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10/09/2009

Hey Marc, I need you to make some copies, mail this letter, and, oh yea -- roll back civil equality for gay people

by Jeremy Hooper

People often ask me why I care so much about this equality fight. For me, that question is almost offensive. Because how could I not care about my life? My citizenship? My family? My country and the fair fulfillment of its laws? My safety on this mortal coil? How could I not want to stand up against the forces who threaten all these things and more?

When I began engaging in this co-called "culture war," I didn't do so for fun. Heck, I had been working in the entertainment industry in the years prior. In terms of glamour, the gay rights fight was a definite downgrade.

I also didn't do so because of outside pressure. In fact, I would say there were more people who tried to persuade me out of "rocking the boat" than there were supporters.

And yet I've kept it up, because I understand that the threats are very real. The more I have learned about all of this, the more I have to offer. So on my own free will, I choose to share my knowledge with the world, hoping to spark positive change for a community that has been denied justice for far too long.

So why do I tell you all this? Well, because I was startled to read the following little nugget in a new Washington Post article:

[Jesse Connolly's] conservative counterpart, Marc Mutty, plays more to type. The chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine said he agreed to lead the opposition campaign "because my boss told me to." His boss is Richard Malone, bishop of the Portland Roman Catholic diocese, which has unequivocally thrown itself into the election, going so far as to pass around collection plates at Sunday Masses to fund the campaign.
For Gay Marriage, the Maine Event Is Low-Key [Wa Po]

"Because my boss told me to"?! "Because my boss told me to"?! "BECAUSE MY BOSS TOLD ME TO"?! Surely there is some jest in Mr. Mutty's answer; but I suspect there is a majority share of truth. And that truth shows one of the clear differences between our two sides!

Look, we gay folk don't want this fight. I've always said that my greatest accomplishment would be to render my work irrelevant. However, we LGBTs (and allies) have no choice BUT to push back, since folks like Bishop Malone are telling people like Marc Mutty that they have to attack LGBT lives and loves, because that is what God would want them to do. Instead of dedicating the considerable time, money, and manpower to embolden actual societal goods/combat actual societal ills, scores of faith-based figures (like Malone) have created a cottage industry built entirely around keeping LGBT people stigmatized. And so for people like Marc Mutty, this is just another day at the office. He says "my boss told me to" with the same complacent ease that most workers reserve for the times that they have to run out and grab their superior a cup of coffee.

Well eventhough these constant attacks on our existences might make our blood hotter that the aforementioned scalding beverage, the stripping of our civil rights is not just another menial office task. If Marc Mutty truly is fighting to rollback marriage equality in Maine simple because his boss told him to use his personal religious views to take away others' civil liberties, then that may be an accomplishment he wants to leave off his resumé. That is, if he hopes to move on to an employer who places productivity above inefficient, costly, injurious time-wasters.

**

*NOTE: Be sure to read the full WaPo piece. It's a good take on the Maine fight.

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Your thoughts

Sounds like the Catholic Church needs to be reporting some "in kind" contributions to the campaign?? If MacNutty is on their payroll, and is more than likely spending most (if not all) of his time working on a political campaign, that sounds like a campaign contribution to me. And, unless the actual campaign is reimbursing the Catholics for his salary expense, then to me it sounds like the church is taking tax-exempt receipts and using them for non-tax-exempt purposes. If that isn't illegal, then it should be!

Posted by: Dick Mills | Oct 9, 2009 8:47:13 AM

I don't understand this description of Catholic fund-raising from the pews:

One of the churchgoers, Gwen De Cicco, 38, of Portland, said she had seen envelopes left on the pews at another church across town, soliciting donations for the campaign. The small print on the envelope notified parishioners that these donations were not tax deductible.

So, the money collected by the church is going to SFMM? And will eventually be reported as a lump sum from the diocese? Doesn't that make the church a PAC?

Or, are the envelopes delivered en masse to SFMM? So, individual checks should be accounted for?

I know these questions are being asked elsewhere by smarter people than me... I just hadn't considered the mechanics before.

Posted by: Bose | Oct 9, 2009 4:50:47 PM

Bose: They have it all down to a science. In California, there were strict instructions given to pastors about what kind of envelopes to use, how to use them, where to send them. They have it all figured out so they can *just barely* get around the laws.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 9, 2009 5:17:38 PM

My guess is that when he said "my boss told me to," he was not referring to the bishop. He was talking about the Boss Upstairs.

Though oddly enough, Jesus never mentioned much about homosexuality...

Posted by: Rook | Oct 9, 2009 6:17:34 PM

Bose, the only way that a church can get away with "taking up a special offering" for a political advocacy campaign, is to have donors place contributions in sealed envelopes, and deliver the unopened envelopes to the campaign. Any checks in those envelopes must be made out to the campaign, and not to the church, and any contributions over a certain dollar amount (I think in Maine it is $50) must include the identifying information about the donor - and that identifying information along with the amount of the donation must be disclosed publicly. Of course, that is the only "legal" way for them to do it, and that doesn't necessarily mean that they are strictly obeying the law.

If the church lends employees, office equipment, or any other church supplied services, equipment, or supplies to the campaign, those contributions are considered to be in-kind donations. In kind donations are supposed to be reported to the IRS, and are "technically" subject to severe limitations. But, the IRS hasn't ever defined what those limitations really are.

I personally, believe that any church that provides any services to any political campaign should be required to disclose each and every expense. And that each of those expenses should be taxable at twice the corporate tax rates. This would incentivise the formation of PACs for churches that want to enter political races, and force them to obey campaign finance laws, and necessitate the adherence to arms-length arrangements between the PAC and the church. And, that's the way it should be.

I also believe that failure to obey the disclosure laws should result in fines of no less than 5 times the contributed amount, and serious criminal repercussions. Churches should never (NEVER) be allowed to get away with utilizing tax-exempt donations for taxable electioneering PERIOD! And, now, they get away with doing that far too often.

But, that's just me, and who the fuck am I.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Oct 9, 2009 11:15:39 PM

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