There was another election issue on which I wanted to focus instead, and that was the vote in Maine to allow or prohibit Same Sex Marriage. The title of this article pretty much says it all: "Mainers Vote Down Gay Marriage Law". Dammit.
Here are the particulars:
Maine voters on Tuesday narrowly voted to repeal a law that would have made the state one of a handful that allow same-sex couples to marry.
At 1 a.m., with 87 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, 52.8 percent of Mainers had voted to repeal the state’s same-sex marriage law, versus 47.2 percent who voted to keep it.
Yes on 1, which led the people’s veto effort, proclaimed victory at about 12:30 a.m., as supporters gathered on a small stage at the Eastland Park Hotel behind Frank Schubert of Schubert Flint, the public relations firm hired to work on the campaign.
“I am very proud to tell you tonight that Question 1 has passed,” said Schubert. “Thank you so much to the people of Maine. To the thousands of volunteers who have worked day in and day out. It has all come together tonight.
“The institution of marriage has been preserved in Maine and across this nation,” he said, pumping his fist into the air.
Marc Mutty, Stand for Marriage Maine campaign manager, took the podium after Schubert: “What a team we’ve had. We’ve worked hard. We’ve struggled, we’ve worked against tremendous odds, as we’ve all known.
“It’s been the little guy against the big guy in terms of resources, financial resources,” said Mutty. “We prevailed because the people of Maine, the silent majority, the folks back home spoke with their vote tonight.”
A prayer followed.
I imagine that prayer went something like this: "Dear Lord, thank you so much for your will being done to subjugate those homosexuals, Lord. We thank you for helping us keep the sanctity of marriage as you meant it to be, one man and one woman, forever and ever. We thank you, dear Lord, for making it clear it is Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. So, we thank you, Lord, that your will has been done. We thank you, dear Heavenly Father, for the love you have shown us in your son, Jesus. We know that you are love, Lord. We thank you for showing what true love is through us so we can take away rights from other Mainers, as you want us to do. In Jesus' name we pray..."
Or something like that.
But some Mainers aren't giving up:
At 12:30 a.m., a defiant Jesse Connolly, campaign manager for No on 1/Protect Maine Equality, spoke to several hundred supporters who lingered at the Holiday Inn By the Bay. Connolly did not concede, saying the campaign always knew the election would be close. Workers would be counting votes all night long, he said.
Connolly said supporters of same-sex marriage would keep fighting and keep working for their cause. “We’re not short-timers, we’re here for the long haul,” he said.
Pollsters and pundits had predicted a thin margin on the state’s same-sex marriage vote, and the results proved them right.
Gov. John Baldacci – who watched returns come in at the No on 1 party – signed the bill into law in May, but opponents of same-sex marriage quickly gathered well more than the 55,000 signatures necessary to call for a public vote.
Maine would have been the sixth state in the country to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa already allow gay marriage, and New Hampshire’s new law will take effect in January.
Five states out of fifty. That's it. Just five that recognize our being fully human and thus deserving of all rights bestowed upon heterosexual couples.
As indicated above, in addition to religion, there were other issues that prompted the outcome of this vote:
The fight over the issue touched on religion, civil rights, schools, sexuality and family.
The two campaigns spent more than $7 million, with same-sex marriage supporters outspending opponents. Both sides said the vote will have national implications that will influence future same-sex marriage battles in other states.
The crowd at the No on 1 party was several times larger and louder than the competition. In the lobby outside the ballroom, Roger and Peggy Marchand of Gorham set up cardboard cutouts of male and female couples and brought along their camera for those who wanted to get a snapshot.
“We have high hopes,” Roger Marchand said.
While gay-marriage supporters have had success in New England and Iowa in the last five years, most of the country still opposes same-sex marriage. Nationwide, 30 states – including California – have voted to ban it.
Oh, that just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside as I consider that the vast majority of my fellow citizens think so little of me, my partner, and millions of other GLBT people in this country.
As for how Maine got to this place:
The push to legalize same-sex marriage in Maine began in January, when hundreds of activists gathered at the State House to announce that Sen. Dennis Damon, D-Trenton, would sponsor a bill to change the definition of marriage.
The bill defined marriage as “the legally recognized union of two people” rather than “the union of one man and one woman joined in traditional monogamous marriage,” a definition put in place by the Legislature in 1997.
It allowed any two people to apply for a marriage license “regardless of the sex of each person.” And, finally, it allowed religious institutions to refuse to perform same-sex marriage if it is not consistent with their beliefs.
When the bill was introduced, Baldacci, a Catholic Democrat, said he was unsure whether he would support it. He had previously been on record as supporting civil unions but not gay marriage.
In April, more than 3,000 people came to the Augusta Civic Center for a 10-hour public hearing on the measure. Supporters said the change was necessary to give gay and lesbian families access to more than 400 state laws pertaining to marriage, including health insurance through a spouse and tax benefits. They said a separate civil union law would not be equal.
Opponents said it was important to keep the traditional definition of marriage, arguing that it is better for society and children to have a mother and a father.
Six days later, the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted in support of the bill.
House and Senate votes quickly followed, with final Senate approval at 21-13 and House approval at 89-57.
The same day the Senate took the final vote, Baldacci signed the bill into law, saying “times have changed.”
As Baldacci announced his decision, cheers of joy could be heard coming from the hallway outside his office, where gay and lesbian couples gathered to await his decision.
But, as they celebrated, opponents expressed their disappointment and vowed to gather the signatures necessary for a people’s veto of the law.
Less than three months later, opponents turned in more than 100,000 signatures to the state calling for a vote.
The law was put on hold pending the outcome of Tuesday’s election.
At the No on 1 party Tuesday night, optimism had prevailed earlier in the night. The No on 1 campaign had led in early returns.
Eigen Heald of Portland said she’s been with her partner for 22 years.
“My toes are curling,” she said. “It would be really nice to be married in Maine.”
James White, 31, of Berwick, who was at the No on 1 party , said he was “very emotional.”
“It’s our time,” he said. “It’s our moment.”
Staff Writer Jenn Menendez contributed to this report. Reach Susan Cover at 620-7015 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sadly, no, no it is not "our moment." Not in Maine, anyway. It makes me emotional, too, both sad and angry at the same time. I guess the lesbian and gay couples there will have to continue to live without more than FOUR HUNDRED benefits extended to heterosexual couples.
I cannot leave it there, though. That would simply be too depressing. While Mainers may have voted to continue to discriminate against GLBT people, there is some good news. And here is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to bring it to you:
This left my partner and me arguing over who loves her more. It's me, I'm telling you!
Secretary Clinton gives me hope that one day, my partner and I will have the same rights and benefits as everyone else, over 1,000 federal benefits, even as another state votes against us, robbing a number of their citizens of over 400 rights enjoyed by others in that state. Some day. But not today.