Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Maine and Marriage

We are one week away from a pivotal vote.

Not in our nation's capital.

Not in California.

Not even in Florida.

But in Maine.

Maine. One of the rarely talked about states in our country. A state with 3,500 miles of coastline, 17 million acres of forest, and 41.3 people per square mile (by contrast, the US Census Bureau reports that Florida has 296.4 people per square mile). The trees out number the people!

But there's one thing Maine's got that Florida and California and Washington, DC, don't got: marriage equality for straight and gay couples!

By act of the state legislature and encouragement from the Attorney General, the Governor of Maine, John Baldacci, signed into law the right for lesbian and gay couples in the state of Maine to enjoy the privileges of civil marriage. Important to note, as always, we are talking about civil marriage rights... those rights conferred by the state to the happy couple... and not the blessing of a marriage, which is what is the primary function of a religious marital sacrament. But because the church has become the agent of the state in the marriage business in this country, too often these two functions are blurred. It takes a keen person to realize that all the wonderful words and pronouncements that "Those whom God has joined together let no one put asunder" are words directed to God, and for a congregation of people; the priest and the couple then slink away after the dismissal and sign the state-sanctioned, legal paperwork for the civil authorities. It is these civil authorities who then issue the license that allows couples access to the world of benefits... include pension payments, social security and, if you're lucky, health care.

And in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa... lesbian and gay couples can have a taste of what it's like to have your relationship so validated by the state.

But... some people in Maine are a little cranky about all this. And shortly after the bill became law, they mounted a campaign to have what is called a "People's Veto" of the legislation. And so now voters in Maine will head to the polls to decide the question... listed as Number One on their ballots.

Why, oh, why, must we put these things to a vote? Do we vote on whether senior citizens should get married? Do we vote on whether people with disabilities should get married? Do we vote on whether ANYBODY else gets married?!

The arguments, so very tiresome at this point, always go back to things like, "This will lead to teaching children that homosexuality is OK!" It won't. And even if it did, so what? Another popular one, oft-stated here in Florida last year, was that it would make it illegal for clergy to refuse to marry a same-sex couple. It won't. There is no requirement for clergy to do anything that would offend their religious beliefs, and as I had pointed out here, the real problem is that there are clergy that would LIKE to officiate at weddings and can not. And then there is the really bizarre idea that allowing same-sex marriages somehow cheapens opposite-sex marriage. I'm still wondering how somebody else's relationship status affects another's.......

It's simple people. If you live in Maine, Vote NO on One.

Because NO ONE should tell Mainers to discriminate against their neighbors!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great comment, Susan. We have some of our Seacoast PFLAG people helping get persons to the polls.