Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Theopublicans push antifamily initiative.

There is no fool like an old fool. It takes years of practice. Just ask Kris Mineau, a Theopublican bigot who is funded by the extreme Right. Kris, who is spite of the more feminine spelling of the name is a man, wants to strip gay couples and their families of equal protection under the law in Massachusetts.

Fundamentalists have pumped millions into the state in an attempt to repeal gay marriage. But still had to resort to fraud in order to gather the signatures necessary for their petition drive. The “moral” minority of theocrats hired people from outside Massachusetts to collection petition signatures for the initiative. Each petitioner was paid on a per signature basis. This gives them the incentive to forge signatures and forge signatures they did.

One young woman who gathered the signatures, Angela McElroy said that the petitioners were also circulating another petition on to allow the sale of wine in stores. When people happily signed that petition their name and address was later copied onto the antifamily petition of the Fundamentalists. According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, petitioners “were paid $1 per signature they obtained if the number was less than 500 names. The amount rose to $1.50 a signature if the gatherer produced 500 or more names.”

With the massive sums of cash poured into the state by outside Right-wing fundamentalist groups petitioners had their air fare paid to fly to Massachusetts, their motel costs were covered and they were given $20 per day for food.

Another tactic used by the petitioners was to take the wine petition and put it on top with the anti-marriage petition underneath. After a person signed the first petition they were told they needed two copies and would turn the page where the signature section of the second petition wad displayed for them to sign. It is quite easy to arrange things so that the person doesn’t see the second petition is actually a very different from the one they agreed to sign.

The Massachusetts Food Association, sponsors of the drive to allow the sale of beer and wine in supermarkets, actually “refused to accept hundreds of signatures gathered by individuals who were also collecting signatures for the gay-marriage question.” They did so because they had “received several complaints from supermarket customers that they were the targets of bait-and-switch tactics by signature gatherers.” The president of the association said: “We don’t condone these bait-and-switch tactics. What happened was illegal.” The Attorney General for the state said they received at least a dozen complaints regarding this tactic.

Mineau’s misnamed Massachusetts Family Institute is a front group for theocrats. Not only do they wish to force children with gay parents to live in families where the parents are not allowed to marry but they want to ban stem cell research, outlaw gambling, and push for state censorship. In other words they are advocates of big government who want to strip away freedom on many levels.

Mineau’s group brags about collecting a “record 170,000 petition signatures to get the amendment before the legislature”. But this is no surprise considering the tactics they used and the vast resources made available to them by fundamentalist front groups.

The state legislature had voted to recess without considering the matter but Gov. Mitt Romney was pushing for a vote on the issue. The legislature has to vote on the matter one each year for two years before having a referendum on the matter. And they just voted 134 against and 62 in favor of putting the antifamily initiative to a public vote. But under state law only 50 legislators need support the measure to force the vote.

Romney first ran for office as a pro-gay Republican. But two things have changed. One is that the Republican Party is now under the control of theocrats and the second is that Romney wants to be president. So Romney flip-flopped his positions totally and is running as an antigay Republican in order to try and secure the GOP nomination for Fuhrer, I mean president. What is amusing is that Romney is a Mormon and Mineau's church links to a site which sells dozens of anti-Mormon books. Mineau's church would also believe that faithful Catholics are also going to hell. A fact which no doubt is not being discussed since Mineau needs Catholic support to win his hate campaign.

Several anti-marriage legislators have lost their seats so the new legislature will have more support for marriage rights for gay couples than the outgoing one. But whether there is enough support to knock support for the initiative below the 50 mark remains to be seen. Romney is out of office and the new governor is a vocal opponent of the antifamily initiative proposed by the Theopublicans.

If the matter gains more than 50 votes in the next legislative session the antifamily initiative will go to a public vote. If that happens the fundamentalist Right will pour millions of dollars into the state to repeal marriage and deny children the right to married parents.

Mineau, a fundamentalist elder at the Trinity Evangelical Church, is happy that a tiny minority of legislators supported his measure since he only needs a tiny minority in order to force a vote. He called the measure “democracy in action”. Of course there is a reason the US was founded as a Republican and not a democracy. And one was that the rights of minorities should never be subjected to majority approval.

Individual rights should never be subjected to majority approval. Black Americans in the South would not have been given the vote if majority approval was required first. Minorities in a society should not be at the mercy of the majority.

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “It is ridiculous to suppose that a man had less rights in himself than one of his neighbours, or, indeed, than all of them put together." But a referendum on rights assumes that "all of them put together" can deny a man his rights.

Oscar Wilde once quipped that direct democracy "is the bludgeoning of the people, for the people, by the people." He wasn't far off in his observation especially if we consider how majorities throughout history were likely to treat minorities.

Photo: The photo is of Kris Mineau.