Monday, April 18, 2011

Another Conversion Experience among Anti-Gay Activists: Marc Mutty of Catholic Diocese of Maine Reveals Troubled Conscience

Something is happening these days.  First, a leading propagandist for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Louis Marinelli, has what amounts to a conversion experience and begins to see the real human faces of the gay people he and NOM have attacked over the years.  Whose lives they've deliberately sought to make miserable, in the name of God.

And now this: Marc Mutty, the chair of the Yes on 1 campaign that fought successfully to yank the right of civil marriage from gay and lesbian citizens of Maine, tells the public his conscience is deeply troubled by what he and others attacking the gay community have been doing.  Mutty is public affairs director of the Catholic diocese of Maine, and he spearheaded and coordinated the organization that removed the right of marriage from Maine's gay citizens.

In yesterday's Portland Press Herald, Bill Nemitz reports on a soon-to-be-released documentary in which Joe Fox and James Nubile interview those who worked on both sides of the fence in the Maine elections in the fall of 2009.  Those interviewed include Mutty.  And what he tells Nemitz is fascinating, as a glimpse into the troubled conscience of someone working to remove rights from fellow human beings, while knowing that his activity is morally questionable, and that the methods used by anti-gay activists are often ethically unjustifiable.

Mutty tells Fox and Nubile, "I fear I'll be remembered for the work I did on this campaign."  And he states that he hopes to ask "for forgiveness for the ways in which I might have betrayed my own self in this endeavor."  When asked if he would lead the campaign to remove the right of marriage from Maine's gay citizens again, he replies, "No, I would never do this again.  That isn't saying the cause isn't worth fighting for. I'm saying that I personally could not do it." 

He also admits frankly that his side lied knowingly and willingly to try to secure votes to overturn the right of marriage for Maine's gay community.  One of the key talking points of Yes on 1 was that, unless gay marriage were overturned, teachers would be forced to teach same-sex marriage in schools in Maine.  Mutty now states that he and proponents of Yes on 1 knew all along that when they told the public this, they were lying.

But politics requires evading the truth, since it's not about being right, but about taking a two-by-four and slamming your opponents over the head with it.  In the case of the anti-gay marriage campaign in Maine, Mutty says the two-by-four was studded with nails that the Yes on 1 campaign deliberately placed there:

All we have to do is create doubt.  You don't have to convince people that you're right.

I know we need to do what we have to do -- not only slam people over the head with a two-by-four, but a two-by-four with nails sticking out of it.  And it's nuts ... unfortunately, I think it's a lousy approach. But it's the only thing we've got -- it's the only way. That's the way campaigns work.

And now Mutty has to live with the consequences of the choices he made in 2009, of the things he did to secure victory for his side--for the Catholic diocese of Maine, of which he is an employee and which he was representing in this ethically rotten campaign against the human rights of a minority community.  And he's wondering how to do so--how to incorporate into his life now what his conscience tells him about his past behavior, about the damage he has done to fellow human beings.  He's wondering what effect the decisions he has made will have on his career and reputation.

And what he'll be known for, when all is said and done.  A good question, one we all take to God at the end of our lives, when we who are Christian believe we will face a Lord who will ask us what we have done to him in the least among us.

As I say, something is in the air these days.  And that something appears to be the dawning of at least some glimmers of conscience among some of those who have, for a number of years now, knowingly and deliberately studded two-by-fours with nails and used their ugly political weapons--including outright lies--to attack, dehumanize, marginalize, and block the rights of fellow human beings.

What Nemitz does not mention, but what continues to deserve notice, is the close connection of Mutty's Yes on 1 campaign and of the Catholic diocese of Maine to NOM during the 2009 elections.  I blogged about this repeatedly at the time (e.g., here, here, here, and here).*  As my postings note, NOM played a key role in the Yes on 1 movement, and has repeatedly refused (and continues to refuse) to disclose its funders--despite a ruling of Maine's ethic commission backed by judicial order that NOM must share this information with the public.

When the Catholic diocese of Maine ponied up several large donations to Yes on 1 while closing parishes and schools due to financial distress, Mutty and the diocese stated, à la NOM, that they had no idea where the money came from--it was just "dedicated revenues" from a "rainy day" fund.  It later came out that Catholic dioceses across the nation had sent donations to support the battle to remove the right of marriage from Maine's gay citizens--money donated by Catholic parishioners in the expectation that it would be used to support churches, schools, and ministries like feeding the hungry, which was sent by bishops without the knowledge or consent of those donating it to remove rights from a minority group in Maine.

The Yes on 1 campaign in Maine had NOM's fingerprints all over it, and the tactic of lying blatantly about gay people and gay lives that Mutty now deplores is vintage NOM.  As Jeremy Hooper reported last week at Good As You, Louis Marinelli is beginning to spill the beans about some of the morally sleazy ways in which NOM does its dirty business-e.g., deliberately employing paid provocateurs to disseminate disinformation, while pretending to be aloof from the lie-telling and dirt-spreading, since NOM claims to have the moral high road in the battle against gay and lesbian persons, and to be on the side of God.  It will be interesting to see what more Marinelli will now be willing to reveal about NOM's sleaziness, after he has had his conversion experience.  (For in-depth information about NOM and how it does its dirty work, see HRC's NOM Exposed website.)

Meanwhile, the Mutty conversion story is fascinating and well worth following, too.  Nick Seaver has a good follow-up to Nemitz's article today at AmericablogGay, with a clip of a trailer from the Fox-Nubile documentary, for those who are interested.

*For those interested in tracking the Maine story at length, click on the label "Maine" below this posting, and all my commentary on the Maine situation should appear.

H/t to Alan McCornick of the wonderful Hepzibah blog, which links to the list of blogs Bilgrimage follows, for sharing the Nemitz story with me.

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