Posts Tagged ‘same-sex marriage


Same-Sex Marriage: Degrees of Harm

First off, my headline should in no way prepare you for a diatribe on what harm same-sex marriage might do to society; in fact, I think it harms no one and nothing. (Yes, I’ve posted in the past about trying to sort out whether same-sex marriage and homosexuality are spiritually appropriate but I’ve never really been able to embrace an anti-gay stance [nor believed that homosexuality was a “go straight to Hell card”] and now I’ve pretty much settled on the “God doesn’t really give two shits about consensual adult sexual choices” path)

Second, screw you, North Carolina.

Look, I hear that North Carolina is a lovely state physically, and I’m sure many of the people there are fan-fucking-tastic. But this week, voters approved a measure to amend their state constitution to narrowly define marriage and forbid same-sex marriage (see here and here for recaps). It is one of only a few states (three or four in total, I seem to recall) that have so narrowly defined and constrained marriage rights.

When I heard about this, I may or may not have posted something on Twitter that called roughly two-thirds of the voters in North Carolina “fucktards” (for the record, I *did*).

Now, I was wrong about that. After hearing that less than a quarter of the state’s registered voters bothered to show up to weigh in on whether their constitution should be amended, apparently more than 80% of them are fucktards.

Anyway, back to my point…

After making this tweet, one of my fellow liberal folks (who I know offline as well as online), took me to task a bit for pointing fingers at North Carolina when recently here in Maine there was a measure on the ballot regarding the legalization of same-sex marriage and a little more than half of the people who voted shot it down. His point was that we are just as guilty here of holding back progress on sexual freedom and marriage equality.

I beg to differ. In fact, he and I already differed on Twitter and I think we reached a “we’ll agree to disagree” point (So, yes, my few conservative followers, I don’t just argue with you; I also argue with fellow liberals at times…though usually it’s with the hard-core atheists).

First off, there is a big difference between the final returns, even if it doesn’t seem like it. In Maine, what happened was that the government enabled legislation to allow same-sex marriage and then a citizen referendum repealed that law. The final vote tally was 53% vs. 47% (though, interestingly, polls have shown that 51% of Mainers support same-sex marriage. In any case, it’s clearly very close). In North Carolina, 61% of the voters said they wanted a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and 39% voted against it.

Now, 61 may not seem a lot bigger than 53, and of course it isn’t, but if I were in a fight with a total of 100 people when you combine both sides, I’d much rather be outnumbered by only 6 people rather than by 22.

In other words, there clearly isn’t as much of an uphill battle to win hearts and minds in Maine as in North Carolina. You may say I’m splitting hairs, but I think it matters. It suggests to me that the battleground in North Carolina is a lost cause for years to come, whereas the fight can still be won for marriage equality in the foreseeable future in Maine.

Also, let’s not forget that what happened in Maine was the repeal of a marriage equality law by some scared, nervous people who apparently mobilized well. No one instituted a specific ban on gay marriage nor codified a narrow definition of marriage. In contrast, North Carolina specifically forbade same-sex marriage and didn’t just do so as legislation but made it part of their constitution.

That, my friends, is a huge hurdle to overcome. You not only have to convince people that same-sex marriage isn’t bad, but now you also have to undo a constitutional amendment.

Again, you can accuse me of splitting hairs, but I think people in Maine would be a bit reluctant to change the state constitution in that way. Time could prove me wrong, but I doubt it.

Yes, in both Maine and North Carolina, people who want to marry and should be allowed to are denied that ability. That is unconscionable. But I have a lot more hope for sunlight at the end of the tunnel in my state.

In North Carolina, that light at the end of the tunnel seems to be an oncoming freight train instead.


A Blow for Marriage Equality

I had been watching for the outcome of the referendum to repeal the Maine state legislature’s enactment of a law which would allow gays and lesbians to marry, with all the rights that go along with heterosexual marriage (aside from federal tax breaks), and with a provision that made it clear that no clergyperson could be compelled to perform a same-sex marriage.

I was pleased when the legislature made that law, because it ensured equal rights for consenting adults on the marriage field, but also protected the religion beliefs of churches, most of which, I am guessing, would not want to perform such ceremonies. Not that they need to, of course. There’s always the Unitarian-Universalist church, a justice of the peace, or a priest or reverend who’s probably in line with your beliefs who doesn’t mind going to a different beat than the other folks in his or her denomination.

