RENEE ORDWAY

Same-sex marriage debate turned nasty over a sign near an orchard

Posted Oct. 26, 2012, at 6:08 p.m.
Renee Ordway
Renee Ordway

Last weekend, my son spent Saturday making some of those annoying political phone calls most of us are so busy trying to ignore.

He was calling on behalf of the Yes on One campaign.

He was energized at the end of his shift.

A couple of nights later, a teenage girl showed up at our house, right at dinner time — you know how they do — asking for our support on Question 1.

We spoke, she and my son recognized one another, she fussed over our menagerie of pets, we gave her a small donation, she gave us a bumper sticker and she left.

Ill-timed visits by campaign volunteers, multitudes of brochures hung on our doors, a dizzying number of political signs obscuring our view at every street corner, TV debates interrupting regularly scheduled programming, absurd political commercials, blame and more blame — welcome to election season.

And now technology has blessed us with another avenue on which to air our political opinions. An easily accessible public path to argue with one another, belittle one another and rant.

Facebook.

Until last weekend, Gary Treworgy and his family were primarily known for their farm where families gather each fall to tackle a corn maze, pick apples and pumpkins and to pet goats.

But then Gary Treworgy, the family patriarch, agreed to place a small campaign sign on his lawn urging voters to opt for no on Question 1, and the farm’s normally pleasant Facebook page turned into a virtual, but nonetheless nasty, battlefield.

The family decided to take down the sign when someone stopped in to and said it was hurtful, but it didn’t stop the online tirade.

On Friday, the BDN published a letter to the editor penned by Treworgy. His words were well thought out and extremely tolerant.

Those campaigning for gay marriage have much practice refining their message during the past decade. They have fought hard for this right. They have done so respectfully and patiently, and they have just about the most effective TV ads I’ve ever seen.

It seems to be paying off. One recent poll showed 55 percent of Maine voters in favor of same-sex marriage and 39 percent opposed.

Of all the campaigning going on, the Yes on One campaign has been the smartest and classiest, and I’d like to think the most effective in the state.

Despite the strong beliefs on both sides, the issue had not been reduced to name-calling and rhetoric.

Then Treworgy placed that little sign on his lawn.

And Treworgy Family Orchard’s Facebook page lit up with a litany of hate comments and threats.

Family members were called haters and racists and the business was threatened with boycotts by some same-sex marriage supporters and suggestions that the Treworgy family would not welcome a gay person in their church and should be ashamed. Those against it quickly rallied with equally hateful retorts threatening God’s wrath on the gay community.

My admiration for the way both sides were running their campaigns was greatly diminished.

My son will still be helping out on the Yes on One campaign. I will vote yes and be damn glad I have the right to do so.

But if those who started and participated in the name-calling Facebook campaign against Treworgy and his family for simply putting a campaign sign on the lawn thought they were helping their cause, I think they are sorely mistaken.

Same-sex marriage supporters have fought hard and smart, and they are closer to the finish line than ever before in Maine — too close for the battle to be lost because of hateful and spiteful tirades by those who purport to be searching for tolerance and acceptance.

I hope those still making their decision will look somewhere other than the Treworgy Family Orchard Facebook page for their answers, because the views posted there by those on both sides of the issue are not where those answers will be found.

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