BY ALEX SCHIFF
Published October 26, 2009
Dear Gary Glenn,
I am writing this in response to your letter to the editor (Daily wrong, those against gay marriage not a minority, 10/08/2009). You are indeed correct to point out that 59 percent of Michigan voters approved the ban on same-sex marriage in 2004. It is also true that supermajorities supported slavery in the American South and Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Discrimination approved by majorities is still discrimination. The fact that a lot of people approved the Marriage Protection Amendment to the state constitution does not make it any less reprehensible and hateful in nature. Direct democracy does not confer justice in its own right.
Mr. Glenn, I assure you I know my civics — it is you who seem to be mistaken on the concept of direct democracy. The way the MPA was foisted on the people was not direct democracy. Direct democracy allows citizens to propose, shape and decide on the laws they are obliged to follow. Ballot initiatives present citizens with a poorly worded, legalese sentence that is incomprehensible to the average person. Consequently, many end up voting in ways opposite their intent. Here is what the amendment says:
“To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”
While you and many others may find nothing objectionable in this sentence, many will fail to realize its implications. By phrasing it in such a way, some will vote in favor of the amendment without being opposed to same-sex marriage. Further complicating matters, the beginning of the sentence primes the response that opponents of same-sex marriage seek. Inserting “to secure and preserve the benefits of marriage” distorts the decision process in the voting-booth by presupposing a correct answer, and therefore does not reflect the pure will of the people.
Even if you discard these obvious effects, it wasn’t votes that passed this discriminatory amendment — it was money. If this ballot initiative operated as a truly direct democracy, the state would have solicited citizens’ concerns and their proposed solutions. Instead, it received a vote on a confusing statement driven by a $1.9 million campaign against same-sex couples’ civil rights.
Mr. Glenn, you are the hypocrite. You accuse the Daily editorial staff (of which I am a member) of being “so far left and so intractably intolerant of those with a diversity of opinion on this issue that they really do think anyone who dares disagree with them … really are just a bunch of hatemongers.” I invite those reading this open letter to take a look at the website of Gary Glenn’s organization, the American Family Association (www.action.afa.net) and judge for yourself who the “hatemongers” really are. As President of the AFA of Michigan, you, Mr. Glenn, do not simply advocate “protecting marriage.” You advocate the idea that homosexual people are immoral stains on society and their lifestyle should be suppressed.
In your letter to the editor, you attempted, in vain, to frame The Michigan Daily as a bunch of crazy, radical, fringe leftists. But it is the AFA that appears most comfortable in its attacks the further it travels from the mainstream. Your “Action Alerts” are so insane, they have replaced both textsfromlastnight.com and Facebook.com as my top entertainment sources during Friday classes (okay, maybe not Facebook — but it’s close). My personal favorite so far has been your assertion that “ObamaCare” will place Planned Parenthood clinics in every school. Your commitment to tolerance is crystal clear in your mile-long list of boycotted companies — ranging from 7-Eleven, Burger King and Clorox to the Walt Disney Company, Microsoft and PepsiCo.
If anyone remains unconvinced of the identity of the true agents of intolerance, they need only take a cursory look at www.boycottpepsico.com, where your organization sponsors a boycott of Pepsi products because of the company's contribution to the Human Rights Campaign, its requirement that employees attend diversity training, its sponsorship of Family Guy (which, according to your organization, promotes the homosexual agenda) and refusing “to give one penny to help those trapped in this destructive and unhealthy lifestyle.” The scariest part of the whole website is that, based on your count, 354,620 people agree with you.
I’ll stick with drinking Pepsi. Do not allow the AFA and its members to cast blame on others for being intolerant when they are the ones who attempt to suppress every opposing viewpoint.
Alex Schiff is an LSA freshman.