I was not pleased when voters overturned that law.

But what really got me was the comment from someone my wife is acquainted with, who tried to make like she didn’t really feel one way or the other about it (though she’s a pretty fundamental Christian, and she’s pretty clearly against it), but voted against it because the legislature acted against the will of the people.

This floors me on two levels.

First, legislatures often make laws without much consulting the people. This is nothing new, and does make for laws people hate sometimes. But it would be rather inefficient to consult the masses on everything beforehand. Besides, the legislature snuck in some nasty snack and beverage taxes recently too, and no one got up on their high horses with religious diatribes and “slippery slope” theories to get that overturned.

Second, how could this woman have voted for the will of the people, when the will of the people cannot be known until after the vote? She claims she was upholding the will of her fellow Mainers, but when she went into the voting booth, she had no clue which way the tide was running. She is simply too cowardly to admit that she voted for her will, which was to marginalize a sizable group of productive, consenting adults.

I call total bullshit on this. Have some cajones and just admit that you can’t stand the idea, and be done with it. Don’t make up stupid lies.


Forbidden Fruit


So, with Maine’s governor having signed a same-sex marriage bill into law (yes, legislation that actually gives gays and lesbians the ability to get married and not have to register for some parallel domestic partner registry that grants them fewer marriage rights), I’m sure the religious right is in a tizzy.

Not that I’d know how much of a tizzy, really, because I’ve been too busy to keep up with the news lately.

I’m not going to simply rehash the reasons I’ve already outlined as to why I think opposition to same-sex marriage is silly. Besides, I’ve already been accused of being a “radical liberal” (despite being against PeTA on more causes than not, and for capital punishment in some cases) and a “false Christian” (guess I’ll be joining some of you in Hell despite having accepted Jesus…who knew?) for my views on this.

What I want to address though, is the militant fascination so many on the Christian side of things have with stamping out the same-sex marriage thing. Why?

Because too many of them feel threatened by it. They fear that giving some 10% of the population the same marriage benefits as themselves will somehow give the homosexual community some unassailable power base from which to dismantle the Christian establishment. Never mind that plenty of atheists, agnostics, Jews, neo-Nazis and others can get married already, and doing so hasn’t destroyed Chrsitians.

Also, I think that the big-time Christian opposition is insecure in its own marriages overall, feeling somehow that allowing other consenting adults the same institution will diminish their own marriages. What they fail to realize is that the only thing that can truly diminish the value of their marriages is how they themselves treat them. Which is, too often, quite badly.

Opponents of same-sex marriage truly see it as some kind of demonic, destructive force that will rip a huge chunk out of the foundation of civilization itself. It is a notion that is so overblown in its assumptions that my mind reels. Frankly, I’m more disturbed that we allow minors to get married in some states than I am that two grown adults that share the same sexual parts will.

Finally, I think the opponents fear that somehow, same-sex marriage will normalize homosexuality to the extent that it will gain the same prominence as heterosexuality. I think this is where the deepest fears lie. They fear that same-sex marriage will convince their own children that homosexuality is just the same as heterosexuality. They fear that this is somehow a huge step on the path of converting their children to same-sex relations, paying no mind to the fact that sexual orientation is not established (much less changed) so easily. That by and large, overwhelmingly, people want to be with people of the opposite gender.

It has nothing to do with souls or salvation, because these opponents, if they cared about souls, would be trying to convince same-sex couple to find Jesus. But they aren’t trying to help them find anything. They are trying to oppress them and they are treating them as enemies. And they are treating the effort to prevent legalization of same-sex marriage as a war.

But there is no bright and shining goal at the end; merely a goal of preventing other adults from pledging their lives to each other. There is nothing here but an attempt to hold onto something that doesn’t even belong to Christianity alone. Marriage wasn’t created by God. It’s a societal creation, and thus one whose rules must be decided by the society in which it exists. And in a country like ours, that means the rules sometimes change, and often with a vote involved in that change.

There is no honor in this battle against same-sex marriage.

