Friday, March 27, 2009

On the Gay Marriage Issue

Midway through Arts Achievement Day this past week (March 25, 2009), word filtered out of the Vermont State House that Governor Douglas would veto a gay marriage bill if it landed on his desk.

Remembering back to the Civil Unions debates earlier this decade, I quickly realized that no amount of quality arts activity taking place in the State House would penetrate the wall of news that the Governor’s press conference would generate. Sure enough, in Thursday’s paper, I searched in vain for even one reference to the dozens of artists, students, advocates, and arts supporters who put on such a creative show at the State House a day earlier.

So…bowing to the inevitable, I have come to understand one key thing:

This year, one way or the other, it’s all going to be about gay marriage--or civil marriage if you prefer.

2009 is not going to be “the year that Vermont turned the economy around (or didn’t).” It won’t be “the year that the legislature finally passed (or didn’t) a motion picture incentive bill that offers a transferable tax credit to those making a film in Vermont.” It won’t be “the year that the legislature increased (or didn’t) the Arts Council’s state appropriation to a level that matches that of the National Endowment for the Arts.”

Nope. This is going to be “the year that gay marriage passed the Vermont House and was signed into law by the Governor (or wasn’t).”

I am forbidden by law to advocate for a particular position regarding pending legislation since I am the director of an independent 501(c)(3) organization that also serves as the official Vermont State Arts Agency. I am, however, allowed to offer fair and balanced opportunities to all people to educate themselves about issues of note.

Trust me, no matter how you feel about it, this is an issue of note.

Many of you have already made up your mind one way or the other on gay marriage. This post, however, is directed to those of you who have NOT made up your mind about whether you support or oppose gay marriage.

Go to the website for those advocating for traditional marriage: Take It To The People.

Then go to the website for those advocating for gay marriage rights: Freedom to Marry.

Still haven’t made up your mind? Go back and do it again, and yet again if you have to. I truly don’t care what your position ends up being. I just don’t want you or your children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren to feel any regret that you didn’t take a position and communicate it to your legislators when you had the chance.

As to where I personally stand on this issue, feel free to draw your own conclusions.


Anonymous said...

you're right.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Aldrich,

Thanks so much for teaching me how to make up my own mind on such a difficult decision. I was all for supporting the right for the gays to marry until at your suggestion I went to the wonderful 'Take it to the People' website five or six times. They finally got me straightened right out. Thanks God!

Please continue to use your taxpayer funded public arts executive director position to teach me about opportunities for me to learn how to make up my poor undereducated mind when complex social issues unrelated to the arts arise!


M. Oron

MapleMama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MapleMama said...

Great post, Alex.

I know you can't express your opinion, but I can. Your post and participating in Arts Advocacy Day reminded me how to.

Sent this afternoon.

It was wonderful to reconnect with you and Diane in DC. Keep up the great work!

marc awodey said...

i do keep getting more annoyed about your link to "fair and balanced" information from the right wing website TAKE IT TO THE PEOPLE.... among it's hatemongering (which apparently has convinced one of your blog readers)

"This is not a mere rewriting of tradition but a wholesale substitution of one worldview for another through judicial fiat. That the rule of law is discarded and history hijacked is irrelevant because our new masters will tell us what we will think and believe." and

"Daughters of lesbians are 'more sexually adventurous and less chaste.'"

"Traditional marriage provides for better emotional and physical health, lessens domestic violence, reduces poverty and reduces the incidence of social problems in the lives of children." which is a sophisticated piece of propaganda not comparing same sex unions to hetero marriages, just undefined "traditional" marriage to everything else, and implying that domestic partnerships have WORSE emotional and physical health, GREATER domestic violence, INCREASED poverty and GREATER incidence of social problems in the lives of children.

it's not just yucky that you AS DIRECTOR OF THE VAC sent people there... it's irresponsible, and i do hope that you got some serious heat from it. guess i've done what i could. probably not enough, but better than nothing.

The Pharisee said...

I would prefer greatly that the state simply take no position on marriage. Their only real interest is when the idea of marriage turns to divorce and a dispute over property and children ensues, other than that, why do they care?

At this time, the only reason they care is that we have based tax code on marital status. It would almost seem we would have to dump the income tax system, to get Government out.

Can't say that I am exactly against that idea.

Anonymous said...

Basically my ? is....
how traditional is enough Mr. A?

Me, I'd like to own my wife as property......

Or do you just feel it "threatens" your union?
Feeling "adventurous"?

Anonymous said...

You're playing into the governor's frame that the vermont state and its legislature can only do one thing at a time.

This was wildly inappropriate to blast to the arts community.

As the ED of a 501c3 you should resign rather than risk making a mistake like this again.

Anonymous said...

I read about this controversy in 7 Days and frankly I don't see what all the fuss is about. I think Mr. Aldrich was pretty even-handed here. This was a big issue in Montpelier for the past couple of weeks and people were swept up in the debate.

First, Mr. Aldrich didn't advocate a position; he provided links to two opposing websites. I would have been much more concerned if he had used this form for advocating a position. Second, this is a BLOG, which is supposed to be informal, spontaneous, and provocative. Third, I think it undervalues artists to think that they should stay silent on the major issue of the day.

It is a shame that the enforcers of political correctness can't tolerate this minor deviation from their canon.