A Letter to the Editor Response

In Bob Emrich’s editorial opinion; “Marriage: Society’s bond with children” he levels an accusation at the Bangor Daily News that it is, itself, a gay marriage advocate. The assertion that the BDN is an un-balanced supporter of gay marriage is off-base. Why in the world would a newspaper ever print a letter to the editor that was so poorly written and horribly argued as the aforementioned if it was not attempting to be as balanced as possible?

Pastor Emrich’s letter is pockmarked with double-speak and inaccuracies like zits on a teenager’s face. It is easily one of the worst arguments I have ever heard for his cause. His position on the executive committee of Protect Marriage Maine is a mystery to me considering his inability to adequately argue for his case.

Firstly, Emrich accuses the BDN of waxing “on about the importance of these adults being able to do as they wish”. For a man so concerned about marriage being re-defined, he seems to have no trouble re-defining the tone of the debate. The assertion that gay couples are fighting for marriage equality just to “do as they wish” over-looks the fact that any time they want, the couples can have a marriage ceremony that is just as spiritually fulfilling as anyone else’s. These couples just don’t receive the same legal rights under the law.

Which brings me to a second glaring mistake: Emrich writes in his political OpEd, “The Bangor Daily News joins with backers of same-sex to attempt to make marriage a political issue. It isn’t.” Actually, it is. Even omitting the fact that Emrich is a leader of a political interest group pertaining to marriage, the objective facts of the matter are that the government gives benefits to couples that are considered married, debates over government programs and benefits are political and there is a debate over who should get marriage benefits from the government. Marriage is a political issue and everyone seems to know it except Bob Emrich.

Thirdly, Emrich’s attempts to make a compelling argument fall short on the often-used but rarely-effective argument that marriage is really all about children. The sore-thumb question is, “what about heterosexual couples that can’t have kids? Why should they get married?” Emrich decries the plight of kids lacking a mother or a father and cites “social science data” that finds increased risks for these young people. Emrich and others will spend millions this year to stop gay couples from gaining equal marriage rights in Maine. That money could go to assist many of those children in those bad situations but it will not.

Emrich attempts to justify the mudslinging anti-gay marriage campaign of 2009 which saw commercials asserting, “legalizing gay marriage has everything to do with schools!”  by claiming that they never said, nor are they saying that schools will be forced to teach gay marriage, Emrich says, “What we have argued is that when marriage is taught in school, it will be a new genderless version of marriage that will be at odds with the religious, moral and personal beliefs of many Mainers and one that is forced on children over the objections of parents,”

So Emrich isn’t implying that gay marriage is going to be forced down the throats of our children. He’s saying that’s the case.

Finally, Emrich explains that “anyone who disagrees with this new definition of marriage will potentially find themselves facing consequences.” It sounds like Emrich is telling us that the government, who is apparently tasked with teaching our children about traditional marriage, is going to come knocking down our door if we believe in traditional marriage. However, he cites churches who have lost their tax exemption without addressing the fact that all non-profits are tax-exempt until they start donating to political campaigns, which those churches did.

If Emrich was really in support of traditional marriage, he should argue that the government should be giving no benefits to any married couples because it is a religious institution. He should argue that marriage shouldn’t be taught in schools because it’s not up for the government to define marriage, and he should wed whoever he believes should be married in his church as it was traditionally done. Emrich’s failure to take that approach lays bare a weak and poorly-worded argument to keep equal legal rights out of the hands of a minority group of Americans and nothing more. Protect Marriage Maine is in desperate need of a new spokesman.

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