There has recently been a good deal of sharp discussion in Longmont over the Mayor’s declaration of some support of “civil unions,” whereby so-called “same-sex marriages” result.
First, it looks like most of the noise originates from sour grapes over the November election. Second, there may be semantic bias — for example, “support” might not mean “approval.” Third, it is difficult for me to decide whether the whole subject is political or religious. These are THE two topics one NEVER brings up in family gatherings, after all.
At the risk of sounding self-righteous (he who is not guilty may cast the first stone), I wonder if some of the rhetoric about the matter may represent some intolerance. I’m not thrilled over “civil (same-sex) unions,” but I recall that many Americans were anything but pleased about allowing African-Americans to vote. The matter easily boils down to consideration of what persons do (vote, marry, invest, eat, die), versus what they are (Caucasian, Republican, Lutheran, homosexual). Not a little of our intolerance can often bounce out of the mirror and strike us upside the head. I know, it’s happened to me.
The question keeps coming up for me: what “class” of citizen am I, really? We can impute all kinds of “meaning” to the symbols in our lives, assuming they are truly needed. If symbols become their objects or their artists, what then? Much of the time one’s point of view determines his reality and acceptance of it. Who’s to say the animals in the zoo do not consider that the bars somehow hold us in, not out?
We have an interest in expecting some things, including much but NOT ALL the behavior of our public servants. The recent case of Hygiene’s fire chief comes to mind. His actions potentially threatened public safety; the actions of people (and that’s all they are) seeking a way to bequeath an estate to a legal “joint tenant” instead of a dachshund don’t harm anyone. I wonder what would have happened if Longmont’s Mayor had said he is gay. But, again, that would be an “is,” not a “do.”
What does a mayor do? In the Longmont form of government the Mayor is really one of the members of City Council. The Mayor administers nothing (a City Manager does that). A mayor can be a booster and a spokesperson in that he or she officially auditions the City to receive benefits including business as well as largesse from higher levels. But the mayor is not a priest whose utterances lobby the Almighty. If citizens expect a mayor to reflect their own thinking to a “T,” there will be disappointment. Group-think reached its nadir in Germany between 1932 and 1945. It works poorly.
Any mayor must represent an entire constituency and not only a slice of it. Those who insist otherwise will probably not be able to stop on the retreat past a very primitive organization of society (think family-clan-tribe), but will likely proceed to a point where Longmont has 87,000 mayors. That’s called anarchy.
In “Fiddler on the Roof” Tevye relaxes his practices for two of his daughters, but he never stops keeping his head covered. What he does socially is compartmentalized from what he is and remains. No mayor ceases being a citizen or a father or a husband or a sibling just because of an election.
I believe a city is fortunate when it has a leader who tries to DO that city’s business, not BE the city’s business. There be dragons in that, a lesson learned in too many places the hard way.