Politics & Other Mistakes: Cold shoulder
Dazbog is a wedding photographer. He’d live in Portland if he existed, which he doesn’t because he’s a fictional character being used to make a political point. To that end, I’ll give Dazbog a comfortable home, a loving wife and two teenage kids, who huff glue while he’s off shooting weddings on weekends.
Dazbog is also deeply religious. But his is not your ordinary, everyday religion with prohibitions against stuff like eating bacon or drawing pictures of its prophet or going to Sunday baseball games or drinking beer.
What Dazbog’s religion teaches is that people who live in very cold places like Antarctica are morally deficient. Reprehensible. Disgusting affronts to the almighty.
Why? Well, for much the same reason that other spiritual traditions believe women can’t be priests or it’s sinful to drink beverages containing caffeine or cows should be able to wander wherever they like without human interference. It’s because Dazbog’s god says so. It’s not subject to negotiation.
Fortunately for Dazbog, his great grandparents moved to the United States many decades ago to avoid persecution. He enjoys a constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. As a consequence, his life is swell.
Or it was until one July morning, when a couple walked into Dazbog’s shop and announced they were looking for someone to take photos at their wedding. Dazbog could tell immediately that something about them wasn’t right. For one thing, even though it was 80 degrees outside, they were wearing heavy-duty winter parkas, thick gloves and insulated boots.
“You … you are from Antarctica!” Dazbog cried out in horror. “You’ve come here to try to force me under Maine’s same-climate marriage law to take part in your godless ritual defiling the traditional nuptials of two people from temperate climates in defiance of holy scripture!
“Get out of my store, you … you … Ants!”
(For the record, “Ants” is an actual ethnic slur against people from Antarctica. As far as I can tell, it’s the only one.)
The two people were naturally taken aback by Dazbog’s outburst.
“You’ve got us all wrong,” said the woman. “We’re not Ants. We’re Oxycodone addicts, and we’re here to rob you so we can buy drugs.”
Upon hearing this, Dazbog was greatly relieved that he wouldn’t be forced to choose between his irrational beliefs and the possibility he’d be sued for discrimination. He cheerfully handed over the contents of his cash box and submitted without fuss to being tied up in his back room. Dazbog didn’t even care when the two junkies stole all his camera equipment, because neither riches nor possessions was more important than preserving the purity of his immortal soul from the sin of associating with Ants.
While this little fable has a happy ending, the folks at Protect Marriage Maine (warning: Some words may appear to be out of order) are insisting that won’t be the case if voters approve the same-sex marriage question on the November ballot. They sent me an email that claimed that if this proposal wins, “Citizens, small businesses and religious organizations would not be allowed to let their beliefs and traditions determine their decisions, and they would find themselves in legal trouble if they do not comply with the new law's heavy-handed mandates.”
Scary. And false.
Current Maine law already bans businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. It also exempts religious organizations from being forced to do anything that conflicts with their beliefs about homosexuality – or, for that matter, people from Antarctica. As for ordinary citizens, they can harbor any prejudices they like, no matter how stupid.
If same-sex marriage supporters prevail, none of that changes. Individuals can still hate anybody they choose. Churches can continue to shun those they despise. And businesses that cater to the public will have to keep on taking the money of all customers, even if they don’t approve of their skin color, religious practices or sex lives. The law that’s in effect right now doesn’t allow for exceptions just because, like Dazbog, somebody happens to have a quirky set of moral objections.
In 2009, voters repealed the marriage equality law approved by the Legislature in large part because of phony claims about how it would require schools to teach children that some people are gay, and some of those that are might want to experience wedded bliss. There was no such educational mandate in the law, even though it’s true about there being gay people and all.
This time around, the same fearmongers have a different set of lies about how same-sex marriage will create a new class of lawsuits. They’re still blowing smoke.
It’s a free county. Like Dazbog, you can believe what you want. Of course, sooner or later, like him, you may have to confront reality. Which contains plenty of worse things than allowing other people – even those you don’t approve of – to be happy.
Ants in your pants? Express your agitation by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.