It’s driven by fear, pure and simple. And God never told us to operate from a position of fear. Nor one in which we force the rules of the Bible onto anyone.


Two-fer Tuesday: Marriage by Deacon Blue

I don’t know how many among my readers are against the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage. But if there are any of you out there, with strongly held opinions that you can argue well, would you please tell me something?

What the hell is so wrong about legalizing same-sex marriages?

Please don’t give me biblical arguments, though, despite the fact I expound and ramble about spiritual issues around here a lot. Because frankly, marriage is a civil union, ultimately. That license comes from the state, the recognition of your rights as a married couple and the status of your inheritance, custody, etc. are defined by the state. You might get married in a church and say your vows to God, but the institution of marriage is not a religious or spiritual thing inherently.

So, again, what is wrong with same-sex marriage? How is it going to lead to the downfall of the family? How does it fly in the face of honest, wholesome values? What apocalyptic thing is it going to unleashed societally?

Two of my best friends where I live right now are a gay couple. They are raising a little girl. They raise her as well as the traditional married couples whom I count among my real friends. They raise her better than average married couples based on married folks with kids whom I’ve encountered. In every way, the model nuclear family.

Opposite-sex couples separate and divorce and remmary at alarming rates.

Same-sex couples pay the same taxes the rest of us do and follow the same laws and are equal citizens, so why are they denied—or why should they be denied—the right to get hitched?

I really want to know. I really want to see some defensible argument. Because so far, all I see among the people who protest against this and rail against the idea is a bunch of mean-hearted, closed-minded, ill-informed religious folks who are trying to bolster a civil debate using biblical arguments.


Same Sex…So What?

two-guysI realize I’m a bit late coming to the whole Proposition 8 party. And I’ve been hesitant since starting this blog to post about the issue of whether homosexuality is or isn’t a sin, simply because it is so easy to get misunderstood on this issue. Passions do run high on both sides of the issue.

But, I’d be a bit of a wuss to just go and hide under a rock and pretend I don’t have thoughts or opinions on the topic. Lord knows I’ve stuck my nose into a lot of other sexual areas (literally and figuratively).

First, let me ask this of anyone who’s felt a need to point out to homosexuals that the Bible calls homosexuality an “abomination before God” and other such stuff: When was the last time you went all-out and told your friends and neighbors to:

  • Stop gossiping?
  • Stop coveting other people’s stuff?
  • Stop lying?
  • Stop bitching about how awful your parents are?
  • Tell your spouse about that affair you’re having?

OK, it might be that some of you have done all that on a regular basis and if so, great, at least your hypocrisy level is not too out of whack, if it’s out of whack at all. Because all those other things are sins. In fact, they are all sins that are part of the Ten Commandments. I find it interesting that that’s God’s top-ten list and homosexuality doesn’t make it in there. Nor does Jesus ever preach against homosexuality that I recall.

Also, while there are many places in the Bible in which man-on-man sex is specifically decried, nowhere, to the best of my knowledge, is lesbianism declared a sin. I don’t simply mean that this is one of those situations where one can infer that the woman is supposed to follow the same rule; I mean that man-on-man sex is so specifically addressed that it is virtually impossible to substitute “woman” for “man.” So, you can imagine that I am somewhat torn on how seriously to take the sin of homosexuality. (Of course, men were involved with the writing of the Bible and sometimes, human failings find their way into the Bible…maybe it’s genetic that us guys dig girl-on-girl sex.)

I acknowledge that God made us primarily and overwhelmingly for the purpose of getting together as man and woman. That is clear from the anatomy. Our natural, default state is to go hetero. Hard to argue against that.

But is homosexuality a sin? It’s a harder sell to me in some ways, but it is mentioned as a no-no in the Bible an awful lot of times. I’ve heard arguments that biblical prohibitions against homosexuality were actually against religious rituals that involved homosexual sex, and not against homosexuality specifically. Under that agument, which has some holes I must admit, it would be more an idol worship/other-gods-before-me situation that was being targeted.

I’ve also heard people make the case that there is a difference between engaging in homosexual sex (from time to time) and being in a homosexual lifestyle. That also seems slim to me, as it would still violate the rules against fornication in the former case, whereas someone could at least argue that a committed gay couple was married. So, fornication in the former case and possibly a sin of homosexuality in the latter.

