Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From Local to Global: Mainers Vote Down Same Sex Marriage; Sec. Clinton Celebrates GLIFAA Award

Election 2009 has come and gone with some major changes: VA and NJ have gone Red. Turns out, the races weren't even all that close. Much is being discussed and debated about the meaning behind these wins by the GOP. I will leave that, and the NY 23 Owens win to the many other voices discussing these races.

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 scover@centralmaine.com

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.

16 comments:

Mary Ellen said...

Sorry for the disappearance for the last couple of days...crazy stuff going on at home. sheesh.

Anyway, I've hardly had a minute to read the paper, blogs, or watch tv so I missed most of the election stuff. I was shocked to hear what happened in Maine, though! I never thought the same sex marriage thing would go down. Really surprised...I thought it was a given!

I'll be back later to read through your posts more carefully...I'm really rushing to try to keep up with what I missed.

Mary Ellen said...

I forgot...I have a new post up that I started writing the other day and finished up this morning. I think you'll enjoy it. :-)

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, ME!

Well, I hope you know you were missed. And I'm glad you have a new post up - I'll go check it out (I have been checking, just so you know).

I know - I was pretty surprised by it too. It's just sad, isn't it?

I hope everything is okay at home, Mary Ellen. That is, that the crazy stuff isn't BAD, and just hectic.

I'm going to go check out the new post now!

Logistics Monster said...

Rev - I sent you an email about this issue but your post pretty much explains it. Once again - a bunch of people not listening to the founding fathers and the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights. It all comes down to those two documents for me. My libertarian side is showing.

Great post by the way!!!

did you know that Hawaii is likely to be exempt from Obamacare and I will still not have health insurance or be able to buy it? LOL It is sooooooooooooooo time to move.

SFIndie said...

This left my partner and me arguing over who loves her more. It's me, I'm telling you!

No, you’re both wrong, It’s ME who loves her more!!

Seriously, though, I absolutely cannot comprehend why people are so against same-sex marriage. My housemate is in a new (7 months) relationship (after a traumatic breakup a couple years ago of a 10-year relationship) and it’s simply a joy to see these two people together. It’s a relationship being built on mutual love, admiration, support, respect, and laughter. When I imagine the possibility of a new relationship in my life, I think of how I would like that new relationship to mirror the one my housemate and her girlfriend are building.

So if I’m lucky enough to find that new relationship, and it develops into a wish for a lifetime commitment, why would it be okay for us to marry but not my housemate and her girlfriend simply because my partner and I are of the opposite sex and these two wonderful ladies are of the same sex?

I don’t care what reasoning anyone uses – religion, God, the sanctity of anything – it’s all horseshit. Personally, I think it’s about weak spirited people who need to find a way to feel less weak in themselves and so deny others the same rights they themselves have. Makes them feel “better than” when in fact, they are lower than low.

I know, I’m ranting, but this is just something that raises my blood pressure to a very dangerous level! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, LM -

Thanks for the comment - I did just answer your email, btw. Bottom line, as I said in my email to you, I think people come up with lots of excuses, but very few REASONS, to keep other tax paying citizens from enjoying the same rights and benefits they have.

And it is shocking to see the states that have recently voted this way (CA and FL come to mine).

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

SF, you had me ROTFLMAO when I saw your comment! I tell you, how different would this country be had Hillary been on the job for the past 10 months???

And you can rant here ANYTIME, friend. All I can say to what you wrote is, you are absolutely spot on.

I simply cannot understand how people rationalize treating fellow citizens so disparately, but I think you summed it up. Lording it over others makes them fell better abt themselves, and that is just plain sad...

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Wait a second, Logistics Monster - why would Hawaii not be a part of that whole plan?? WTH?

Mary Ellen said...

This left my partner and me arguing over who loves her more. It's me, I'm telling you!

No, you’re both wrong, It’s ME who loves her more!!


Now now...there's enough of Hillary to go around for everyone. I'm thinking more and more that she still has a shot at the Presidency. I just can't let it go.

Yanks up 2-0 in the 2nd. Of course, you know that,right Amy? :-D

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

LOL - in the words of Sarah Palin, "You betcha!" :-D Go, go, Godzilla!

