After offering up a great Deo Gratia, and our thanks to Bishop Malone (of Portland, ME) for his courageous support of the campaign for Traditional Marriage, it's time to start looking the challenges facing us in Q1's aftermath.
I'll start with the less important.
I was tipped off to this blog post by our friend, the American Papist, Thomas Peters. In it, lesbian blogger Bridgette LaVictoire wrote:
Maine voters have decided that they would rather be bought out than uphold the traditions of liberty and freedom that have made New England a haven for those seeking rights away from the tyranny of others. They 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.
First, let me just point out the absurdity of the assertion that those who voted yes on 1 were "bought out" or, as she implies later, were like Judas "accepting those pieces of silver to betray" what is right. No one was paid to vote "yes." This was plainly not about money. The "No on 1" campaign had four times the funding of the "Yes" campaign, anyway.
Still, she is not alone in suggesting retaliation against the Catholic Church. This would obviously be a huge blow to the Church, financially. It would ultimately hurt not only Catholics in the state, but also the poor, the elderly, and the children who the Church aids. It's also a big mistake for the "gay lobby." Yes on 1 made their case largely by pointing to the militancy of gay "rights" advocates and claiming that gay marriage is just one step in their war on traditional values. Do gays really want the "Homosexuals attack Church" headline to succeed the ones about Kevin Jennings trying to "Queer the Schools" ? Additionally, I've gathered from some probing around her blog that Ms. LaVictoire is an abortion "rights" supporter. If we're going to reexamine tax exemptions, I'd be thrilled to have the tax exemptions of the social left examined. If her camp wants to play scorched earth they better consider all that dry brush on their side of things.
To me, though, this seems like a lot of sour grapes that isn't going to go anywhere. There may be some post-Prop 8 style hate crimes perpetrated by militants from the gay lobby, but Christianity has always endured that nonsense. Odds that they would succeed in stripping the Catholic Church (the world's largest provider of charitable services) of its tax exemption are quite small.
In my opinion, the more important issue is where we go from here. As I mentioned before, the Yes on 1 campaign focused mostly on the gay lobby's militant opposition to traditional values. They specifically relied on the (largely true) assertion that where "gay marriage" goes, it is quickly followed by a radical sexual agenda in public schools. Basically, they warned that if gay marriage came to Maine, it wouldn't be long before Kindergartners were learning to read from "Heather has Two Mommies" and "One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dad." This, historically, isn't entirely false, and it's probably the best approach to defeating "gay marriage" in a brief political campaign. While a decent short term tactic, though, I don't think that this should become a long term strategy.
This issue is not only an attack on Traditional Marriage. It's a symptom of the deterioration of the standing of Marriage in society. Many people think homosexual marriage is a good idea because they don't understand Marriage at all. With the prevalence of cohabitation, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, marital infidelity, etc., these days people don't understand what Marriage is. They see it as, at best, a declaration of love, or at worst, just a financial structure. And, if that's all Marriage is, it'll be a hard case that it should be confined to straight couples. If it's just a structure to be entered and exited at will for some tax benefits and a cloak of legitimacy on sexual relations, then the battle for Traditional Marriage is lost.
Moving forward, our focus cannot be solely on decrying the ills of homosexuality or the gay lobby. Campaigning against gay marriage is not enough. If this struggle is to have any value, it has to be a struggle for all the things marriage should be, not just a statement of what it's not. We have to go out and teach people about the total self-giving that should really make two people become one flesh. We have to teach the value of motherhood and fatherhood, the importance of the virtue of Chastity, and the beauty of sex in its proper context. We have to show the complementarity of the sexes in action in our own lives. We have to show that it's not just a cheap slogan when we quote the Book of Genesis saying that "a man ...clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body."
Our zeal should come not from hatred of the gay brothers and sisters we're called to love but from love and respect for the divine plan for Matrimony. This campaign will be long and difficult, but it is the one we're called to undertake as bearers of God's message of love and mercy. If we succeed here, the defeat of gay marriage will be only a small side story to our victory over so many problems that plague modern American society.