Battle Lines Drawn on Marriage

(Cross-posted at the Augusta Insider)

As reported a few days ago, Stand for Marriage Maine submitted 100,000 signatures in support of the People’s Veto effort to repeal LD 1020. “It shows above all, that the people of Maine are overwhelmingly opposed to same-sex marriage.” says Mike Hein of the Maine Family Values Policy Council (formerly the Christian Civic League of Maine). The supporters of same-sex marriage disagree with Hein’s characterization of Mainers views on the issue. No on 1/Protect Maine Equality (formerly Maine Freedom to Marry) collected 60,000 pledges from voters that they would be voting no on question one. A press release from No on 1 stated that:

Our NO on 1 volunteers and field staff have gone door-to-door and neighbor-to-neighbor. We’ve attended sports and public events and everywhere we go, Mainers understand what’s at stake this November. That’s why we announced yesterday that we’ve collected more than 60,000 pledges to vote NO on 1.

Support and opposition to same-sex marriage has not followed party lines. Governor Baldacci, who did not support same-sex marriage in the past, reportedly waited until LD 1020 had reached his desk before he decided to sign. Voting in the House and Senate did not go along expected party lines in every case either. Rep. Sheryl Briggs of Mexico and Rep. Mike Willette of Presque Isle were two House Democrats to vote against LD 1020. Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess of Cumberland and Sen. Peter Mills of Cornville were two Republicans who voted in favor of LD 1020. Sen. Mills explained his vote in a comment to the Augusta Insider.

I voted for the gay marriage bill as a matter of personal conscience. I see no harm in allowing the state to license marriage between members of the same sex. If a church takes a different view, then that is for its own members to decide.
On the same basis, I voted consistently to support the anti-discrimination bills that came before the Legislature several times before the law was finally approved at public referendum in November of 2005.
Sen. Mills went on to state that he would have rather the public decide the issue of same-sex marriage.

I have long thought that these issues should be decided by public referendum, but efforts to send them out to referendum were rejected in 2005 and again in 2009. When called upon to vote on the floor of the Senate, I simply voted what I thought was right. Many other Maine residents may disagree with my vote but that is why the issue should be decided in the ballot box.

Sen. Mills has been the only Republican gubernatorial candidate at this point to clearly support LD 1020, though nearly all Democratic candidates have shown support for the bill in one way or another. This could cost Mills the support of socially conservative Republicans, but given the number of moderates in both parties, and the highly riven GOP gubernatorial primary, this is not likely to sink Sen. Mills’ campaign.

Corrections

The referendum I spoke of yesterday has been approved for circulation for the 2010 ballot according to Citizen’s Initiative and People’s Veto website. There is no mention of it on any of Michael Heath’s (the proponent of the measure) ventures.

The Maine Family Policy Council/Christian Civic League and Stand for Marriage Maine are focused on the upcoming People’s Veto of Maine’s same-sex marriage bill.

I apologize for any confusion. Thanks to everyone who pointed out my errors.

The human side of the "Maine Human Rights Referendum"

This November voters will have a chance to approve or repeal the Maine Human Rights Act. If voters approve this referendum they wont actually be standing up for human rights as the title suggests. The referendum would do the following in Maine

1. Clarify marriage law limiting the institution of marriage to one man and one woman.
2. Forbid the establishment of civil unions.
3. Clarify adoption law to allow only one person, or a married couple, to adopt.
4. Remove the designation “sexual orientation” from the Maine Human Rights Act.
5. Eliminate funding for the Maine attorney general’s school civil rights team program.

There is a human side to this referendum, which we should always be in the front of our minds. RHKINC highlights the personal side of the Maine Human Rights Act on his blog Life(Politics, Current Events, Politics, Humor)

from Life:

Seeing the efforts of a civil rights team this year address obesity, and homelessness (even having a successful fundraiser for the shelter) along with numerous other racial issues I know the importance they have in Maine. There is discrimination and hatred in Maine and this group brings awareness to such problems in our public schools by having students who see it first hand be the ones to move for a more civil society.

A teenager a few years ago was killed in downtown Bangor because he was gay. His sexual orientation was the reason he was killed. Crimes of hatred should have stronger punishments and the MHRA provides for that.

The new rules for adoption would have prevented me from growing up in the best family in the world. I was adopted by two women. (They are simply lifelong friends, not lesbians; it is like the Golden Girls.) Preventing such adoption would remove so many options kids need to have in order for the best chance to grow up in a loving, providing family.

