February 4, 1997

The following letters were written in response to Larry Lockman's guest commentary that ran in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel January 27, 1997


Lawrence Lockman of Seboeis (guest commentary, Jan.27) and Concerned Maine Families are up to their same old tactics seeking to divide Maine into gay and anti-gay groups. Why is that? The people of Maine are smarter than that.

For many reasons there are a lot of straight and gay residents in support of gay rights. CMF dislikes those who are "gay sympathizers" as much as those who are truly gay. All their rhetoric does is anger everyone.

On the gay side, people are angry because Lockman and CMF are promoting hatred of another human being through fear. On the anti-gay side, people don't understand why fear and hatred are being used to discuss an issue.

I would like to take Lockman to task over his claim that petitioners were all sugar and spice and everything nice while attempting to get signatures.

Lest he forget, I had a run-in with one of his hordes of signature takers. When it became clear that I wouldn't sign the petition because of what it was, a heated debate ensued.

Would I want to be one of those responsible for letting "these" people live their lives? It was a sin to live like they do. The more I heard the more I wished he could hear himself talk.

The peace and love Lockman describes was betrayed by the hatred in the real petitioner's voice. It would appear the apple, as it were, didn't fall far from the tree.

There are serious questions that need answering: Isn't Concerned Maine Families an activist group?

According to my Webster's Dictionary, activism is "a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or in opposition to one side of a controversial issue."

Many factors of that definition apply directly to CMF. They would like to control everything you hear and see on this issue. Then you will vote their way because you know no other.

Truth be told, people just want to live their lives without the fear of injury, job loss, housing discrimination or any of the other things that happen to people because they are different.

Maine doesn't have a Lockman-style activist group fighting for gay rights.

Thank God. I hope that Maine doesn't need one to make sure there is fairness in this debate. Mainers know all too well, as does every human living on this Earth, that gay humans are still not accepted.

While Lockman can walk proudly down the street and shout his First Amendment-protected discriminatory speeches, no gay person can do the same without fear of reprisal.

Lockman does have a point about sitting down and discussing this issue. However, he surrounds that one good thought with words like: "Blatant falsehoods, grotesque exagerrations and intolerance for differing opinions are the trademarks of Maine's gay-activist leadership and its religious-left sympathizers."

Does he really think people are going to sit down and talk when every word out of his mouth has that negative, intolerant tone?

Dale Goodwin


In his Jan. 27 guest commentary, Lawrence Lockman of Seboeis tried, yet again, to rewrite history by characterizing Concerned Maine Families as interested solely in "civil discourse and rational debate," while accusing gay-rights activists of "blatant falsehoods, grotesque exaggerations, and intolerance for differing opinions."

He seems to have forgotten all of his fearless leader Carolyn Cosby's antics during CMF's last referendum, including her strident yet utterly insupportable claims of voter fraud.

It seems to me that the last thing CMF wants is a rational debate, because their efforts stem not from rational thought but from narrow religious dogma and irrational prejudice. The closest they can seem to come to a "rational" reason for their movement is the "Rights Pie" argument - that there are only so many pieces to go around, so don't let homosexuals get yours - an argument utterly devoid of logic.

Lockman also denies that his group's activities contribute to anti-gay violence, but the beginning of this school year saw an unprecedented number of gay-bashing incidents reported in state schools or involving middle- or high-school students.

More recently, three young Maine men were arrested in the beating death of a Louisiana man who had done nothing more than blow them a kiss.

It does not matter whether or not the victims were gay, only that they were perceived as such.

Granted, CMF has not been handing out "Kill a Queer for Christ" bumper stickers (as happened during Florida's anti-gay campaigns in the '70's). Still, history has shown that rhetoric which denies the equal humanity of a group serves to create a culture of violence towards that group.

Adolph Hitler is the most obvious and most overused example; the arsons of African-American churches in the past year are another. By preaching a message of inequality, if not outright hatred and attacking such anti-violence efforts as the compilation of hate crime statistics, Lockman and CMF are indeed giving tacit approval to anti-gay violence.

It's odd - or more to the point, hypocritical - that Lockman would raise such a stink about "special rights" and then turn around and try to "defend" the special rights accorded to heterosexuals.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has only ever wanted equal rights - nothing less, nothing more. To deny or attempt to deny us that is indeed un-American, as it contradicts everything we were taught this country stands for.

In a truly free nation, some things cannot be left to majority rule, lest those in the minority cease to be free. The Pledge of Allegiance says "liberty and justice for all." Those of us in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community want to see that promise fulfilled.

Mel Vassey

NOTE: They did a little editing on my letter. Where I spoke of the "Rights Pie" I had written "so don't let the fags get yours," which became "don't let homosexuals..." I had chosen "fags" specifically for its negative connotations, because that's how our opponents like to portray us - as dirty little perverted (insert favorite negative modifier here) faggots. Apparently the Sentinel's editorial staff thought it was too inflammatory. (Also, they added in "Adolph." I figured everyone would know to which Hitler I was referring. BTW, his first name was spelled "Adolf.") - Mel