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.

Steve Rowe will work to see same-sex marriage veto defeated

Dirigo Blue, formerly Turn Maine Blue, is reporting this morning that gubernatorial candidate Steve Rowe backs same-sex marriage legislation. In a comment to Dirigo Blue Rowe stated, “I support the marriage equality bill, and I will work to see the people’s veto defeated.”

As Rowe has supported the LGBT community in the past and received an endorsement from the Downeast Pride Alliance, this should not come as a surprise. Rowe is not the only Democratic candidate to support the LGBT community. The Maine Democratic website lists Rosa Scarcelli as a patron of the recent Southern Maine Pride reception. Rep. Dawn Hill voted for the passage of LD 1020.

Watch for upcoming pieces LD 1020 People’s Veto.

Downeast Pride Alliance backs Steve Rowe

(Cross-posted at Augusta Insider)

Gubernatorial candidate Steven Rowe received an endorsement today from the Downeast Pride Alliance. The Downeast Pride Alliance strives to promote LGBT businesses and create a network of LGBT professionals.

The Downeast Pride Alliance had this to say on their endorsement of Steven Rowe:

“I truly believe that no one will work harder for our interest than Steve! As the former Attorney General, Steve has a long history of being a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community. He whole-heartedly supports marriage equality & will work to defeat any repeal efforts. He was critical for us in winning gay adoption and is also a huge supporter of our small business community. At our first event, Steve was with us supporting DEPA a year ago at the Portland Harbor Hotel”.

With this endorsement we can rule out another potential gubernatorial candidate. Sen Dennis Damon, sponsor of LD 1020 (the same-sex marriage bill) would have almost certainly received DEPA’s backing had he chosen to run. DEPA’s endorsement of Rowe will likely strengthen support from his base, giving Rowe an edge in the Democratic primary. Rowe’s gains across all voters will be less, though social conservatives were not a likely group of supporters for Rowe.

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.

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.

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.

One Step Closer to Equality

LD 1020 (the marriage equality bill) has passed the Maine Senate 21 to 14 after some debate on amendments. On to the House!

…Of course the looming threat of the “People’s Veto” will surely surface in November.