and lesbians across America are reminded that it is still all right for the masses to either approve or disapprove of their unions, their lives. That's insulting, to them and to America. I have had this debate with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom many a time. He can't wait for the state of California to vote again on marriage equality and get it right. He's well-intentioned, but not gay. I can wait. I don't need people so easily swayed by their preacher or Fox News voting on civil rights. People today have proven repeatedly that we're not very "civil" anymore. As we debate exactly how much to care for each other's health, if at all, as we debate just when to stop torturing and killing in foreign places, and as gays and lesbians across the nation are repeatedly insulted and humiliated at the hands of government, it is obvious that civility has left the building with the teabaggers.

And as for you bystanders -- you know, the same type of people who would watch a girl get gang-raped in Richmond, Calif. (see my story for The Huffington Post on that here), the same type of people who would watch millions of taxpaying Americans be humiliated and denied basic rights granted to all others based on religious dogma and sit by and do nothing (which quietly condones it) -- well, for you bystanders, "shame on you" would be redundant. The evidence of our shame is all around in a society that can't seem to get basic human rights down 200-plus years after a simple document explaining them was given to the nation.

And to the LGBT community, stop fearing the courts and the legislators and start demanding they act. Period. Or deny them any and all funding. In states where same-sex marriage is illegal, stop participating. Don't serve on juries; don't go one extra step until the state grants basic rights. Find legal tax shelters and take advantage of the system that does not recognize your unions. Stop wasting time and money on voters who may never get it right. Go for the power. Go for the House and Senate. And go with wallets in hand, either open or closed. Consider moving to states where same-sex marriage is legal, no lie, to support their economies and tax bases. Do something other than sit and complain about how the voters got it wrong again. They usually do in matters where their god says one thing and the Constitution another. Maine didn't lose a thing. Gays didn't lose a thing. Americans did. Again. All Americans lost the chance to get it right, yet again.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Charles Karel Bouley II