Gay marriage is a divisive issue which will leave a permanent scar in Maine, whichever way it’s decided, because the tactic of liberal pro-gay marriage and conservative pro-traditionalists is to politicize and demonize each other.

I struggled with this issue while doing research to write this column. I’ve never been a “warm and fuzzy” type and do not believe political correctness is the best way to address issues that address core values and beliefs.

I am against gay marriage. But does this mean I am a bigot or homophobe because it goes against my core beliefs? Am I intolerant because I disagree with gay rights advocates?

I would be intolerant if I would not allow other opinions or lifestyles, but standing up for my beliefs is not intolerance. If you still consider me intolerant, does that mean gay activists are also intolerant? The left says they are enlightened and I am not, because of how some people express their views.

(The left is good at grouping everyone together and telling us that “everybody” that holds a different opinion all think the same. Way to stereotype, but that’s being enlightened!)

I do not consider myself an intolerant right-wing wacko. People who know me know I make informed decisions based on my principles and values. I am a typical American who believes marriage is between “one man, one woman.” I have a gay brother that’s been in a relationship for many years, which has given me first-hand experience of the struggles and discrimination that is perpetuated by the intolerant, bigoted idiots that are out there.

The question that arises is, “Why marriage instead of civil unions?” First, the acceptance to civil unions over the past 10 years is amazing. Is the issue really about equality in a relationship or is it an attempt to erode the traditional family values? The right believes it is just a tactic to erode and destroy the traditional family values, while the left claims it is about equality.

If this is truly about equality, why then is the left resisting proposals to allow civil unions? Currently, a pending bill from Rep. Les Fossel, R-Alna, would give same-sex couples all the same rights afforded to married couples.

One would think the gay community would be ecstatic to have this proposal with bipartisan support. If a liberal Democrat had brought this proposal forward, the gay community would embrace it in a heartbeat. I know, I am nave to believe Democrats would allow a competing measure against someone from the far left within their own party.

Another question that resonates is why do legislators divide the electorate with such issues as gay marriage? This issue makes for great press, but does nothing to move Maine ahead in a positive manner because of the “crisis” mentality and negative campaigning.

What is in it for the politicians? Why thwart the will of the majority of Mainers? I contend this is nothing more than the liberal Democrats trying to divide, nothing but a distraction to the real issues at hand and payback to the Democrats.

But I digress.

I do not want anyone’s “inalienable rights” guaranteed by the constitution to be denied. I am however, offended that my rights are therefore eroded in the name of tolerance.

The country is not receptive to changing the definition of traditional marriage as “one man, one woman.” Since 1998, polls haven’t moved when the issue was raised. The numbers only changed when the referendum appeared on ballots in states where the issue stirred the voters.

Ironically, polarizing the electorate doesn’t help people who accept gay marriage and hurts efforts of acceptance towards gay marriage and civil unions. Rhetoric and the dissemination of misinformation has worked to revive prejudices and reinforce divisions within communities.

The only way such a divisive issue will move forward is for people to change what is in their hearts, their core principles. Yet rhetoric that demeans and impugns these values will not force people to accept radical change, especially one that is against what they were raised to believe.

I don’t foresee my core values changing. Nor do see the majority of the electorate changing.

One thing is for sure, though. Liberal Democrats will continue to use this wedge issue for selfish and self-serving reasons: to get re-elected, keep their majority and deflect the real issues of jobs and the economy.

Talk about how some things never change!

Scott Lansley is chair of the Androscoggin County Republican Committee, a former legislator and current selectman in Sabattus. E-mail: [email protected]

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