EDITORIAL ANGERS Click here to view editorial
Nothing civil about discrimination
I cannot understand why the Portland Press Herald would waste editorial space calling on the Maine Christian Civic League to run a civil and honorable campaign to overturn Maine's newly passed protections to gays and lesbians.
We're not talking about changing the tax code or extending the school year, or even term limits. One can have civil and honorable discourse about those issues. They are political differences.
However, there is nothing civil or honorable about discrimination. There is certainly nothing civil or honorable about a campaign that seeks to continue discrmination toward gays and lesbians.
If some organization was going to circulate a petition to repeal the section of the Human Rights Act that deals with religious discrimination, would the editors of the Press Herald call for a civil and honorable campaign?
In the statewide referendum of November 1995, I experienced some of the "civil" and "honorable" debate from the proponents of discrimination. I was "leafleting" outside the S.D. Warren plant in Westbrook with copies of the AFL-CIO's position on the issue.
Three men came out of the plant and one of them walked up to me with literature from the other side and shouted some comments that this paper cannot print. After a brief standoff he returned to the plant muttering to himself.
That is the kind of behavior that usually goes along with a hate campaign. And that is exactly what this referendum drive is: It is a hate campaign. There is nothing honorable about it!
YOU ARE far too quick to anoint Michael Heath for his pledge to run a "positive" campaign.
Mr. Heath is opposing the basic civil rights of all Maine citizens. The passionate opposition to his mean-spirited, biased- based jihad may demand more than decorous discourse. We will all be the lesser for it.
You disappoint me. Mr. Heath cannot run a "positive" campaign and you know it. Making the cruel political does not make it any less cruel. And it is cruel to demonize and attempt to disenfranchise.
This is at the core of Mr. Heath's "positive" campaign. Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent, political consultants will be made richer, provocative copy will be generated for your newspaper ... "positive" for some, I guess.
But for those who were hoping that good sense and good will had finally triumphed, Mr. Heath's recent announcements have been decidedly negative.
REGARDING "Referendum campaign should stay respectful" June 19:______________________________
It was Portland Pride Week - when we celebrate ourselves, each other and our dignity and joy in being lesbian, gay, bi- or transgendered.
That week, the prospect of a needless campaign that - by its nature - will diminish us had been pushed to the backs of our minds as much as possible.
Then comes the Press Herald, the flagship newspaper in our Pride City, echoing a call for a "respectful campaign," yet saying out of the other side of its mouth " ... overturning a fair and good law is itself negative..."
I shudder to imagine what words will be used to encourage withdrawing civil rights from a group of Maine citizens. What "respectful" words can be used to justify that?
In the name of God, Press Herald, find your spine and stand with us. There is nothing "respectful" in a campaign to create second-class citizens.
Marvin Ellison (printed July 11, 1997):
`Bigotry sincerely held is bigotry nonetheless'
Your recent commendation of Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League, for pledging a "positive campaign" to overturn civil rights protections for Maine people who are gay misses the mark ("Referendum campaign should stay respectful," June 19).
During the Maine Won't Discriminate campaign, I debated Mr. Heath and, yes, I can testify that he's a nice man, well- mannered and sincere in his convictions. However, niceness is not the point. Bigotry sincerely held is bigotry nonetheless.
Despite pledges Mr. Heath may make, a campaign to rescind civil rights protections for Mainers will not be nice. It will only stir up fear and animosity and cause divisiveness and discord. No matter how pleasant Mr. Heath may be as a person, he's up to no good. In fact, his people's veto campaign will do great harm.
In assessing civic leadership, the focus should not be on a person's style but on the moral substance of their convictions and whether these promote a common good, inclusive of gay and non-gay people alike.
A truly honorable leader demonstrates an appreciation for and comfort with diversity that, sadly, Mr. Heath lacks.
Rev. Marvin M. Ellison
Religious Coalition Against Discrimination
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