Not only preventing equal marriage, they would take away the provisions that allow some recognition to the love that same-sex couples have in the law. This vote places a civil society on the line from one of respect and equal opportunity to one of discrimination that permits hatred. This referendum must fail. Every point it makes is an insult to the cause of human rights.

The name itself could be misleading to those who vote. Seeing the title one has the internal gut reaction to support human rights and could vote yes without knowing it will actually remove rights that citizens in a country where all men are equal.

One commenter went on to make an argument I have made on this site before.

from Life:

Another point that you did not make and I understand as you were not alive then….the 5 points this group makes is very much like the inter-racial marriages of the past. Who needs a lawyer living in your bedroom seeing who you love and who you sleep with.

It would be a devastating blow to Maine if this passes. I hope there are enough rational people in this state to see through the smoke and mirrors to the heart of the issue. No one is asking for special treatment or extra rights, just to enjoy the same rights as everyone else.

This will be a tough battle, but I am hopeful that Mainers will see the light on this issue.

UPDATE:
The referendum I spoke of yesterday has been approved for circulation for the 2010 ballot according to Citizen’s Initiative and People’s Veto website. There is no mention of it on any of Michael Heath’s (the proponent of the measure) ventures. I have been told Heath has dropped the issue the season, likely to focus support on the People’s Veto of the same-sex marriage bill.

Don’t Ask Obama About Gays in the Military

And the President wont tell you that he lied about them.

Back when many of us were still high off the post election pre inauguration air, then President-elect Obama said he would seek to end the “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.”, well Press Sec Gibbs did, but he is the voice of the President. Gibbs made it pretty certain the Clinton era fumble would be repealed.

from FOXNews:

“Thadeus of Lansing, Mich., asks, ‘Is the new administration going to get rid of the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy?'” said Gibbs, looking into the camera. “Thadeus, you don’t hear a politician give a one-word answer much. But it’s, ‘Yes.'”

Well, that’s a pretty definitive answer on the issue. That’s why I’m so disappointed that Gibbs’s reply on DADT was just more politics as usual.

from CNN:

A former Army captain who was dismissed under a federal law dealing with gays and lesbians in the military lost his appeal Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court.

James Pietrangelo and 11 other veterans had sued the government over the “don’t ask/ don’t tell” law passed in 1993.

Pietrangelo was the only one who appealed to the high court, but the justices without comment refused to intervene.

The Obama administration had asked the high court not to take the case, and White House officials had said they would not object to homosexuals being kicked out of the armed services.

I’m not a greenhorn when it comes to politics and politicians. Things are often said during campaigns that wont or can’t be done. Obama’s promise was made after he was elected. There is no way around Gibbs’s answer on DADT either. When you say “yes it will be changed” then do a complete 180 that is nothing but a lie. I would have rather had some sort of non-answer than this.

Way to stand up for change Mr. President. Real proud of ya on this one!

Obama’s Rebranding of Gitmo Policy

When President Obama announced he would close the detention center at Guantanamo the reactions from liberals and conservatives were exactly what anyone could have expected. The left cheered it as a civil rights win while the right jeered it as a blow to the war on terror. It quickly became evident things would not be so black and white. With Obama announcing a continuation of the Gitmo detention without trial policy, “indefinite detention“, is Mr. President just re-naming Bush’s unpopular policy or is this the beginning of a new direction?

At this point, the terror suspects at Gitmo can’t just be turned loose. We have told the world these people had to be locked up, they are dangerous. If we turned them loose the world who knows these guys have done bad things will think we’re idiots. The terror suspects harbor malicious feelings toward the US. If they didn’t when they entered Gitmo they do now. Releasing these terror suspects after giving them time to fester would put them right back into the terror network to continue horrid acts against America and it’s allies.

Due civil process will just send some of the terror suspects right back out, as many of the cases against them wouldn’t hold up in a normal court of law. Sorry ACLU, philosophically we’d like to give everyone due process. Thanks to Bush, it’s too late for that. We’ve sown the seeds for a terrorist farm at Gitmo.

There is no choice at this point but bring Gitmo detainees to US prisons. The GOP reacted adversely to this, launching an ad campaign stating Gitmo detainees in the US will pretty much result in the complete collapse of life as we know it. Moderate heads don’t buy that hogwash.

from The Moderate Voice:

OK. I’ll take the bait. And while I’m at it, I’ll turn the video’s concluding question — “How does closing Guantanamo Bay make us safer” — back to the GOP and ask: “How does the act of keeping these prisoners at Guantanamo Bay make us safer?”