Oh, I so, so hope you are right, Mary Ellen. Rasmussen had a poll yesterday that 27% of the people polled though she would be doing a better job than Obama (no duh). Maybe those kool aide fumes are dissipating after all!

Go, YANKEES!! (Just so you know, a bunch of us are hanging out at NQ chatting - during the commercials, mainly, for the game. You'd sure be welcome, if you have the time!)

Mary Ellen said...

Well...Congrats on that big win last night!!!!

I hate to say it, but I was so cold and tired (I always get cold when I'm tired)...after I wrote my last comment, I decided to go up to bed and snuggle under my warm blankets to watch the game. I barely remember turning the game on and slept until morning. It's been one of those weeks....

Nellie said...

Rev Amy,

As a Granite Stater, I understand that outside of Maine's urban areas, there are still many, many French Canadian descendants, who are still living as if it is the 1700's in the rural areas. These people FEAR change to their centuries old life style. I have no idea how one goes about reaching them, unless those from the urban areas are willing to give of themselves in terms of education and their ongoing presence in order to effect change.

They are admittedly a difficult group, as I have spent some time with volunteer education programs up in Colebrook, NH. It takes a real mellow person with an inordinate amount of patience, neither of which applies to me other than in spurts.

O/T As a native from "Red Sox" nation, I do want to exhibit good sportsmanship and congratulate my favorite, albeit misguided, Yankee fan and the most articulate poster on the net.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Mary Ellen, I totally understand. I would be more than happy to give you a "play by play"! Teehee!! Seriously, I understand.

I am sorry you have had such a hard week!

And thanks - I appreciate it!

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Nellie -

LOL - thank you for the compliment, I think!! I am cracking up at your comment, and I appreciate the graciousness - I know how hard that can be between our two teams (though the first person to email me last night lives in Cambridge!).

Very kind of you to say abt my writing - wow!

That is an interesting observation abt parts of Maine. I can see that abt the more rural areas, to be sure. Nothing like the voice of experience from someone who has been there. Thanks, Nellie!

I saw a headline in my local paper today that Evan Wolfson of the "Freedom to Marry" group is upset that Obama didn't speak out on this and encourage Mainers to vote for it. Apparently, he doesn't understand that Obama is OPPOSED to same sex marriage, so why the hell should he push for it in Maine? He didn't in CA or FL, either, so...

Sigh. Clearly we have a long ways to go...

Nellie said...

The comment above on your excellent writing and presentation was sincerely meant.

Enjoy your day in the sun for your Yankees, although I do still believe that sentiment to be misguided.

Yipes!

I saw a headline in my local paper today that Evan Wolfson of the "Freedom to Marry" group is upset that Obama didn't speak out on this and encourage Mainers to vote for it

If Obama HAD tried to push the vote, the Nay's would have grown exponentially. He is not a favorite in Northern New England. People here are contrarians and would have voted NO just to spite him on Gay marriage.

Interesting how anger can make normally sane people, do something in the moment that they later live to regret.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Nellie, thank you - I did get that you were genuine in your compliment. Apparently, I failed to communicate how much that meant to me (sheesh - THAT doesn't speak well abt my writing skills, does it?? Teehee... :-D ). I truly appreciate it - it is quite humbling, and I thank you. Wow!

And I got my being misguided simply for my choice in baseball teams. I have cousins who grew up in MA. Believe you me, I am reminded of that often! :-) But, one cousin, a HUGE Red Sox fan, likes Derek Jeter. It is Derek's love of the game, and the way he conducts himself, that merits that kind of respect, even from people who hate the Yanks. And that seems to be the extreme - people love them, or they hate them, with very little in between, it seems. Oh well - that's baseball, right?

I have been to Fenway Park, for what that's worth. Saw a Yankees v. Sox game, and some of the Beanpot Classic there! The former was SOME game!

Oh, I can see that whole contrarian thing coming into play up in the Norther areas (I did live in Boston for 8 yrs), no doubt. It as just sad, really, that this guy from "Freedom to Marry" has not accepted what Obama has said numerous times - he does not support same sex marriage. So why would he encourage Mainers to vote in support of it anyway?

Anyway - thank you again, Nellie - I truly appreciate your lovely words! You are too kind!