Oh, Maureen: Update

View the initial Oh, Maureen
View Courage Campaign video
See second addendum at bottom

Even though you responded to my personal e-mail with a defense of your specious ideas, I wasn't going to pursue a correspondence with you in a public forum. But those ideas are so antithetical to the good-thinking people in our (art) world, that I have to note some of them here. You have been drinking deeply from the Falwell fountain:
" . . . it does not take a religious sensibility or hostility toward homosexuals to recognize a basic truth: When one component of the definition of marriage---one man, one woman---is declared arbitrary, the whole thing collapses. A man and his dog? Two women and one man? One man and six women? It is a route to social chaos.
"Marriage is an institution that predates politics and any and all doctrinal considerations. Norms do exist.
"What is being demanded is not a right but a privilege----the privilege of redefining a bedrock societal institution to justify one's own preferences. I pay homosexual persons the compliment of not treating them as a separate species who inhabit a parallel universe."

Oh, Maureen. Now you're just talking like a wingnut. Dogs? (I thought you were smarter than that.) Six women? (Actually that's heterosexual male privilege in the right-wing of Mormon society--you know, the religious group that supported Prop 8.) You talk about the "bedrock of marriage." Would that be the bedrock that had royal and political families, until fairly recently, consolidating their political power by marrying their eligible children? Would it be arranged marriages, which still exist? Would it be elderly men taking child brides in sanctioned ceremonies in various cultures around the world? Bedrock, all right. As in prehistoric. Marrying for love, don't you know, is a modern concept. (And even that has its wingnuts. In the news today: In India, a wealthy bride's family is arrested for killing eight members of the poor groom's family.)

As for "not a right but a privilege." No, you have it wrong. This is a civil rights issue. It is a right.

As for your making money from your paintings of drag queens, you say you haven't. I was pretty sure you hadn't sold many of them. But I'm happy to set the record, er, straight:

"The comedy in all of this is the fallacious assumption--which you blindly encourage--that I have made $$ on the gay community. Good God! Pure fantasy! That suite of paintings was a labor of love. Very few sold."

Addendum: My sister-in-law, Carol, a proud supporter of her gay friends and relatives, e-mailed me the Courage Campaign info--an emotional (and political) response to Ken Starr's egregious attempt to forcibly divorce 18,000 same-sex couples who were married in California last year. You need to see these folks, Maureen. If you are not moved, your heart is as cold as the stone in Ken Starr's chest.

How we can respond: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in this case on March 5, 2009, with a decision expected within the next 90 days. Let the Court know that you do not support hate and division. You can sign the petition here.

Update 2.14.09: Just in time for Valentine's Day, Eageageag has a post, Notes on Maureen Mullarkey in which he also mentions his two moms. A must read.


Gwendolyn Plunkett said...

While I chuckle as I read your comments to Maureen, this issue is no laughing matter. This is a serious civil rights issue and needs to be corrected. I support the views you expressed in this post regarding Maureen's "cold as the stone" position and applaud you for the post.

Ian MacLeod said...

right on Joanne.

Anonymous said...


Traditionally, one of the core reasons for the "bedrock societal institution of marriage" in patriarchal culture was the transfer of ownership of a woman from her father to her husband. (I personally have chosen not to participate in that institution because of that history, among other reasons. I think all marriage should be redefined as civil unions and whatever religious spin the couple wants to put on it should be up to the individuals and their clergy, but, as a heterosexual, it is my choice whether or not to participate in it. Homosexuals do not currently have that choice in most states in the US.)

As we have progressed, some of our bedrock institutions have had to be updated. Even things in our precious Constitution have had to be updated. The Constitution did not give women or non-whites the right (or privilege, as you seem to be defining rights before they are granted) to vote. Would you agree that the right of every adult citizen to vote is something that wasn't bedrock, but that had to come about? Slavery was one of our bedrock societal institutions. Wouldn't you agree that that particular bit of bedrock had to be brought down? Clearly, sometimes bedrock reflects outdated ideas, ideas that no longer reflect our collective values and beliefs as a culture as we have become more enlightened and emerged from the dark ages. So if we go back to bedrock, and not even all that far back, you, Maureen, would not be allowed to vote, and depending on where you live and on what gender your siblings were, might not be allowed to own property, might not be allowed to inherit money or property from your father on his death, probably couldn't be an artist or writer unless your husband allowed to do so, and on and on.

