Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Friday, March 11, 2005

Did M.D. Harmon mess up? Yes. Is he wrong on gay rights? Definitely.

I don't intend to make a habit of posting on Friday nights, but tonight I'm sick and stuck in my apartment, so I figured I'd spend a few minutes exposing ignorance and bigotry. I blame any typos on the medicine.

Harmon attempts the impossible today by trying to defend Christian Civic League head Michael Heath. He insists that those who criticize heath are making a huge deal about nothing, saying that they are "like gulls" and that "the flapping and squawking is furious, but there may be less to focus on than all the screeching might lead you to believe."

I found one bit of screeching from Mr. Harmon to be particularly interesting.
True, Heath certainly opened himself up to criticism when he asked his supporters to identify "gay rights" backers in the Legislature as a means of effectively countering their efforts.

This is a blatant misrepresentation. Heath wasn't trying to identify "'gay rights' backers", he was trying to out gays. Perhaps Harmon doesn't read his own newspaper. Here's the first paragraph of an article from the PPH published exactly one year ago today:
The head of the Christian Civic League of Maine apologized Wednesday for using the group's Web site to solicit information about the sexual orientation of lawmakers and other state officials.

The unconscionable actions of the League resulted in a Spartacus-like response from lawmakers of every party.
Heterosexual legislators went out of their way to join forces with gays and lesbians, buttonholing reporters and officials in the halls of the State House to "out" themselves as the House and Senate prepared to condemn Heath's actions.

"How many representatives came out of the closet today?" Rep. Sean Faircloth, D-Bangor, who is not gay, asked a reporter. "You can add me to the list."

Baldacci, who often shies away from using forceful language, pulled no punches Wednesday when he said the purpose of any list of gays and lesbians developed by the Christian Civic League "can only be to destroy careers, the most insidious form of discrimination.

"I was very outraged when I saw the headlines," Baldacci told reporters. "I say there's no defense for their remarks."

It was virtually impossible Wednesday to find anyone in the State House who supported Heath's attempt to compile a sexual-orientation list. Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, lawmakers and lobbyists hammered away at him privately and publicly. Even his allies in the Legislature tried to distance themselves from Heath.

"When I found out (what the league had done) I called Michael Heath and told him what he did was wrong and he needed to apologize," said Rep. Brian Duprey, R-Hampden, who sponsored the failed same-sex marriage ban in the House. "It matters how people vote, not what their private lifestyle is."

"I was just disgusted when I saw that, and I probably agree with him on most of the issues," said Senate Minority Leader Paul Davis, R-Sangerville.

Heath's actions brought the bipartisan condemnation of every state Senator. Their public letter stated "Such attacks will harm all of us by lowering the level of public discourse." Obviously they didn't believe Heath's actions were simply "a means of effectively countering" gay rights supporters. What Harmon calls a "faux pas" Speaker Richardson referred to as "an all-time low in Maine politics."

After his misguided defense of Heath, Harmon goes off on another factually deficient rant.
Doesn't anyone else think it's strange that, when the Catholic Church is under great scrutiny for failing to protect young boys from homosexual predators, the Boy Scouts are under fire for wanting to protect young boys from the same danger?

Put another way, no one I know is suggesting the Girl Scouts send 10- to 14-year-old girls out on trips supervised by unrelated men, even if those men are paragons of virtue. But these folks are happy to have men who are sexually attracted to other men do it for teenage boys.

Obviously Harmon was never a scout, or he would know that adult leaders of either sex are never allowed alone with children. The "two-deep" leadership system ensures that two registered leaders, or a leader and a parent of a participant are present at all times. (regulations here). And of course men can be girl scout leaders. From the girl scouts website:
We're looking for volunteers who represent the diversity of the world we live in-men as well as women, senior citizens as well as younger adults, people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and of course our treasured alumni-anyone who wants to help make a difference in the lives of girls.

So girls are allowed to go on trips with male leaders, as long as safeguards are in place. These same safeguards are in place with the boy scouts, so what's his problem with gay leaders?

His argument fails, but that's not what this passage is really about. Hiding behind this seemingly rational, if mistaken argument is a much more insidious message. Harmon blatantly links homosexuality with pedophilia here by using the phrase "homosexual predators". The whole reason why he posits this argument is as a subtle and malicious scare tactic. He wants people to equate homosexuals with child molesters.

There's more, but I should really get some soup and go to bed. I'll end with one last observation. I notice that in this column, Harmon uses the phrase "the Cult of the Imperial Self" a couple times (without attribution) to describe a dangerous ideology that promotes a "solipsistic worldview" and is hurting our civilization. That phrase was coined by the late Democratic Governor Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania, an avowed Catholic. Gov. Casey was referring to abortion, not gay rights when he wrote those words. Casey's son (who is opposed to a constitutional ban on gay marriage) will be challenging far-right homophobe Rick Santorum for the Senate in 2006 and I hope he kicks his ass.

Visit the new Maine Politics.


I have written several letters to the PPH complaining that MD Harmon is given a platform to express pure bigotry, but they were never published. I guess the PPH sees itself as "Fair and Balanced", 

Posted by David

3/12/2005 06:40:00 AM


David is a good of example of the typical liberal who wants to silence those with which he disagrees. 

Posted by George

3/12/2005 11:13:00 AM


And George is a good example of a typical Republican who makes stupid generalized accusations based on no evidence. :) 

Posted by Jen

3/12/2005 01:57:00 PM



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