BC Law professor crosses line in ad supporting repeal of Maine marriage rights

by on September 17, 2009  •  In Marriage, Religion, States

Boston College Law Professor Scott Fitzgibbon appears in the ad below for the Yes on 1 campaign seeking to overturn the statute adopted last summer by the Maine legislature which granted equal marriage rights to same-sex couples.  No problem there – he’s certainly got every right to do that. But Professor Fitzgibbon lends his imprimatur (he is a jurisprudence and business law scholar) to three canards from the Prop 8 wars that are false: that same-sex marriage will lead to a “flood” of lawsuits against individuals, small businesses and churches; that religious groups will lose their tax exemptions; and that “gay marriage will be taught in the schools — whether parents want it or not.”

How fitting that the ad is titled “Consequences,” because it sure ain’t the truth. The truth is that:

First – After five plus years of legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, the number of oppressive lawsuits filed that have been based on that law is exactly … zero.

Second – Not only is it the same number – zero – of  religious groups in Massachusetts that have lost their tax exemption, but no serious scholar believes that the charitable contribution exemption from federal income tax is at risk. The only tax exemption issue that has arisen was a property tax exemption for a church in New Jersey (where marriage for gay couples isn’t even legal). There the issue involved a church which advertised that a space that it owned on the boardwalk was open to the public. When it refused to rent the space to a lesbian couple for a civil union ceremony, the property tax exemption (which had been specifically premised on the space being available for public use) was withdrawn. (More here)

Third – The case cited in the ad, Parker v. Hurley, involved whether parents could withdraw their children from a diversity curriculum that included sexual orientation. Some of the materials used by some teachers dealt with marriage. The courts upheld the discretion of the local school board to make curricular decisions. (More background here)

Does this mean that there are no legitimate or difficult issues raised by the conflict between religious beliefs and secular equality principles? No. But in fact they tend to arise more frequently with the application of anti-discrimination laws, not equal marriage laws. The arguments made in this ad are nothing more than scare tactics.


One Response to BC Law professor crosses line in ad supporting repeal of Maine marriage rights

  1. JL Miller September 17, 2009 at 10:58 PM

    In California we had a Pepperdine University Professor version of these ads with a similar feel. The authority figure explaining the gritty details of what homosexuals really want. It is chilling to see the advertisements, and more so to think of how effective they are. In California, we were defeated by fear and mythology. They know they have to create an “other” to make us into scary xenos, strangers in our own land.

    Pepperdine was quick to get the association to them taken out of the ads, so the ads ran with just his name (and rank). link to pepperdine.edu I’m surprised BC allowed the name to be used (even with the asterisk). See the original version of the ad here:
    link to protectmarriage.com
    It looks kind of like yours there in Massachusetts. They’re all over, and they share the same public relations profile I fear.


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