Again, the issue is pretty messy.

But my basic view is this: I don’t care if you are gay or lesbian.

I just don’t. I care if you are a basically decent person. And from the standpoint of being concerned about your eternal future, I care much more whether you are born again (though I’m not going to shove Jesus on you forcibly) than I do what kind of consenting adults you sleep with. I have known many gay and lesbian people in my life. Some of them acquaintances, some of them simply co-workers or work associates, some of them friends. No close relatives that I know of, but I have more than a hundred cousins and second cousins, so clearly there are numerous gay or lesbian folks in my family somewhere. What they do in their bedrooms or anywhere else with their bodies is between God and them and their partners. Not me. I have friends and relatives who engage in sex outside marriage, too. And who have told many a lie. They are still my friends and my beloved family, and if I judge them at all, I judge them by their overall actions, not individual ones. Not, of course, that it is my place to judge anyway.

And, I don’t fear gay marriage. It is no way whatsoever impacts on my life or my marriage or my religious beliefs. It is not a threat. I do agree with folks who say that a firm line must be drawn somewhere in marriage laws as to how far we can go. Multiple spouses needlessly complicates an already complicated system around divorce, inheritance and custody, in my opinion. Incest is just plain icky (though I have to admit I don’t have any logical argument against why two siblings, as adults, couldn’t choose to be together aside from biblical prohibitions). Marrying animals is even more problematic than multiple spouses. Marrying minors there is no excuse for, nor is there any excuse for having sex with them.

But gay marriage? A union between two adults who aren’t related? I just don’t see a reason to argue against it from any reasonable standpoint of a secular government in a pluralistic and very diverse nation.

Homosexual sex. Homesexual marriage. Not my business. Not a fight I feel needs to be fought. Are they sins? Maybe. I guess. Probably. If for no other reason than I can’t see a biblical basis for same-sex marriage in the church, and therefore homosexual sex would still be premarital sex (of which I myself have been guilty before getting married, over and over again) from that religious-marriage standpoint—though not from a secular-marriage standpoint, of course, in places where same-sex marriage is legal.

But if gay sex is a sin, I cannot categorize it as anything worse than any other sin: Lying, coveting, cheating, failing to honor parents, etc. And before any numb-nut says, “Oh, so I guess murder isn’t some big sin either in your book,” let me just shut you up now. Murder, assault, theft, false witness and adultery, for example, cause direct and purposeful harm against another person. As such, I will have a more visceral reaction and want those things to stop and, in most of those cases be prosecuted (except for adultery) because they are hurtful to another. Whom does homosexuality hurt? If anyone, the person doing it. But it doesn’t hurt me or any innocent bystanders, now does it?

Below are some posts recently about the Proposition 8 issue. I include them here not only because I think they are solid posts with a lot of good and/or thought-provoking comments by readers of the blogs (aside from some anonymous dickhead trolls), but also because I have posted my own comments at some of these blog threads about my various thoughts regarding homosexual marriage and some other gay/lesbian issues, and rather than go through all of what I said there by copy-pasting here, you can go there and see some of my other views on the issues in context, along with the views of a bunch of other people, many of whom are smarter and more eloquent than I.

Forever Hold Your Peace (Deus Ex Malcontent)

While We Were Celebrating (Raving Black Lunatic)

Faux Marriage and Legal Definitions Do Matter (Caffeinated Thoughts – I actually didn’t comment on the second of those two posts; only the first one)

Proposition Hate (The Field Negro – Didn’t comment here because I didn’t see much need for me to add anything to the already lively discussion)

The View Needs Glasses (Margaret and Helen – I don’t believe I commented here; too easy to get lost since there are so many comments on her posts most days)

P.S. If the guys in the image I used here aren’t gay and are sensitive about their sexual orientation being questioned, my apologies. Screw that, I don’t apologize. That was an image I paid for, I get to determine usage, and that looks like a 50/50 chance it’s a romantic stroll on the beach to me… 😉


Cry for the little children? – by Mrs. Blue

OK, I’m going to cheat a little here today. It took a loving Mother’s Day message earlier this month to get Mrs. Blue to even post a comment on this blog. And even though she writes a monthly column for a newspaper and blogs periodically, I’ll be damned if I can get her to do a guest post around here. Well, we had an interesting conversation recently that she was quite fired up about, so I’m going to re-channel and re-work as much as I can remember of what she said and write the guest post for her since she can’t free up the time to do so. My wife’s thoughts/words, but my fingers doing the typing. Don’t worry, she read, altered and approved this before I posted it.