Get the point? Some of that bedrock was some bad shit. We've gotten rid of the worst of it, but there's still some more to be cleared out. You, like all of us, exist somewhere on the continuum between old-fashioned ignorance and forward-thinking progress. I'm sure you have progressed in some ways in your beliefs, most likely ways that have benefited you personally. Perhaps you grew up Catholic and were taught to believe that women cannot be priests, but only nuns. As a woman and a professional artist and writer, I assume you have had to confront authority at some point in order to embark on and continue your career and I congratulate you on your success in overcoming those challenges. But don't you see that those of us who have won some rights, some protections, some victories for ourselves have a responsibility to keep fighting for those very same rights and protections for others? I sincerely hope that you keep inching toward progress and away from ignorance.

Pretty Lady said...

There's nothing either arbitrary or chaos-inducing about defining marriage as a union between two consenting adults. That eliminates all the absurd bestiality and polygamy permutations in three words, which do not admit redefinition.

The reason this seems to be so hard for some types of people to understand is that they equate marriage with sex. When you do that, you not only open the doors to all sorts of fears of pedophilia, bestiality, orgies etc., but you reduce an institution that in its healthiest form is based on the noblest human qualities--love, commitment, cooperation, responsibility, respect--to a 'parts is parts' objectification of the Other.

That is truly primitive thinking, and not in a good way. As Oriane so eloquently points out.

Anonymous said...

Actually I'm moving forward the opinion that a marriage should constitute of two persons.

I think any assemblage of consenting adults should be allowed to marry. This would be a fundamental right.

The only conditions would be:

1) You can't have 2 marriages in a same time

2) You don't get more benefits if a marriage involves 3 or more persons. You only share the same benefits (money) as if you were two, but among your party.

Straight males and females should be allowed to marry in between even in a non-sexual relationship. Sometimes the vital partner in your life is simply not sexual.

Sex and gender shouldn't have anything to do with marriage.
As mentioned above, in many culture marriage never had to do
with sex since the beginning of civilization.

In some cases (japan samurais), unions between men existed since
as long as your doctrines. It's not the age of Romans and Celts anymore.

Maureen, you are en-clouded
with false presomptions.

Cedric Caspesyan

Anonymous said...

As soon as any number of people decide to live according to a contract with one another, they reduce the amount of social chaos on the world, not increase it. Which means, yes, even a binding agreement with one man and six women, if freely entered into by all parties, establishes order. There may be good reasons not to do that, but looming chaos isn't one of them. (You can't enter into a contract with a dog.)

Let me tell you what happens to my marriage when gay people get married to each other: absolutely nothing. Life goes on chez Einspruch just as before. Amazing, that. One might almost suggest that if one believes so strongly about marriage being a certain kind of thing between a man and a woman, one ought to live accordingly.

Oh, and Ms. Mullarkey? That bit about the brownshirts? Kindly shut your fool mouth.

Anonymous said...

I can only add that these comments are excellent and well thought out.

tony said...

I can understand how many sensitivies have been touched on this subject but I can't help feeling that a lot of rancour & hurt comes about through the use of the word 'marriage'. When one is obliged to introduce a pre-amble(= same-sex)before the word one has to admit that the common understanding of the word itself is no longer sufficient. May I suggest as an alternative, but not a substitute, the introduction of the word 'alliage' to distinguish homosexual from heterosexual marriage. The word is French & means alloy; the sense of which personally pleases me. It has the advantage of suggesting 'ally/alliance' and since it shares the same last four letters the sound echoes the older established word.Some would claim that it is a compromise and so it is - but it one that allows a distinction in definition but not necessarily a difference in status.

