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05/21/2009

Heath's bar: Examining the verbal diarrhea of Maine's head anti-gay

by Jeremy Hooper

Far be it from us to give our organized opposition advice. But if they wish to put forth something that even somewhat resembles a moral, righteous, intellectual front, we do feel compelled to recommend that they replace Mike Heath as the head of their attempt to rollback marriage equality in Maine. Because while the opposition movement's top dogs may have successfully rebranded his Christian Civic League of Maine group as the Maine Family Policy Council (to more fully acknowledge its Focus on the Family/FRC ties), they have not been able to change the unbelievable rhetoric and wacky-even-for-the-far-right views that have long positioned Mr. Heath as one of this nation's most unabashed, unscrupulous foes of the 'mos.

We've already seen Mike (who is also a board member of Peter LaBarbera's Americans For Truth group) paint gays as Satan and as weeds in need of uprooting. We've heard his accuse Sen. Mike-HeathSusan Collins of supporting "evil ideas and lifestyle" (i.e. us) and suggest that the financial crisis is due to God's wrath against gays. We've heard his organization liken our marriages to a total species overhaul. We've seen Mike's supporters say things like "wipe the stench out" in reference to LGBT people. And there are years and years of other insults the full range of which could never fully cover here (**here's a full archive for the particularly industrious).

But now Mike is focused on the so-called People's Veto, his attempt to toll back Maine's newly approved marriage rights. Of the language that the Secretary of State has assigned to the attempted rollback...

"Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?"

...Mr. Heath has offered these three off-base thoughts:

1. This "new law" must be rejected because it doesn't qualify as a law! Laws have to be fair and just. This one clearly is not just. It presupposes that something which is fundamentally wrong and immoral (homosexuality) can qualify someone for the high status of marriage. That is obviously crazy.

2. The phrase "same sex" is meaningless. This should read "homosexual," not "same sex." This euphemism simply confuses people.

3. The last clause is cleverly worded. The Secretary of State, Matt Dunlap, has always supported homosexual rights. The clause is subtle. It causes the reader to conclude that religious individuals and groups are intolerant. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the passage of this law the state decided not to tolerate common sense and truth. Everyone knows that marriage is between one man and one woman. You don't have to be religious to know that, but I for one think it is wonderful that Christianity upholds this important institution. It is beyond tragic that the state no longer does. It is horrific and insane

What is same sex anyway [Mike Heath's blog]

Okay. Let's take this point by point:

#1. Completely based on his homo-hostile opinion. Even the more mainstream "pro-family" activists would concede that marriage laws are laws, whether they like them or not. When running a rollback campaign, words like "crazy" and "immoral" are offensive not only to the gay people whose lives and couplings they demean, but also to the voters who are wishing to weigh in on legal fact rather than one man's biased opinions.

#2. This one is just dumb. A participant in a same-sex marriage is not necessarily a homosexual. A bisexual person can be in a same-sex marriage. A person who eschews labels can be in a same-sex relationship. Anyone who falls in love with and wishes to commit to someone of the same sex can be in a same-sex marriage. Referring to these couples as nothing but homosexual is just a silly suggestion.

#3. On this one, we actually agree that there is some room for confusion. Whereas it is meant to reinforce the idea that
nobody is ever forced to perform marriages, the language could confuse people on both sides as to what, exactly, they are casting their vote.

But that being said: It's pretty hysterical (read: enraging) that Mr. Heath suggests that Secretary Dunlap is working to make his side look intolerant, then immediately follows up that thought by positioning same-sex unions as (
a) anti-common sense and truth, (b) anti-Christian, (c) tragic, and (d) both horrific and insane! Just like in #1, he is using his personally-held, uber-far-right, faith-based biases to speak on civil law.

And again: This is the man that people like Tony Perkins have personally positioned as Maine's "pro-family" leader. This is the man who will be seeing on the front lines in the many months between now and the attempted rollback referendum (which could qualify for November, but most likely won't make it to ballot until 2010). This is a man who has been entrusted to accurately inform the Maine public about a crucial civil rights matters. A man who seems completely unconcerned with filtering his views, and who genuinely seems desirous to hurt, shun, and demean LGBT people as fully and frequently as he possibly can.

So wait, on second thought, "pro-family" movement: PLEASE KEEP MICHAEL HEATH FRONT AND CENTER!

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Your thoughts

He's got the rhetoric down. Now if he could just put the lyrics to music. Oh, wait. It's already been done. I think it was called "The Producers." Visualize Heath in the shower singing "When It's Spring Time In Germany..." Better yet, picture Herr Heath doing the sack cloth & ashes routine when Maine voters defeat the rollback referendum.

Posted by: David | May 21, 2009 10:38:04 AM

He'll have to tamp it down bigtime or he won't last long...Maggie & Brian will march in with some Mormon cash and a platter for his head. And a commercial with young children speaking out to their teachers about the right to exclusive "opposite marriage."

Posted by: Bruno | May 21, 2009 2:09:33 PM

unfortunately, this roll back will succeed. never underestimate the power of hatred. my partner's mother is dating a man who, on the surface, is supportive. we are welcome in his home. and he attended our wedding. but he is a born-again and we know that if given the chance to vote to ban our marriage, he would. luckily new york doesn't have this option.

Posted by: Stojef | May 21, 2009 2:23:02 PM

Every time that our rights have been put up to a popular vote, we have lost. I don't know that we have lost due to hatred, per se, as much as the fact that it's easy for those who do hate us to flagrantly lie about us and conflate our existence with everything evil and detestable in the world. And, a gullibly (read: stupidly) sheepish electorate that seems to happily believe their lies. That, coupled with our willy-nilly and spinelessly deficient ability to portray the lying liars as what they are, always seems to end up with us on the losing end of the stick. Maybe one day we will learn from our mistakes.

Posted by: Dick Mills | May 21, 2009 4:32:10 PM

Oh don;t get me wrong: I don't at all underestimate how hard this fight is going to be. But monitoring the movement as I do, I know that Michael Heath is a completely different animal from those who fought for Prop 8. He has an unrestrained tongue, and is willing to go rogue for his values. And if you ask anyone in Maine, he is the one who Mainers associate with the anti-gay fight -- so it would be difficult for their side to disconnect form him even if they wanted to.

So all I'm saying is that there might be some good stuff for us to mine, starting right now. Throw out every last bit of nasty that Mike has tossed our way and, like Dick says, ACTUALLY FIGHT BACK this time!!

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 21, 2009 4:59:57 PM

If our side can post footage of Heath's rants in our commercial it may help to convince some people that they are getting into bed with a lunatic, but I don't think enough people.

Posted by: stojef | May 21, 2009 6:58:20 PM

Religion is only as good as the means to which it is used. Using Religion as a guise for his vile bigotry, Mr.Heath along with many other Christian fundamentalists are not doing the work of God. Even if they do believe it is immoral to be homosexual, when you speak as Mr.Heath speaks one will only succeed at pushing more people from Christ. The people that are pushed from Christ are not just homosexuals either. Of course Christianity has been used for oppression, abuse, and hatred before; it shouldn't really come as a surprise.

Posted by: Dar | May 28, 2009 11:50:59 PM

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