The passion with which some Christian folks worry about children reared by same-sex couple amazes me. It also can make me really sick to my stomach. My husband shared with all of you not so long ago a little story about “Mrs. Eager” and now let me share my own.

Don’t get me wrong, by the way, I like Mrs. Eager. Sadly, I find that just about all we ever have to talk about is the Lord, and just as sadly, I find that she has a lot of the same focus on pointless issues as do so many other fundamentalist Christians (of which I consider myself a member, by the way, I just don’t go into lockstep with the “party line”).

So, I recently had a conversation with Mrs. Eager during which we were talking about the owners of a local bistro-style eatery. The owners are a couple. The are both men. They have a nearly two-year-old girl they adopted who is often at the cafe. Can you guess where this is going yet?

Mrs. Eager starts going into major hand-wringing mode about how it’s bad enough for two men to be together that way, but how could they be raising a little girl? What is this going to do to this little girl? What were they thinking?

Mind you, she’s nearly in tears. She’s all frothed up about how this little girl will be brought up in a godless home filled with immoral actions. How this little girl is going to be a lost soul most likely. How she’ll be damaged growing up.

It was all I could do to hold my tongue and not rip this woman a new exit passage for her bowel movements. I had that serious of a visceral reaction to her frantic panic about this child’s future. Mind you, it’s not because I agree that homosexual sex is right. I’ve had lots of gay friends, and I consider the cafe owners I’m talking about now to be friends-in-the-making. I cherish those friends and I don’t get any more bent out of shape about their sin than I do the sins of any other friends who have or continue to flaunt certain of God’s rules. Much like Jesus, I don’t simply hang around the believers; it’s the people who sin (and don’t have Jesus to clear up those sins) who need my company on the off chance a little Jesus might rub off on them.

What I don’t understand about Mrs. Eager or any of the other many, many Christians I know who I am 90% certain hold the same concerns is why they are so worried about a child like this. This gay couple is very warm, very open, very caring, very involved in the community, very responsible and just all around good people. Do they have any Jesus in their lives? I don’t know. But just like there are plenty of people who claim Christ and are horrible folks, there are many wonderful people who remain unsaved.

The point is, they are obviously great parents. And their little girl is clearly a happy and secure child. I’ve worked in social work, so I know the signs of f-ed up people. If these two guys are doing something nefarious in their lives aside from flouting the no-homosexual-sex rule, they have the best poker faces on the planet.

Mrs. Eager seems worried that this child won’t ever know Jesus. That may be, but I know an awful lot of people in heterosexual family structures who don’t know Jesus either…and most likely never will.

Mrs. Eager seems worried that this child will be exposed to deviant activities. In this day and age, are there really people who still believe that gays are any more overt in their intimacy around children than other sexually active adults? C’mon people, they aren’t having sex on the floor in front of her playpen.

Mrs. Eager told me she “weeps for that little girl.” Why? I know so many kids in heterosexual families who would kill to have parents as devoted and involved as these two guys. So many dysfunctional families in the world, so many abusive or uncaring parents, so many families in poverty…and Mrs. Eager is weeping over this kid? Why isn’t she weeping over the orphans left in the Sudan or the children who have to pick through garbage dumps in Central America or who have to drink disease-ridden water in India? Or how about weeping over homeless children in this country? Sexually abused children in this country? Children who aren’t “perfect” enough or young enough to be adopted by families who are in search of healthy babies only…and who languish in the family services systems in this nation that are, in many cases, so utterly screwed up?

Mrs. Eager is full of crap. I like her, but she is full…of…crap. This child is fortunate. It’s high time that we as Christians look at the REAL problems around us. If we are going to worry about people’s daily lives, let’s start with the abused and neglected, shall we? And let’s not worry about the soul of some little girl who, frankly, isn’t any more at risk of missing out on Jesus than any other child in this country…or this world. Let’s worry about everyone’s souls and reach out to people as humans.