Joanne Mattera said...


I think your heart is in the right place, but we learned back in 1954 that "separate but equal" is not equal at all. I personally am not interested in being married, but if I were, I would want my marriage to be a "marriage," for better or for worse just like everyone else's.

What I do like about "alliage" is that it could be good word for folks gay and straight who decide to forego the civil or religious route--the folks living together as married, who for whatever choose not to be civilly or religiously married.

And such great comments from everyone:
. PL's three-word phrase is genius
. Franklin reminds us that his own marriage hasn't changed. Massachusetts has realized this, too.
. Oriane reminds us that marriage used to be about ownership of the bride
. Cedric has a great word to describe the thinking of our subject: en-clouded
. Gwen, Ian, Anon: support tells us who are friends are. Thx.

Anonymous said...

In proto-indo-european, a young woman before a marriage was a "mari". She became a "meri" after marriage.

A young man before marriage was a "meryo". He became "marya" after marriage.

Marriage was a word defined for men as it actually meant "provided with a mari".

Straight women and gay men should actually use "Merriage", as in "provided with a meryo".

These words existed long before the abrahamic religions came into place ("marriage" was not even used by the Jews), so anything about the Bible is irrelevant. With a little understanding we can see how the word marriage is logic for most marrying cases.

Cedric Casp

Oly said...

This so rocks, Joanne.
Keep up the good work.
I am in almost disbelief to her comeback on this.

prism said...

BTW - true Mormons do not and have not practiced polygamy for over 100 years, nor do they advocate it. Members are excommunicated for such.

Nancy Natale said...

As I said previously, that MM is a real jerk - just how much of a jerk she is proving herself to be is pretty beyond belief. She should join the Mitch McConnell Neanderthal Society.

Of course another way to handle this is to keep marriage as is - limited to opposite genders - and just take away all the civil and legal rights married couples "enjoy." Let it just be a religious festivity like First Communion. Consenting adults (gay, straight and whatever) who want to be joined together legally could just contract to share rights and "unionize" with each other. Wouldn't that make it more equal? And how sexy is the idea of contracting and unionizing? - we could all wear pinstripes for the event.

Here's hoping that our Prez Obama gets rid of that effin Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that is the real problem. He's promised to do so and it will be another battle against the forces of darkness who think like our li'l buddy Maureen.

Good for you, Joanne, in bringing this issue out to expose the nasty secrets of MM and her ilk.

Joanne Mattera said...


I can't take credit for exposing those secrets. I first read about the situation on Edward Winkleman's blog. But Maureen's comments to me are definitely you-read-it-here-first.

Obama is no fan of same-sex marriage, you know. We may love him for a lot of things, but that's definitely not one of them. Still he understands civil rights, and step by step we will get there.

Prism is right that true Mormons do not have multiple wives. Still those calling themselves Mormons do have multiple wives--including young girls.

Cedric gives us the etymology of "marriage." I can;t help but thing "meri" > "gay." But that's a stretch.

Hrag said...

Congratulations Joanne for taking your passion for this issue and making it into something constructive. Your power is amazing and I wanted to recognize that.

Pretty Lady said...

Joanne, you're right about Obama--he doesn't support same-sex marriage, but civil unions are an explicit plank in his civil rights platform, which is now posted on

Which brings me to the point I have been trying to make for a long time--that it's far more important to elect leaders with integrity, who listen to opposing viewpoints, than it is to support leaders who subscribe to every point in our specific agendas. There's an inevitable backlash against people who railroad the opposition without ever considering another perspective, as we have seen with the egregious W. Moreover, none of us is perfect; we cannot foresee all the unintended consequences of the actions we support. A healthy public discourse is far preferable to any wholesale imposition of progressive agendas, no matter how enlightened.

So although I thoroughly disagree with Obama's views on gay marriage, I'm not up in arms about them. In another generation this won't even be an issue, given that the majority of people under 30 see gay marriage as a no-brainer; meanwhile, ensuring that gay couples at least have access to civil unions will prevent the worst injustices.