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Questionable Claims On Same-Sex Marriage
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November 5, 2012
One of the most hotly contested referendum questions on Maryland’s election ballot asks voters to approve a measure to legalize same sex marriage passed during the last General Assembly session. In the heat of the campaign opponents have made some questionable claims. WYPR’s Joel McCord reports.
Neil Parrott: “All we need to do is look at Massachusetts and see what’s happened there. A parent was arrested because he wanted, simply, to allow his student to opt out of instructions.”
Joel McCord: That’s Delegate Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican and architect of the online petition campaigns that put same sex marriage and other measures on the ballot. He was warning a group of pastors at a workshop at Grace Community Church in Frederick of the potential consequences of such a law.
Parrott: “And the student was, I believe, in first grade, teaching same sex marriage to his own student, first grader and the teacher said “No, you may not opt him out.”
McCord: The goal of the legislation, he says, is not to treat people equally, as supporters claim, but something truly nefarious.
Parrott: “The eventual goal is to shut down free speech. And it’s happening in Canada.”
McCord: Parrott said Canadian Broadcasting began censoring radio shows after Parliament adopted a same sex marriage law in 2005.
Parrott: “They have censored the radio. You know, anyone who listens to Focus on the Family, they will say, hey, this show was here in America, but we had to censor it. It wasn’t allowed to be aired in Canada.”
McCord: In addition, he said, the law will open florists, photographers and caterers who object to same sex marriage to lawsuits.
Parrott: “We’re not just making this up. Arizona, where there’s a similar law, just about a month ago there was a photographer who, she’s going to go out of business because she was sued by a same sex couple that wanted to have a wedding ceremony and she said, no, that’s really against my religious views.”
McCord: But none of those claims hold up to scrutiny. David Parker, the Massachusetts man Parrott referred to, was not arrested because he tried to opt his child out of instruction involving same sex marriage, but because he refused to leave the school building as school officials tried to close up for the day at 6:30 in the evening. Focus on the Family Canada’s web site boasts of 238 million listeners to its daily half hour broadcast aired in Canada. Christopher Dornan, a journalism professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, said the show was the subject of complaints 12 years ago, before same sex marriage was legal there, for being virulently anti-gay, but that no action was taken against the show. Arizona forbids same sex marriage. A photographer in New Mexico was sued under public accommodations laws similar to those now in force in Maryland for refusing to take pictures at a same sex wedding. Josh Levin, campaign manager for Maryland Marriage Equality, said the claims are part of a playbook that has been used elsewhere. It centers on generating fear and division.
Josh Levin: “The campaign manager for the anti-equality forces in Maine in 2009 came out and said that they weren’t fully honest about that; that they put those ads up but they weren’t really true. And that he felt badly about that.”
McCord: The opponents, he said, are merely trying to confuse people.
Levin: “Question six, all it says it that gay and lesbian couples can go get that civil marriage license and that churches and clergy are protected. They won’t be forced to perform any marriage that they don’t want to, and that’s written right into the law so that there’s no question about it.”
McCord: In a later interview Parrot conceded that the Massachusetts man was arrested for refusing to leave the school building. But he said incidents to that and a host of lawsuits would spring from legalizing same sex marriage in Maryland. I’m Joel McCord, reporting in Frederick and Baltimore for 88.1, WYPR.
You can reach the WYPR Newsroom at email@example.com.
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