Other than miles of ocean, what distinguishes the Gitmo facility from military prisons on U.S. soil? Does the GOP believe the U.S. military is not competent enough to keep terrorists locked up in any facility other than Gitmo? Are we such cowards that we must house our enemies anywhere but here?

Seriously: I’m willing to be convinced. But rather than lowest-common-denominator tactics, could we please engage in an intelligent, fact-driven discussion of the merits of Gitmo versus all other facilities under U.S. control?

On top of all the questions raised by that post, there is one big hitch in the GOPs claims. There already are terror suspects in US prisons. According to the Washington Post (nod to Donklephant), there are terror suspects being held in Colorado and Ft. Leavenworth military prison. Though some detainees are from the 9/11 attacks, the terror suspects being held participated in events as far back as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Well these prisons seem to have been able to deal with the terror suspects so far. They are despicable characters, but they aren’t comic book supervillians.

When President Obama announced he would continue a policy of “indefinite detention” the far-left nearly exploded. Some leveled charges of Obama creating an “American gulag“. Others felt this whole lack of due process thing to be a little too Orwelian. Rachel Maddow was a bit PO’d. Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald writes that Obama’s proposal boils down to a few important points.

from Salon

1. “Preventive detention” allows indefinite imprisonment not based on proven crimes or past violations of law, but of those deemed generally “dangerous” by the Government for various reasons (such as, as Obama put it yesterday, they “expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden” or “otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans”). That’s what “preventive” means: imprisoning people because the Government claims they are likely to engage in violent acts in the future because they are alleged to be “combatants.”

3. For those asserting that there are dangerous people who have not yet been given any trial and who Obama can’t possibly release, how do you know they are “dangerous” if they haven’t been tried? Is the Government’s accusation enough for you to assume it’s true?

4. By rather stark and extreme contrast, Obama is seeking preventive detention powers that are indefinite — meaning without any end, potentially permanent. There’s no time limit on the “preventive detention.” Compare that power to the proposal that caused such a political storm in Britain and what these other governments are empowered to do. The suggestion that indefinite preventive detention without charges is some sort of common or traditional scheme is clearly false.

6. Obama is saying the opposite[of due process]: in his scheme, it is the outcome that is constant (everyone ends up imprisoned), while the process varies and is determined by the Government (trials for some; military commissions for others; indefinite detention for the rest). The Government picks and chooses which process you get in order to ensure that it always wins. A more warped “system of justice” is hard to imagine.

Defenders of Obama’s decision claim that the civil rights violations of the Gitmo system bolster the direction the President is taking.

from Wash Post

“I don’t think that those reasons argue for ending the detention rationale; I think they argue for being a hell of a lot more careful with the detention rationale, for making sure that we minimize mistakes, that we don’t have erroneous long-term detentions,” Goldsmith said at a seminar this month with reporters at the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia.

Obama said any system of detention “must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.” Goldsmith and other scholars have said such oversight could include annual or bi-annual reviews by a national security court in which the government’s burden of proof to extend detention increases over time.

I must admit, this detention system is a bit scary. For a history buff Obama’s proposal, and Gitmo itself, does have shades of the USSR, if the system were to be abused. Will this periodic review be enough to keep abuses to a minimum? Perhaps. Stronger checks should be put in place. That will be the only way to begin the shift away from the notorious Bush era policies.

I must ask this question: is change still going to come?

Same-Sex Marriage OK in Maine

Gov. Baldachi signs LD 1020 into law making same-sex marriage legal in Maine…Well almost.

The law goes into effect 90 days after this session adjourns in June. So same-sex couples can start getting hitched then. No big deal…Not quite.

In Maine we have a little thing called the People’s Veto. Because Maine government has no faith in itself to make good decisions, they allow voters to propose a referendum on the ballot to reject any given piece of legislature. Sometimes a People’s veto is worthwhile, but mostly it just delays the already sluggish process of Maine government.

In any case, if same-sex marriage opponents can collect 55,087 signatures of registered voters and submit there veto before the end of the session the LD1020 will be up for a vote this November.

Quit partying. The fight is far from over.

Maine Gay Marriage UPDATE

The Maine House will vote today on LD1020, the “same -sex marriage” bill. Supports believe it will have no trouble passing the House. Of the 64 co-sponsors of the bill 54 were from the House. More as it comes.