Freedom to marry
In a Feb. 14 letter to the Bangor Daily News, John Wescott wrote of the need to strengthen the civil institution of marriage. I agree. This is why I spent the fall collecting signatures to put marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples on the ballot in November.
A large majority of the people I asked were eager to sign. A number of people told me that they had changed their minds since 2009 and would be grateful to have the opportunity to vote again.
I remember in particular a conversation in Rockland with a man who mistakenly believed that the limited protections of a civil union license or of a domestic partnership registration were equivalent to those conferred by a marriage license. When he realized that separate is not equal and that civil union is neither a parallel nor a substitute for the unique institution of marriage, he gladly signed the petition. He was joined by 3,303 people in Knox County.
I urge all Mainers to consider this issue very carefully before next November. Everyone should have the freedom to marry.
Not so proud
President Obama, radio host Stephanie Miller, BDN columnist Renee Ordway and others believe Sandra Fluke’s testimony that 40 percent of the women at Georgetown University are “struggling” to pay $3,000 a year for contraceptives is a brave statement for women’s rights. But to others, it rings hollow.
Parents who struggled financially to put these women through college and strove to teach them the difference between right and wrong during their lives at home must be some proud.
In the wake of Sen. Olympia Snowe’s decision not to run for reelection, much has been made of the dysfunction that characterizes Washington today. Unfortunately, most of the discussion has missed the point.
The truth is that partisanship is not the source of the stalemate. It is the hijacking of our democratic process by corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent.
It is clear that 99 percent of the people lose when Congress cannot pass a budget or plays politics with the debt ceiling. But not the 1 percent. They portray government as the enemy to divert attention from their own stealthy hijacking of the country. They seek to strangle government in order to lower taxes on the rich and cripple regulation of activities that might compromise our environment or prey on the weak and vulnerable.
The 1 percent have no interest in bringing the perpetrators of the financial collapse to justice and preventing them from repeating their reckless manipulations, in redirecting our financial resources from military to civilian strength or in providing access to quality education and health care for all.
It would be nice if the solution was compromise and conciliation. But for our democracy to flourish, we must insist that corporations are not people, that unbridled money does not equal free speech and that our elected representatives are no longer for sale.
To restore the luster of the Senate our senators must turn from the scripts of their moneyed masters and re-engage with and serve the interests of the rest of us.