And let’s stop singling out those whose choices we simply don’t agree with (and which don’t impact our lives) to weep over THEIR children.

(Image is of a print by Mark Ryden, titled “Weeping”)

(If you want to read any of Mrs. Blue’s other infrequent posts around these parts, go here)


Tying the same-sex knot – by Big Man

As promised last week, a guest post from Big Man over at Raving Black Lunatic. Because you get enough of the sound of my virtual voice already, I’ll just shut up now and, without further ado, let the man talk… 

My main man Deacon Blue offered me the opportunity to enter his spot and post some of my thoughts on religion, particularly on the topic of homosexuality.

Look, I’m not going to beat folks over the head with a whole bunch of spiritual quotations about how God feels about being gay. Anybody with a rudimentary understanding of the Bible understands that the Big Guy isn’t a fan of same-sex relationships. I also don’t want to hear about shellfish and period sex. If you think pointing out the crazy rules in Leviticus is a good way to win an argument about whether God supports homosexuality then you really need to do a better job of studying your theology. When it comes to homosexuality the rules are the same as they are for fornication; don’t do it. Those are God’s rules, and we as Christians have to deal with them or move on.

Deal with them, or move on.

That seems to a sticking point for a lot of Christians. Now, it’s not my place to tell people whether or not they truly have a relationship with Christ, but I’m going to wager that if you are flagrantly breaking one of God’s commandments with no sense of repentance, well you might have a problem. And if your justification for breaking that commandment is that the Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, well I think we might be practicing a different type of faith.

But, I digress. I laid out those ground rules because I want to talk about a prickly subject for believers and non-believers.

Gay Marriage.

First off, let me just put it out there that despite my early comments on homosexuality I’m actually a supporter of gay marriage. I think any adults in America should have the ability to engage in a legally recognized union and call that union marriage. This marriage should bestow upon them all the rights of any other marriage. That’s where I stand.

Now, for some folks this may seem to be a confusing contradiction given my earlier comments. But, that’s only because those people either have a mistaken viewpoint about how God’s word interacts with American society, or they just like to argue. Either way, let me break it down.

Despite all the religious trappings, marriage in America has become a largely secular practice. We rarely take the whole idea of a ban on pre-marital sex seriously, and the idea that the only suitable reason for divorce is infidelity seems to be a foreign concept to many new couples. Nowadays, marriage means “I agree to live with you until I no longer want to live with you.”

Given these new realities, it seems pretty stupid to me to argue that allowing gay people to engage in this sacred event will somehow endanger the future of marriage for straight folks. Newflash, marriage is already in the crapper and allowing gay folks to join the party won’t have any effect.

Seriously, is anybody going to say “Well, I wanted to live with you forever, but now that gay people can get married, what’s the point?” Really, do we believe that’s what’s going to happen?

Nah, I don’t think that’s what most people believe. What I think is that most people, deep inside, believe that being gay is wrong, but they really don’t want to get into that argument with folks. Actually, I would respect conservative politicians more if they just came out and said they were against gay people instead of engaging in this whole marriage charade. That would be the open and honest way to express their feelings and it would give gay conservatives a real choice to make. Granted, it also might open politicians up to criticism and protests, but that’s the price you pay for speaking your mind.

Instead, politician and their constituents would rather focus their attention on whether gay people should be allowed to get tax benefits along with their lifelong bonds, or if gay people really deserve to call their unions “marriages.” They use the word of God as crutch to support their theories without even actually explaining when it became the American way to force everybody to abide by God’s rules.

After all, I don’t see a similar movement to ban divorce and fornication. Marchers still haven’t take to the streets to fight against lying and covetness. And it’s not because the Bible singled out homosexuality as an abomination, Proverbs lists seven abominations that include pride and gossiping and nobody’s passing a law against them.

No, what we’re really doing is picking on a minority group that most straight people don’t feel any kinship towards. I’ll admit that my actions towards gay people haven’t always been great, and I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with the lifestyle. But, my qualms and my faith do not give me the right to dictate how consenting adults behave in the bedroom or at the altar.

Gay marriage is as American as apple pie, vanilla ice cream and fucking in the backseat. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.

Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


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